Once More With Feeling

Via the New York Times, an acerbic interview of sorts with disgraced former editor of The New Republic, Lee Siegel. In it, he attacks anonymity, and the blogosphere itself:

There are other people who appear anonymously on Web sites; they do battle with their detractors. Anonymity is a universal convention of the blogosphere, and the wicked expedience is that you can speak without consequences… Everyone seems to be fleeing from the responsibilities that come from being who you are. I think that is why the blogosphere is thriving. It allows people to develop a fantasy self.

He also agrees that expressing one’s opinions is “intellectually lame”.

judge ideas on their own merit, not who they come from

I have long been a proponent of anonymity and pseudonymity. Rather than fleeing the responsibilities of “being who you are”, I think they help to promote discourse, because they restrict the ability of the intellectually limited to stoop to ad hominem attacks. In a day and age where vast amounts of personal information are just waiting to be collated, browsed, and used or misused as anyone sees fit, the ability to restrict discourse to relevant matters by eliminating irrelevant matters does far more good than any “credibility” that writing under one’s real name does. I’ve argued before that we should judge ideas on their own merit, not on who they come from; do a fair-housing advocate’s ideas have less merit because he lives in a quarter-million dollar home in a tony suburb? Of course not.

At least the immature Mr. Siegel and I almost agree on one thing;

[T]hose who practice incessant character assassination, which represents a good portion of the blogosphere, they vent out of the pain of being unacknowledged.

I agree there’s plenty of character assassination to go around, but it seems to be the acknowledged who make the most use of it; there are any number of respected critics, commentators, and pundits whose careers have consisted largely of being slime merchants. Of course, given Mr. Siegel’s politics, I expect he defines character assassination more by who the subject is, rather than what’s being said. Call Hillary Clinton an ice queen, and you’re being astute, over there in la-la land. Call Anne Coulter an ice queen, and you’re not just practicing character assassination, but being a mysoginist, to boot. Hey, it makes perfect sense if you drink enough kool-aid…

Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', General | on September 16th, 2006| Comments Off on Once More With Feeling

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