Commentary: No need to regulate blogosphere

This editorial appeared in The Idaho Statesman.

This one's for you, "udapimp." And "brt929" and "jono," "foreignoregonian" and "Meridian." And every other anonymous commenter who shows up at my blog to tell me I don't know what I'm talking about. Ever.

I'd love to know your names – partly because I'm curious, but mostly because I'm interested in where you're coming from. If I know who you are, and I know your professional and personal stake in politics, I can better put your criticism into perspective.

But I don't want the state of Idaho to force you to cough up your name.

Rep. Stephen Hartgen, R-Twin Falls, is drafting a bill to require bloggers to post under their real name, and require online commenters to do likewise. In essence, Hartgen wants online commentary to more closely resemble newspaper opinion pages, where letter writers are generally required to identify themselves.

Hartgen knows plenty about opinion pages; he's the former publisher of The Times-News in Twin Falls. (Full disclosure: I worked as The Times-News' city editor from 1996 to 2001. Hartgen gave me a great opportunity to advance my career and I learned a lot, and I'll always have respect for him.)

I don't agree with him about this bill, though.

The free and often free-wheeling speech exercised at blogs and media Web sites such as IdahoStatesman.com can quickly get ugly. Having been on the receiving end a time or two, I know that well. But this doesn't rise to "there-oughta-be-a-law" status.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Idaho Statesman.