Don't play name games - Coeur d'Alene Press: Editorial

Don't play name games

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Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 12:00 am

No harm, no foul.

Of course, that's easy for us to say. We aren't Todd Tondee, the Kootenai County commissioner who was impersonated online last week and incurred the unwarranted wrath of some people who weren't terribly happy with the commissioner anyway.

But like Tondee already has suggested, he's never insisted on imprisonment for his name's assailant. He just wants wrongs to be righted, like:

• Taking responsibility for the misdeed. Check; local resident Zac Eifler did that first thing Monday morning by calling The Press and confessing, humbly and apologetically. He followed up with a letter to the editor on today's Opinions page.

• Clearing Tondee's name. Quite literally, check. After all this, anybody who still thinks Tondee wrote the inflammatory comment on the story about the county's controversial land code refuses to face reality - which unfortunately is an all-too-common affliction around here.

We prefer to look at this little mess as an instructional opportunity in the hazily defined world of online communication.

For instance, how many of you knew that a law was likely broken the minute Eifler wrote one comment on the online story and signed it Todd_Tondee? And that had you done the same, you could be looking at $5,000 in fines and two years in jail? We'll admit it; we didn't know, either. Most reasonable people would conclude that it was unethical to do so, even in jest, as Mr. Eifler intended, but a violation of state law with such stiff penalties? That was news to many.

As you march forward in this not-so-brave new online world, where many websites, including, allow comments from anonymous writers, we encourage people to speak up loud and clear, even adamantly. Say what's on your mind, but with respect to others.

While they're still allowed to do so anonymously, we hope more and more commenters will choose to shed the veil of anonymity and produce something with much more credibility by signing their name to their expressed opinions.

Yes, their real name.

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