How Dare They?!?!?

Tom Grubisich's tirade against internet pseudonymity strikes me as primarily just another example of Delicate Flower Syndrome. If Grubisich had cared to do any "fact-checking," "research," "reporting" or any of the other things good journalists are known for he would have recalled, as did Julian Sanchez, that there's a very long and distinguished trend of pseudonymous political commentary in this country and around the world that has nothing in particular to do with the internet. Instead, we just get this:

In any community in America, if Mr. anticrat424 refused to identify himself, he would be ignored and frozen out of the civic problem-solving process. But on the Internet, Mr. anticrat424 is continually elevated to the podium, where he can have his angriest thoughts amplified through cyberspace as often as he wishes. He can call people the vilest names and that hate-mongering, too, will be amplified for all the world to see.



This, too, is wrong. On the internet, everyone gets a chance to speak, but there's no guarantee you'll be listened to. If people are "amplifying" anticrat424's thoughts by linking to them, quoting him, etc., that's going to be either because he's saying things that people think make sense. People might quote anticrat424 for the purpose of refuting him but that, again, presupposes that some people are taking him seriously. And, of course, over time your handle gets a reputation -- good, bad, or mixed -- just like a name in real life.

Personally, I'm a curious person and do tend to prefer to know as much as possible about the people I read. Even here, though, knowing the name (as opposed to, say, something about the writer's job and general situation in life) isn't necessarily all that enlightening. What's really bothering Grubisich, though, isn't the lack of names but rather the fact that people are being mean to Grubisich and to people Grubisich likes. He thinks, correctly, that if everyone had to use their own name a lot of people might be afraid to speak their minds. Once again, I'm left to wonder why so many journalists think that if they could make the mean comments go away this would somehow make the bad thoughts disappear as well. I don't like the iidea of people hating my work, but insofar as people think I'm wrong about stuff I'd just as soon know what think I'm wrong about.