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6/7/2009
THE OUTING OF PUBLIUS AND THE COMFORT OF ANONYMITY

Someday, someone is going to make a million by writing a book on what so far is largely unwritten; the rules and etiquette of blogging.

When that happens, we won’t have internet ignorant philistines like Ed Whelan running around destroying the anonymity of bloggers who choose to remain unknown. Or maybe we will, if they prove as unable to control their anger as Mr. Whelan has demonstrated.

Whelan, a legal writer of some repute whose stuff has appeared just about everywhere one would expect from a brilliant legal mind, but is perhaps best known for writing Bench Memos at NRO, became annoyed with Publius of Obsidian Wings for some of the cracks the blogger made about Whelan’s analysis of Sotomayer’s remarks about judicial policy making.

Responding point by point to Publius’s piquing of Whelan’s demonstrably thin skin, the President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center couldn’t leave it at that. Instead, he decided to act rather unethically and dig unto Publius’s personal life in order to discover who this mosquito nibbling on his backside might be.

Sounding for all the world as if he had solved the mystery of Area 51, Whelan wrote triumphantly:

I’ve been reliably informed that publius is in fact the pseudonym of law professor John F. Blevins of the South Texas College of Law. I e-mailed Blevins to ask him to confirm or deny that he is publius, and I copied the e-mail to the separate e-mail address, under the pseudonym “Edward Winkleman,” that publius used to respond to my initial private complaints about his reckless blogging. In response, I received from “Edward Winkleman” an e-mail stating that he is “not commenting on [his] identity” and that he writes under a pseudonym “[f]or a variety of private, family, and professional reasons.” I’m guessing that those reasons include that friends, family members, and his professional colleagues would be surprised by the poor quality and substance of his blogging.

I am very happy Ed has enjoyed his Captain Queeg moment and solved the mystery of the missing strawberries. Such sleuthing no doubt builds up an appetite to which Whelan might consider eating the plate of slightly overdone crow that is sitting in front of him.

And since Publius’s opinion differs from Whelan’s on Sotomayor’s beliefs regarding judicial activism, the only obvious explanation for his anonymity is that he is trying to keep his family and colleagues in the dark about the “poor quality and substance of his blogging.”

Could it be something else? Publius explains:

As I told Ed (to no avail), I have blogged under a pseudonym largely for private and professional reasons. Professionally, I’ve heard that pre-tenure blogging (particularly on politics) can cause problems. And before that, I was a lawyer with real clients. I also believe that the classroom should be as nonpolitical as possible – and I don’t want conservative students to feel uncomfortable before they take a single class based on my posts. So I don’t tell them about this blog. Also, I write and research on telecom policy – and I consider blogging and academic research separate endeavors. This, frankly, is a hobby.

Privately, I don’t write under my own name for family reasons. I’m from a conservative Southern family – and there are certain family members who I’d prefer not to know about this blog (thanks Ed). Also, I have family members who are well known in my home state who have had political jobs with Republicans, and I don’t want my posts to jeopardize anything for them (thanks again).

All of these things I would have told Ed, if he had asked. Instead, I told him that I have family and professional reasons for not publishing under my own name, and he wrote back and called me an “idiot” and a “coward.”

Whelan obviously doesn’t get out much. Or read the news. He is certainly an ignoramus about blogging if he hasn’t read about the dozens of cases of people who have lost jobs, been stalked and threatened, or forced to give up writing by employers all due to their passion for blogging.

My own case is instructive, although not for the reasons cited above. For the first 7 months this blog was in existence, I used the nom de blog” Superhawk” as a handle. The reasons was simple; being the brother of a national journalist known to most in the blogging community, I wanted to establish myself as a writer/blogger before coming out. I had always intended to write under my own name eventually. But I wanted to assure myself - quite understandably, I believe - that any success I enjoyed was due to my own efforts.

The irony, as it turned out, was that my own brother outed me on the Hugh Hewitt Show. He did it at almost the exact moment I was thinking of coming out of the anonymity closet anyway so it actually worked out pretty well.

The point is, there are a lot of good reasons for bloggers to remain anonymous and Ed Whalen has no right to decide differently just because he got steamed about someone’s response to his analysis. Did Publius commit a crime? Was he slandering Whalen? If not, Whalen’s fit of personal pique looks low, tawdry, childish, and vengeful. The closest Publius got to getting personal with Whelan was in calling him a “know-nothing demagogue.” And this was after making the point that Whelan knew better and was simply pandering to conservative sensibilities.

