Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Virtues of Anonymity

Not a cwoard.
A recent post on this blog somehow ignited a debate about the notion of remaining anonymous on the internet as it pertains to expressing one's ideas.  Let's have a formal discussion about it, shall we?

In case there are still some of my readers who don't know me personally and still do not know: "Jack Camwell" is a pen name.  "Jack" after my son, and "Camwell" as a combination of my two favorite authors Albert Camus and George Orwell.  So what?

The ability to remain anonymous is important in a democratic society.  There is a reason that our votes for elected officials are kept anonymous: it frees us from intimidation.  Humans, being what they are, tend to become upset when they are confronted by others with ideas that oppose their own worldviews.  And so, humans tend to ridicule one another or attack their character simply because they disagree.  For this reason, many people stay silent for fear of being persecuted for their believes.

Anonymity assures that all opinions can be freely expressed without fear of reprisal.  Remaining anonymous is everyone's choice, and in a free society, that choice should be respected.

I use a pseudonym for several reasons.  First and foremost is because the internet is full of sociopaths, and I don't want to broadcast my identity to would-be assailants who don't like my views.  It's not that I live in fear--because I don't--but I have children, and I want them to be safe.

What difference does it make if my real name is known or not?  How does that diminish my message?  It doesn't.  The message means more than the messenger.  Whether or not my readers know my real name makes no difference, because all I wish is to spread truth and inspire others to seek out truth.

Does Nineteen Eighty Four hold less importance simply because "George Orwell" is printed on the cover instead of "Eric Blair?"  Is Huckleberry Finn less of a classic because Samuel Langhorne Clemens decided to call himself "Mark Twain?"

I do not presume to compare myself to these men, but choosing to remain anonymous is an author's right.  Those of my readers who know me personally know that I am no coward.  I speak my mind to whomever I meet should they ask me what I think (and sometimes even when they don't ask for it).  And if choosing to use a pen name makes me a coward, then I can safely say that I stand among proud company.

I am just a servant of the people.  My real name is inconsequential, because I'm not doing this for recognition or fame.  I do it because it's the right thing to do, and successfully inspiring others to live free and seek truth is a reward in itself.


The Smoking Man said...

"The message means more than the messenger."

I would argue that the message means everything and the messenger is irrelevant. That is the reason why an argument based on ad homeniem is inherently fallacious.


Anonymous said...

To be honest, it wasn't a big deal. I was a bit condescending but a very far cry from using the same tone as she was. I was genuinely interested in what triggered that stark raving mad passion about something that on the surface seemed so trivial.

I didn't intend to scare anyone off, but you can't really haul off like that in an arena of mostly rational thought and expect not to get called on it.

On the topic at hand though, I have to slightly disagree with TSM. The messenger is a factor, but compared to the message, it is a small factor. It's like the poor bastard peddling hot dogs and drinks at the stadium. No one really gives a shit who he/she is, they just want their Heinz 57 mixture of pig lips/assholes/dicks/feet/snouts in a diabetic coma inducing white bread bun, and their 100% prescription cocaine-a-cola. They also want their fuckin change back, no tips for the calorie pushing part-timer.

There is such a thing as a guru though, and the words of a guru should carry a bit more weight than the guy on the street just blabbing. It is hard to be anonymous and be considered a guru.

I typically strive to have at least a journeyman's understanding of a complex topic before I offer an opinion.

An example from earlier this year at my shop... some guy was trying to convince me that microwave ovens emit radiation. Ionizing radiation... like the type you get from exposure to Plutonium. Despite my best efforts, I could not convince this person that it was a much lower form of EM radiation that comes from a microwave, or a cell phone tower, or any other number of high frequency emitters, and that something like gamma rays were way higher up on the EM spectrum. Needless to say I was a bit frustrated.

Jack Camwell said...

This is not to be petty or anything, but I think it's important for the sake of posterity (as if posterity will truly give a shit about this blog) that people see what ignited the whole thing.

I understand that the poster deleted her comments, but I think that is a bit unfair. I don't want others to think that my readers are all unreasonable and try to stifle free speech.

The poster said this on the post deleted on Ocotber 5th, at 12:58 PM



At least Ducky here has the guts to leave a name....the rest of you pffffffffft!"

I tried to diffuse the sitation and asked her to take it easy. This was the response.

