By Mark Esper
A lot of postcards get mailed out from the Silverton Post Office. And the vast majority of them are quite pleasant.
But on Friday morning, four days before the town’s election, Silverton residents received a post card that wasn’t so pleasant at all.
It was a card from an anonymous group calling itself “Citizens for Responsible Government.”
The card contained negative comments about two candidates in the April 6 election for town trustee, incumbent Pat Swonger and former trustee and mayor Greg Swanson.
Of course a lot of people have been wondering who exactly these citizens are, though many seem to have a pretty good idea.
A day earlier, a sign criticizing Swanson appeared in the front window of a vacant downtown storefront, apparently placed there without the owner’s permission.
It seems that “Citizens for Responsible Government” want to take no responsibility at all for their own statements.
Here at the Silverton Standard, we have a policy, like most newspapers, of not running letters to the editor unless they are signed. And there are good reasons for this.
First of all, if someone doesn’t even want to sign their name to a statement, perhaps it is a statement they best not make.
Requiring actual signatures hopefully encourages writers to be more accountable, even as they demand more accountability from others. And it’s a basic matter of fairness to our readers, first and foremost. Our readers should not have to endure tirades from someone who lacks the fortitude to even say who he or she is.
The targets of criticism in a public forum are owed the common decency of having their detractors at least identify themselves, rather than having to take fire from someone concealed in a perch of anonymity.
Frankly, this last-minute burst of anonymous brickbats in the recently concluded election was more suitable for a campaign for junior high class president.
Of course I don't have to tell these irresponsible "citizens" that they should be ashamed of themselves. They already know it. That's why they won't say who they are.
Those running for Silverton Town Council are embarking on what is almost inevitably a thankless mission. They will face a lot of fault-finding, and in a free and open society, that is just the way it is. If you’re in the kitchen, you have to take the heat.
In writing this, I know that like those who sent that postcard, I too will displease a significant segment of this town’s population. But somehow I will manage to summon the courage to sign my name to my comments. I owe it to my readers and to this community.
It sure would be convenient (for me) if I could stay anonymous and somehow attain a level of plausible deniability for statements that some may not like.
Yes, it would be convenient. But it would not be responsible.
Mark Esper is editor and publisher of the Silverton Standard & the Miner.