Saturday, February 12, 2011

Anonymous, go suck a whirlwind

John Ramsey Miller

There's this new book, O, about President Obama that was written by an anonymous author, just as the book PRIMARY COLORS was published with the author being the anonymous columnist Joe Klein. I mean PC was supposed to be fiction, right? It wasn't actually about Bill Clinton, who was one of the best Republican presidents ever. I'm sure it's a marketing ploy (since who needs another book about a sitting president?) just as I'm sure the publisher will swear that the reason for the anonymous tag is to insure truthfulness. I'm sure that was done because Obama would have the NSA black-baggers disappear the author if they could somehow discover who he or she is. Because it's a huge secret on the order of who really killed JFK. I can think of lots of books that should have been written anonymously, like THE PROPHET by Kahlil Gibran or anything by Stephenie Meyer. Jus a' kidding Steph. Seriously, anonymous is a punk-out. Stand up and take your medicine.

When I was young, my father was a Methodist minister, so I was a hellion of the first order. (stop me if I've told you this before). I didn't get into trouble, I lived in trouble. I believed it was my calling. I got caught at it with amazing regularity due to my youth and inexperience, but I got better at evading detection as I grew older. Luckily I aged out of hell raising as an art form, having done no lasting damage to anyone, or to myself. The point of this confession is to say that after having done something actionable, someone sent my father a letter detailing my marauding one evening. It was perfectly written and should have convicted me to a severe grounding, except for the fact that they had signed the letter, "A concerned citizen". After reading it to me, my father tore up the letter and tossed it into the trash, saying that if the person didn't have the spine to sign the letter, he could not take it seriously. Being a liberal, I suspect he felt that I had the right to be confronted by my accuser. I also suspect that a Baptist minister would have, in similar circumstance, whipped his son, happy to take the word of a cowardly vigilante.

Another reason I'm talking about "anons" is because my daughter-in-law has a beauty salon and it's a first class operation, and she's a very talented hair stylist. She even does my hair with all my cowlicks––that's how good she is. She is listed on a local site that highlights commercial businesses of note, and there's a place for customer comments underneath, and you get stars just like an Amazon rating system. Well she was nominated for "Beauty Shop of the Year" and the next day someone wrote a nasty review saying that she smelled like cigarettes, dressed in trashy outfits, talked behind her customers backs, made lewd jokes about passersby, left "bleed marks" from a bad dye job, etc... It was signed anonymous. My son's wife, the most wonderful and hard working person I know, has fifteen excellent reviews below that one. She is sure the comment was left by her main competitor because some of the detractor's comments included beauty shop trade terms, too technical for a patron to use. There's this beautician who hates my daughter-in-law due to losing a huge wedding party of a bride and her bridesmaids gig--but that's another story involving my youngest son who's getting married in June. But she'll never know and she can't get the comment taken off even though it's totally a lie. And, it's a small southern town we live in.

I agree with my father, who died on my birthday three years ago. Anybody who won't sign their name and take responsibility for their words, is more than likely a coward and is probably just throwing monkey crap through the bars at the audience. If you can't use your name due to the fact that you might be fired or set upon, then I say keep your damned opinion to yourself and live with it.

I tend to say idiotic things that I shouldn't say and put my name on it. I once traded six columns to my local newspaper in exchange for an antique granite body slab that came out of a funeral home. What I wrote lit fires all over the community, but that's another story. My wife (and more than a few others) tell me that some of my critical social filters must be clogged with dust balls. I am cognizant of the fact that a lot of my opinions would be best left unshared, or anonymous, but I'm not apt to do anything at this point in my life that makes sense.

By the way, as of last week my first novel THE LAST FAMILY, published in 1996 is now an eBook, which means that all of my novels are available in electronic format from Bantam/Dell. And I don't have to worry about the pages yellowing.






9 comments:

  1. Well, I can't speak for other Baptist ministers, but my father is a Baptist minister and though he never received an anonymous letter concerning me (that I know of) I just don't see him as the type who would punish someone on the word or Anonymous. I could however, see him reminding me of why I shouldn't be doing whatever was mentioned in the letter.

    A person hiding behind anonymity lacks credibility. While it is fine to write fiction or poetry anonymously because the author isn't important and the value of the writing is in the work itself, for non-fiction we need some evidence that the author knows what he is talking about and doesn't intend it for evil.

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  2. naming a book, "O", could be the death knell. i would assume it was about oprah, and breeze right by it! from another 'anonymous'. now you've started something.

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  3. Lol, Anonymous!

    John, unfortunately your daughter-in-law is going to have to grow a thick hide about sniping reviews. It must be all the harder when one lives in the tiny world of a small town. Very few of these commercial review platforms allow a business owner to reply, much less delete a comment. Hopefully her other customers will respond by posting subsequent reviews that take "Anonymous" to task as a liar and a coward.

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  4. Timothy,
    My father was a Baptist minister until he went to Emory during WWII and converted. My father's father was a Baptist minister. My older brother is an ordained but non-practicing Methodist minister, my younger brother is a Baptist deacon, and my sister is a Catholic. I am not sure what I am.

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  5. I had to smile because I agree. And I would have loved to see some of the shenanigans you got into :)

    Shame about the Daughter in Law. Maybe she could post a 'higher road' response and show who has real class.

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  6. I couldn't agree more. I delete the rare anonymous comments to my blog, and never respond to anonymous left in others', except sometimes to call out the anonymous commenter for making a snarky comment and not accepting even the tiny bit of internet responsibility that comes with a handle.

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  7. As an ordained Pentecostal minister who grew up in a Conservative Charismatic Methodist church and has served as a Presbyterian lay minister for over twenty years (yeah, all true, really) my kids first get a quick slap, then a serious praying over, followed by a lecture then a deep psychological going over followed by sincere loving hugs...then another slap.

    All of it with full name recognition.

    On another note, being occasionally on the radio as a talkhost (as well as a storyteller) my name is inseparably connected to my words. But unlike my books, my radio stuff ain't edited before public consumption. Best I can hope for is that when the bits pop out that should'a been thought over for a second longer and mentally censored prior to verbal spewage, maybe everyone listening sneezed at the same time and didn't hear it.

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  8. I think there are circumstances where the freedom to be anonymous is important, but hiding behind anonymity while taking snipes at competitors is pretty low. Fortunately, it's usually a rather transparent act. I think many people reading that comment will see it as an aberration, and may even assume its a competitor (or an unhappy ex-friend).

    I've even heard rumors that for some self-pubbed authors, their sales went up after they got one bad review. Maybe before that, everyone assumed the good reviewers were all shills? At any rate, that vile poster will probably reap the karma of his or her act, and it may ultimately benefit your daughter-in-law.

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