I am sorry, really? I do not think that if we have the right to give our opines we should do it anonymously. If one is worried about their identity then shouldn't the cease and desist?

Just my thoughts. Sorry if you were offended, not my intention but Annonymous's always offend me in that they are afraid to "come out." Yet they will fight you for their right to consider their ignorance. That really troubles me.

It reminds me of the liberals in congress. I could accept it they had said Fuck You, but Jihadists, terrorists, et al. and mind you they did not worry about their anonymity.

Well no prob, your blog, your game. I just have no respect for those that do not leave some kind of name. It is ignorant imho."

And this is the response that likely ensured that things would not turn out well.

"Cowards! I use my real name as many do. There is no such thing as a safe haven. I am a paralegal and can find out who someone is in a heartbeat and the government does it every day. Your IP leaves tracks so those who feel they are in some bubble of a "safe haven" you are all delusional!"

The commenter did appologize to me, and I graciously accepted it. I even encouraged her to continue with the discussion in future posts.

Let it be known that Jack Camwell, although an asshole on many occasions, tried to diffuse the situation this time. I appologize to anyone who might have been offended during this whole ordeal.

Jack Camwell said...

I posted this because I don't want this article to seem like it came out of nowhere. Also, I believe that my readers were justified in being offended and answering that challenge in the way that they did.

Jack Camwell said...

And one last note in case anyone is wondering how I got those comments.

The comments are sent to my email. So they come from my email.

TSM said...

I don't necessarily disagree AHB. Assuming the topic in question is a bit or well over your head, then sure, you should probably take the opinion of a widely recognized guru over the opinion of a hot dog vendor. Assuming though that you have the capacity to fully understand the argument, then the argument should stand solely on its own merit. You can't shoot down a bright idea just because you don't like where it came from. That would be foolish.


FreeThinke said...

I certainly agree in principle with your ideas on anonymity, Jack.

Funny! I expressed the exact same view, albeit in a different style, when I told someone earlier today who was raving on about the immorality, cowardice, underhandedness and utter despicableness of one blogger impersonating another.

So what? Was my basic attitude toward that, which only mad the plaintiff angrier and even more upset.

I brought up the eternal quest to "prove" that Shakespeare did not really write Shakespeare, but someone else did, and it might ... blah blah blah.

I DON'T CARE. The WORK whoever it was produced is ALL that matters.

In modern times, of course,things are a bit different. Authors ought not be subjected to plagiarism. If there's money in it, those funds ought to go to the person who rightly EARNED them.

Publishing under a nom de plume is a time-honored custom.

If someone wants to steal my icon or avatar and make irresponsible remarks using my name, I wouldn't particularly LIKE it, but I'd be far more likely to see the humor in it, and laugh it off rather than display paroxysms of rage and dismay all over the landscape.

Did you know by the way that after a three month hiatus I'm back in business again at FreeThinke's blog. 911 brought me back. I couldn't let that occasion pass unnoticed and without comment.

Jack Camwell said...

Yes, I noticed earlier today that you have been posting again. It's good to have you back =)

Anonymous said...

I hope this comment of mine, in response to her calling him a leach, is not what set her off:

To be fair to Ducky, he is not a leach.

He is a sour old, crab of a man who loves crapping in the punchbowl.

He has no solutions, only dyspeptic criticisms.

He is an expert at pitting the chimerical perfect against the human-achievable good... When attacking idea or project to the right of Karl Marx. But he can find no problems to his left.

He is a tired, predictable, work out old man with discredited, worn out ideas, so he gets his cheap jollies puking out his venom on anyone who would criticize his beloved, dogmatic progressive statism.

I am Kurt Silverfiddle from Western Hero, and I approve of this message.

Actually, this was a thinly disguised excuse to repost this broadside. }:|

Anonymous said...

Wow! Wish I had stuck around for that last thread. All Elizabeth's comments were already deleted when I returned, but it was still interesting, intuiting what she has said from the others' comments. Kinda like learning about Gnosticism from reading Irenaeus' Adversus Haereses.

AHB said:
Jackie, how do you consistently attract people who are beyond the reach of reason and rationality?

If I were a sensitive person, I might take that as an insult ; )

Seriously, I laughed my ass off when I read that.

