Out, damned blog!


On one of my favorite topics, anonymous blogging — James Joyner (via Glenn) is unhappy with one particular bit of outage:

While I generally find the practice of revealing people’s secrets to the public distasteful, there are times when it’s appropriate.  Public officials who are abusing their power is the most obvious case.   Here, however, there is no public benefit achieved. Whelan is simply annoyed that Publius had been “biting at my ankles in recent months” and critiquing his blog posts.

Jeopardizing a man’s career and family relationships over something so petty is simply shameful. Anonymous Liberal (which, I’m given to understand, is not his given name) hits the nail on the head:

It’s really difficult to put into words just how despicable and childish this behavior is. This is a man who was a Deputy Assistant Attorney General. He’s currently the President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. And he’s acting like a six-year-old.


The reality is that if you don’t think your work product can withstand the scrutiny of a few anonymous bloggers, than you have no business publishing it. And if your ego can’t withstand being criticized by people who write under pseudonyms, then you’re far too insecure to be blogging for a living.

Well, I’d say something different: If your career, life or whatever can’t stand the pressure of being held responsible for your words, then you’re far too insecure — literally — to publish them on line, especially when they’re at someone else’s expense.

Dont do the crime if you cant do the time

Don't do the crime if you can't do the time

There’s no “public interest” test for outing an anonymous blogger.   There is only the test of how far you can go before you show your hand, and the test of accountability in the public sphere.  And I say if you’re prepared to shoot out someone else’s lights, whether or not he is “blogging for a living,” then be prepared to have your’n popped, too.

Accountability.  In a free society, if you can’t stand behind it, I see no reason why you should be allowed to get a pass on saying it.  Put differently, you’ve got every right to say it, and every right to pay for it.

11 Responses to “Out, damned blog!”

  1. Instapundit » Blog Archive » IS IT WRONG TO “OUT” ANONYMOUS BLOGGERS? I think blogging anonymity is fine — though in the absenc… Says:

    […] more from Ed Morrissey, Ron Coleman, and Joe Gandelman. Plus, Michael Krauss and Walter […]

  2. Punning Pundit Says:

    There are a _lot_ of people who wouldn’t hire me based on my political beliefs. There are many people with whom I chose not to talk politics with.

    Having a blog linked to my own name makes it more likely that my ideas will cause me pain– even if I’m 100% sweetness and light while offering my ideas.

    Can my ideas stand up to scrutiny? Yes. Does it inhibit my ability to speak freely to think “my asshole uncle is going to read this”, or even “the hiring committee is stacked with people who can’t deal with different opinions.”

    Accountability can come in may forms. One of those tests is “can I say it to my friends and family”. Another is “can it stand scrutiny in the sphere of public opinion”. The two forms need not be mutual…

    Punning Pundit’s last blog post..3 Quick hits:

  3. jerseylaw Says:

    OK, Punning. That’s your call, your right, and your risk.

  4. Punning Pundit Says:

    Let me fix that for you:
    “OK, Punning. That’s your call, you’re right, and your risk.”

    There we go! 🙂

    Punning Pundit’s last blog post..3 Quick hits:

  5. Drew Says:

    In the end, Whelan was being a baby by doing this, and subsequently defending it. None of the more abstract arguments about overall accountability and so forth wipe this away.

    He let his emotions get the better of him in a heated debate, and instead of decimating his opponents arguments, he struck out at him in a way that’s an unqualified act of childishness.

    It’s embarrassing way to act, end stop.

    Especially since there are a lot of other reasons than personal protection to work pseudonymously: more often than not you’re protecting employers, family members, and so forth.

    Drew’s last blog post..Note to Congress: Seasons != Climate Change

  6. David Nieporent Says:

    Sorry, Ron, but I am forced to agree with the punster and thus disagree with you. I think that one is not obligated to risk one’s career in the name of “accountability” for one’s views on private subjects that are not relevant to one’s job (even though I myself have always signed my name to my opinions on the internet).

    (That having been said, on what planet is a liberal blogger going to be negatively impacted in American academia by the fact of his liberal blogging?)

  7. Why I Blog Anonymously, And Why It's OK: Ed Whelan of NRO Outs Blogger Publius of Obsidian Wings | Popehat Says:

    […] they are in my cache: Scott Greenfield, Jesse Taylor, John Amato, Eugene Volokh, Jonathan Adler, Ron Coleman, Will at League of Ordinary Gentlemen, Walter Olson, Michael […]

  8. Brian Gocial Says:

    Well now Whelan’s apologized and admitted he was wrong. Isn’t that nice?

  9. Ron Coleman Says:

    I expect to be misconstrued from time to time but I virtually never expect to be misconstrued by Nieporent:

    I think that one is not obligated to risk one’s career in the name of “accountability” for one’s views on private subjects that are not relevant to one’s job (even though I myself have always signed my name to my opinions on the internet).

    I never said one was obligated to do so. I said that when one chooses not to do so, he does so at his own risk. And most importantly — libertarian, listen up — his choice to blog anonymously does not place an obligation on any other person to maintain, protect or even to decline to affirmatively seek his identity and, if it suits the other person, to reveal it.
    That doesn’t mean that in this particular interpersonal imbroglio that Whelan could not have been a jerk. Of course he could have been, Drew, and perhaps now he has said that he was. But that’s way different from suggesting that he violated some overarching rule requiring deference to anonymity by bloggers.

    Brian, your point eludes me.

  10. Tom DeGisi Says:

    I stopped hiding behind ‘Wince and Nod’ because I thought it was important to take a stand.


    Tom DeGisi’s last blog post..How To Develop A Political Grassroots Movement

  11. Ron Coleman Says:

    Bully for you!

Attorney Ronald D. Coleman