OFFBEAT: Hiding behind no name

It doesn't take much courage to make a snide, anonymous and sexist remark. This isn't about Register online forums or the Fir
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

It doesn't take much courage to make a snide, anonymous and sexist remark.

This isn't about Register online forums or the First Amendment.

This is about how a low blow, dealt in cowardly fashion, might be within your right as an American, but maybe it's not humane, maybe its even downright misogynistic.

It's easy to be bold when no one knows who you are.

Just like the call I took last Wednesday in the newsroom. It was simple to dial the number, wait for a reporter to answer and let a hearty chuckle go as you make a disparaging remark about a woman.

Try taking a stand when everyone knows you, the cameras are snapping away and you're front-page news for a very personal matter. I can only imagine it's a lot harder.

It takes a lot more courage, patience and perseverance to be a female in a high-profile position in a male-dominated career field.

It takes even more courage to take a stand you urge other men and women to do almost daily, if something has possibly become dangerous or threatening in their home, knowing full well you will be made a public example.

Recently Sandusky Police Chief Kim Nuesse filed for a temporary protection order against her husband, James Nuesse. The order has since been dropped and Nuesse is filing for divorce.

Nuesse continues to calmly handle the attention, seeking to protect herself and children.

I've taken some pretty off-base calls while at the Register, but this one left me speechless.

A man called stating he would like to make a comment on behalf of himself and several other male co-workers.

He wouldn't say who he was, stating he preferred to remain anonymous.

We frequently get calls like this at the Register and we aren't in the business of stopping named or anonymous individuals from sharing their opinions.

A standard practice in journalism is to not print anonymous tips and opinions unless we can prove the information and feel the person could be harmed as a result of blowing a whistle.

I'm going against that practice, to make a point.

The man felt it necessary to question how Nuesse was capable of being the Sandusky police chief if she "can't even protect herself."

He went on to say that at first he liked Nuesse, but not now -- because she "can't protect the city," finishing off the conversation with a mean-spirited chuckle.

I will never know who you are, but I'm not laughing with you.

I wish I could laugh at you, but it's not a laughing matter.

A woman felt the need to insure her children's and her own security. That happens every day in courts across America. Thankfully anyone can seek protection under the law when necessary.

I don't know either Nuesse and I won't pretend to know what led to the court proceedings.

But it shouldn't matter. Yes, she is a city official, but she's followed the letter of the law and court policies. She didn't abuse her power as a police chief and she's not asking for special treatment.

I was in such awe of the sheer audacity of the anonymous comments I didn't play devils advocate or come to Nuesse's defense.

Later I wondered, does the caller have daughters or a sister? Wouldn't he want them to achieve their professional goals and feel safe at home?

What else should she do but follow the laws and court processes she asks others to follow?

In an era where women are breaking through professional glass ceilings, there is a female presidential candidate, women are fighting in wars and Nuesse's personal life is on display in a glass house, I'm sorry someone is using the First Amendment as an excuse to throw a rock.