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Monday, August 21, 2006


You Vill Be Givink Your Name Now

Crossposted at Whiskey Fire.

Via kc, we observe that one Brad Warthen has devised a rather original new comments policy for his blog:

I'm implementing a Double Standard:

The bad news is that one group of people will be free to post pretty much whatever they want. I will maintain the same hands-off policy with them that I've maintained with everyone up to now. With those in the other group, I will delete at will any comments that I deem harmful to good-faith dialogue.

The good news is that you get to choose which group you're in. To be in the first group, you just have to give up your anonymity. This won't require filling out special forms or supplying me with your birth certificate or blood type or anything. Just fill out the existing fields that precede comments with your real, full name; your regular, main e-mail address (the one you use for friends or family or co-workers, not something you set up on Yahoo for the specific purpose of hiding your identity); and if you have a Web site, your URL....

To be in the other group, keep hiding behind anonymity. I'll still let you through most of the time, but I'm going to start deleting comments that fit into one of two categories...

You are also enjoined to keep offa his property, ya dang smoochers.

As kc points out, many of your more delightful right wing bloggers have gotten into a snit lately about online anonymity. Their reasoning seems to follow that first put forward by the well-regarded ethicist Conan the Barbarian: "Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." Of course, they sound pretty damn fey when they say it, but their basic point seems to be the same. We need real names, dammit, so we can split the skulls of the discourteous, or, I dunno, send them messages from stolen foreign IPs that threaten their kids, or something. I just use that as a wacky example.

If something is genuinely offensive, it's offensive whether it comes from a named or an anonymous source. The only difference is that in one case it's easier to retaliate -- but by doing what, trying to get them fired? Finding out their spouse's name and publishing it? If you want to foster civility by inviting some sort of disproportionate if petty response, go ahead, but please don't pretend that this makes you Lord Captain Commander Civilitypants. First of all, that's Tacitus's pretention, and he guards it jealously. Second, it's just silly.

I'll again invoke Thers's Iron Law of the Internets: 95% of what happens online is not worth getting upset over. And if you find yourself in that last 5% too long, like, for more than 5 minutes, just shut off the damn computer. (Or delete the blog, as the case may be.) Who the hell gives a rat's ass if someone is anonymous or using their real name online? It's just online shit. It's not high school debate club, and thank Christ for that, really.

I've long been a bitter foe of "online civility." I think it's hypocritical shit and a backdoor way of legitimizing truly reprehensible concepts, such as lunatic wars and state-sponsored torture. In support of this hypothesis, let me introduce the following as evidence, from Warthen's comments:

Well, Brad, although I never should have brought it up,I'm gay (or queer,as you prefer), and listing my real name WOULD make me feel vulnerable to attacks by thugs(it's happened before). There's enough antigay sentiment on this blog to make me feel this way. If you think I'm being paranoid,walk a mile through Lexington County in my shoes someday.

And the reply, from Mr. Civility Warthen:

As for being gay -- look at Andrew Sullivan. He's out there with his real name, and he says what he wants. But note -- he expresses himself with respect for other people. He doesn't have to tear people down to build his ideas up. I don't get time to read his site as often as I'd like, but what I've seen is good stuff.

Wow. Putting aside for the moment the differences between Lexington County and Manhattan, as well as the astonishing claim that Sully never "tears people down" (on this, see The Editors, and passim)... look, we're not talking here about anything like promoting rational discourse, we're talking about censorship. You big silly, worrying about getting bashed after you out yourself to a bunch of unhinged strangers! Why can't you be more like that nice Andy Sullivan...


¿ Eef I publish a leenk to thees post on, do joo suppose thees Warthen frotacionado weel delete eet?

EGN, I dunno... what would make him assume you're using a pseudonym?
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