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April 6, 2009 - 8:01pm

We have a simple expection on The Batavian: Use your real name

posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian.

What is it with Republicans and posting on The Batavian? It seems not many of them post, and when they do, too often we figure out later that they are not using their real names.

  • MIchael Barney
  • Michael Farnsworth
  • Maddie LaNova
  • Niel Hamburger
  • Robert Drewinski

And now Frank Michaels: All apparently fake names espousing conservative, if not overtly, Republican views.

I'm not interested in making this a partisan issue, but geez ... the trend here is disturbing. Why can't local Republicans do, as many active local Democrats do, and comment freely under their real names?

Michael Barney, of course, turned out to be County Legislator Jay Grasso.

Farnsworth and LaNova left pro-Grasso comments on the post about Grasso, such as:

This is so not cool! Everybody goes on line with other names! I sat in a high school class that Legislator Grasso came to when I was a Senior. It is a local government seminar. He was pretty decent. He talked about how to access your local government and things like that. He also helped some kids with their exit projects. He did not come accross as political and I did not know his party from it. If he was posting s**t like "vote for grasso", then you should hammer him. He did not do this. Not cool at all.

Farnsworth, LaNova and Frank Michaels all have one thing in common:  They're using the same Road Runner business account IP address.

Grasso, for his part, denies emphatically that he is Frank Michaels.

"I give you my word," Grasso said. "I don’t need the aggravation from the Dems. They would eat me alive."

So here's my plea to local Republicans: We want your comments as much as anybody's on The Batavian, we just ask that you use your real names. Is that too much to ask?

And apologies to the Republicans on the site who are posting under their real names, and there are a few, but I wish the attempts at fake names would stop.  It would be good to have more conservative voices on the site (we often get accused of being a Democratic haven). We just expect both conservatives and progressives to use their real names.  Why try to subvert that? We almost always figure it out.

