Mark Steyn attacks anonymous commenters too timid to put a name to their opinions.
Kathy Shaidle and Gavin McInnes have been discussing online anonymity. I agree with them. You’re not in the battle unless you put your name to it – and don’t give me that Scarlet Pimpernel stuff: you’re not riding out after dark on daring missions, you’re just reTweeting some bloke’s hashtag.
Mr McInnes is withering about the cyber-warrior ethos – the butch pseudonym, the graphic-novel avatar. But, cumulatively, it’s making the Internet boring and ineffectual for everyone other than Isis…
There are alwaysrational reasons for not flying under your flag. But cumulatively and objectively they have a corrosive effect. McInnes cites the stand-up mommy who, in response to the arrest of a parent who let her children walk home from the park unaccompanied, organized a "Leave Your Kids At The Park" day - to demonstrate to the statist control freaks that they can't arrest us all. Her name is Lenore Skenazy, not "WarriorPrincess437"
Frankly, if you can’t take your own ideas seriously enough to put your name to them, then why the hell should anyone else? That’s the lesson from the likes of Lenore and Steyn.
Yes, it’s true (as Steve Kates responds) that “free speech of unpopular opinions – meaning opinions that are unpopular on the left – is not so free after all, but comes with a huge potential cost.” That “the anonymity of the net allows many of us to say things in public that we are very aware may have us receiving modern versions of being burned at the stake or sent to the gulag.”
But while “there are always rational reasons for not flying under your flag … cumulatively and objectively they have a corrosive effect.” And it remains true that for every opinion coming from an avatar, one from someone using their own name is more genuine.
Because one of us is real and the other isn't. Which means that one of us has his own skin in the game, and he doesn't want to waste his time trying to figure out whether the other one's deranged obsession is simply the usual basement blowhardry…
It is also true that virtually without fail every single scurrilous or cowardly attack online comes from some anonymous blowhard hiding behind a self-fantasising nom-de-plume. Like the current loony from Los Angeles who’s been spamming the comments section here at NOT PC for the past week with links to white supremacist websites and claims about something called Tavistock—which I had to Google to discover is among the internet’s 4th-most popular bizarre conspiracy theory among loonies who still haven’t learned to tie their own shoes.
So until the spamming stops, or slows – or until shops in Irvine, California run out of tinfoil—I’m afraid I’ve had to apply moderation to all the comments here.
Which won’t bother most of you, since you don’t often bother to comment anyway, whether anonymously or pseudonymously or not.