The Corner

The Anonymity Debate

I will confess to being a bit torn about this. My longstanding general opinion about anonymous blogging is that it is a cowardly thing to do. That opinion was formed in the specific context of being slimed by people with no larger point than to hurl shabby insults. In that context, I really have no respect for the practice. It’s the cyber equivalent of throwing a rock through a window with a nasty note attached or  anonymously hanging juvenile posters in the hallways of the office or school. But I also know people in the academy who are thoughtful, serious people who would not get tenure or would otherwise suffer professionally for airing conservative or non-leftist views. And while I’m hard-pressed to believe that thoughtful, well-mannered liberals would get in similar trouble if they were found out, I hate the idea of having a double standard on these things based on ideology.

(Indeed, the Left’s outrage against Whelan stinks of such double-standards. These people express far less outrage over the outing of political donors, gay conservatives, et al than of this Blevins guy and the same crowd would cheer the exposure of a conservative anonymous blogger. I think the commenter cited here is definitely on to something.)

In short, I think the answer to this question depends entirely on the conduct of the anonyblogger. It seems counter-intuitive to bullies and cowards who like the idea of sticking pins in voodoo dolls from a safe distance, but anonyblogging requires more politeness and decency even though it liberates you to use less.  If you are honest, fair-minded, and polite I think people should probably respect your anonymity. If you play fast and loose with the truth and are altogether a shabby person, I am at a loss as to why everyone should respect your desire to hurl insults and brickbats from the safety of anonymity. The expectation of anonymity strikes me as a classic example of a privilege, not a right.

Now, I’m sure there are fields where anonyblogging is a real public contribution, but I don’t think law and politics is one of them.


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