Holy Jesus, Ed. I’ve got pretty thin skin myself but it would take a helluva lot more than that to set me off. Questioning my integrity will do the trick as will trying to tell me what to write on my own site. And if you plan on commenting on this or any other post without reading what I’ve written and instead, substitute what you think I wrote or make the same points I made in the post and try and convince me I didn’t make them, you might as well be prepared for some skin flaying because that is my number one pet peeve.

But a “know-nothing demagogue?” In the rarefied atmosphere you inhabit at NRO and other elite bastions of opinion, them’s might be fightin’ words, but in the blogosphere, that’s almost a compliment. To point out that almost any blogger has experienced much, much worse (and dished it out accordingly) would be to mention the obvious to anyone who has spent more than an hour reading blogs.

So, through Whelan’s towering ignorance, he has outed someone for no good reason save his own sense of payback with still unknown consequences to a man he doesn’t know, who never did him any personal harm, and couldn’t affect his reputation one way or another even if that was his intent.

Yeah - way to go Ed.

The question of anonymity of bloggers is, I think, something to be settled by each individual blogger for the reasons I gave above. But what about anonymous commenters? Should they be granted the same comforting cloak that a blogging pseudonym brings?

There are so many sneering, snarky, ignorant, racist-bigots-haters out there in Blog Commentville - many more proportionately than actual bloggers - that I find it disgusting that these reprobates don’t have the guts to use their real names when chastising me or anyone else. If they want anonymity, they should start their own blogs. Their poison is spread to a far wider audience than they deserve as they glom onto sites with large traffic and where like minded anonymous trolls gather to cheer on each other’s putrid rants.

Even in the free wheeling atmosphere that blogs inhabit, if one were to attack fellow bloggers using the language and insults hurled by these anonymous commenters, they would never get the kind of attention they get on larger blogs. Hence, many bloggers are contemplating outlawing anonymous commenters altogether. Most publishing platforms today give the blogger the option of forcing their readers to register if they wish to comment, the registration being activated only when a link to a valid email address is sent.

While this stops the most rabid of trolls, it can’t stop anonymous commenters from fouling a site. The only option for the blogger is to ban the IP and name of the transgressor - a sometimes fruitless exercise as it is relatively easy to establish a new IP, get a new email address, and change one’s handle. In the end, one has the choice of banning comments altogether or simply deleting the objectionable ones.

If Publius had been a commenter at some blog attacking Whelan personally, or spreading lies about him, or simply calling him names, I would not be very sympathetic. But the blogger - one of the few left of center bloggers I find reasonable and thoughtful - gave what most bloggers would consider a mild rebuke to Whelan’s analysis and was outed for his trouble.

I would recommend that Mr. Whelan familiarize himself with blogs and the nature of the beast before going off half cocked and making himself appear a vengeful, spiteful, small minded man. I lost far more respect for Whelan through his outing of Hilzoy than anything the blogger has written about him.

What does that tell you, Mr. Whelan?

EMBARRASSING UPDATE

I stupidly wrote “Hilzoy” was the blogger outed when the actual victim was “Publius.” No excuse, just carelessness.

By: Rick Moran at 9:45 am
54 Responses to “THE OUTING OF PUBLIUS AND THE COMFORT OF ANONYMITY”
  1. 1
    Eric Martin Said:
    10:16 am 

    Rick,

    Thank you for this post. But for the record, it was “publius” that was outed, not Hilzoy. Both blog at Obsidian Wings, as do I.

    Damn - talk about being a jamoke. I will correct, thanks.

    ed.

  2. 2
    michael reynolds Said:
    10:38 am 

    Hmmm, this is a tough one.

    On the one hand I dislike outing, particularly outing for purposes of revenge. It’s rude, it’s creepy, it’s evidence of immaturity.

    On the other hand if we could magically leap from where we are now to a place where all blogging and all commenting was under verified true names we’d instantly see the ambient IQ of the blogosphere jump by 50 points.

    It’s the half-in, half-out nature of the beast that makes trouble. Some of us real, some of us pseudonymous. It gives the advantage of rudeness to the anonymous. It essentially cedes the gutter to them. The use of real names — for example Andrew Sullivan or Rick Moran — I think conveys an honesty and thus authority that remains doubtful when reading pseudonymous bloggers.

    In my professional life I square the circle imperfectly by writing kid’s books under a pseudonym because I don’t want to use my platform as an author to draw unwitting kids to political commentary (and language) they may find inappropriate.

    But then I make sure that anyone who really cares can figure out that Michael Grant and Michael Reynolds are the same guy. It’s an imperfect solution.

