Free Markets, Free People

Part 3: Whelan Figures It Out …

And apologizes to Publius for doing something he shouldn’t have done and can’t undo:

On reflection, I now realize that, completely apart from any debate over our respective rights and completely apart from our competing views on the merits of pseudonymous blogging, I have been uncharitable in my conduct towards the blogger who has used the pseudonym Publius. Earlier this evening, I sent him an e-mail setting forth my apology for my uncharitable conduct. As I stated in that e-mail, I realize that, unfortunately, it is impossible for me to undo my ill-considered disclosure of his identity. For that reason, I recognize that Publius may understandably regard my apology as inadequate.

Publius responds:

Ed Whelan has written both publicly and privately and apologized. I know it was not an easy thing to do, and it is of course accepted. I therefore consider the matter done, and don’t intend on writing about it anymore.

Hat tip to Whelan for apologizing and making it public. That took some courage.  And to Publius for the gracious acceptance. Lesson?

You don’t get to decide whether or not the privacy concerns of another are legitimate (unless very specific types of exceptions are extant – “shouting fire in the theater” type) – that’s why we talk about privacy rights. It appears Whelan has finally figured that out.

~McQ

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57 Responses to Part 3: Whelan Figures It Out …

  • Sorry,  he may have felt pressure to apologize, but I remain unconvinced that he did anything wrong.  When you attack a person’s motivations, and attack their professional occupation, then you cannot hide behind anonymity anymore.

    • FEH. This internet thing isn’t going to work for anyone unless certain boundaries are respected.   For at worst what was a pretty tame ad hominem attack,  Publius is now going to be exposed to real-world consequences that could be far worse than what his net actions would’ve earned him in response.  It’s not like the guy kept calling Whelan a child molester or something vile like that.

      When a guy comments under a pseudonym, you take it into account when reading their posts. Is a post from someone named “shark” more or less valid than a post made by a guy who uses his real name ? That’s for you to decide, but it does go into the hopper.

  • I agree with kyle8.  If you attack (not just disagree with) another person, then you can’t expect to have the skirts of anoynomity (sic) hide you.

    • Publius wasn’t “anonymous”. He was publius of Obsidian Wings. That’s a persona just as much as “WJ” is from where ever you hail.

      There are various commenters here some who use their real name (we assume) and some who use pseudonymns. They have established reputations here which make what they call themselves irrelevant to any argument.

  • I’m with Kyle, here.
    Lesson: If a liberal screams loud enough…

  • You don’t get to decide whether or not the privacy concerns of another are legitimate (unless very specific types of exceptions are extant – “shouting fire in the theater” type) – that’s why we talk about privacy rights.

    I’m with kyle8.   Your “rights”  do not obligate your fellow citizens in private (i.e., non-governmental) interactions in any way.  You may have a right to free speech, but I don’t have to listen.  You may have a right pursue happiness, but I do not have to assist you in that pursuit.  You may have the right to live, but the harsh fact is that I do not have any obligation to make sure that you do.   You may proclaim that you wish a psuedonymous persona to hide your identity in a particular forum, but it is entirely up to you to insure that it does.  You cannot, by a simple act of will, impose such an obligation on another person without their explicit permission.

    You can argue that Whelan was a cad for outing publius.  You can argue that he was ungentlemanly for doing it.  You can certainly argue that it was un-Christian (or uncharitable, if you prefer).  It was certainly an ad-hominem attack and weakened Whelan’s argument to the extent that it distracted from his actual points of substance.  But to claim that publius has a positive right to personal anonymity that Whelan is obligated to respect is to adopt the concept of “rights” that creates so many of the problems with leftist ideology.

    • TerryI’m with kyle8.   Your “rights”  do not obligate your fellow citizens in private (i.e., non-governmental) interactions in any way.  You may have a right to free speech, but I don’t have to listen… You may proclaim that you wish a psuedonymous persona to hide your identity in a particular forum, but it is entirely up to you to insure that it does.  You cannot, by a simple act of will, impose such an obligation on another person without their explicit permission.

