by Goldy, 05/27/2010, 10:00 AM

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?”

Oh, boo-hoo.

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.

23 Responses to “Why does Ted Van Dyk hate America?”

1. Michael spews:

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.

Harold Lasswell
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Harold Dwight Lasswell (February 13, 1902 — December 18, 1978) was a leading American political scientist and communications theorist. He was a member of the Chicago school of sociology and was a student at Yale University in political science. He was a President of the World Academy of Art and Science (WAAS) and the American Political Science Association (APSA). Along with other influential liberals of the period, such as Walter Lippmann, he argued that democracies needed propaganda to keep the uninformed citizenry in agreement with what the specialized class had determined was in their best interests.

But, they’re only doing what’s best for you…

2. N in Seattle spews:

Of course I wish my trolls would put half the thought into their comments as I put into my posts

Hell, I wish their comments contained half the thought they put into their pseudonyms.

Or a quarter. Or even a tiny scrap.

3. Zotz spews:

…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…

You can visualize the just slightly upraised pinky finger and a barely discernible sniff-sniff as he typed that howler…

4. Geov spews:

Not only does Van Dyk not Twitter, but I’ll lay odds he uses a manual typewriter. And that he’s named it.

5. ConservativeFirst spews:

Goldy:

There’s a reason why HA quickly rose to prominence

Prominence? In what regard? According to alexa.com, your site ranks below both soundpolitics.com and crosscut.com.

In addition Redstate was started in 2004 (well after your blog) and is ranked in the top 2,500 (or so) sites in the U.S. compared to your ranking of ~120,000.

How’s the pledge drive going, btw?

6. 42-year Seattle Voter spews:

Yes, the relentless efforts to drive comment threads off topic is tiresome, as are the posts that are only mere attacks.

If I ever have such a blog myself (doubtful), I’ll screen the replies in order to delete those that don’t contribute to the discussion, whether or not they agree with me.

7. Roger Rabbit spews:

Why does the Seattle Times waste ink on this guy? Further evidence of the depravity of Fairview Fanny’s editorial misjudgement.

8. Crusader spews:

In addition Redstate was started in 2004 (well after your blog) and is ranked in the top 2,500 (or so) sites in the U.S. compared to your ranking of ~120,000.

RR must be giddy to know that about 100 people ever read his comments.

9. Troutski spews:

The blind squirrel editorial team at the Sea Times find a nut:

“Rossi should call for American troops to leave Iraq and Afghanistan. It won’t do to promise an exit when those countries get their security right, or democracy right. Those are excuses for endless war.”

10. headless lucy spews:

It tickles me when someone accuses me of using a pseudonym when they know darn good and well that I’m ‘really’ headless.

11. PassionateJus spews:

Who’s Ted Van Dyk?

12. Dr. Dre spews:

Van Dyke is apparently the guy Goldy wishes he could be…

13. Michael spews:

@11

Some old white guy.

14. YellowPup spews:

My question is why did his outrage take so long to appear? All the scotch? Because it takes this long for Seattle Twitter feeds to get down to the Phoenix suburbs?

15. mikek spews:

for what it’s worth, Dan Bertolet, of HugeassCity fame now writing at Publicola, recently had a post about the topic of anonymous commenters: here

16. Michael spews:

@14

The internet is a giant tube and all these nasty, anonymous, blog posters, have clogged the tube making deliveries to the Phoenix slow.

17. YellowPup spews:

@16: LOL, oh yes, forgot about the tubes.

18. headless lucy spews:

Anonymity is also important because there are employers out there who might take umbrage at some out of the mainstream position — like being against illegal wars.

And I don’t doubt for one second that some of these shitheel trolls would contact your employer to do exactly that.

19. ConservativeFirst spews:

headless lucy @18

Anonymity is also important because there are employers out there who might take umbrage at some out of the mainstream position — like being against illegal wars.

Or taxpayers that might take umbrage at public employees (such as teachers) using their public owned computer to make comments on blogs regardless of whether their position fits in the mainstream or not.

20. slingshot spews:

Coincidentally, there was a story on All Things Considered this afternoon about nasty postings and anonymity in the internet tubes.

21. correctnotright spews:

@19 Or someone might actually know you and realize that you made a bogfus comparison of a national blog (Redstate) with a local blog (HA).

Yup, go to redstate all yo want – I have seen what the posters on there write (you know, the racist stuf about Obama).

22. Tlazolteotl spews:

So the real Ted denies using Twitter, but not Scotch.

23. zdp 189 spews:

All forms of media are going to have their pluses and minuses. I used to write a lot of letters to the Times, PI, and Weekly. On one hand I put a lot more care into those letters, than I put into an anonymous internet post.

OTOH, the letters-to-editor were very much subject to manipulation, esp. at the Times. I even found grammatical errors in my letters that were not present in the letter as submitted, I think because the editor disagreed with my point and wanted to try to make me look stupid. And of course there is zero recourse for the letter writer–you’re at the mercy of the letters editor.

BTW, in my experience The Weekly was the best in that regard. They would print a letter even if it made them look bad, as long as it was done with skill.