COLUMN: Have a thought? Sign your name

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My first real break of the day often comes around 10 a.m. when a co-worker drops mail on my desk. Some days there isn’t much but at least once or twice a week, I’ll get an anonymous letter.

I also get nameless messages through our Web site and heck, even the occasional anonymous cell-phone voice-mail.

Some letters are written by people who seem to be furious at the world. Someone recently mailed me a hugely detailed folder of clippings, personal comments and doodlings about the sex-abuse scandal within the Catholic Church. I don’t know the person’s past or whether they or a family member was a victim of abuse. But this person spent hours preparing this collection of opinions and rants and spent a couple of bucks to get it to me, but never put their name to their work.

I often receive letters to the editor without names. Our policy requires all letters be signed. Some notes aren’t suitable for publication anywhere, even a bulletin board for sailors.

But I do receive some that could certainly be printed, but I can’t because they aren’t signed.

Recent news stories triggered several anonymous letters. Their authors poked at the people in the stories or me for missing some point they said was overlooked. I certainly don’t mind feedback, even of the anonymous kind, but after 13 years in this job, profanity-laced tirades don’t have much of an effect on me.

So to the angry folks who think a few bad words about me, co-workers or even friends send steam billowing from my ears or have me reaching for the bourbon bottle in my desk drawer – there’s none there – I have bad news. Your efforts create more bemusement that anger.

If you want to send me tips or information for a story and and don’t want to identify yourself, fine. Write today. But if your only goal is to deliver a cheap shot or two, have the courage to sign your name. All it takes is a little courage. But for some, that’s asking for a bit too much.