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."