Sunday, June 07, 2009

Weekend outing

My co-blogger alerted me to this story south of the border, wanting to know if I had any comments on it.

She must have known how conflicted I'd be. I'm not averse to the outing of bloggers and trolls
when the occasion calls for it, not to mention out-and-out criminals, and exposing neo-Nazis (for example, the British National Party faithful) is simply a public service. But there are, as for all things, parameters.

I blog under a pseudonym, but as I've remarked before, it's more a nom-de-plume than a disguise, and anyone who wants to know who I "really" am need spend a mere 10 seconds on Google. There are others, however, for whom anonymity is a necessity, for a number of reasons outlined here. What Ed Whelan did was cowardly, reprehensible, and (one lives in hope) actionable.

Whom would I out, if I had my druthers and a sudden absence of judgement? Where would I personally draw the line? I dunno. I think I'd begin, though, with those who believe they have "outed" me, imagining they're so all-fired clever when doing so, while cowering behind their own masks the while. That's on-line hypocrisy, a cardinal sin to be smote where she is wrote.

I'd put the simpering "Raphael Alexander" in that category (although frankly I'd prefer in his case to keep him as an on-going object lesson) and, if it weren't for the real danger it might place him in, the libelous nuclear physicist who blogs under the name of "shlemazl." Turnabout is fair play. I wept no tears when "Blazing Cat Fur" was outed. Same reason.

But in general, outing somebody simply because you don't like their point of view, or because you don't like being criticized by them, is an act of petty vengeance. No, not always petty. In this case, Whelan had advance notice that this could compromise his opponent's job and the security of his family. He decided to go ahead anyway, vicious wingnut that he is.
And here's one of his despicable fellows, hoping out loud that Whelan's target loses his university position [h/t Garry Wise]. That's how they roll.

Question for the day, in any case: is "outing" a blogger or commenter ever justified? If so, under what conditions? Comments welcome.

UPDATE: (June 8) More on Whelan v. "Publius" from Simon of Bloggasm.

UPPERDATE: (June 9) Whelan has apologized.

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