Shared secrets: by anonymous | AspenTimes.com

Shared secrets: by anonymous

Andy Stone

(Columnist note: I, Andy Stone, did not write this column. This column was written anonymously by someone who does not want his or her identity revealed. I have no idea who actually wrote this column. I love turning over my job to people I don’t know. The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily my opinions. Indeed, they are not necessarily the opinions of the person or persons who wrote the column … whoever they may be.)Anonymity seems to be the rage these days. I love it! Why, after all, should anyone have to stand up in public and accept the blame for what he says or does or thinks?Hey, there’s plenty of time to stand up when – and if – there’s credit to be handed out. Offer me praise (or, better yet, money) and, by golly, I’ll stand up just as proud as can be. But signing up (in my real name anyway) for blame – or criminal prosecution – just ain’t my style.That’s why I’m all in favor of the lovely people – whomever they might be – who were behind a recent “survey” of local residents about Aspen land-use issues.It wasn’t really a survey, of course. It was just a way of slipping a little delightful disinformation into the debate. Some people focused on the question about proposed changes to the land-use code – even though there aren’t any proposed land-use code changes yet.Personally, my favorite question was this one: “City rules say that Aspen’s land-use code has to be printed in the blood of babies. Do you think those babies should be kidnapped from Eagle and Garfield counties? Or should we use our own Aspen babies?”Now that’s a survey!I also approve whole-heartedly of the continuing anonymity of the public-spirited citizen who cut the tops off those evil cottonwood trees in the east end.I, of course, have no idea who did it. But I certainly understand why that person would want to remain anonymous to avoid totally inappropriate criticism.This is a painful case, because the tree-topper deserves our praise!He (or she) saved us from the danger that those trees might have grown too tall, succumbed to disease (the dreaded Cottonwood Weevil) and fallen on some innocent citizen.Whew! Close call.By the way, I have it on good authority that the owners of the condominium behind those trees was not involved. Nor was his property manager. Nor was the landscaper they were talking to about pruning those trees. In fact, it was apparently some heroic freelance tree-topper who raced out of the bushes, shimmied up the trees under the cover of darkness and whittled the tops off with a Swiss Army knife.We owe that hero a vote of thanks.And while we’re on the subject of anonymity, I want to take a moment to praise Aspen’s chief of police (of course we all know his name, but why mess up a good thing by mentioning it here?). Chief X has heroically declined (so far) to release a report on one of his officers who used a high-voltage weapon to zap a homeless woman.Yes, the name of the officer is public record, so there’s no real anonymity here. But the least the chief can do is to protect us from finding out what actually happened!There’s a principal at stake here: Knowledge confuses. Ignorance is bliss. Anonymity is sacred.In fact, that’s what the Framers of the Constitution had in mind when they guaranteed Freedom of the Press. What they really intended was that newspapers should not be cluttered up with people’s names.They were honoring our heroic troops who hid behind stone walls and fired – anonymously! – at the hated British.Taking pot-shots from ambush. It’s the American Way.Andy Stone is former editor of The Aspen Times. His e-mail address is andy@aspentimes.com.