Commission takes stand against Topix
Posted: Tuesday, March 22, 2011 9:03 pm
By: Chris Menees, Staff Reporter
By CHRIS MENEES
Obion County leaders have officially voiced opposition to anonymous postings on the Topix website.
The Obion County Commission unanimously approved a resolution pertaining to the website during its session Monday.
The resolution from a group of concerned citizens was originally presented to the Obion County Budget Committee at its March 7 session. The budget committee voted to forward the resolution to the full commission for consideration.
The concerned citizens were represented by local pastor the Rev. Eddie Mallonee at the budget committee meeting. He explained that several people who have concerns about the Internet website had gotten together to research and discuss the matter and how it negatively affects Obion County. They asked the county commission to approve a resolution to be sent to Topix’s corporate headquarters in California, similar to action already taken by some other cities’ and counties’ governing bodies.
Mallonee said Topix is an embarrassment to the county and he explained anyone is allowed to post anything anonymously on the website’s forums. He said several local churches have been slandered by posts and he said he is amazed that the website is so easily available for gossip and slander to be spread.
He explained there is no accountability and no repercussions for those who post slanderous statements on Topix — which is why the concerned citizens requested the resolution from government officials to Topix for the posting of computer IP numbers in order to identify the individuals who make posts.
Mallonee was ministering to a church member and was unable to attend Monday’s county commission meeting. In his absence, the Rev. Jerry Leggett opened by reading a Letter to the Editor that Mallonee recently submitted to The Messenger in response to the budget committee story published March 8. Mallonee emphasized he was not representing Second Baptist Church, which he pastors, but was expressing his freedom of speech as a citizen and had been chosen to speak on behalf of the group of concerned citizens who feel Topix is “doing great harm to our community.”
Ironically, county commission chairman Ralph Puckett introduced the agenda item Monday as a resolution from the church, but Mallonee’s letter made it abundantly clear that he was speaking on behalf of the concerned citizens.
Leggett stood at a podium before commissioners and read Mallonee’s letter in its entirety. Mallonee wrote that commissioners have been “unfairly attacked” over the issue and he emphasized commissioners are “dealing with the vital issues of our community and not spending a lot of time and no money on the Topix issue.” (See related Letter to the Editor in its entirety, Page 4.)
Mallonee said concerned citizens are not trying to take away anyone’s freedom of speech and are not trying to shut down Topix, but they believe freedom of speech includes responsibility. He said people are currently able to post anything on the website without putting their names to it, which is why the concerned citizens requested the resolution seeking the posting of computer IP numbers.
There was no discussion and commissioners made no comments after Leggett finished reading the letter. They then voted 21-0 to accept the resolution.
Published in The Messenger 3.22.11