Rabbi Challenges Right to Anonymity on Internet
By Rebecca Spence
Forward [New York]
July 13, 2006
Some advocates for sexual abuse victims contend that anonymous blogging is necessary not only to shield accusers from potential harassment, but also to help them through the process of healing.
"One of the things most healing to any victim of a serious crime is to talk about it," said Vicki Polin, founder of The Awareness Center Inc., a volunteer organization that maintains a Web site on sexual abuse in the Jewish community. "When people start blogging, they realize they're not alone," she said.
But some Jewish bloggers expressed disdain toward those who remain anonymous. Stephen I. Weiss, who operates the religion blog Canonist and founded one of the first Jewish blogs to host discussions on sexual harassment by rabbis, said that while anonymity may be legally justified, it can't be morally justified. Many blogs "claim to bring down abusive rabbis when they don't," Weiss said. Still, Weiss added, "legally, the potential ramifications for what Tendler is proposing are horrendous."
Meanwhile, an Israeli Knesset member, Yisrael Hason, was set this week to introduce a bill that would require Internet sites to only post comments from participants who identify themselves, according to Israeli news reports. That bill was sparked by similar cases in Israel of public officials who were anonymously criticized by Internet bloggers.
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