Brian Hillabush
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The Republicans I know that won't post do so because of a select group of Democrats that can't post without attacking. I am obviously for using real names, but that is the reason I've been given.
Peter O'Brien
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Its a sad Republican that feels the need to respond to attacks from the "peace loving" democrats.
John Roach
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To be fair, both sides have "attacked", but I think we all know who you mean.
Brian Hillabush
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Heck, I'm probably the most far to the right of all the members on this site and even I can have a political conversation and not insult people. It really is a shame that the Dems have a few that make them look so bad. It would be fun to have more crazy, war loving, elitist conservatives to post with me. :)
Robert Harding
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This question comes to mind: Has a Maddie LaNova or Michael Farnsworth ever attended LeRoy High School? After all, if Grasso spoke at a high school, it would probably be in the legislative district he represents. That district encompasses LeRoy, so it only makes sense that the person who made that comment and saw Grasso speak when they were a senior would be an alum of LeRoy High School. As for the claims that Republicans don't post here because of Democrats and their "attacking" ways, I don't buy that excuse. This is a forum of free thought, not some controlled medium where only one view is allowed and the other side is excluded. Some here could use an extra dose of respect, but never have I seen anyone try to exclude someone merely because they were on the other side of the political fence. Genesee County is a Republican County. There are eight Republicans and one Democrat on the county Legislature. The enrollment edge goes to the Republicans. A Republican represents the county in the New York State Assembly and Senate, as well as the House of Representatives. The thought that Republicans don't post here because of attacks by Democrats is laughable, given the local political climate. I am from Orleans County and I post freely (and willingly) with Democrats, Republicans, conservatives, liberals and people from all over the political spectrum. I don't see why The Batavian can't supply the same sort of platform. But on to the topic: Mr. Grasso. Mr. Grasso was deceptive the first time when he got caught. I don't trust him this time either. If he isn't the one behind the names above, then he knows who is. I know Grasso is reading this, so I'm going to be straight-forward: Be truthful Grasso. There are a lot of people reading this blog. Maybe you like the attention. Maybe you believe in the notion that all press is good press. Or maybe you are just obsessed with hearing your name or seeing your name in print. I tend to think it's the latter. Some accountability is in order. Mr. Grasso, if you can't be honest with any of us, at least be honest with yourself. Realize your errors and make it right.
Lorie Longhany
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Brian, this really isn't about political banter, is it? It's about honesty on a site that requires as much to participate. When most of us post a political comment on this site it reflects a belief system, whether it is progressive, conservative or libertarian. The person posting owns their comments and is brave enough to express them using real identities. Hiding behind some made up persona, calling out people by name that may have a different political view is cowardly and dishonest. Brian, we may totally disagree politically, but I have the utmost respect for your honest and open expression of your beliefs. Obviously Farnsworth, LaNova, Franks, Barney and the rest of these characters think that they are above reproach and that rules simply do not apply. My mother always says that some people find it so easy to lie that they start to believe themselves after awhile. Robert, I live in LeRoy and no these people don't exist and hence didn't attend LeRoy High School. They are made up. They even took their charade over to your site and posted comments on TAP http://www.thealbanyproject.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=5797 Hey, Mr. Michaels, it's me. I'm popping off that milk carton to say "hi". Since you and the rest of your friends don't exist it's kind of ironic that you would call out me and others for being silent in another comment.
Brian Hillabush
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Lorie, We are on opposite ends of the political spectrum, but we are civil and can have a reasonable conversation about what we believe. While I enjoy taking pokes at liberals, I would never disrespect another person for any reason. My point is that there are a lot more Democrats than Republicans that post on here and there are some - a very small minority - that do not show respect in their arguments. I know Republicans that refuse to register and post because they don't want to deal with people that attack rather than debate. It is more about civility than political affiliation I think. I know that there are times that there will be a debate going on and I won't jump in because I see others that agree with me getting bashed. I don't know Jay personally and am not sure if he used the fake names because of this reason or another, but I think he should always use his real name. As Robert stated, Genesee County is conservative. But The Batavian definitely gets many more comments from liberals.
dennis wight
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Howard, why are you such a crybaby over real name usage. On any other blog site nobody uses real names. If these are fake names how do you know that they are republicans? I didn't realize this was a "democratic view only" blog site.
Howard B. Owens
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Dennis, you miss the whole point -- we very much want Republicans commenting as much as Democrats, but they should do so under their real names. I've been involved in online communities for nearly 15 years and I've seen anonymity absolutely destroy communities over times, while the communities that do the best -- like, say, Facebook -- thrive on real identity. Or look at something like Twitter -- fake names are possible and are used, but almost all of the top tweeps (if not all of them) are known, people know who the really are. Identity and credibility go hand-in-hand. Would you really want it to be easy -- as it is on the Daily's site -- for elected officials to anonymously push their own agendas, even personally attacking political opponents? That just doesn't seem ethical to me. In our survey I just got a comment from somebody suggesting that the Daily is doing better with comments than we are because they allow anonymity, but I know people who won't participate in their comments for exactly that reason. And they most certainly are not getting more comments than we do on The Batavian. The person also suggested that anonymity would open up the range of commenters, and I can tell you for a fact that just isn't true. Anonymity would chase away some current commenters and make it easier for a small cadre of bullies to control the conversation. I started comments on the Ventura County Star site in early 2004 when almost no newspapers -- and I wasn't aware of any at the time -- allowed comments on stories. The Star still struggles with a small cadre of anonymous bullies trying to control the conversations. I've simply never seen anonymity in a community conversation setting like this ever, ever lead to anything good.