    On balance I’d like to see all of us get away from anonymity and pseudonyms. I think we’d have a level playing field. (And it would have the advantage of drastically reducing the number of people online who falsely claim to be recon marines, rangers, geniuses etc . . .)

  3. 3
    Quiddity Said:
    10:42 am 

    I (obviously) agree with Rick Moran 100%.

  4. 4
    Hot Air » Blog Archive » Poll: When is it OK to “out” anonymous bloggers? Pinged With:
    11:14 am 

    [...] one corner: Ed Whelan of Bench Memos.  In the other: Glenn Reynolds, James Joyner, and Rick Moran.  All three are highly respected bloggers, but they have squared off over a contentious point in [...]

  5. 5
    Rockfish Said:
    12:05 pm 

    Too many are overcomplicating this. Whelan got ticked off by reality-based criticism and lashed out in a petty, vindictive way. He acted like an ass. It’s just that simple.

    The internet is full of pseudonymous bloggers. Their reasons for not posting under their real names may be consequential or trivial, but they have made a choice. Common decency would require more than wounded vanity to out them.

  6. 6
    Polimom Said:
    12:17 pm 

    It’s clear that Ed Whelan’s intellectual prowess, while highly praised by everyone writing about this incident (as well as Publius in the initial offending post), has severe limits.

    Very juvenile.

    And I disagree with Michael Reynolds. I don’t think there’s anything tough about this. I’ve been blogging for over 4 years under my own pseudonym, and I’m certainly not ‘anonymous’. If I comment as Polimom, people (who are familiar with my blog) know who I am, they generally know where my thinking originates, etc. They also know where to go if they wish to engage in debate or discussion directly. When I started writing for the Chronicle in 2006, they insisted on a ‘real name’ — and I’m writing there under my maiden name. Still pseudoanonymous.

    What, exactly, would that level of personal detail provide anyone with?

    Established profiles and personalities, like Publius (and many others) couldn’t be more different, imo, from “anonymous” (sneering, snarky, ignorant, racist-bigots-haters out there in Blog Commentville — love that, Rick!).

  7. 7
    Hume's Ghost Said:
    12:53 pm 

    Hell, I think that Misha Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiller has come as close as someone can possibly get to criminal incitement to violence http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/2003/12/spiral-of-eliminationism.html, and is generally a disgusting hater extreme as any anonymous commenters, but it has never once crossed my mind to try and find out what his identitity is and out him.

    It would be one thing if “Publius” were someone working for the Obama administration or who had a vested interest in the nomination, but to out him for the asshole reasons http://bench.nationalreview.com/post/?q=ODM3ZGY1ODQ5YzE5NmJmZjIxN2NhYzgxODIzZDRhNjI= that Whelan has given is truly contemptible.

  8. 8
    Tom M Said:
    1:30 pm 

    I find Whelan’s outing of Publius to be petty and vindictive. I would also point out that Whelan’s site conveniently has no commenting which may explain Whelan’s fit of pique. He’s daily surrounded by obsequious plebes who fondle his ego to the point of, well, that should be anonymous, er, private and he is coddled into thinking that the universe agrees with him.
    He needs to get out more or allow comments at NRO. On second thought, that might well be pointless as only the true believer thinks s/he’s reading objective commentary, sort of like watching Fox. You don’t go to either to get fair and balanced perspective.

  9. 9
    4 Borders Pundit Said:
    3:03 pm 

    Whelan’s childish act — akin to a jealous child running to his parents to tattle on his sibling — disgraces NRO far more than it disgraces him. NRO has a reputation to uphold; Whelan? no one knows.

  10. 10
    tiger7_88 Said:
    3:07 pm 

    Awwwww… poor “publius”.

    Personally, I have never said or wrote anything in my life that I either (1) wasn’t proud to stand behind personally, or (2) didn’t deserve the personal heat I took for saying something stupid.

    Dear “publius” and Rick: If you want to play in the big-boy sandbox, take off your diaper and put on your big-boy pants.

    Congratulations for being proud to stand behind that last statement. If this were a high school blog, you’d fit right in.

    ed.

  11. 11
    cappy anderson Said:
    3:16 pm 

    I just read Mr. Whelan’s explanation of why he felt it his (Mr. Whelan) reasons why he outed “Publius”.

    What am I missing here? Mr. Whelan kept talking about about Publius’ self serving reasons wanting to remain ananymous. Mr Whelan clerked for Scalia??!!!

    So…what are YOUR SELF SERVING-Mr. Whelan-REASONS why YOU deemed it necessary to be the outer? Come up for oxygen sir: you need it. You are suffering from to much exposure to hydrogen sulfide and methane.