      I recently read (hate that I can’t remember where) somebody’s comment about “free speech” in society.  His point was that free speech doesn’t just exist as a concept between government and citizen: for it to have any real meaning, it has to be a cherished principle and “habit” between all citizens.  Let’s recall the old saying that, “I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” If people can be punished for what they say, then it’s not “free” speech anymore.

      I agree that we have the right not to listen when others talk.  We have the right to disagree and criticize (something liberals can’t quite comprehend).  But the converse of a right is a responsibility, and I believe that the minimum responsibility that goes along with the right to free speech is the responsibility to not harm somebody because you disagree with him.  Whelan has recognized – too late – that he harmed Publius.  It speaks well of him that he’s apologized; let’s learn a lesson from his mistake.

    • How is it a positive right? You have privacy until someone actively does something to violate it.

  • Thanks for validating precisely what I said about you in the previous comments.

    No, the same principles apply, Bruce. Whalen wasn’t wrong.

  • Without knowing, because I lack interest, the full menu of details in the Whelan-Publius kerfuffle, I offer two cheers to Whelan for his apology, which he offers to Publius for being uncharitable toward him.

    On the other hand, I don’t have any particular respect for anonymous bloggers or comment makers. I have no particular desire to find out and reveal their identities, but that’s not any grand principle, nor even a general operating principle. I just don’t keep it as a high priority.

    But if you were to ask me, for instance, would I reveal the identity of someone like Scott Erb, the answer is yes. I would do it in a heartbeat, and in fact I did do it once on Usenet when Scott took to using a pseudonym. Sorry if that offends anyone. I simply won’t extend courtesies around the bend to people who don’t warrant them.

    I blog with a nom de guerre, but I am far from anonymous behind that name, and respond to inquiries, usually, as myself. I would regard even my own total anonymity with suspicion. If I went to the trouble to arrange it, however, it would be unbreachable by mere mortals.

    But I won’t question Whelan’s apology, even though I had no problem with the way he disposed of the Publius stone in his shoe. I believe that ethics light right up in all directions from the principle of reciprocity, the Golden Rule, but I didn’t see any flashing lights when Whelan reported who Publius is. His apology is a gentlemanly act, at his discretion, but the situation did not demand it, in my opinion.

  • But if you were to ask me, for instance, would I reveal the identity of someone like Scott Erb, the answer is yes. I would do it in a heartbeat, and in fact I did do it once on Usenet when Scott took to using a pseudonym. Sorry if that offends anyone. I simply won’t extend courtesies around the bend to people who don’t warrant them.

    And there it is, Martin.

    The principle, I think, is this: Because of the increased amount of damage that one can do while so cloaked in anonymity, writing anonymously about someone else, as was being done by “Publius” here, requires an increased caution… even while allowing such a person to toss caution to the winds, since they are then disconnected from the direct consequences of their comments.

    That line, in my view got crossed.

    Conversely, under what principle is someone allowed to attack someone from behind a cloak of anomimity, thus exposing the attacked to very real consequences, while being sheilded from such consequences, themselves?   Sorry, I don’t see it.

    We agree, apparently that Whalen had nothing to apologize for. Where we apparently disagree is that he created more damage than he yet knows by doing so, because there was no good reason for it. That said, I would also suggest there’s a difference between working openly under a pseudonym (instapundit for example) and working strictly anonymously, where nobody knows that Insty is Glenn, if you take my meaning.

    • Because of the increased amount of damage that one can do while so cloaked in anonymity, writing anonymously about someone else, as was being done by “Publius” here, requires an increased caution… even while allowing such a person to toss caution to the winds, since they are then disconnected from the direct consequences of their comments.

      Okay.  So what “damage” did Publius do here?
      What “damage” did Publius do that would not have occurred if Publius had posted using his real name?
      What could Whelan have done to mitigate the damage if Publius had decided to post using his real name?

