At least when Garance was on her anti-pseudonym campaign last year, she had the grace to oppose it on legitimate grounds: she feared that pseudonymous commenters would not reveal their conflicts of interest. Tom Grubisich makes a nod in that direction. But the real problem, for Tom, is that pseudonymous writers are vile hate-mongers.
But on the Internet, Mr. anticrat424 is continually elevated to the podium, where he can have his angriest thoughts amplified through cyberspace as often as he wishes. He can call people the vilest names and that hate-mongering, too, will be amplified for all the world to see.
It's a remarkable argument, in which Grubisich collapses the two favored anti-blog arguments into one. No wonder it appears in the WaPo.
The thing I hate most about the anti-pseudonym campaigners is they make some of the worst tendancies of my former discipline, LitCrit, looks sensible. Identity is not fixed first and foremost by a name; in the world of argumentation, it ties first and foremost the argument itself, and then secondarily to a bunch of things (like campaign donations and business affiliation) that a fixed name simply facilitates the discovery of. If your argument sucks, it doesn't matter what name you append to it, you'll be shot down under any name.
Grubisich uses the example of the pseudonymous anticrat424 arguing against educational bureaucracy at a local school board meeting. He suggests anticrat would be shunned by his fellow community members, apparently because his name makes clear his political bias, but presumably could not be traced to all the records in his real name. Is that the problem? Because in my experience at town meetings, we tend to shun those people who argue irrationally under any name. And only once--in the case of an anti-democratic recall launched by Republicans hiding behind a WalMart zoning issue--can I remember looking up a person by name to learn more about them. But even in that case, we only looked up the faux-anti-WalMart campaigners political donations to prove to others that his irrational arguments stemmed from self-interest and not real passion against WalMart. But the arguments he made--whether they were in person or in the blogosphere, remained irrational and obviously self-interested, regardless of his name.
All of which leads me to conclude that the anti-pseudonym campaigners simply have no confidence in their own reading ability. That is, they apparently lack all confidence they could distinguish a crappy argument from a good one without the crutch of a real name--or that they could refute a crappy argument when faced with one.
Out of that lack of confidence, I'm convinced, comes the completely irrational argument suggesting that the source of rage in the blogosphere is pseudonymity. Rather than, say, poor moderation. Grubisich struggles so hard to set up this false correlation between pseudonimity and rage that he doesn't listen to WaPo.com's own editor:
While the site prohibits comments that are libelous, abusive, obscene or otherwise inappropriate, Mr. anticrat424 could still find a well-amplified podium at washingtonpost.com.
Hmm. If the site prohibits comments that are libelous, abusive, obscene, or otherwise inappropriate, haven't you just solved the problem of rage in the blogosphere? In which your reason for silencing anticrat424 would be ... what?
What it should be about--in or out of the blogosphere, is the strength of one's argument. And let me tell you, I can say with confidence that Grubisich's argument is terrible. It makes a false correlation, ignores evidence right under his nose, and borders on the absurd. And guess what? I could figure that out whether Grubisich signed this "antiblog" or Tom Grubisich. A pity the WaPo couldn't.