  12. 12
    Dr Arthur Frederick Ide Said:
    3:45 pm 

    I have no respect for the anonymity of bloggers for they hide behind it as a cover–as to say they are ashamed of what they have written. I never use a fake name regardless of the “slings and arrows” and other misfortunes that befall me, as I am not ashamed of what I say or who I am (and yes, I have been ostracized by my entire family to the fifth generation, have lost job opportunities, etc) for that is the price of responsible writing. In a free society all opinions count but only if the author stands sentry and proud of them–otherwise they should not be posted. It is so common to read “form an anonymous source whose identity could not be given for….” various reasons–then why trust that source?

  13. 13
    A lowlight for the blogging right | The Skepticrats Pinged With:
    3:52 pm 

    [...] Rick Moran puts it colorfully at RightWing Nuthouse: “I am very happy Ed has enjoyed his Captain Queeg moment and solved [...]

  14. 14
    baltbear Said:
    3:54 pm 

    those who work to level the playing field in the financial garbage that funds this kind of hatred get the same kind of hate speech aimed at us.
    whenever identifying facts is described as “being negative” you know there’s a liar in the dialogue.
    john f kennedy: “where’s there’s smoke, there;s a smoke machine.”
    those financial commentators who want themselves identified for their own own brand identity are usually just part of a circus act, instead of a dialog
    http://baltbear-on-finance.com/stewart-vs-cramer-the-battle-for-emptines

  15. 15
    jlnum03 Said:
    4:10 pm 

    My. Rick sure loves to dish it out. And spends a lot of time getting his insults and words just right. But when he gets upset, watch out! Whelan has his POV and is entitled to it. He explained his reasons for what he did. But alas…Rick did not agree with Whelan and spent an enormous amount of invective and time attacking Whelan. Just read Rick’s column and see all the usual smears and sly comparisons of Whelan to ‘ignorant philistines’. And ’sneering, snarky, ignorant, racist-bigots-haters’. Big word, snarky. And it is just totally amazing that the brave and intelligent Rick manages to name the WRONG blogger! Just too eager, huh Rick? Just can’t control that anger, huh Rick? You just got to prove to everyone that you are superior. Take it easy, pal. The world is not out to get you. Yes, you are a genius and perfect. Happy now?

    Bwahahahahah - this is too good. The word “snarky” was used in conjunction with my critique of blog commenters, not Whelan. Perhaps when you pass that correspondence course in reading comprehension, someone might take what you say seriously. Until then, thanks for the chuckles.

    ed.

  16. 16
    PJ Said:
    4:19 pm 

    Well said. Whelan really does come across as a boor and a tiresome bully.

  17. 17
    soflacon Said:
    4:24 pm 

    Please everybody … we’ve known who Publius is for the last 200 Years! It was(is) Alexander Hamilton. The way I see it, there’s been enough left wing nuthouse activities to stir Alex, as well as James Madison, John Jay, George W., Thomas Jefferson, Ben F. and a multitiude of others to life. I believe they are in training to kick butt inside the DC circle … very soon.

  18. 18
    bruce Said:
    4:29 pm 

    I make no bones about blogers, If you have something to saw, then say it,but use your own name(real) and put your e-mail out there also, other than that, just shut your pie hole, cuz nobody cares about some over weight,balding,idiot trying desperatly to get his 15 minutes of fame.
    Most of the time i use my real name, but today i must digress, as im certian that some there will be a s***p** of angry morons trying desperatly to find me. HAHAHA not gonna happen.

  19. 19
    michael reynolds Said:
    4:29 pm 

    I agree with #13 above: good use of Captain Queeg.

    In fact, you could make a verb of it. To Queeg.

    “Man, lighten up! You are totally queeging!”

    To the wife: “Stop queeging on me, I just smiled at her!”

    If I wrote for adults I’d steal it.  Unfortunately people under a certain age would just think it was a typo.

  20. 20
    bruce Said:
    4:29 pm 

    Blogging is stupid

  21. 21
    michael reynolds Said:
    4:30 pm 

    One more:

    “Don’t queeg me, bro!”

  22. 22
    jlnum03 Said:
    4:34 pm 

    By the way: Anyone who has read ‘The Caine Mutiny’, or seen the movie version with Humphrey Bogart, will find themselves developing sympathy for Captain Queeg. Queeg is a Naval officer who is ordered to bring order to an apparent slovenly and undisciplined small, battle-scarred destroyer minesweeper, during WWII. Eventually the officers and crew turn against Queeg. In the book/movie the officers of the Caine are shown as not appreciating the years of danger and hardship endured by Queeg, a career naval man. Their support would have prevented much of the troubles on-board the Caine. I am not comparing the attackers of Whelan to the snobs and jerks that attacked Queeg…but I could.