      The best thing that Whelan could’ve done, if he had the ability, would be to defend his argument against Publius’ criticisms, no matter the signature at the bottom.
      Think of it this way, “Eric”.  The piles of manure you deposit here stink just as bad whether or not you choose to identify yourself as Eric Florack, or as Bithead.

      Speaking of which, just like the mindless ruminant that you are, you stepped in your own pile of sh!t when you claimed that, because of Publius’ anonymity, he lacked the “courage of his convictions.”  Yet your own co-bloggers post using anonymous pseudonyms.
      And you never did answer my question.  Do you think your own co-bloggers lack the courage of their convictions?  And should they be outed?

      I believe that if you ever did recognize your own hypocrisies, the vacuum left behind would no doubt cause you to implode.

      • Uh, oh. Somebody’s got a sore pussy today.

        • Oh, that’s just too clever McPhillips.  However did you come up with that?  You must have delved deep into that sharp wit and intellect of yours.  I must say, you got me.  I absolutely have no comeback to that stinging insult.

          But tell us.  Is it that same intellect of yours that helped you discover Erb’s sock puppet?  A moment in time you must be so proud of.
          What was it that tipped you off?  Run-on sentences?  Lack of paragraph breaks?  Because Erb is sooo sly like that.

          A regular Sherlock Holmes you are.

          Oh nevermind that.
          I want to see your profound wisdom at work again.
          What’s your prediction for 2012?

          Let me guess.  Obama losses by ten points?
          It’s gotta be.  Bet the bank on it.

      • Okay.  So what “damage” did Publius do here?

        I doubt you’ll do it, your mind already having been made up apparently, but I’d suggest actually reading the Bleavans’ output, for your answer.

        Speaking of which, just like the mindless ruminant that you are, you stepped in your own pile of sh!t when you claimed that, because of Publius’ anonymity, he lacked the “courage of his convictions.”  Yet your own co-bloggers post using anonymous pseudonyms.

        Well, close, but no cigar. Fers hasn’t been posting since he went to sollage a couple years ago. He’s listed because his items.. (3 I think), are still up. And David? Well, that’s his real name, ya see.

        • I doubt you’ll do it, your mind already having been made up apparently, but I’d suggest actually reading the Bleavans’ output, for your answer.

          WTF is that?
          “I doubt you’ll do it…”
          What does that mean?
          Do what?!?

          Step up, Bithead.
          What was the damage?  Lay it out for us.
          Not just for my benefit, but for everybody.  If you’re so sure, then it should be no problem.

          Give us a reason to click your website.

          • Who is “us,” Toad?

            Are you referring to your Verizon network? Something like that?

          • Oooohhh

            “Toad.”

            Dude, I give.
            Uncle, uncle!!

            I just can’t compete with “pussy” and “toad.”
            McPhillips, … man, I beg you.  Just don’t call me “assh*le.”  I just don’t think I could bear it.

          • Why? Is there someone here who doesn’t already know you’re an a$$hole?

          • That’s better.

            So to sum up…
            I’m an assh0le who is a toad with a sore, iced up pussy that subscribes to Verizon?

            That’s your insult?

            You do have sleuthing powers after all.
            Well done.

            Now you’re ready for improv night at Two Drink Minimum.

            Knock ‘em dead, big guy.

            Cheers.

        • Well, close, but no cigar. Fers hasn’t been posting since he went to sollage a couple years ago. He’s listed because his items.. (3 I think), are still up. And David? Well, that’s his real name, ya see.

          Ya, I see.
          I see that you won’t admit to “Fers” having the courage of his convictions.  And unless “DavidL” has “L” as his last name, you won’t admit to his convictions either.

          So of your opinion as to the courage of Publius has no merit.

          The song remains the same.

      • PogueMahoneOkay.  So what “damage” did Publius do here?

