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Should Public Bashing Go Hand-inHand with Anonymity?

Two days after Edgar Allan Poe’s death, the New York Tribune carried a widely disseminated obituary of the famous writer.  Although it was signed by “Ludwig,” Poe's friends suspected Rufus Griswold as the anonymous writer.

Thereafter, Griswold conned Poe’s mother-in-law into giving him Poe’s papers, including his letters and other works. Griswold then took it upon himself to massively change Poe’s writings.

No rewrite was too outrageous, and no lie was too great, when it came to Griswold’s reworking of Poe’s private papers, letters and life facts. The public believed the lies and grossly altered “facts.”

Rufus Griswold intentionally and negatively changed Poe’s private letters and documents. What would have caused him to do such a thing?

When people write things anonymously—like Griswold’s obituary of Poe—do they tend to be more vicious than if they were identified? Explain your answer.

Do anonymous comments in today's online world bear some of the same trademarks as Griswold's insensitive assessment of Poe? Why, or why not?

If people were required to sign their real names to their online comments, would those comments likely change? How?


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