    Hey! cappy anderson 3:16 pm
    You said: Mr Whelan clerked for Scalia??!!!

    What the heck does that have to do with anything? Why do you even ask such a DF question??!!!

  23. 23
    michael reynolds Said:
    4:35 pm 

    Okay, I lied. One more:

    “Are you queeging me? Well I’m the only one here. Who the f— do you think you’re queeging?”

  24. 24
    Johnny Pez Said:
    4:46 pm 

    Personally, I have never said or wrote anything in my life that I . . . wasn’t proud to stand behind personally

    Says the pseudonomynous commenter. EPIC FAIL.

  25. 25
    tiger7_88 Said:
    6:18 pm 

    I do, indeed, stand behind my “high school” metaphor, Rick.

    Especially with regard to people like you and “publius” who want (nay, DEMAND) the respect deserved of an adult, but run like little children when it comes time to take the responsibility required of an adult.

    Very much reminiscent of high school, that whole “I demand you treat me like an adult, but I certainly don’t want you to hold me responsible for my words or actions” attitude.

    What are you talking about? I blog and write using my real name. Where is the similarity between someone who uses a pseudonym and someone who uses their real name?

    And where in God’s name did you get the idea that I don’t stand behind every word I write? It is obvious to anyone that you are just spewing and not writing anything logical or coherent.

    ed.

  26. 26
    John Rogers Said:
    6:21 pm 

    Well #23, the proprietor of this site has my e-mail address and it is an actual, functional address. But, if it will make you happy…

  27. 27
    frank k . Said:
    7:17 pm 

    Help me out here ; I’m a little confused … “Outing” the C.I.A. = good … ‘Outing” closeted gays = good … “Outing” anyone to the right of Castro ( for any reason , real or perceived ) = good , but “outing a lefty liberal = not only bad , but boring , and being a ‘bully’ , as well ? ….. Take another hit on the bong , dude ….. Frank K .

  28. 28
    Pug Said:
    7:27 pm 

    Awwwww… poor “publius”.

    Personally, I have never said or wrote anything in my life that I either (1) wasn’t proud to stand behind personally, or (2) didn’t deserve the personal heat I took for saying something stupid.

    So, tiger7_88 is your real name?

    Irony is not dead.

  29. 29
    jpe Said:
    7:45 pm 

    On the other hand if we could magically leap from where we are now to a place where all blogging and all commenting was under verified true names we’d instantly see the ambient IQ of the blogosphere jump by 50 points.

    But see: The Corner.

  30. 30
    The Words “Irresponsible Anonymous Blogger” Get Tossed Around A Lot These Days « Around The Sphere Pinged With:
    7:56 pm 

    [...] Rick Moran [...]

  31. 31
    Gregory Koster Said:
    8:26 pm 

    Dear Mr. Moran: I’ll grant you freely that Ed Whelan is too fond of bringing Tommy guns to a knife fight, and is not shy about filling his adversaries full of rhetorical lead. But Blevins had a perfect defense: sign his real name to what he wrote. He whined that Whelan didn’t ask him the reasons he (Blevins) used a pseudonym when Whelan emailed him to confirm or deny that “Publius” = Blevins. Blevins has since put out some of his reasons for pseudonymity, viz:

    a) Professional:

    1. “Professionally, I’ve heard that pre-tenure blogging (particularly on politics) can cause problems.”

    2. “And before that, I was a lawyer with real clients.”

    3. “I also believe that the classroom should be as nonpolitical as possible – and I don’t want conservative students to feel uncomfortable before they take a single class based on my posts.”

    b) Personal

    1. “Privately, I don’t write under my own name for family reasons. I’m from a conservative Southern family – and there are certain family members who I’d prefer not to know about this blog (thanks Ed).”

    2. “Also, I have family members who are well known in my home state who have had political jobs with Republicans, and I don’t want my posts to jeopardize anything for them (thanks again).”

    The professional reasons can be easily addressed: don’t blog, or comment. No more trouble, right? Um, no. Abstaining would force Blevins to pay a price for being professional, and Blevins doesn’t want to pay it. He wants to reveal his Superior Wisdom to the world, without having to face any adverse consequences, but being open to any credit that may come his way. How far would, say, Martin Luther King have gotten with that attitude?

