Cyberspace Civility (1/23/07)

I think the Internet is one of science's - and society's - greatest achievements. But I'm appalled by the incredible rudeness and incivility it's sparked in some people.

Just about every news, sports or political website where visitors can "share their opinion" seems to be a magnet for people who live to make inflammatory suggestions and spew hateful and indecent comments they'd never dare make to anyone's face.

Of course, this false bravado is only possible because everyone's safely hidden behind fictional screen names such as "geek64" or "dawgman."

These are the same kinds of cowards as graffiti vandals who claim to be making art but only pursue their craft when they're unlikely to get caught.

Anonymity can be justified in some instances. But most of the time it's just a cover for scared, bigoted people that allows them to spread their hateful attitudes and agendas without taking any responsibility for them.

The Internet is a wonderful place for free and open expression. But every opinion doesn't deserve equal weight. And any website that hopes to be taken seriously should really start by exercising a bit of discretion when it comes to publishing the overheated and under-informed rantings of a bunch of nameless cranks.

I'm Bill Lamb, and that's my...Point of View.