OUR VIEW: Anonymous attacks are idiotic, not patrioticAnonymous criticism is difficult to endure. We don’t make much time for those who don’t have the backbone to sign scathing letters about local businesses, businesspeople or politicians.
By: Editorial board, The Daily Republic
Anonymous criticism is difficult to endure. We don’t make much time for those who don’t have the backbone to sign scathing letters about local businesses, businesspeople or politicians.
We’ve had to make some concessions given the anonymous nature of the Internet, but it’s not the way we like to do business.
So we can imagine how discouraging it must be for political candidates to dodge missiles fired at them from unseen foes. In this case, we mean anonymous letters, postcards, emails and automated telephone calls — all of which are making the rounds in these weeks leading up to Election Day.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard recently called on Attorney General Marty Jackley to investigate the proliferation of anonymous, election-related propaganda being foisted upon South Dakotans.
For instance, some postcards and letters recently sent to South Dakota voters do not disclose who is behind them. They also appear to include fake return addresses and telephone numbers.
The Daily Republic this week attempted to track down the originators but, like others, we were left chasing a ghost.
We support the governor’s call for an investigation. There are campaign disclosure laws that might apply to this situation, and if laws are being broken, the offenders should be tracked down and prosecuted.
This is not an infringement on First Amendment rights, as the offenders are likely to claim if they’re ever identified (supporters of the anonymous campaign already have invoked the anonymous tradition of founding-era documents such as the Federalist Papers). Identifying the source of this material does not equate to suppressing anybody’s freedom of speech. The speakers will be entirely free to go on speaking once we know who they are.
Whether the anonymous attackers like it or not, there are laws governing political speech in this country. Disclosure laws exist so the public can consider the source and funding of campaign information before making a decision in the voting booth.
When attack speech is launched behind a veil of anonymity, that’s not patriotic. It’s idiotic, and it undermines the spirit of openness and transparency that should pervade democratic elections.