    As for the personal reasons, they show a remarkable self-esteem. Blevins thinks his prose is terrific enough to destroy his half of relations who owe their jobs to political pull. But at the same time, he’s terrified that the other half of his relations will say mean things about him for writing it, pinching him until he cries. Such attitudes are best described by Freud in CIVILIZATION AND ITS DISCONTENTS. I will content myself by saying they impress me very little, save at the funny bone. Blevins’s talents are wasted at South Texas. Let him go to Washington and take the high place in the Obama administration that cries out “Publius, come to me, you pseudonymous assassin, you!” I hope he will take this worse than the more commonly offered reflections on ancestry, excretory habits or sexual/chemical excesses.

    That said, I think you are dead right that Whelan is motivated principally by revenge. It is true, Whelan has publicly apologized to Blevins (the apology is at the end of the linked post) for being an idiot, while maintaining Blevins’s previous writings were cowardly. He has a point. I think Whelan should continue his crusade. Here’s his next target: National Review Online frequently publishes stuff by “Jack Dunphy” a cop from Los Angeles who isn’t scared to drag the ruffians off to the jug, but can’t quite get up the nerve to sign his pieces with his real name. Let Whelan expose Jack, laughing raucously as he fires his Tommy gun. The job done, he will turn to see the rest of the NR staff, standing on the bridge of the NEW JERSEY, all nine 16 inch cannons aimed his way, asking Whelan if he has any last words before the broadside blasts him off NR. Let Whelan do that, and I will salute him for high honesty, and be the first to lay a wreath at his grave…

    But let Blevins stop snickering. Go back to Martin Luther King. How did he fight his crusade? Under his own name. More: he put his life at some risk (how would you have liked to been a black man in a Birmingham jail cell in 1963?) Who opposed King? Many who did did so at night, disguised, using the anoymous phone call or letter, not stopping at anonymous words, but backing it up with bullets as Medgar Evers discovered.

    Which of these two would Blevins self-consciously identify with? But which of these two has he self-righteously acted as?

    Sincerely yours,
    Gregory Koster

  32. 32
    Stretchman Said:
    8:57 pm 

    At the internet’s (actually, arpanet’s) inception, anonymity was generally the rule instead of the exception.

    The ability to develop a virtual personna was not only satisfying, but gave people the freedom to express themselves as they saw fit. Now there may be some validity in criticising people who post anon, but ostracising them for opinions is exactly why they choose to remain anon in the first place. In the good old days, before pop ups and cartoons, the Inet was actually a place for intellectuals to share ideas and opinions, daring to forage new ground and imaginings of possible outcomes.

    Nowadays, we are forced to write on an 8th grade level, be politically correct, and are virtually assured that everything we ever say is guaranteed to come back and haunt us. The bright side is that we have found ways to get bouncing titties and beer burps to our 3g phones, while public safety is fighting for bandwidth.

    I guess the best part of this is that with UVerse speeds we manage to absorb less information than that contained in the time honored pages of “GO dog, GO!” Back when 14.4 was fast, we used actual content to make up for the speeds that we didn’t have.

    If anything good has come of this, it’s that the IRC tradition of sexchat has made it into the cellular world, where kid’s families can pay upwards of thousands of dollars a month at 10 cents per message. Where did we go right?

    Oh well. At least pron has gone hi def. After WE get done using our own true identities, will any of us have an identity left?

    Thanx but no thanx. JMO.

    Stretch

  33. 33
    Neo Said:
    9:27 pm 

    So let me get this straight .. there is nothing here involving being gay, straight, bi-sexual or trans-gender, a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or Communist, or being of African, Hispanic, East Asian or Middle-Eastern descent.

    When you blog or comment on blogs is there a real expectation that you can hide behind a pseudonym ?
    If you’re not prepared to be revealed, I suggest using your time for another activity.

  34. 34
    Judy Harders Said:
    9:33 pm 

    The clash of male egos can be heard across the blogosphere like horny elk fighting over a would-be mate.I really never thought about this issue because, being obedient, when I am asked for a username I try to come up with one that is not too cute but reflects my position in life. It is too easy to “out” someone for someone who has much to lose to take chances. I agree that the use of real names would probably increase the civility and integrity of many of the posts- certainly cut down on name-calling. Still blogging is not for the faint of heart and it seems to me that if people want anonymity, it is much easier to blow them off.I really don’t care if people know who I am and some of my opinions have been available on Google under my former name. In the vast cyberspace market of ideas a hundred flowers should be allowed to bloom even if some of them are kind of smelly.

  35. 35
    John Rogers Said:
    9:57 pm 

    #28 - Pug

    Irony is, indeed, NOT dead.

    Especially considering this on-line house of ill repute labeling itself “Right Wing”.

