fumble at the goal line

the draft special conditions for downtown filming have been made available for public comment, but i have to say i am tremendously disappointed about the method in which comments are being collected. the site says:

Comments must include the commenter’s full name and phone number for verification purposes. Multiple comments may be made by the same person or organization. Comments that do not contain verifiable contact information will not be recorded.

there is a long and rather proud tradition of anonymous or pseudonymous political speech in the united states (like the federalist papers), and this is very contrary to that.

it also totally fails to say who will be doing the verification of this contact information, or how the contact information may be published along with the comments in the future.

the way this is structured, a cut-and-paste feedback operation like the parents television council would be given more weight than cogent feedback from someone with good points to make but reasons for staying anonymous.

for example, let us assume that bert green or russell brown are reviewing these comments. now what if you are an artist who hopes to one day be represented by bert and his gallery (or his many friends in the downtown gallery community) — would you be comfortable sending comments that are critical of the conditions that bert has been so instrumental in drafting? what if you were someone looking for help in starting a new business from the historic core downtown business improvement district?

the public comments should speak for themselves. identifying yourself is simply part of the speech, it should not be a prerequisite for speaking at all.

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