August 12, 2002

ANONYMOUS BLOGGING: My reference to Steven Den Beste's piece on anonymous blogging has generated some email from other anonymous (or pseudonymous) bloggers. Half-Bakered writes:

My reason for anonymity is simple: fear. My blog is akin to and others that go after bias and misrepresentation in the local paper. I do this for the Memphis Commercial Appeal and the Memphis Flyer. While I have no illusions of being on their level, I take my self-appointed job seriously and I do aspire.

Nor am I under any delusions that the CA has noticed me or my little blog. Not yet, anyway. But I worry about the day when they do.

The paper has treated some critics dismissively, letting columnists swipe at them. But they may also treat me as they did Heidi Schafer or Duncan Ragsdale--two people who spearheaded citizen campaigns against using public funds to back a basketball arena, a proposal that the CA backed whole-heartedly. The CA went after those two mercilessly and relentlessly, in Ms. Schafer's case going so far as to print her home address and explore her personal life.

I have made my mistakes in life and couldn't survive such public scrutiny. But I don't think that disqualifies my observations and opinions. It does mean that if they decide to 'do something' about me, I have ample weaknesses to exploit.

And that scares me, frankly. Which is why I'm anonymous. Were circumstances otherwise, I'd proudly put my name to Half-Bakered, believe me.

Fair enough -- though no doubt a more public criticism would have more effect. The Comedian writes about the distinction between pseudonymous and anonymous blogging. (In a curious coincidence, the post below this one involves his efforts to find the true identity of investor-babe Elsie Lee, who may or may not be pseudonymous.) Porphyrogenitus has a reply -- linked to a bio -- too. And Demosthenes has a long response to Den Beste, which was picked up by TAPPED, though (in a move that some bloggers seem to regard as improper), TAPPED links to the response but not to the post that occasioned it. I think that's okay, but I assume that people know how to follow links.

UPDATE: Hesiod Theogeny adds this observation: "I think this discussion is an intellectually dishonest one, because most "le[f]t-wing" bloggers just happen to be pseudonymous." But -- and I'm not being snarky here, I really want to know -- why is this? I mean, there are right-wing pseudonybloggers (like Robert Musil.) But I think he's right that there are a lot more pseudonymous lefties. That seems odd to me, because it's not as if the lefties are in danger of having the Gestapo show up at their door. (A few melodramatically claim otherwise, but that's just for atmosphere.) And Jeff Goldstein, an untenured professor of the humanities, is a right-blogger who probably ought to be pseudonymous, but isn't. So what gives?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Moxie weighs in, and points out that not every blogger is a "warblogger." Good point.