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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Another Fumbler From Kentucky: Tim Couch Wants To Ban 'Anonymous' Blog Comments

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The former Cleveland Browns quarterback didn't fling this errant pass. But it does come from a guy from the same state with the same name. Kentucky State Rep. Tim Couch filed a bill last week that would outlaw anonymous comments on Web sites. The Republican from the east end of the bluegrass commonwealth wants people to register in advance with their real names, addresses and e-mails. And whenever they posted a comment, their actual identity would appear on the Web site. Legal scholars said Couch's proposal seems to run afoul of the First Amendment and its guarantee of freedom of speech.

Couch told John Cheves of the Lexington Herald Leader that he had doubts about the measure himself, but still had House Bill 775 drafted and tossed into the legislative hopper. The lawmaker said he's been blasted by anon and didn't take kindly to the experience. But, no, that's not why he introduced the bill. Honest. He told reporter Cheves:

"Some nasty things have been said about high school kids in my district, usually by other kids. The adults get in on it, too. When you're anonymous, you can say anything you want to about someone and nobody knows who you are. I think right now (online posting) is pretty much on its own. It's a machine that's going to go its own way. The state can try to pass some rules, but I don't really think it would do anything."

So it wasn't to protect his political hide. It was for the kids. To which a blog commenter replied: "I wish Rep.Couch would amend this bill to include the Cleveland Browns' message board."


  1. Tim Couch is misfiring on this bill even worse than the other Tim Couch misfired for the Browns. The 1st Amendment does not limit free speech to those using their real names and email addresses. How do clowns like this manage to get elected?

    I'm signing in as anonymous here. I hope I'm not breaking any laws.

  2. Well, the bill hasn't been passed in Kentucky, and it probably never will become law. So you are not breaking any statutes. But you are showing you have common sense. As for real names -- celebrities use stage names (Roy Rogers, Marilyn Monroe), some deejays have used fake names, as do some newscasters (Paul Harvey is one). Would truth in naming apply solely to blog commenters, or all? And poor old Poor Richard. Would Ben Franklin have had trouble publishing if this law was in effect?

  3. Yeah, anonymity couldn't possibly protect people in a better way than this bill would.

    If people used their real names less they wouldn't have any of the crap that this bill is supposed to fix happening to them in the first place!

  4. Couch is a Republican? He's got to be kidding. He is acting like some liberal nanny state liberal. Hey Couch, did your parents ever teach you "sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me"? If someone is pushed over the edge by a few unkind words, their mental state is questionable at best. Maybe a wiser thing would be to encourage parents to instill a better sense of self esteem in their kids and to teach them how to deal with the inevitable bullies in life instead of stomping all over the right to free speech as a remedy to this. Unfortunately its much more fashionable and easier to play the victim card and cry foul than to ignore and delete.

  5. That such an idea is even suggested in America (to outlaw anonymous postings) is highly offensive!

  6. Typical repukeagain, in this day and age of their party and this country's administration trampling all over the rights of its citizens.