Anonymous speech critical to fostering unpopular views, reader says

To the editor:

Your column, “Country wasn’t founded under veil of anonymity,” incorrectly suggests anonymous speech has no First Amendment value or protection.

The Supreme Court has stated: “Protections for anonymous speech are vital to democratic discourse. Allowing dissenters to shield their identities frees them to ex-press critical, minority views … Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority … It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights … to protect unpopular views from retaliation … at the hand of an intolerant society.”

Without such protection, we might never hear from the government employee about mismanagement or corruption, fearing job loss if his identity is known.

You also incorrectly suggest the Founding Fathers rejected anonymity.

Fearing the Crown’s retribution, Thomas Paine published “Common Sense” anonymously.

Jefferson, Madison and Hamilton published “The Federalist Papers” under the pseudonym, “Publius,” wanting their views considered on the merits and not their celebrity.

I agree anonymous expression should be circumspectly considered and disapprove of the disgusting drivel too often on the Internet. You are within your rights rejecting anonymous letters.

But to me the importance of anonymous speech in fostering unpopular views far outweighs a rule of universal rejection.

Joseph E. Martineau