Anonymity — or at least, pseudonymity — holds a long and cherished place in American history, dating back well before our nation’s founding.
Benjamin Franklin honed his skills as a journalist writing under a number of pseudonyms, and Thomas Paine’s highly influential and historically revered Common Sense was originally published anonymously in 1776. And then of course there are the Federalist Papers, authored by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, but published under the pseudonym Publius.
I mean, if anonymity was good enough for our founding fathers, it’s certainly good enough for me.
But apparently, it’s not good enough for Ted Van Dyk, who laments the “negative and sometimes vicious personal attacks” he endures in the threads over at Crosscut, and who wonders if the comments might be more civil “if those making them had to sign their own names?”
Yeah sure, there are those who abuse the privilege of anonymity, as demonstrated by the sewer that is my comment thread, but democracy is a messy thing, especially the nearly inviolable right to free speech that guarantees it. Of course I wish my trolls would put half the thought into their comments as I put into my posts, and their relentless effort to drive my threads off-topic is disappointing to say the least. But if there’s one free market I believe in, it’s the free market of ideas.
There’s a reason why HA quickly rose to prominence and popularity while my trolls, like the barnacles that they are, still desperately cling to my keel, and it sure as hell has nothing to do with the market distorting powers of money and influence.
Yet despite the unprecedentedly vibrant forum the Internet has fostered, in which even the Crosscut Home for Retired Journalists can earn itself a valued role in the public debate, Van Dyk still pines for the good old days when editorial gatekeepers, too cowardly to sign their own editorials, not only got to pick and choose which voices the public would hear, but got to edit them to boot.
“We all are familiar with the old print-journalism procedures,” Van Dyk nostalgically writes, “whereby readers sent letters to the editor and a few, in the end, got published — always bearing the writers’ names.”
And that’s a good thing? Given a choice between democracy and decorum, Van Dyk clearly chooses the latter.
Honestly, could this crusty, old, milk industry bagman get any more old and crusty? Um… yeah:
A related matter, speaking of the online world and its comments, someone has used Twitter — tweeted — using my name and photo, to transmit silly observations, which some of those receiving then attribute to me.
The Twitterer in question has registered as presenting “parody” and thus is within Twitter ground rules. Please know that I do not Twitter and that another person is mischievously Twittering in my name.
Really, Ted? And what was the giveaway? The word “Fake“ prominently featured in our Fake Ted Van Dyk feed’s title?
Reading between the lines, it sure does sound like Van Dyk contacted Twitter attempting to get the feed shut down, so if there really is any confusion as to provenance, perhaps that’s understandable when given the cartoonish nature of his complaint, Van Dyk once again comes off as a parody of himself.