But anyway, such are the vagaries of traveling in Blogistan, and this is one of the reasons why I've pretty much given it up. I avoid people with 'issues' in real life, and I sure as hell won't put up with then on the innerwebz.

The prospect of pissing off a true loony who will use easily available technology to track your ass down is just one of many legitimate reasons to use a nom de blog, as Jack has observed.

-- Silverfiddle

Jack Camwell said...

I posted what she said in the comments above. She outright insulted everyone who posted as anon.

Izzie G said...

Jack, you are a liar and a hypocrite. You call yourself a God fearing man, at least that is what you want us to be lead to believe by your Blog title. Yet you came to my blog telling me I did nothing wrong, that you were not angry at me and to please come back again.

Well, here I am, after my humble apologies to you and your readers and this is what I find. "She outright insulted everyone who posted as anon." Which is it, I did nothing wrong or I did, because I am confused Jack.

I thank God that I repented to Him and asked Him for His forgiveness, which is given freely. I then came and deleted my posts believing I was out of line, and you reposted them for fodder?

Even my apology meant nothing to you, yet the Bible says to judge yourself, and I did, and you all are still making mincemeat out of it? Wow!

Having lived in London for quite a long time I do have a recipe for mincemeat pie, you are welcome to that, but you are not right, or a God fearing man when you come to my blog and play kiss-up to me and then insult me here.

Oh yes, friends of Jack, that is what your Jackie did. Maybe he should be the one apologizing to all of you. Looks like he is having a laugh at all of our expenses. Jack you are a true piece of work.

Glad I deleted you lying comments off my blog that were not sincere. I did apologize here many times and was made fun of.

No one believed me that I was sorry. Instead you all judged me after I said I was wrong. But that is okay. God knows my heart and He is bigger than all of us.

Too bad we all could not be as forgiving as Jesus, I tried but I see my attempts were repaid with vile gossip about me and Jack making himself look squeaky clean.

Have your laugh! It only lasts for a minute anyways.

Anonymous said...


Here is my color commentary about that derailment to fill you in:

Started off half-ass on topic.

Her initial comments were half insight, half jabs at the political establishment, with a dash of zealotry. At this point there is no issue.

Random anon (Tony?) posted about "my d is bigger" and then "Liz" set off into a sheer tirade about anons, never giving any indication of an argument other than she doesn't think anon's opinions should be considered.

Jackie attempted a reel in, she continued to hurl character attacks, while simultaneously failing to realize for the most part we all use an alias.

Then me and the TSM jumped in to gather more info, me the crafty trap laying thought hunter, TSM the crass blunt instrument, and that resulted in her being offended, even though we used about 1/100th as much vitriol as she did.

The banter back and forth wasn't constructive, and only further entrenched us into chaos, at which point I became genuinely confused as to how we were the ones being offensive, and she the victim. Also at which point I stopped responding.

My only conclusion is she honestly believes that we are sub-human for posting anonymously, and that she was not in the wrong for her outburst, the apology to someone she didn't need to apologize to, and then the complete abandonment of her argument for more name calling, without substantial refutation of anything legitimately presented.

If you are reading this Liz, you are more than welcome to comment again, just realize this little slice of the blogosphere is not a place you can leave your arguments undefended, and unprovoked malice is exposed for what it is: counter-productive.

The Smoking Man said...



Jack Camwell said...

How did you perceive judgment in what I said? Silver said that he wasn't sure what you said that sparked the whole thing, and I gave him the gist.

You flat out called anon posters cowards. That was your word, not mine. You also said:


Where I come from, that's an insult. So I'm unsure exactly why you're upset. Am I not allowed to apprise my readers of the goings-on in my own comment section?

How does this make me a hypocrite? From the very moment you expressed hostility, I asked you to calm down. I even went on to explain, at length, that what you said to the anons was very hostile and insulting, and I asked you to not engage in ad hominem attacks. How do you perceive that as me CONDONING your actions?

I meant my apology. I apologized for how things went down--for how the situation deteriorated. I did not apologize for the actions of the anons, because the anons were justified in their reaction. You insulted them, and they defended themselves.

Jack Camwell said...

So I'm unsure out of all of this, you come out thinking that I absolved you of any wrong-doing.

Also, I'm not sure where you got the notion that I claim to be a god-fearing man. The title of the blog says "Christian fearing."