        What “damage” did Publius do that would not have occurred if Publius had posted using his real name?  What could Whelan have done to mitigate the damage if Publius had decided to post using his real name?
        The best thing that Whelan could’ve done, if he had the ability, would be to defend his argument against Publius’ criticisms, no matter the signature at the bottom.

        I think that these are valid points and questions.  What good did it serve for Whelan to broadcast Publius’ real name?  Unless somebody can answer this question, then the inescapable conclusion – which Whelan has pretty much admitted – was that he did it for petty vengeance because Publius insulted him.  That doesn’t seem like a good reason to me.

        • Well, I didn’t follow the matter, so I don’t know the precise point on which Whelan’s decision to name the guy turned. But think a moment about what all this would be like if everyone hid their identity. Wouldn’t it be rather viscous and strange?

          Bloggers are, in effect, journalists. Wouldn’t the front page of any newspaper be a little strange if every reporter insisted on anonymity? Granted, someone reporting from a war zone, or from behind the lines of a totalitarian regime, or from some lowly position at the New York Times, might have reason to fear reprisals. Journalists try to protect anonymous sources, but are journalists or bloggers entitled to protect their own anonymity?

          Further, don’t journalists do precisely the opposite? Find out who is doing what and name them in public? Does a D.C. lobbyist, for instance, have a claim of anonymity over and against a journalist investigating that lobbyist’s business? Didn’t Publius name Whelan in some way that was offensive to Whelan?

          So, unless someone believes that the Grand Lodge of Bloggers is bound to respect anonymity solely per anonymity, I think that Whelan doesn’t need a higher threshhold than his own professed irritation with Publius. He seems to have changed his mind and apologized. That’s his call. Just as it was, from my point of view, his call to put a real name on the blogger who was naming him.

          • Bloggers are, in effect, journalists.

            LOL!  What a joke.  You are ready for the Improv.

            And what, pray tell, journalism have you done in your blogging?
            Is it the groundbreaking investigative journalism you did discovering Erb’s sock puppet?
            I’m surprised you weren’t nominated for a Pulitzer.

            You yourself admit to writing with a nom de guerre.

            Now there is the odd occasion that a blogger does some investigative journalism – and they should be credited, but that certainly isn’t the norm.  And the definition of journalism that we largely apply does not apply to the vast majority of bloggers.
            Bloggers, and those who comment, for the most part discuss the issues that are reported by journalist. 

            Blogs are basically talk radio on the internet.
            You have a host, who builds, credits or discredits, and expands on the news stories of the day.  Then you have the comments that is basically the callers, who discuss with the host and other commenters on the topics that the journalists have reported on.

            You’re not a journalist, McPhillips.
            You’re just another douchebag on the internet.

            Just like me.

            Docjim and shark have it right.
            You have it wrong.

          • As it happens, quite a few news stories ARE effectively anonymous: the byline is merely “AP” or “Reuters”, and what anchors read on air is almost always written by anonymous staffers.  I would also say that, outside a handful of well-known correspondents, stories might as well be anonymous for all the reporter’s name tells us about the reports’ bias, accuracy, and thoroughness. 

            As for the example of a journalist “outing” a lobbyist, I suggest that this is not equivalent to the Whelan / Publius issue.  A lobbyist by definition is trying to affect PUBLIC policy.  Obviously he has some interest in keeping this sort of thing quiet, but there is a compelling reason for his activities to be known to the general public who may well be affected by them, and therefore it is reasonable for a journalist to publish them.  In contrast, as far as I can tell, knowing Publius’ real name doesn’t make an iota of difference in the argument between him and Whelan.  I think McQ makes a good point in this regard:

            There are various commenters here some who use their real name (we assume) and some who use pseudonymns. They have established reputations here which make what they call themselves irrelevant to any argument.

            I’m sure we all have mental lists of bloggers / commenters that we typically consider worth reading, others we typically ignore, and still others who work our last good nerve.  Does it matter whether we know those people as “anonblogger123″ or as “John Quentin Doe, SSN 123-45-6789, 123 Maple St, Anytown, USA 98765, (555)555-1212, husband of Mary Public Doe, father of John Q. Doe, Jr, accountant for Acme Corp. of Anytown, USA”?

