June 4 2014 09:20 AM

Our readers tell us what they think



In her May 21 Summer Guide story about Ramona wineries, Kinsee Morlan reported that Woof 'n Rose planted its vines in 2005. That's not correct. Its first vines were planted in 1995. We're sorry for the error.


Just finished "Sordid Tales" in the May 14 issue. Can't remember when I last laughed that heartily. In these troubled times, I can think of no better service to humanity than to be a writer / artist / performer who inspires healing laughter. Thanks, Edwin Decker!

Suzy Perkins, La Mesa

Less human intrusion

The item in your May 21 Summer Guide issue about canyon restoration would have been better if it had included some advice that Eric Bowlby got earlier, working at the Sierra Club and more recently as leader of a nonprofit corporation dedicated to San Diego's canyons. We pointed out repeatedly that damage to the canyons comes from human intrusion, a point with which Eric and his supporters agree.

We suggested that his activities include installing native plants, especially droughttolerant varieties, removing invasive species and arranging canyon restoration to mini mize human intrusion. We regret the latter part of that suggestion has not advanced as strongly as it could have.

The canyons and their biota will benefit from reduced human intrusion. San Diego Canyonlands can help achieve that good goal.

Jim Varnadore, City Heights

Truth and consequences

If Ethics Commissioner Andrew Poat's comments on sdcitybeat.com run afoul of city law, as is questioned in John Lamb's May 23 blog post, "Ethics Commissioner Andrew Poat in a boat," Poat should certainly face the consequences. But this incident should make us think about the consequences that realname polices can have on our online speech in general.

Had Poat not been encouraged to use his Facebook account while commenting on CityBeat's website, which linked his comments to his real identity, he may have chosen to use a handle that wasn't as easily identifiable as himself (or perhaps as conclusively identifiable as himself ). This could have kept him out of hot water with the Ethics Commission.

But putting aside this specific incident, it highlights the fact that people should be more aware of the consequences of more and more services requiring the use of real names. Slowly, over a period of time, Facebook, Google and other corporations have begun to strongly encourage or, in some cases, require users to use their real identity on their services.

In some cases, this can be a good thing— the comments sections of newspapers appear to be more civil and may require less moderation—but in many other cases, this could seriously impinge on speech online, even putting lives at risk.

One such group of people that is negatively affected by real-name policies is activists. Facebook's requirement for users to provide and identify themselves with their real names was seen as a boon for governments during the Arab Spring, making it easier for them to crack down on activists and dissenters. Many other groups of people can be put at risk by real-name polices. These groups include (but are not limited to) LGBTQI persons, people with disabilities and victims of real-world abuse or harassment.

As more and more websites require users to provide and be identified by their real name in order to participate in online conversations, these and other marginalized groups of people will have to choose to put themselves at risk or will not be able to take place in conversations where their real identity is required.

Jeff Hammett, Lemon Grove


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