You are welcome to comment anonymously here. Some of you have good reason to fear retribution if your identities are disclosed. Without anonymity, we'd all be deprived of your inside insights. Others among you may own small businesses, where it is never a good idea to voice strong opinions. A few of you may even wish to remain anonymous simply to protect your children's identity.
Whatever the reason, I am more interested in the message than the messenger. I respect the preference of many genuine commenters for pseudonymity and will protect their privacy. On the other hand, I have and will out people who hide behind the veil of anonymity to launch nasty personal attacks. I'll also out public officials and corporations who attempt to mislead readers.
I'm about to do it again.
These sinners violate the Daily Whackjob's Fourth Commandment: "If you feel like you can’t say something using your real name or your usual screen name, then you probably shouldn’t say it." Violations inevitably lead to the Sixth Commandment: "Don’t be surprised when anonymous commenters/bloggers get outed after making fools of themselves."
A Few Outed Trolls
Over the past two years, I've outed a few such fools. One of them is George Speros Maniatty, Jr, an anonymous troll who constantly tries to ruin meaningful discussion with misinformation and childish taunts. He's an Allentown Democratic committeeman and rabid Sam Bennett supporter. But candidates keep George at arm's length because his sleazy antics can get them in trouble. George's myspace profile tells us he's single and looking. I'm already taken, so he's reduced to friends like "Ivana Fukalot."
I outed Northampton County council member Lamont McClure when he disingenuously tried to pass himself off as a normal "man on the street", who was gathering information about county government on the basis of what he reads in The Express Times. I even outed an astroturf blog being paid by AT&T to manipulate public opinion about net neutrality. In both of those cases, there was a dishonest attempt to manipulate public opinion.
You can be a troll, too!
Local blogger Chris Casey thinks my comments policy is just horrible, repeatedly calls me a blog Nazi (without having the guts to mention me by name) and ridiculously complains my comments policy is the reason no one ever comments on his blog. Waaah. He even goes so far as to recommend you all rush out right away to buy anonymous surfing software so that you can all be trolls, too. I've got news for Casey. Anyone, including him, who thinks anonymity gives him a license to launch vicious personal attacks, is eventually going to be outed.
This brings me to the latest troll, a person who first appeared in January, when I wrote about Allentown Mayor Pawlowski's strong-arm tactics against a 75 year-old woman who dared conduct yard sales outside her Turner Street home. Lagata8484 exploded with a vicious diatribe aimed at Lázaro Fuentes (with an á, damn it!), Michael Molovinsky, Scott Armstrong and yours truly.
The words that never hurt you
Bernie: "is only known to his bellyaching companions and the leaders in business and commerce and government dont take him seriously as he is annoying and very small."
Molovinsky: "was ridiculed and trounced when he took himself seriously and made a run for mayor, the city has spoken loudly that no one knows how his mind works nor cares."
Armstrong: "is ever present at city council meetings bitching about stuff that no one else seems to care about. He is a case study for bad style and has a pit bull mind on a french poodle face and a voice that makes God cringe."
Fuentes: "Lazaro's Hispanic Chamber may be down to 2 members soon, him and his wife , as he is a hispanic version of Scott. The chamber has no presence in the latino community or any where else, it has as much credibility as Lazaro's degree from Columbia University. What a joke the lot of you are."
Intimidation Tactics a Pawlowski Standard
According to Scott Armstrong, these intimidation tactics are standard fare from Pawlowski's horde. He should know. Sycophants have attempted to intimidate Armstrong with love notes like this:
"I heard you on WAEB the other morning. You certainly have a big mouth. Instead of flapping your gums, why don't just keep sucking cocks? We in the neighborhood know exactly what you do, and to whom you do it. We are watching every move you make. We wonder what the members of Allentown City Council, would think of you, if they only knew. The next time you attend a Council Meeting, you are going to be exposed, for what you are. A cock sucker.
Have a great day, From all us"
"Hey, Blow anyone today? You know who we are!! TaTa, You, neighbor on the corner."
Verbal intimidation is one thing, but it extends to physical threats, too. Armstrong tells me "my car was vandalized with an M-80, and it was keyed countless times. The phone would ring when I entered the house and when I picked it up the caller would hang up; this happened routinely and was meant to send a message. My back door bell was rung in the middle of the night. My phone would ring at all hours with no one on the other end."
Armstrong is by no means alone. I've noticed myself that the standard response to any criticism of Mayor Pawlowski is an anonymous personal attack. But I had decided to ignore Lagata8484.
Until last week. That's when he posted a comment that snarked Lázaro's wife, calling her a "rice and beans" eater. I tried ignoring that, but can't.
Pawlowski Troll is Edward DeGrace
Lagata8484 is actually Edward DeGrace, described by Scott Armstrong as a Pawlowski apologist. "He's part of the city machine and will do what he has to do to make sure the machine succeeds." DeGrace, who actually hails from Cape Verde, is a Democratic activist who worked for Pawlowski's 2005 mayoral campaign. I tried calling him at his home last night, but this Air Products-employed intimidator was too scared to get on the phone. Morning Call archives paint him as a "community activist" who has even had a few op-eds published. He's also a Pawlowski bully who lacks the courage to be accountable for what he writes.
It matters very little to me if someone wants to attack me or talk about my alcoholism or legal suspension or weight or adult film career. And I appreciate people who disagree with me. I already know what I think and think we all benefit from different points of view. But when someone uses anonymity to attack other people, they're already doing something stupid. After that, it's only a matter of time.