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Outing anonymous bloggers
Was Bush appointee Ed Whelan right to publish the name of an anonymous critic?
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d Whelan is a jerk, said Alex Pareene in Gawker. Whelan—a Bush Justice Department appointee—"got soooo mad" that he outed an anonymous blogger for criticizing a "dumb argument" he made against Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination. The blogger—John Blevins—was using the pseudonym "Publius" to protect his position at South Texas College of Law, but when you're mean to a "partisan hack," you pay the price.

I was prepared to ignore Publius' latest "irresponsible" post, said Ed Whelan in National Review, "but I changed my mind when I discovered that John Blevins is a law professor." A blogger who teaches law ought to be held to "minimal standards." Something is wrong if Internet ethics say it's OK for a blogger to smear people behind the mask of anonymity, but it's evil to accurately report the guy's name and job.

"Yes, I criticized Whelan harshly," said John Blevins in Obsidian Wings, but bloggers slam each other all the time. Only the mean-spirited and thin-skinned respond by attacking an anonymous blogger's livelihood, instead of merely responding to what he wrote.

There's nothing inherently wrong with blogging anonymously, said Glenn Reynolds in Instapundit, "though in the absence of a track record I tend to trust anonymous bloggers less." As long as you avoid making "hitjob" posts, you should be able to hide your identity to protect your job. "But if you appoint yourself someone’s anonymous blogging nemesis, you can probably expect to be outed."

People who blog anonymously do have "a moral responsibility not to abuse the privilege by making nasty personal attacks," said Rod Dreher in BeliefNet. But you shouldn't out a blogger without a "very, very good reason." Exposing someone over a personal spat does us all "a grave disservice, by making it harder for people who have interesting things to say but who cannot say them under their own name (for professional or personal reasons) to get their ideas into public conversation."

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