            But all this is beside the point of the central question, which I repeat:

            What good was served by Whelan publicizing Publius’ real name?

          • Well, you speak for yourself. I think that “douchebag” does begin to describe you, but doesn’t quite finish the job.

            Journalism is no high calling. It is simply the keeping of the record of days. Blogging is precisely that, with some bloggers obviously having higher aspirations than others. The journalists of the mainstream media are certainly nothing special, very limited in their judgment, politically biased while pretending otherwise. So, bloggers are a big adjustment to that equation, which is why outfits like the New York Times keep obsequious “house bloggers” around with pretense aforethought.

            It’s really a shame you have such a low opinion of yourself, Toad. Not that I don’t share it.

          • “What good was served by Whelan publicizing Publius’ real name?”

            The good of putting a real name on the person who was attacking Whelan?

            Whelan now says that he was being uncharitable, not wrong. He can have it either way as far as I’m concerned.

            As for AP and the like publishing “anonymous” reports, the fact is that a by-line represents status, and a story without a by-line still belongs to AP, or to any paper that runs a story without a by-line.

            Again, I have no problem with Whelan putting a name on Publius. The question of “what good” is a constant in journalism. Half the stories on the local news reports couldn’t give a satisfactory answer to that question. But I believe Whelan’s answer was that he didn’t like being attacked by an anonymous blogger and wanted his attacker to be known.

          • You don’t find it a bit ironic that you say that blogging is, “in effect, journalism”, then decree journalism as, “no high calling”?
            Clearly you draw difference without distinction.

            It’s really a shame you have such a low opinion of yourself, Toad.

            No, it’s just that you have delusions of grandeur. 
            You keep up that “journalism”, maybe you’ll discover for which hand Erb wields his sock puppet.

          • Clearly, you have serious rag on, Toad.

            Blogging is, in effect, journalism. Journalism is no high calling. Ergo, blogging is no high calling. Which is not to say that bloggers cannot, do not, and have not risen to an occasion or two, as in fact have journalists. But, compared to one of our special forces operators in Iraq, for instance, journalists don’t amount to that much. Bloggers do a little better because they don’t carry the same level of pretense and are amateurs in the higher meaning of the word.

            The purpose in pointing out that bloggers are in effect journalists was to enable the question: what if all this, blogging and/or journalism, was done anonymously? Wouldn’t it get rather strange? Indeed, it would. The effect would be as though some secret society made all the records of the day from behind masks of anonymity.

            Ergo, Whelan had no ethical duty to maintain silence about the blogger who was attacking him. Nor did he have an ethical duty to disclose the identity of Publius. It was a judgment call, as was his decision to apologize for being uncharitable.

          • Martin McPhillipsThe good of putting a real name on the person who was attacking Whelan?

            “Attacking” Whelan?  Correct me if I’m wrong (and I admit that I know next to nothing of the details of this case), but Publius insulted Whelan.  Not pleasant, of course, but not something that would warrant “outing” him or taking any other vengeance aside from (perhaps) firing back a few insults of his own.

            Again, that’s what this really appears to be about: vengeance and pettiness.  And, if Whelan is justified in telling people Publius’ real name, then what else is he justified in doing?  Giving an address?  Phone number?  Place of employment?  Photos of his wife and kids?

            I’m not comfortable arguing with you,  as I generally agree with you and think you express yourself well.  However, I think you’re flailing in an effort to put lipstick on a pig in this case.

          • Clearly, you have serious rag on, Toad.

            Heh.  Okay, we gotta update this…
            So I’m an assh0le who is a toad with a sore, iced up pussy that subscribes to Verizon… and I’m bleeding.

            That’s quite an image.

            But, compared to one of our special forces operators in Iraq, for instance, journalists don’t amount to that much.

