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August 12, 2002

Steven den Beste has written

Steven den Beste has written an post critical of anonymous bloggers, Demosthenes in particular.

What Demosthenes is saying is that he is expressing controversial opinions on his blog, and he fears that if those around him discover it that he may suffer social consequences from doing so, such as the possibility of losing friends or being the target of social ostracism, and that he is not willing to pay that price. He will only say what he thinks if he does not risk anything because of it.

He says, "I don't want my arguments here to affect how people treat me in real life", and to that end he only reveals his involvement to those he thinks would be sympathetic, while continuing to conceal it from everyone else. Surely if he thought that the reaction he'd get from broader revelation was positive, there would be no trepidation. It's hard to see how he'd be concerned about such a reaction unless he expected it to be negative and to have unacceptable consequences.

That's his choice, of course. but there's a price to be paid for it. It also affects how his readers view him. Consider the practical effect of this decision. What he's saying amounts to this:

I, Demosthenes, have certain strongly-held opinions about the current crisis which I think are important, and I advocate certain political positions. I write about them here in hopes that American citizens will read what I write, be persuaded by what I say, publicly embrace those opinions, and in turn attempt to influence the government of the United States to carry out those policies.

I, myself, do not admit to holding those opinions to those around me because I'm afraid of the consequences. But I believe that American voters should do what I say, not what I do, and they should publicly embrace the opinions that I myself fear to admit to in my own name.

They should be courageous and take chances based on my writings, even though I'm not willing to. They should risk social censure, even though I do not.

Does that criticism apply to us? I suppose to a casual reader it could. We don't post under our own names, either. We didn't do it out of concern for our safety, though. Back in May, when I was casting about for a site name, I considered Demosthenes as well, not knowing that he already existed. I suppose anyone familiar with Ender's Game gave it at least a passing thought. I decided pretty quickly that taking that name was an act of hubris so large it practically demanded retribution from the gods. Also, while I hold a pretty good opinion of myself, I know better than to think I can write at the level a name like that demands. I eventually decided on Silflay Hraka as the blogname, for the reasons detailed here. Once that was decided, it just seemed logical to adopt a nom-de-plume that fit the theme. We also don't hide who we are very well. You can find out my name and email address by clicking on either of the tip jars over there on the upper right. And as long as you're there....

Anyone who's a regular reader also knows my daughter's name, the town I live in and the place I work. I don't feel very anonymous. I just like posting as Bigwig. It feels more like a nickname than a protective cover.

That said, anonymous bloggers don't bother me either. It's your choice, and there's probably a myriad of reasons other than the two above to write under a name other than your own. That's the reason why, if you scroll down, you'll see a post that says nothing other than "space for rent". I inadvertently outed the Fusilier Pundit Saturday night, and pulled the post Sunday morning once I read his very first blog entry. Wiping it out entirely felt a a little too Orwellian, but I don't think it's up to me to decide who gets outed or not.

Update: Going on nothing but gut instinct, I've decided that the people most likely to blog under cover are residents of the left. Armed Liberal is pseudonymous, as is the aforementioned Demosthenes. I'll go out and see if I can't find some others. I can also think of at least one good reason why a lefty might want to protect his identity. Freepers.

Posted by Bigwig at August 12, 2002 01:59 PM | TrackBack
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