We have a lot of good, spirited discussions on Blue Ridge Muse. Some agree with the issues we raise here, some do not. That’s good. healthy debate is fostered when those with differing opinions offer them openly and without rancor.

But the Internet is also a breeding ground for bomb throwers and troublemakers who hurl their weapons of mass distraction through cyberspace while hiding behind anonymous screen names or hide their identities with initials, partial names or fake names.

Positive community debate is not served by those who attack anonymously or throw out insults or false information while hiding who they are and who they might represent.

Some of our best debates come from those who disagree strongly with what is written here and who have the courage to stand behind what they say with their names: Jack Russell, Jeff Walker, Jason Rutledge and others. We may not agree on certain topics but I respect their willingness to debate openly and honestly.

When I post an opinion piece on this web site, I do so with my name. Who I am is no secret. Where I work is no mystery. What I drive is known to most. My home and office numbers are in the phone book and the address and phone number for Blue Ridge Muse is prominently displayed on this web site.

Yet many who disagree lack the courage to confront me head-on. Instead they post anonymous, sometimes hate-filled posts here. They send anonymous emails, leave anonymous notes on my studio door or under the windshield wiper of my Jeep. They send anonymous claims of wrongdoing to the editor of The Floyd Press or posted on a business establishment bulletin board.  Last year, someone left dog feces smeared on the door handle of my studio.

Some who believe they are so clever in trying to hide their identity fail to realize that caller ID can unmask an anonymous crank call or that someone who makes their living through the Internet can back trace an emailed or posted threat. That’s how I know the name of a high school softball player who posts with just her initials, a Citizens Telephone employee who uses just his first name or a school system employee who uses a fake first name. Each has an axe to grind but they don’t have the courage to do it openly.

Such cowards cannot, and will not, intimidate me. Over the past 40-plus years I’ve been threatened by people far more dangerous than angry high school students, disgruntled civil servants or cubicle commandos.

I can deal with these cowards but I do not have to allow them to use this web site to spread false claims or to poison debate while hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet.

So, effective immediately, those who do not use their names will not be allowed to post on Blue Ridge Muse. Comments will go into a moderation queue and only those who use their names will be allowed to appear. In the coming days, we will put a registration system into place that will allow those who wish to post without moderation to register but only those who register with their names will be allowed to join.

I’m sorry it had to come to this but I’m tired of letting cowards waste my time and the time of those who read this web site. Those who wish to discuss this matter with me can do so by visiting our studio at 201 East Main Street in Floyd, calling me at 540.745.3433 or emailing me at doug@dougthompson.com

If you want to confront me over something that I’ve written you can find me most mornings having breakfast at Blue Ridge Restaurant or Cafe del Sol. You can find me at most high school sporting events. I’m the guy with all the cameras. Or you can come by the studio. If I’m not there there is usually a sign saying where I can be found.

I’ve got guts enough to stand up, look anyone in the eye, and defend what I say or stand behind what I believe.

Do you?