A couple of more bits of evidence of Democrats getting extreme enough to bear a convincing resemblance to extreme Republicans...
I silenced a voice of hate is a dkos diary about a guy who was getting anonymous hateful right-wing evangelist comments on his weblog. The guy was clearly a dick, saying stuff like "I wish you had been aborted" and saying we should kill muslim leaders and convert their followers to Christianity. He also had his own blog, which he wrote to anonymously.
Said diarist researched the guy's weblog, put some miscellaneous facts together, and figured out his real identity. He then contacted him and, depending on how you read it, either made the blogger aware that it was possible to find out his real identity and tell his employers, or, threatened to do exactly that. The blogger was a teacher of seventh graders in a private Christian school.
In the diary, several people defended outing this guy on various grounds, from protecting the children to just the fact that he was a right wing freak. I wrote that it was really creepy that progressives would defend such an act, and got quite a bit of opposition in return.
I'm usually pretty darn good at using my own words, but here's a case where Atrios says it better:
Anonymity allows people the freedom to speak without fear of reprisals in other elements of your life. On the internet, where every little comment can potentially hang around forever, it allows people to communicate views without worrying about what current/future employers or customers may think of them. People do get fired/not hired for this kind of stuff. Without anonymity many people would not be able to talk politics on the internets. It allows people to separate their personal political/religious/whatever views from their personal/professional lives otherwise. It's truly a gift.
Anonymity can be abused if it's being used as a cover for illegal activities or actionable speech (libel). In both cases anonymity provides little cover - one subpoena to your ISP or web hosting company and it's all over. Anonymity could also be abused by posing as an "outsider" of some sort when you're actually an insider, or if you use it to mask some sort of hidden personal agenda or financial interest. To the extent that anonymity prevents knowing if those apply it can be criticized.
People divide their lives all of the time. Sally the business owner can to some degree separate herself from Sally the parent and Sally the activist. The ability to keep aspects separate is generally respected by people who are not assholes. On the internet, anonymity, while not strictly necessary, is close to being required to maintain that in the age of Google (not all people feel the need). Non-internet personal activities can be separated from your professional life simply by not socializing with colleagues. But, internet activities are always google-able.
This was in reference to a certain journalist who threatened to out the true identity of a certain progressive blogger(SKB), in practically the same way that the dkos diarist did: by simply alluding to the possibility that he could... if he wanted to. As far as I'm concerned, that's a threat. Dishonest people would say, "No, that's not a threat! He's just saying he could! Nothing more!" Which completely lies about the desired impact of saying the words.
What was SKB's crime? Hosting a weblog that had comments that insulted the journalist. What was the conservative freak's crime? Insulting the diarist on his weblog with various bits of right-wing hate. There was also the thing about him teaching children, but that's a bit of hindsight logic, since the discussion of that requires the outing first. Even so, there's no evidence to suggest he was using such viewpoints inappropriately in the classroom. (And the people that justify themselves saying, "But you just know he is!" are part of the problem.)
Regardless, when it comes down to simple speculative value judgments, it's irrelevant. The value judgments are the privilege of those judging the content. Anonymity exists to protect people against that very treatment. Like Atrios says, there are certain exceptions to anonymity, but this guy's weblog comments didn't meet those standards.
It's unethical to agree with Atrios while also agreeing with trying to ruin this guy's career.
By the way, the journalist who threatened to expose SKB's identity (leading SKB to out himself) apologized, spurred no doubt by a very large outcry among progressives.
In An opportunity for Assrocket to shine, kos trumpets another blogger's satirical letter noting that a certain conservative warblogger's son has just turned eighteen, and that the blogger should encourage his son to become a Marine rifleman in the Al Anbar province, the "cutting edge" of freedom.
I'm feeling really disgusted with the state of discourse these days. That's just low. You leave your blogger enemies' children out of it. Said 18-year-old isn't a public figure like Mary Cheney.
Right now I appear to be the only person making that point over there. It's pretty disgusting.
Besides, I do not believe in the current foreign policy over in Iraq. I don't want anyone to enlist to fight on the front lines in Iraq, because I don't want anyone to die unnecessarily. And excuse me for being ethical, but that includes conservatives and the sons of conservatives. I understand it's just a rhetorical trick, but that doesn't mean it's honest.
Posted by tunesmith at June 21, 2005 02:16 PM
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