    Yes, being conservative means never criticizing anyone on the right lest brain dead Rushbots attack.

    ed.

  36. 36
    scarshapedstar Said:
    10:45 pm 

    People like to conflate pseudonymous with anonymous, but I don’t think they’re right to do so. People want to read honest, intelligent, and interesting bloggers. If you’re stupid, make stuff up, or can’t write… it doesn’t matter whether you put your real name on your crap or not. You’ll still have a reputation. Digby has a reputation, and the only thing most people know about her is her gender. I don’t see how that puts her at some kind of advantage.

  37. 37
    Blogs For Victory Trackbacked With:
    10:47 pm 

    On Anonymous & Pseudonymous Blogging…

    There’s a lot of chatter going on in the blogosphere right about anonymous and pseudonymous blogging and whether or not it is right to out a pseudonymous blogger.
    Yesterday, Ed Whelan of Bench Memos outed an pseudonymous blogger (who blogged…

  38. 38
    jlnum03 Said:
    11:41 pm 

    I see that Rick deletes posts that require him to respond in an adult manner. I had pointed out in one post, using Rick’s own words as examples, what I saw as his personal and hypocritical attack on Whelan…and that post was mocked, with Rick too scared to answer it. Another following comment was first posted, then deleted. Rick is too scared to let the rest of the audience here have a different point of view.

    But that is Rick. Always ready to mock, insult, be sarcastic… always smarter than thou… But never ready to have an honest debate. Our Rick…a manly man.

    Your comment was deleted for being totally non germane to the debate and for the fact that it was a personal attack on me - something I don’t allow here. This one I allowed just to let everyone know what an idiot you are. How is my attack on Whelan “hypocritical?” Perhaps you are still having problems with reading comprehension.

    And yes, I am a manly man with balls the size of Mount Rushmore and a penis that is so huge I must keep it hidden lest women pass out at the sight of it (I felt that arguing at your level would make you more comfortable.) This, compared to an anonymous twit whose ignorance is on display for all to see.

    At any rate, no personal attacks on the host please. My house - don’t like it, move along.

    ed.

  39. 39
    No Bullroar Said:
    11:57 pm 

    This is an amazing story. It flabbergasts me that a person of such high stature would stoop so low.
    And, I too am aghast at the unbelievable comments posted by those using anonymity as a cloak.
    I’ve only recently been commenting on news articles, so I suppose I have yet to endure the full gamut, but so far, I have been astounded at the comments regularly appearing on Yahoo Buzz.
    Revolting doesn’t even begin to do justice to my disgust.

  40. 40
    Best of the Blogs - Weekend of June 7 on The Patriot Room Pinged With:
    3:01 am 

    [...] Right Wing Nut House: The Outing of Publius and the Comfort of Anonymity [...]

  41. 41
    Shaun Said:
    9:08 am 

    A-L-L-A-H-P-U-N-D-I-T

  42. 42
    Dennis Akers Said:
    11:05 am 

    First of all my name is Dennis Akers. I am not hiding behind a pseudonym to say the following.

    Mr. Whelan was wrong to out Mr. Blevins. Clearly wrong and done in anger.

    That said, I feel that if one wants to play a part in the blogosphere and openly criticize others, then do it in the open. If Mr. Blevins wants to critique in a scholarly way, then do it that way. Stay away from the type of thing that set Mr. Whelan off.

    I find Mr. Blevin’s reasoning for pseudonymity less than convincing. If he feels so strongly about his opinions, he should man up and let his family and employers see him for what he is. I may not agree with many of his opinions, but he should take charge of them and honor them. When I say something, I want people to know I mean them and who I am. I will not choose to hide behind a cloak of secrecy and neither should anyone who takes pride in their opinions.

    If you stick your finger in someone’s eye often enough…they will lash back, quite often out of proportion to what you would consider civilized.

  43. 43
    HyperIon Said:
    11:41 am 

    It would seem that Mr. Whelan is NOT aware of all internet traditions.

  44. 44
    Wandering Around Said:
    12:46 pm 

    It’s interesting that Whelan relied on anonymous sources for the information he used to expose Blevins. Ed, where is your commitment to courage? Who were your anonymous sources, you hypocrite?

  45. 45
    mannning Said:
    2:30 pm 

    First, you comment on some matter, however free of nastiness, and the blogger decides he doesn’t like the comment.

    So, second, he sends sleeze back in his usual way, and that angers the commenter.

    Retorts fly back and forth, until the blogger decides to out the commenter, and publish his real name.

