Lee Siegel chats with Deborah Soloman and explains:
No, it never occurred to me at the time that I was doing something wrong. There are other people who appear anonymously on Web sites; they do battle with their detractors. Anonymity is a universal convention of the blogosphere, and the wicked expedience is that you can speak without consequences. What was wrong about it is that I did it under the aegis of The New Republic, as a senior editor of the magazine.
I think Internet-anonymity is a little unfortunate, but it's an understandable second-best alternative given that lots of people don't really have the option of posting opinions on controversial topics under their own names. That said, this just isn't what Siegel did. He specifically pretended to not be Lee Siegel under circumstances where the fact that he was Lee Siegel was obviously germane to the issue at hand. What's more, Siegel is a professional writer who published under his own name all the time, including on the very website where he was pseudonymously commenting. He had no legitimate reasons for anonymity and wasn't really being anonymous at all -- he was just lying about his identity.