Supervisors seek to quiet state’s bloggers

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, April 27, 2011

NATCHEZ — The Adams County Board of Supervisors wants Mississippi to lead the nation in passing laws to stop “bloggers” from hiding behind their screen names.

District 2 Supervisor Henry Watts said blogs, such as the comment section on, sometimes contain untrue or defamatory statements made by anonymous people.

“If there’s an 82-year-old woman who reads (a person) is a thief, she might think that,” Watts said. “I think it’s wrong.”

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Watts said blogs affect first impressions, which can carry much impact on a person’s opinion.

District 5 Supervisor S.E. “Spanky” Felter said he understands freedom of speech leaves the supervisors, as elected officials, open to more ridicule than the average citizen.

“We’re fair game,” Felter said.

However, Felter said regular people featured in news stories often become the target of unfair accusations or insensitive comments.

“They should use real names instead of pseudo-names,” Board President Darryl Grennell said.

Grennell said the board could ask the Mississippi Association of Supervisors to send a resolution to the state legislature suggesting bloggers must identify themselves.

“If we adopt a resolution through the MAS, we need to send it to the legislative committee as son as possible (to) bring it before the floor,” Grennell said.

Watts said he has spoken to Rep. Sam Mims and Sen. Bob Dearing about the issue, and he expects pushing for forcing bloggers to identify themselves might garner some criticism, which he is prepared to take.

“In order to get out of your comfort zone and stand for something, you have to face ridicule,” Watts said. “But I would love to see Mississippi lead the nation (in requiring names on blogs).”

Watts made a motion to urge legislators to pass a law to outlaw bloggers in Mississippi unless they sign their name and the county or town where the blogger lives.

Felter seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.

• The board proclaimed Adams County in a state of emergency due to the projected flooding of the Mississippi River.

The board will review the proclamation of a state of emergency every seven days until conditions are safe.

“The conditions of extreme peril warrant and necessitate the proclamation of … a local emergency in order to provide for the health and safety of the citizens and the protection of property within the affected jurisdiction,” the proclamation said.

The board also directed Board Attorney Bobby Cox to research the legality of providing assistance of equipment or labor to Vidalia if needed.

• The board-discussed county administrator candidates in executive session for approximately an hour.

Board Attorney Bobby Cox said after the meeting the board made no decisions during executive session and had no announcements to make.

Cox said the board will probably continue discussions of the candidates at its May 2 meeting.

The position has been vacant for approximately 13 months with the exception of approximately 30 days last summer when Joe Murray briefly served in the position before resigning.