As long as the Delaware blogosphere's loudest and most persistent voices were divided between those who wrote under their own names and those who wrote anonymously (some more transparently than others), in such a small state it had to happen.
Somebody who conceals his/her identity would write something about somebody else that so pissed them (or their friends) off that a little digging would reveal the names and biographical information.
We've skirted around the issue before: donviti was oh-so-briefly outed at Delaware Politics a few months back before the post was taken down, and then--apparently [I missed this post before it also disappeared]--somebody provided enough information at Down With Absolutes for just about anybody to deduce the identity of El Somnambulo.
A couple weeks back, El Somnambulo offered to out himself/herself if Charlie Copeland would answer some direct questions about the Caesar Rodney Institute [Delaware's new rightwing think-tank]. Copeland actually answered all the questions, but the Boast Who Slumbers apparently did not like the answers, so there has been no autobiography. This is unfortunate, as ES is one of those bloggers who persists in doing so-called exposes based at least in part on insider information, yet will not stand up and reveal his/her own identity.
Then kavips dissected Garrett Wozniak of CRI, virtually down to posting and ridiculing his resume and job history, as well a publishing a satirical piece on Dave Burris that also ridiculed everything from his weight to his political views [one a legitimate target, in my opinion; one not; you make the call].
So Dave--who shoots from the hip on occasion and has to repent as the smoke trails waft out of the barrel of his gun [oops, did I use eliminationist language there? Sorry.]--responded with a post that not only purports to out kavips' secret identity, but in the comments section [at least to this moment of writing--this is the blogs and you never know what will disappear when] also reveals the identities of two other fairly prominent anonymous Delaware bloggers.
And lots of people are outraged.
So David Burris and everyone here has decided to out a fellow blogger over political and personal differences. That is a disgusting new low that not even Mike Matthews would tolerate.
David Burris, you are a fat disgusting lying human being who really should consider suicide as your next failed career move. Don’t worry, you won’t succeed at that either.
I will discuss this with my fellow bloggers at Delaware Liberal, but I dare say Burris will be banned from our pages for now one, and until such time as this filth is removed from Delaware Politics, David Anderson will no longer be welcome there either....
Conservative thuggery at its finest. Can’t win the debate on the substance, so they intimidate. Nothing separates Burris from the screaming teabaggers and LaRouchites now.
Now, I should be perfectly clear here: I have repeatedly defended my good friend Waldo's use of anonymous blogging to take on the reactionary blogging-powers-that-be in South Carolina.
On the other hand, I have gone on record as well about the manner in which anonymous and pseudonymous bloggers here in Delaware take advantage of their hidden identities to launch attacks on those of us who actually sign our names to our writing:
OK I will buy the anon posting to avoid employer problems. But then there are others who use the fact that some of us post under our real names to attack our businesses or our jobs. Jason’s inheriting a business (and I don’t even know if that’s true) has been attacked repeatedly; Dave Burris got lampooned for being an upper-end real estate agent; and even here Geezer has refused to deal with my arguments by instead criticizing me for working at a “fourth-rate university.”
So while you are all (legitimately) concerned about outing anon and pseudo-anon posters and judging them purely on the merits of their arguments, should there not be some consideration about how to treat the real, non-blogging lives of people who actually post under their own names? Because while you can say we invite that by using our own names, it really does strike me as a double standard.
Curiously enough, it was cassandra who responded:
People who need to invoke your employment or family as a stand-in for a real argument are always a problem — the lazy or cheap way out of an argument you can no longer articulate is just to attack your interlocutor.
Are you thinking, Steve, that people who are attacking your business need to be banned or somehow moderated? Or dealt with in some other way?
And as I look at these rules again it strikes me that we need something on Fair Use rules.
But it has long been acceptable at Delawareliberal to trash Dave Burris on his physical characteristics and even his employment, hasn't it, cassandra?
The other irony here is that it is all an open secret anyway. People who have attended Drinking Liberally or any other functions of Delawareliberal--or just people who pay attention to politics and social interaction in this State all know who these bloggers really are. I've been able to put real names to to all but one Delawareliberal bloggers--in part based on private emails in which they revealed their real names, and in part based on social events--for over a year. So what? Even when I called Delawaredem an asshole, I did not have the urge to out him. It wasn't material to the whole process, and--at least in my way of thinking--it violated the way I want to play the game.
But it does matter, and it does get into issues of credibility, such as taking on a pseudonymous blogger who is a candidate you have previously endorsed, who blogs regularly on insider information without signing his own name.
Sorry: but if you are enough of a public figure to have run for office, then you are legitimately a public figure, and people have the right to try to tie you to your words in any context. Ask Ron Paul.
The same is true whether you blog in New Castle or Sussex, and the office is only that of School Board member.
If it were suddenly discovered that Mike Castle had been secretly blogging at racist websites for years as "the Grand Knight," would Delawareliberal refuse to post the information, standing on the inviolable rule of not outing bloggers?
This is one of those developments, as--ironically--an anonymous poster at Delawareliberal points out, could not be avoided:
It is the natural evolution of the blogosphere for everyone to be outed. If you fear being outed, you shouldn’t be on the Internet.
If you want to keep your identity a secret, don’t tell anybody else – no exceptions. And don’t use email, or any services that require a login.
On the other hand, Anon (who may or may not be the same Anon just quoted above) gets it completely wrong when characterizing virtually all crusading anonymous bloggers as liberals and all of us who use our own names as trust-fund babies:
It is easy to be bold with your identity when you have “irrevocable income,” like Charlie Copeland, or family backing like Burris (implicit or explicit). Or several other GOP’ers.
But it is wrong to hide behind your money and fault others for not revealing their identity.
For the record, I don't think I, or Dana Garrett, or Mike Matthews, or Nancy Willing, or Liz Allen, or even David Anderson fall into that category.
We are normal folks with real day jobs who have decided that it is important to us not only to have a voice but to be personally accountable for what we say.
If you are in a position where revealing the true extent of your political activism could threaten your livelihood, then you consciously took that chance the moment you signed onto a computer to blog. Neither email nor blogging has any inherent presumption of a "right" to privacy. My friend Waldo understands that, and chooses to take the personal risk; the Boast Who Slumbers, on the other hand, uses his semi-anonymity to sling it out, take credit for it among the cognoscenti privileged to know his real identity, and then gets all pious along with his cohorts about the sanctity of blogging pen names.
If I were Delawaredem and regularly allowed my hyperbole to run away with my keyboard--such as the quotation above suggesting Dave Burris should commit suicide--then I probably would be pretty damn careful about keeping my employer from knowing what I was doing.
On the other hand, I don't really care who kavips is. I continue to read him/her because of the ideas expressed. A lot of them I vehemently disagree with, but 99% of the time there is no reason for a name to be attached to them. I will continue to read kavips....
This is going to change the Delaware blogosphere, because the nature of argument changes when you have to sign your name to it.
And within less than a year, anybody who is even trivially interested will know all the names of all the parties involved, and you can bet those names will get circulated.
So my suggestion for anonymous bloggers (commenters not so much) is to start to come to terms now with whether this is something you can live with. Because eventually you will get tied to everything you have ever written, and it will be re-evaluated on the basis of who you are and what your special interests have been.
Just a prediction: but I am sure it will get me accused of threatening to out other bloggers, which is, of course, not what I said.