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Thread: Court to decide if petition signers' names public

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    Court to decide if petition signers' names public

    Court to decide if petition signers' names public - Yahoo! News

    AP 4pm est
    The Supreme Court on Friday got involved for the second time this week in a case in which opponents of gay rights fear they will be harassed if their views are made public.

    The high court will consider whether Washington state officials can release more than 138,500 names on a petition seeking a vote on overturning the state's domestic partnership rights.

    Protect Marriage Washington, which unsuccessfully opposed the law giving gay couples expanded rights, wants to shield from disclosure the signers of the petition for a referendum on that law. The group says it fears harassment by gay rights supporters, some of whom have vowed to post signers' names on the Internet.
    This strikes me as important not as a gay rights issue, but as an issue involving petitions. Should your signing a petition be public knowledge? I am really split on this. On the one hand, I think if you don't feel strongly enough to take a public stand, maybe you should not be signing a petition. However, the action of people who are vowing to post the signers' names on the internet is shameful, and this type of intimidation should not be part of the public law process.
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    Re: Court to decide if petition signers' names public

    People who aren't willing to stand behind their opinions don't deserve to have their opinions counted.

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    Re: Court to decide if petition signers' names public

    Quote Originally Posted by Korimyr the Rat View Post
    People who aren't willing to stand behind their opinions don't deserve to have their opinions counted.
    I don't know about that. The ability to express your opinion anonymously is an incredibly important right. When people are forced to speak publicly, there is a serious risk that their speech will be chilled and they will shy away from supporting unpopular positions, whatever they be.

    This is the same reason why we have a secret ballot - so that people can decide whether or not to support an issue of public importance without worrying that they will be discriminated against or harassed simply because of their beliefs.
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    Re: Court to decide if petition signers' names public

    There's no valid reason to keep petitions secret.

    If people are such wusses they can't take a public stance, screw'em.

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    Re: Court to decide if petition signers' names public

    Quote Originally Posted by RightinNYC View Post
    I don't know about that. The ability to express your opinion anonymously is an incredibly important right. When people are forced to speak publicly, there is a serious risk that their speech will be chilled and they will shy away from supporting unpopular positions, whatever they be.
    Anonymity encourages people to be lazy and thoughtless. It doesn't protect the unpopular views and unpleasant truths that society needs to face in order to progress-- it only emboldens cowards to engage in the kind of harassment and character assassination that it purports to protect us from. Just look at the difference between this place-- with the limited public identities we maintain-- and something like /b/chan or YouTube user comments.

    Yes, people will choose their words more carefully if they know they'll be held accountable for them. I think this is a good thing.

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    Re: Court to decide if petition signers' names public

    Quote Originally Posted by Scarecrow Akhbar View Post
    There's no valid reason to keep petitions secret.

    If people are such wusses they can't take a public stance, screw'em.
    What do you think about the secret ballot?
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    Re: Court to decide if petition signers' names public

    Quote Originally Posted by Korimyr the Rat View Post
    Anonymity encourages people to be lazy and thoughtless. It doesn't protect the unpopular views and unpleasant truths that society needs to face in order to progress-- it only emboldens cowards to engage in the kind of harassment and character assassination that it purports to protect us from. Just look at the difference between this place-- with the limited public identities we maintain-- and something like /b/chan or YouTube user comments.

    Yes, people will choose their words more carefully if they know they'll be held accountable for them. I think this is a good thing.
    I tend to agree. You shouldn't be able to vote, or sign something and then deny your support of it when questioned. Why encourage hypocrisy?
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    Re: Court to decide if petition signers' names public

    Quote Originally Posted by RightinNYC View Post
    What do you think about the secret ballot?
    What do you think would have been more effective:

    John Hancock Boldly Signing Where No Man Signed Before...

    ...

    or..

    an anonymous Pamphlet entitled "The Declaration of Independence"?


    If something isn't worth their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor for, why are they bothering?

    PETITIONS are NOT "ballots".

    Welcome to the land where words mean things.

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    Re: Court to decide if petition signers' names public

    Quote Originally Posted by Korimyr the Rat View Post
    Anonymity encourages people to be lazy and thoughtless. It doesn't protect the unpopular views and unpleasant truths that society needs to face in order to progress-- it only emboldens cowards to engage in the kind of harassment and character assassination that it purports to protect us from. Just look at the difference between this place-- with the limited public identities we maintain-- and something like /b/chan or YouTube user comments.

    Yes, people will choose their words more carefully if they know they'll be held accountable for them. I think this is a good thing.
    I think the difference between here and there has more to do with user demographics and moderation than it does with level of anonymity. You can be as anonymous on this site as you can be on youtube, but we don't get a lot of crossover in terms of comment type.

    While you're right that it can allow people to be lazy, it also allows people with views outside of the mainstream to back their beliefs without risking retribution.

    I'm a moderate Republican. On the "out of the mainstream" scale, I'm pretty low. However, if every vote I made or position I supported was made public, I would be very reluctant to participate in politics at all due to the demographics of the industry I work in. I already refuse to donate more than $25 to any individual candidate, because I don't want my name showing up on opensecrets. If it's that bad for me, think of what it's like for other people.

    Someone who opposes gay marriage while working in an industry dominated by gay men has the choice to either refrain from participating in the political process or lose his job. The same thing could apply to socialists working at banks, conservatives working in social service organizations, or communists/fascists working anywhere.
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    Re: Court to decide if petition signers' names public

    Quote Originally Posted by Scarecrow Akhbar View Post
    What do you think would have been more effective:

    John Hancock Boldly Signing Where No Man Signed Before...

    ...

    or..

    an anonymous Pamphlet entitled "The Declaration of Independence"?


    If something isn't worth their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor for, why are they bothering?
    Great point, what kind of pussies would publish things anonymously? Nothing like that could ever have an impact on the nation.

    The Federalist Papers Online

    Common Sense - PublicLiterature.org

    PETITIONS are NOT "ballots".

    Welcome to the land where words mean things.
    I'm not arguing that they're identical, I'm arguing that they're analogous.

    Welcome to the land where we exhibit reading comprehension above an 8th grade level.
    People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

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