Idaho state Rep. Stephen Hartgen (R-Twin Falls) is considering drafting legislation that would make anonymous blogging illegal, a bill that would be just as unlikely to achieve its stated goal as it would be to pass constitutional muster…
“Anonymity takes away the responsibility to say things in a civil and accurate manner. It provides a cover for the ugliness we see in the debate today. It’s hard to read political blogs any more because they are so inflammatory.”
What a fucking douchebag.
See, I’ve never blogged anonymously, and I have absolutely no problem sticking my name on a post, no matter how uncivil, ugly or inflammatory. So suck on that, Rep. Hartgen, you fascist, freedom-hating sack of shit.
Now, I know that there are those in the political and media establishment who would prefer that credibility be limited to those writing under a prestigious masthead and in the familiar, suffocatingly polite manner of the traditional family newspaper. But here in the new media we earn our credibility through the content of our words, not the number of letters in them or the byline above them. That’s why I am free to address Hartgen’s idiocy with the foul-mouthed blue streak it deserves, and without damaging my own credibility… because I’ve earned that right over four-plus years of providing accurate news reporting and thoughtful analysis, however salty my language.
But even if I had never attached my real name to my screen name—even if “Goldy’s” true identity had remained a mystery until this very day—my credibility would still not be diminished, because my nom de plume is as much a valid signature on my body of work as my actual, legally binding chicken scrawl. On the flip side, the bulk of the anonymous trolls in my own comment threads have no credibility at all, because they simply haven’t earned it, and when you write anonymously you start from nothing.
This is the irony that the sniveling, cowardly Hartgen misses entirely: anonymous discourse is often the most honest of all, because it is judged entirely on the quality of the content rather than the presumed reputation of the name on the label. (Here’s a thought experiment: put Mr. Cynical’s byline on Ted van Dyk’s columns, and see how eager the oh-so-respectable editors at Crosscut would be to publish his rambling, incoherent posts?)
But perhaps the worst thing one could say about Hartgen’s proposal is not that it is merely assinine, unconstitutional, unnecessary or even mind-numbingly stupid, but that it is downright unAmerican—an unpatriotic insult to the proud pseudonymous tradition of Publius, Anonymous, Mrs. Silence Dogood and other founding fathers.
If these great pamphleteers were alive today, they’d be bloggers all, and I’ve no doubt they’d join me, anonymously or not, in asking Rep. Hartgen the question that should be posed to all those who threaten the essential freedoms ensconced in our First Amendment: why do you hate America?