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Saturday, June 10, 2006


Strength Through OI!

Usually, liberals are nothing if not flexible. We support Muslim theocracy and gay marriage. We hate America, and overvalue the Constitution. We're moral relativists who refuse to make situational excuses for torture.

But when it comes to online integrity, we've been too rigid, too unyielding. We've taken words like "commitment" to mean "the trait of sincere and steadfast fixity of purpose." And we've taken sentences like "Private persons are entitled to respect for their privacy regardless of their activities online" to mean that you shouldn't reveal people's offline identities even if you don't like them very much.

I suppose this is part of the liberal childishness one hears so much about...that naivete that makes us unable to conceive that there are bad people in the world, or to understand that you can't trust government to have your best interests at heart. Whatever the cause, our inability to grasp the bright, elusive butterfly of Online Integrity seems to be causing us a great deal of grief lately, so I thought I'd see if I could translate the principles into more accessible language.
Private persons are entitled to respect for their privacy regardless of their activities online, unless they've said stuff that bothers you. You should usually respect the non-public nature of personal contact information; that said, if you can dig up someone's name online, and use it to look him or her up in the phone book, it's fair to say that the person is asking for trouble. The safety of people's families is important, but bear in mind that someone who marries a bad person, or is being raised by one, can't really complain when the chickens come home to roost. The separateness of private persons’ professional lives should also be respected, unless you have good reason to believe that violating it will wrench people's attention away from your rhetorical inadequacies.

Public figures are entitled to respect for the non-public nature of their personal, non-professional contact information, and their privacy with regard to their homes and families, unless you're really pissed off, or are feeling keen pangs of existential dread.

Persons seeking anonymity or pseudonymity online should have their wishes in this regard respected as much as is reasonable. Exceptions include cases in which people: 1) can profitably be belittled or mocked for their station in life; 2) prove you wrong; 3) make you angry; 4) attempt to win arguments by posting links to primary documents from authoritative sources; 5) dismiss Hayek; 6) call Ayn Rand's dialogue "wooden"; 7) respond to being called a "fuckwit" by calling you a "fuckhole"; 8) encourage other people to laugh at your sophistry; 9) insult your commenters; 10) have funny-sounding names; 11) hurt your feelings; 12) are corporate lawyers; 13) are not corporate lawyers; 12) cross any line, real or imagined, that you feel justifies encouraging a campaign of harassment against them.

Violations of these principles should be met with a lack of positive publicity and traffic, since there's no other way for signatories to demonstrate that they take their "commitment" seriously. But since OI neither has, nor desires, any formal mechanisms for enforcement - not even so simple and obvious a mechanism as deleting signatories' names from the OI webpage when they gleefully break the pledge with malice aforethought - participants are encouraged to use the OI pledge as a club for their enemies, and a shield for themselves. It's really a pretty nice little racket.

FROM THERS: You know, if the OI people want to be taken seriously:

1. Tell us who the hell is deleting any and all critical posts there. Who is the moderator? What are your posting rules? Don't annoy Tac, is that it? Can't you just say so? And why did you ask for "discussion" and then shut it down completely?

2. Who is writing the posts that say "we at Online Integrity"? Some group of Integrity Initiates? Who? Are we supposed to accept your intentions uncritically? Why do you get upset when the people you speak to as children become irked at your desire to be seen as anonymous Integrity Gods -- are you mad?

3. Tell us why some cases of OI transgressions merit a main page post, weaselly as that is, and others don't? Why do the merits of the Armando case get discussed, but others, well, get banned? It seems the actual debate about online ethics is occurring everywhere else online except OI!

4. Blow me.

Joo see Aziz?

Thees post, she drips weeth the contempt.

Gracias Phila.

Hee hee. An eloquent comment.
You should usually respect the non-public nature of personal contact information; that said, if you can dig up someone's name online, and use it to look him or her up in the phone book, it's fair to say that the person is asking for trouble.

Navin R. Johnson: Nothing? Are you kidding? Page 73 - Johnson, Navin R.! I'm somebody now! Millions of people look at this book everyday! This is the kind of spontaneous publicity - your name in print - that makes people. I'm in print! Things are going to start happening to me now.

[Crazy guy with gun scrolls through a phone book]

Sniper: Johnson, Navin R... Sounds like a typical bastard.
Hold on! You've got completely wrong. That was no crazy guy, that was M. Emmett Walsh!
Phila scores with the OI photoshop... wellplayed, my friend. Well played.

Just So.
Two questions: Was The Corner, or any part of NRO a signatory to the pledge?

If so, were they removed? If not, it seems clear that the only way to have violations ignored is to sign the pledge.
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