Notes From Babel

Blogging Is Silly Enough Without Anonymity

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An online spat between NRO’s Ed Whelan and a formerly anonymous blogger, now outed as South Texas College of Law professor John Blevins (see links here, here, here, and here), got me thinking about the subject of anonymous blog posting. I never thought about doing it here, and I got nervous for a bit after considering Blevins’ reasons for seeking to maintain anonymity. Perhaps it’s a good idea — I’m a practicing lawyer, and it’s possible my views on things could create professional discomfort or even conflicts. And as I noted at one point in discussing gay marriage, I always fear one of my gay friends will misinterpret my legal and political views as imputing some sort of personal intolerance, which could not be further from the truth.

On the other hand, knowing that my name will be attached to my posts adds significant motive to more closely scrutinize my own thoughts and analysis, and to edit and tailor my language to more precisely reflect my ideas. Due to my work schedule, I do much of my writing in the evenings, sometimes just before I turn in for the night. There have been instances when I woke up the next morning in a panic about about whether something unintentionally inflammatory had slipped past me the night before. This has made me much more careful to jump into sharp criticism or hot-button topics. For the better, I think.

So I’m with the guys over at Power Line when they blame anonymity in part for the “dismally low level of discourse that generally prevails online.” Not to condone Whelan’s outing of Blevins (for which he subsequently apologized), but a fake person has little grounds to complain when he is outed by a real person. Better to just write what you mean, mean what you write, and own up to your ideas.

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Written by Tim Kowal

June 11, 2009 at 4:19 am

Posted in Miscellany

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