Monday, April 16, 2007

Bitch Ph.D. Sets us straight

Bitch Ph.D.:

But (1) the main problem in the Sierra case was rampant misogyny, and I don't see any 'We won't tolerate racism or sexism' up there. And (2) Pseudonymity is not the problem. The fact of the matter is that an established pseudonym is at least as much of a 'check' on assholishness as the real name of someone no one's ever heard of; 'Bitch, Ph.D.' has a reputation to maintain (of sorts), and that's one reason she doesn't say dumbass shit. (I realize that this is debatable. What I mean is I won't threaten people or out them or otherwise act like an asshole.)
I wouldn't even add "of sorts"- an established pseudonym definitely has value in and of itself, and only an idiot would throw that away needlessly.

It's like saying that since a corporation you own can be dissolved that it has no worth. Well, no, that isn't the way it works. That should be obvious, but those who neither understand nor appreciate pseudonymity's importance on these here Interwebs often forget that.

Here's more:

In fact, anonymous and pseudonymous writing is as old as the hills. And foolish critics have always argued that anonymous writers were cowards, or frauds, or mercenaries. But one of the major benefits of anonymous writing is that it forces readers to focus on what they're reading, rather than on the personality of the person who writes it. (And, as a rather nice result, it forces authors to do the same, which saves the rest of us listening to them whining about whether or not the other side "likes" them ::cough::Malkin::cough::Althouse::.) It fosters and encourages a public sphere--one of the central requirements of a, yes, civil society--by allowing marginalized folks, whistleblowers, inner-circle critics, and people who are (hello?) easily threatened to speak out without putting themselves in jeopardy. These are good things. Things we should encourage, not forbid.
It's funny how this sort of shit (swearing! Quelle Horreur!) never really changes either. You'll always have "name" bloggers trading on whatever rep they've managed to scrape up through offline endeavours getting shocked and horrified that it counts for little here. Authors, academics, and pundits all, sharing the common belief that You Must Not Question Them, For They Have Status and You Don't.

To hell with that.

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