So, there is this big blogging thing happening over at Feministe, where Ann Bartow seems to have threatened to sue one of the owners of Feministe for libel, and reveal the "real" name/address of her as well (see here, here, here, and comentary here).
I can't make any definitive statement about the libel; I'm not a lawyer, and in our justice system anyone can sue anyone for anything - that's the rule. To my untrained eye, what zuzu said about Bartow doesn't look to be libelous.
But I don't want to talk about that. I want to make some comments about blogging "anonymously." There have been blog-fights about this issue before (Atrios and Tacitus come to mind), and I just don't understand why the bloggers-with-real-names get so worked up against the bloggers-with-fake-names. Pseudonymous (fake-name) blogging isn't anonymous. Anonymous implies that no one knows who wrote something, and there is no way to question or hold responsible whoever blogged. That mostly isn't the case on the internet: most pseudonymous bloggers leave an ample email/blog/web presence that allows anyone to contact them. Thus, not anonymous.
People use pseudonyms for a variety of reasons. Some of them may be really legitimate, some not (of course, one person's "legitimate" is another person's "illegitimate"). But there are bloggers who would pay (in reality) for some of the positions they take on the web: the reality is that disagreeing with someone who has power over you (promotions, raises, keeping your job, getting a job, etc.) can result in that power being abused. Thus, some people blog pseudonymously.
(I should note that I blog pseudonymously for a different reason: I teach college. I want my students to form their own opinions on political matters, and I don't want my opinions to become the focus of the class. Thus, I try hard to be neutral in class (how well I succeed is another debate), and blog under a pseudonym so I can talk about politics without the students finding out what my own political beliefs are. It should also be worth noting that the other members of BloodlessCoup may have different reasons for their pseudonyms, or may not. They are fully capable of telling their own stories.)
In the end, it seems, that complaints about "anonymous blogging" are the refuge of people who don't want to engage the ideas of the blogger, but instead seek to use irrelevancies to argue that the blogger's "real" identity is somehow relevant to the larger intellectual discussion. This is just wrong. Ideas are worth debating, and identities are (usually) irrelevant (we'll leave sockpuppetry out of this). Who cares if the person who is wrong about Iraq (or the NFL, or baseball, or the Democratic party, or whatever) is named Fred Smith or RightWingBubba? Does that really matter? Does it really affect any debate you might have?
Let zuzu be zuzu. She probably has a decent reason to go by "zuzu," and not whatever-her-real-name-is.Posted by baltar at October 22, 2006 11:57 AM | TrackBack | Posted to Blogorama