Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sometimes "Anonymous" Is Just Another Way Of Saying, "I want It Both Ways"

When I came across Outer Objects To Outing at Legal Resurrection I was a bit amused by the whole outing an anonymous blogger thing. When I decided to join the 100 million or so in the blogging community a co-worker was shocked that I would post under my real name.

The “closet” in “Carol’s Closet” doesn’t refer to that messy, disheveled spot in my bedroom. At my place of employment there is an inside joke that I serve as the token ‘out of the closet’ conservative. To be certain, my ‘outing’ was partially my fault. I was hired shortly before the 2000 presidential race. For context, it is important to know that I work for a credit union whose membership is only open to union members in the building trades: electricians, sheet metal workers, ironworkers, etc., stalwarts of the Democratic Party. Once the primaries were over in 2000 and Bush and Gore were established as the presidential candidates, a member of one of our union groups began passing out Gore campaign buttons. When he handed me a button I smiled, said “no, thank you” and that was it. Or so I thought.

Within a couple of days it felt like every member had something to say about my political persuasion. I would have been deeply discouraged (remember, I was new on the job) except more than few union members told me privately to “hang in there”. It has been almost ten years and I have grown very close to a lot of people whose political beliefs are the polar opposite of my own. I wasn’t hired to deliver the political message of the day and therefore, unless someone gets in my face and is either dishonest or disrespectful, I do my job and let everything else roll.

Which brings me to Stacy McCain's main point-no harm, no foul. John Bivens aka publius, is doing a lot of whining that being out will affect his job and family relationships but he isn’t offering much proof. First, when has a college professor ever been sanctioned for being too liberal? Second, if he keeps his political views out of the classroom, why would his students care? Last but not least, what kind of family doesn’t have disagreements, lots of them?

It seems to me that Bivens wants it both ways; he wants to be free to conduct drive-bys on those he disagrees with while walking around wearing a fake facade. He apparently has never learned what I learned along time ago; if you treat people with respect they will reciprocate. They won’t agree necessarily, but respectful disagreement enhances life.

Instead of crying over spilled milk, Bivens should take this opportunity to look inward and ask himself if he has been expecting other to treat him more fairly than he has treated those whom he disagrees with.

Reaction from around the web:

American Power: So yeah, screw Ed Whelan. The guy's coming off like a thin-skinned prick. But just know that all the faux-outrage on the left is totally hypocritical. These folks get off on outing, snarking, shaming, and demonizing conservatives. That's their livelihood. This secular demonology has no counterpart on the right. Sure, some conservatives are puerile, but leftists are masters at the game.

And So it Goes in Shreveport: My blog comments are not moderated because frankly, I don't get enough for it to be a problem. I've had both types of commenters Stacy mentions though, I've had anonymous commenters who want to push their agenda and I've had the ones who are so ignorant I don't have to bother with them. The point is, they choose to be anonymous. In some ways I find it cowardly but then I also understand that maybe they have valid reasons.

Instapundit: IS IT WRONG TO “OUT” ANONYMOUS BLOGGERS? I think blogging anonymity is fine — though in the absence of a track record I tend to trust anonymous bloggers less — but is it a “despicable” act to identify an anonymous blogger? I’d say it depends. Certainly the political operative who leaked the Foleygate story via an anonymous blog had no right to anonymity. On the other hand, what about people who blog in a non-hit job fashion but just want to avoid job repercussions? I’m more sympathetic there. But if you appoint yourself someone’s anonymous blogging nemesis, you can probably expect to be outed.

Don Surber: OK. I usually refrain from commenting on blogging. But I cannot contain my laughter over the controversy over Ed Whelan looking behind the curtain and unmasking the little sniveling coward who hides behind the pen name “publius” to call other people ugly…This little twit is under the impression that he can hide behind hurl his little petty verbal bombs at people who use their real names.

I want to clarify my position. My CEO, CFO and Board of Directors would be unhappy with the majority of what I write. Very unhappy. But that is far as it would go. I don’t have to worry about being fired because of opinions I express outside of my employment. I realize that not everyone is so lucky. However, if you’re going to throw rocks somebody have the courage of conviction not to hide while doing it. And for goodness sakes, don’t go all crybaby when somebody throws a rock back.

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