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In today's pages: Online flames, Obama's pride

March 1, 2008 | 12:38 pm

Toon0301 Writer Andrew Keen rethinks "the civic value of anonymous speech in the digital age":

Today, when cowardly anonymity is souring Internet discourse, it really is hard to understand how anonymous speech is vital to a free society.... it is the responsibility of all of us -- parents, citizens and lawmakers -- to ensure that contemporary Web users don't behave like antisocial canines. And one way to achieve this is by introducing more legislation to punish anonymous sadists whose online lies are intended to wreck the reputations and mental health of innocent Americans.

Also on the Op-Ed page, Tim Rutten calls Catholics the last true 'swing vote,' and Meghan Daum digs into Michelle (and Barack) Obama's post-baby-boomer past to explain why Michelle recently said, "for the first time in my adult lifetime, I'm really proud of my country."

The editorial board wonders why L.A.'s award-winning tapwater still doesn't get any love, and urges state officials to take a broader look at the healthcare industry's suspect business practices. The board also tries to figure out how blowing up cell phone towers will help the Taliban gain popular support:

The question is, does the Taliban have to win hearts and minds to prevail in Afghanistan, or can it succeed simply by driving the foreigners out? If it cares about cultivating public support, then messing with people's beloved cellphones is a strategic mistake. But what if its strategy is to terrorize and intimidate the Afghan people, make Karzai and the West look impotent, sabotage progress and wear out Western patience? Will the Afghan people submit? Are their cellphones worth fighting for?

Readers react to Heather Mac Donald's Feb. 24 commentary, "What campus rape crisis?" Gemma Drouhard writes:

Although everyone is entitled to an opinion, and certainly the Opinion section is the place for this, newspapers have a responsibility to the dignity of human beings. If The Times believed this, it never would have printed Mac Donald's horrible article. Rape is never the fault of the victim, and it does no good to blame the women who must deal with this tragedy. In the future, think about who you are hurting before publishing such irresponsible journalism.

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