Heads You Win, Tails I Lose

Charlie Kraebel and Mark Robarge pick up where Michael Lazarou left off on the subject of anonymous bloggers. If you recall, Michael Lazarou characterized me and my blog (here) as follows:

  • the skewed information that a blog can present over the Internet without accountability
  • other type of blog which I refer to as a UB (Unidentified Blog) is one I consider to be disingenuous.
  • But when it comes from an unknown source I value it as worthless information.
  • Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to divulge your name when submitting letters to the editor? Just think of having the ability to write whatever your heart desires without damaging name or reputation.
  • Maybe it would serve you better to come out of the closet to express your ideas instead of funneling thoughts to imaginary friends on the Internet
  • If you prefer to remain anonymous then let me be the first to say thank you for keeping your best kept secrets (or are they opinions?) to yourself.

Picking up where Mr. Lazarou leaves off, Charlie weighs in with this (here):

I’ve never hosted a blog anonymously. That’s because I’ve always believed if you’ve got something to say, man up and use your name.

Although the author of Flippin’ Amsterdam makes excellent points at times, and as a private citizen he has the right to remain anonymous, although at times it’s hard to take those thoughts seriously because there’s no name or identity behind it.

And Mark Robarge characterizes it as such under the headline ‘The Coward’s Way’ (here):

The coward’s way

I have long been a critic of people who post anonymously to the Internet, whether it’s people who comment on newspaper stories or who add their opinions to message boards or who even post their own blogs.

I think you get the point: coward, liar, UnSerious, Less-than-manly, disingenuous, worthless and a dose of socially outcast, or even delusional.  I think the picture on Charlie’s site paints the portrait pretty well. If only I were so handsome and had such a nice office as ‘Milton’ in the photo. Sigh.

But man, that blogger creeps me out. Oh wait, it’s me.  So let me restate what I said before:

As far as accusations of lack of accountability, bias, worthlessness of information, I let my posts speak for themselves. My readers, albeit imaginary, can then decide whether my blog merits their time. In fact, my readers can post comments on my blog even if they’re critical of my post and blog.

While Mr. Lazarou accords anonymous radio callers all due respect, I deserve none apparently. So if I were to voice the very same opinions with the very same words on the radio, that would be perfectly fine. But if you write them down in a blog, that’s a problem. Because we all know that callers on local radio share none of the characteristics Lazarou attributes to my blog: bias, skewed information, misinformation. What an utterly laughable argument.

And for good measure, I’ll echo what Zero Hedge has to say about being an anonymous blogger:

though often maligned (typically by those frustrated by an inability to engage in ad hominem attacks) anonymous speech has a long and storied history in the united states….

…like the economist magazine, we also believe that keeping authorship anonymous moves the focus of discussion to the content of speech and away from the speaker- as it should be.

Or from Calculated Risk :

...and you think that the problem can be solved by getting one of us to drop our online personas, give you our real names, and say the same thing to you over the phone, so that you can get your editor to accept it as something other than just blogging, which everybody knows is untrustworthy ranting by anonymous nuts, you are making a faulty assumption about the relationship among us, our birthdays, and yesterday. Neither CR nor Tanta wishes to play into a set of assumptions that render what we say on the blog as unworthy of coverage by the Big Media, but what we might say on the phone to Intrepid Reporter as good dirt and straight skinny.

Do you, can you, understand the implicit insult in that? You want to talk to us because of what we have written on this blog, instead of simply engaging with what we have written on this blog. You are saying that blog entries we have written, at our own inspiration, on our own time, for our own intellectual purposes, backed up by our own research, are not good enough for you to use as source material (properly credited).

I could go on but hopefully you get the point.

What I find curious is such criticism coming from fellow bloggers who feature this blog on their own blog roll ostensibly as an endorsement of worthiness of the blog. Even more curious is why — if the characterizations presented of this blog were true– the Recorder features this blog , more weeks than not, as a ‘Best of the Blogs’ for the AmsterdamExpress news publication. I don’t get it, yet another episode of cognitive dissonance I guess.

I also don’t get why maligning anonymity of this medium is acceptable while anonymity of radio remains sacrosanct. Anybody? Anybody…

Or if I or a poster on this blog were to use words like ‘cowardly’, ‘disingenuous’, or ‘man up” to personally challenge a Recorder reporter, I simply could not imagine a more sharply worded rebuke from the commenters above on such a characterization.

My posts on shadycat were not in defense of what shadycat said but rather to the defense of anonymity of speech on this medium. I also questioned the process by which shadycat was outed to verify that in fact it was through public sources.  To me the how the outing occurred mattered more than the content itself. To Rusty Williams credit, he clearly articulated what his policies and standards were on protecting anonymity.Yet the story did not ask the obvious question to Rusty Williams or ask for a comment, I did.

Yet the core of my post centered on media policy and asked the rather unpolite questions on perhaps a slippery slope for the media defining ‘the line’ whereby insults have to cross. Some other posters on this site raised other public comments that malign different groups and neighborhoods in the city; does that deserve a front page story? Do charges of Nazism from a public official on the radio deserve front page coverage? And on.

So no one — excluding Rusty Williams– engaged on the content of the post raising some difficult yet interesting questions; instead it was to attack the blogger or other posters who raised the issues meanwhile reframing the debate as some implicit endorsement or excuse for shadycat’s comments and behavior.

In the end, I own my posts — each typo, each convoluted grammatical construct, and each word– and the posts stand or fall on their own merit. If you cannot place my posts in the right box–liberal,  conservative, blue-collar, professional,yadda,yadda — so you can ascribe the proper ‘context’ that is your problem, not mine.

Seemingly though it’s still “heads you win tails i lose” as it’s not what you say but who says it. Never mind how much reason or insight the posts articulate, it’s just the who that counts. That’s why our political debate is so dysfunctional: the who — proven constantly wrong on a myriad of issues from the Iraq War, economic policy, politics — get continued media exposure as Serious while bloggers largely correct on a host of national issues get cast as UnSerious pariahs. On a local level, it’s who says something that’s always more important than what was said. Never mind that many of the same whos are the ones who put us in the mess we’re in.

Blogging on blogging is not where I want to be and takes valuable time from more pressing issues. As some of you have issues with this blog as an anonymous blog or anonymity in general or those who cannot critically examine content to decide its merits/demerits, let me make it easy:

–Effective today the collective posts of this blog  are copyrighted. As such, I no longer authorize the Recorder to run posts in their entirety for the AmsterdamExpress or other publications. Of course, I will abide, encourage and respect fair use of content of this blog when it is deemed ‘worthy’. But the Recorder editors cannot have it both ways this blog– monetizing while trivializing.

— I’m tired of playing  “Heads You Win, Tails I Lose” with bloggers who  simultaneously endorse and then bash this blog or anonymity in general. As my past loves used to say to me, “It’s not you; it’s me. I need to see other people”. Or in today’s terms,  “Man up”,  as they say. Either way, I’m moving on.

— I will delete comments whose sole critique of a post relates to my anonymity or anonymity of a fellow poster.

— I will raise the game for posts based upon their content and their contribution to the debate. I will continue to encourage challenges and differences to views expressed by me and others.

— If you feel my actions are simply from being thin-skinned, petulant, cowardly or effete, please reread this post in its entirety taking careful note of what I’m saying.

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