Robert Harding
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Brian, I would like to know who is liberal that you are referring to. Surely I am, but I am not a frequent contributor. I know that Russ Stresing is, but that's the only one I can think of. And considering Russ has dueled with a few people on this blog, that tells me that there is plenty of conservatives around, including people who are Democrats like John Roach. Yes, Democrats can be conservatives too. And again, the "Republicans don't sign up because they will get attacked" excuse is old and outdated. I have heard it before in my own county. The reality is that they don't want to engage in debate where they will have to defend themselves (elected officials have steered clear of these blogs, forums and message boards) or defend the ideas they support. I have read The Batavian long enough to know that there is more debate than attacks. The only real "attacks" I have seen are the ongoing battles between Russ and John Roach, which come and go. But aside from that, I think the excuse you have furthered here gives the impression that this blog is nothing but a bunch of hate-filled individuals who don't want to hear from anyone else. In fact, it only furthers (conveniently enough) a claim made by "Frank Michaels" that a few Genesee County Democrats would jump on him for being wrong. So, since the liberals "attack", I decided to take a look around. This is a recent post written by Howard featuring Lorie Longhany's take on the state budget. In the comments section, there were four comments. The first comment made this claim: "Sounds to me like the Dumbocrats are following Emperor Nero Magoo's lead and burning NY to the ground. Seriously, in a time when people are hurting for money, taking more away from them is just dumb. But who can be surprised." Singling out the liberals/Democrats on this blog for attacking others is unfair, especially with comments like this one floating around out there. So before you go tossing labels around Brian, I would read your blog and make sure you know what you are talking about. There are bad apples on both sides. But that hardly means that we are all bad apples.
Peter O'Brien
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That comment was directed at elected officials and was not an attack on a non public figure. Thats the difference. I don't sit here and call other posters on the page names. I attack those who make poor decisions like increasing spending when you complain about budget shortfalls.
Peter O'Brien
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Here is a perfect reason why anonymous posting can be bad. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,512957,00.html
Karen Miconi
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I've found this blogg has been used way to much for political, and personal gain. At times I sign out because of the negative, insulting comments I see. These comments use to fuel my participation, but I found I was having to defend myself, instead of sharing opinions with others. To the bloggers I have offended I AM SORRY..I was just defending myself from your attacks, and felt cornered. I hope we all can be honest, and post our real names, and opinions. I have always been a Happy, Make someones Day, Kind of person, and would give my last dime to anyone in need. I've had a real hard time being positive, and happy on here though. To the imposters, not posting their real names, don't you believe in yourself? Lets stop hiding under mommys skirt. Lifes too short. Can't we be objective adults, and look forward to blogging our opinions? "YES WE CAN". We will get farther in life being honest and true. We should also thank Howard Owen for the privledge to blogg on this fine site. Thank You Howard, Karen Miconi PS: Forgive me for my spelling.
Gabor Deutsch
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Every single post seems to lead to talking politics. A good example is "Ralph Wilson is not Dead", by Brian Hillabush. Watch how quick a Football Post turned to be a vicious and political barrage of insults and had absolutely nothing to do with Ralph Wilson.
Beth Kinsley
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If Ralph Wilson was dead he'd be rolling over in his grave.
Karen Miconi
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LOL
C. M. Barons
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Hiding behind a false name is not about protection- it's about defying responsibility. Our conservative fellow-bloggers may be paranoid, but the plea for prophylactic anonymity is fraud. These clowns want to spout provocative comments and avoid accountability. The first thing a mudslinger requires is a shield.
Adama Brown
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Oh, for bleep's sake. Look, whether you agree with the policy of requiring the use of real names or not, that is the openly stated policy of this site. Period. Personally I think that there's plenty of room for both viewpoints online, and if I want anonymous political speech there are other venues. However, The Batavian makes it VERY clear that you're expected to fess up to who you are if you comment on here. How is it that Grasso and whoever else has such a hard time with this? The only reason that somebody needs to make up fake names to support themselves with is if they want to manipulate people's perceptions of what's going on.
Tom Gilliatt
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Fake name=Fake person in my book if the rules are to use a real name. Anyone remember ol Laz and his long winded posts.
Beth Kinsley
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How could we forget Laz? Did we ever figure out who he was? He had another name too.
Tom Gilliatt
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Thats what I heard but I don't think Howard will tell.
Gabor Deutsch
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He (laz) lived up to his ficticious but biblical name. I hated the long posts but strangely enjoyed his points about things !
Beth Kinsley
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I would always get lost halfway through his posts. I'm sure there was a point in there somewhere though.
Tom Gilliatt
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Gabor I kind of thought he gave the place some spark my self it was alot better then reading CRAP about Batavia's money problems.
Beth Kinsley
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I'd have to agree. I kind of miss him. Laz - come back! Only you have to use your real name.

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