What is Spout Off?

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Spout Off is a “community in conversation with itself,” to borrow the phrase of Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, Walter Lippmann. If you have a compelling thought, a question, a concern or a critique that you want to communicate anonymously to the people of Cape May County, just click here to submit it. Your Spout will be reviewed for compliance with submission rules. Your compliant Spout will be published to hundreds of thousands of readers via the Herald’s weekly print edition and the Herald’s website.

In sharing your thoughts, you not only get something off your chest, you participate with thousands of Cape May County citizens in the democratic process, the process that links us back to the very foundation of our exceptional experiment in representative democracy. Although Spout Off may often be messy in word and thought, when it’s true to its purpose, it stands as a forum unfiltered by the elite, by those in power, and by those responsible for the public business. Political correctness and fear of petty retribution all take a holiday on SpoutOff, while the most vulnerable and powerless among us are given a megaphone. To read just one week’s crop of SpoutOffs is to experience a broad range of human emotion and issues from life in our society.

I have been told by some that Spout Off lacks standing because no one knows the author. My thinking is, the thoughts expressed stand on their own merit, as with the Federalist Papers, and some books of the Bible. In 1995 the Supreme Court reaffirmed its protections for anonymous speech when it stated in McIntyre vs. Ohio Elections Commission that,

"Protections for anonymous speech are vital to democratic discourse. Allowing dissenters to shield their identities frees them to express critical minority views . . . Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. . . . It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation . . . at the hand of an intolerant society." *

When Thomas Jefferson said, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter,” he was saying, the people's involvement in governing themselves was more important than having a government. The more you participate, the stronger our community and our nation become.

Thank you for your participation.

Art Hall

* https://www.eff.org/issues/anonymity