Please, tell me how in the hell I have insulted you?

"She flat out insulted everyone who posted as anon."

Please, explain to me how that is, in any way, an insult.

And yes, I come out of this squeaky clean. I think people on the blogosophere--even though they may disagree with me at times--perceive me to be someone who tries to be just and honest.

You say that we shouldn't judge, yet you judge whether or not I meant what I said on your blog. How can you presume to judge my heart when you've never even met me?

I sincerely urge you to re-read my responses to you. I think you will find that I've been pretty civil and not insulting. I'm sure my readers can attest that I was much more gracious than usual.

Anonymous said...

It's not worth worrying over. We here know your true nature, and one another's as well (TSM, AHB, etc), and we have had some real donnybrooks, especially you and I.

I know some of those times I could picture you pounding the keyboard as you responded to me. I respect AHB, but he and I have gotten crossways as well, but again, I respect where he is coming from because he never goes off half-cocked and it is clear to anyone who listens that he is coming from a place of wisdom.

I even have a grudging respect for Ducky, seeing as how I have been gripped by a similar cynicism, albeit from the other end of the spectrum.

I'll even allow that I be Jersey is a great guy to hang out with and have beer, even though I think he is full of msnbc propaganda, which is a shame, because it is apparent he is not a dumb man.

So, we all know who we are. Best to let the lady's comments pass without further remark. Nobody's gonna win that one.

We know you, Jack, and you don't need to defend yourself against anything, especially an attack coming from someone who's only recently come to know you.

Anonymous said...

The last comment was from Silverfiddle, another anonymous bastard.

Izzie G said...

Some of you think a bit too highly of yourselves. Originally I had hoped for resolution, but it became later apparent that all most of you care to do is degrade and insult.

Asta la vista!

The Smoking Man said...

Izzie G said...

Some of you think a bit too highly of yourselves. Originally I had hoped for resolution, but it became later apparent that all most of you care to do is degrade and insult.

Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?


Jack Camwell said...

Well said, TSM.

Anonymous said...

Jackie, I will attempt one last ditch breakthrough.

Liz, again if you are reading this:

The fundamental flaw in your assertions is that you were the one attacked and ridiculed... you were simply reacted to, in quite a civil manner judging from what you wrote initially.

I have the "thread" saved as well once you started deleting comments, and at no point in time did you stop trading barbs with us: "Maybe Jack isn't as full of himself as you are AHB" hardly sounds apologetic.

Also, unlike everyone else I actually read what you said before, I quote:

"God you would of thought I was a satan worshiper the way these so-called Christians and conservatives attacked me. I had a blog fight with an old friend at another blog (I loathe whinny women that try to get sympathy of anothers misfortune) - well that made me a Bitch to this Christian lady she rammed me all over the place. Finally I made peace with seeing we would not agree. I did it because the Lord said to be a peace make, but to be honest with you, if it were not for the Lord in my life I would be using a lot of ammunition with an oozie! Forget the stun gun! LOL! Well, hope you come by. I would like to make new blogging friends. Not because we will always agree, but because I want honest people around me that will check me and that I can check too without everyone going anal!"

You have got to see the juxtaposition there, surely?

Those are your words Liz... I did not make those up.

I did slide a zinger or two into my arguments, you were obnoxious and irrational from top to bottom. This is not me insulting you... I repeat, this is not me insulting you. I am merely stating what transpired.

An insult is not the same thing as criticism, and you have to give respect most times in order to get respect. You displayed a callous lack of respect, we responded with condescension and criticism, and you took that as an insult. It would seem the only way we could have diffused the situation was to agree with you and say "Liz is right, we are all a bunch of weak children who cannot see the error of our false name ways"

If your method of getting people to agree with you involves you being offended at everyone who disagrees with you, then I can assure you that you have a chosen a poor tactic.

In the end, your reaction to adversity is quite telling, I would contend you suffer from apparent persecution complex which is quite typical for fundamentalist Christians.

Be well.

Anonymous said...

"Random anon (Tony?) posted about "my d is bigger" and then "Liz" set off into a sheer tirade about anons, never giving any indication of an argument other than she doesn't think anon's opinions should be considered."

Not me, I have been too busy with work over the last week to keep up with the blog and missed this shitstorm.