    With this name, and a few other hints, any creep or pervert on the internet can find your home address, and begin harassment, or worse, on the net, through the mails, by telephone, or even in person. If you live in a city, the likelihood of 25-50 creeps or perverts living nearby is very high, and it only takes one of them on the net to make home life miserable.

    Such revolting activities are unacceptable, and threaten the home and family. All because of some comment that was objected to by the blogger.

    Rick Moran does not out anyone in such a manner. Anyone that does do that, and threatens the home life, should be barred from all sites possible. Note that it isn’t the outer that is necessarily the danger–think about it!

  46. 46
    Augustine Said:
    2:31 pm 

    Gregory,

    You really call that an apology? I mean, the source of the dispute as it stands now is about the “outing”, Mr. Whelan apologized for calling him a coward and and idiot. In fact he still appears dismissive of Publius’ reasons for wanting to remain anonymous, and that’s fine, but I wouldn’t call his response an apology.

  47. 47
    mannning Said:
    3:25 pm 

    “The names have been changed to protect the innocent.”

  48. 48
    The Outing of Publius - The Opinionator Blog - NYTimes.com Pinged With:
    4:36 pm 

    [...] Moran, who blogs at Rightwing Nuthouse: “For the first 7 months this blog was in existence, I used the nom de blog ‘Superhawk’ as a handle.” The reasons was simple; being the brother of a national journalist known to [...]

  49. 49
    John Rogers Said:
    7:46 pm 

    Unfortunately for you, Rick, you spend half of your time criticizing conservatives and conservatism, yet still demand the “respect” of being called a conservative or “right wing” (of which you are neither).

    You remind me in a way of the Cafeteria Catholics (yes, I am Catholic too) who want the convenience of the label, but do NOT want the actual beliefs or responsibility that the label brings with it. They want to make the Church believe in THEM, rather that them believing in the tenets of the Church.

    Welcome to Cafeteria Conservatism, starring Rick Moran.

    Its a free country… you can CALL yourself whatever you please.

    But that doesn’t make it true.

    So, according to you, criticizing conservatives disqualifies someone from being a conservative?

    Holy shit what a dunce.

    ed.

  50. 50
    Washington Rebel Trackbacked With:
    8:28 pm 

    News Babe (and other condiments)…

    Chris Good: Told Ya So! Liberalguy Fingers a VIP POTUS Hacker Dude No Quarter Wants to Know if Obama’s a Chick, or Just Full of Shit. “May I ask a question? Where does President Barack Obama’s agenda come from? Charles Kesler knows the answer. And s…

  51. 51
    Steve Timberman Said:
    11:28 pm 

    For a brief period of time I had an anonymous blog and felt it incredibly free to write without consequence. I wrote about things that I’d never thought I’d ever be able to throw out into the public sphere, and my writing dramatically improved.

    Then I rather stupidly decided to put my name on my blog and link it to my facebook, and suddenly I had friends who told me that I was a misogynistic bastard/homophobe/racist for talking about the sort of things that aren’t “polite” to talk or even write about.

    I went through a period of about a year, stuck in limbo. Writing anonymously felt like a cheat, but with my own name at the top I felt too self-conscious to write about anything truly interesting. Eventually though, I regained my confidence and feel almost comfortable posting or writing about anything.

    Rick, I know you’ve torn me up in the comments section a few times, but I just wanted to say thanks for this post and the blog. Thanks for keeping at it.

  52. 52
    Calming Influence Said:
    9:03 am 

    Well said, Rick. This progressive liberal DFH will be checking back frequently to study this reasonable Right-Winger phenomenon. I might just learn something… ;-)

  53. 53
    jlnum03 Said:
    7:30 pm 

    Rick can mask it anyway he wants. But when he gets a post that doesn’t praise him, Rick freaks out. In addition, he deletes posts, saying that they offend him personally. Yet Rick blasts away with insulting personal insults. And here is something from Rick stating he is: “a manly man with balls the size of Mount Rushmore and a penis that is so huge I must keep it hidden…” What?! Who writes like that? There is no reason for that…but Rick doesn’t care. We are all stupid except for Rick. Nice job ‘manly man’. No one can make you look any dumber than you do. And why did you name the WRONG blogger to begin with? Why? Keep your penis hidden, o great genius.

  54. 54
    grumpy realist Said:
    9:09 pm 

    …given some of the comments up above, I think what we’re seeing is that a 15-year old who can hide behind a handle is far more likely to act like an impolite brat than a 15-year old who would have to sign his name to the task.

    Those of us who are mature and thoughtful are hopefully that way all the time–when commenting under a pseudonym or not.

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