Bench Memos

Re: Exposing an Irresponsible Anonymous Blogger

Before returning to more important matters, let me offer a few thoughts on the mini-firestorm that my exposing of the blogger “publius” seems to have generated:

1.  Law professor John Blevins (aka publius) and others seem to assume that I owed some sort of obligation to Blevins not to expose his pseudonymous blogging.  I find this assumption baffling.  A blogger may choose to blog under a pseudonym for any of various self-serving reasons, from the compelling (e.g., genuine concerns about personal safety) to the respectable to the base.  But setting aside the extraordinary circumstances in which the reason to use a pseudonym would be compelling, I don’t see why anyone else has any obligation to respect the blogger’s self-serving decision.  And I certainly don’t see why someone who has been smeared by the blogger and frequently had his positions and arguments misrepresented should be expected to do so.

Blevins desired to be unaccountable—irresponsible—for the views he set forth in the blogosphere.  He wanted to present one face to his family, friends, and colleagues and another to the blogosphere.  That’s understandable but hardly deserving of respect.  If he wanted to avoid the risk of being associated publicly with his views, he shouldn’t have blogged.  It’s very strange that angry lefties are calling me childish (and much worse) when it’s Blevins who was trying to avoid responsibility for his blogging.  (Law professor Michael Krauss has a good post on the matter.)

2.  Blevins persists in propagating his fantasy that I exposed Blevins out of my supposed embarrassment over a post by Eugene Volokh.  The fact that Volokh’s post did not embarrass me is amply attested by my promptly linking to, and praising, Volokh’s “characteristically thoughtful critique.”  The fact that I saw no reason to be embarrassed by his post is amply explained by the closing paragraphs of my post exposing publius.

One simple reason that I hadn’t exposed Blevins before yesterday is that I learned only yesterday that he was publius.

3.  When Blevins sent me an e-mail refusing my request that he confirm or deny that he was publius, I responded with a private e-mail, which Blevins himself has made public, that bluntly called him a “coward and idiot.”  I do believe that Blevins’s conduct was cowardly.  I regret, however, that I was intemperate and hyperbolic in my disparagement of Blevins’s intellect, and I hereby apologize to him for that portion of my comment. 

[Cross-posted on The Corner]

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