            Umm…
            Wait, what!?

            LOL.  Where did the special forces come into play here?

            Shorter McPhillips:  You know, compared to Superman, Clark Kent kinda’ sucks.

            And you know, Martin… These apples I’m eating taste nothing like oranges.
            Weird, isn’t it?

            Unlike docjim, I feel very comfortable arguing with you.
            You’re a laugh riot, man.

            Keep it up.

          • I’m not trying to put lipstick on a pig. My point is that I don’t believe that there is any serious ethical issue in identifying an anonymous blogger. I see it as a matter of judgment. We can agree to disagree, but that wouldn’t change the fact that if I felt compelled (as Whelan did by things Publius said about him) to put a name on an anonymous blogger, I would. At the same time I respect Whelan’s decision to apologize. It was a civil thing to do if Whelan felt he had acted out of pique and regretted having done so. Had I been in Whelan’s shoes, I could conceivably have regretted naming Publius as well and also apologized. Again, that is a judgment call.

            So, what I’m saying is that I am not opposed, as a matter of ethics, in reporting the real name of someone who I would have cause to name, including the way that person spoke to or about me. My trigger for that sort of thing is not an easy pull, obviously, but there are circumstances where I would want a real name on a real person who was acting from behind an anonymous mask.

  • Uh, oh. Somebody’s got a sore pussy today.

    No kidding. It seems to be going around.

  • One of the great anonymous blogger fiascos happened last year.  The anonymous patent law blogger called “Troll Tracker” had a $15,000 bounty placed on his head for whoever would out him.  It worked.  Google “troll tracker outed” and read all about it.

    http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2008/02/26/bounty-hunter-outs-author-of-patent-troll-tracker-blog/

  • >WTF is that?
    >“I doubt you’ll do it…”

    Your lack in reading ability is noted. Sorry I strained your ability.

  • “So I’m an assh0le who is a toad with a sore, iced up pussy that subscribes to Verizon… and I’m bleeding.”

    Well, let me try to take that in order: yes, yes, yes, you probably should ice it, I don’t know, and get hep to metaphor, it really makes communication so much easier.

    And the point is that you’re not arguing with me, or anyone. You’re making sounds. As far as how comfortable you are, you seem about as comfortable as a wharf rat on the end of a longshoreman’s pitchfork.

  • Wow, it is pile on Pogue day

    • Heh … or piles around Pogue, depending on how you look at it.

      • This is from his first contribution to this thread:

        “The piles of manure you deposit here stink just as bad whether or not you choose to identify yourself as Eric Florack, or as Bithead.
        Speaking of which, just like the mindless ruminant that you are, you stepped in your own pile of sh!t when you claimed that, because of Publius’ anonymity,”

        I must have missed the manly action in earlier threads that led up to that, but it’s what caught my attention here today. And I noted that such talk could only be the result of a terrible soreness in his womanly apparatus. Exile me. I’m the guilty one.

        • McPhillips,
          I may not have the grace and politic that others here may have.  I get saucy and surly from time to time and I’m sure that goes to my detriment and my argument is sometimes lost in  the same muck.  I can’t help it, it’s just who I am.

          But can’t you see, that when I tell Bithead that, “The piles of manure you deposit here stink just as bad whether or not you choose to identify yourself as Eric Florack, or as Bithead”, that it’s not just a mindless insult?  The point being that it is the content of the postings that are what’s relevant, not necessarily the author  and/or signature.

          And as far as pointing out Bithead’s hypocrisies… Well, I’m affraid that is on me.  Pointing out Bithead’s hypocrisies is a habit I’ve had for years now.  It’s going to be tough to quit cold turkey, but I’ll try to do better.

          Cheers.

  • “What good was served by Whelan publicizing Publius’ real name?”
    The good of putting a real name on the person who was attacking Whelan?

    I’m still confused- what good did that do for anyone, exactly? It didn’t do Publius any good, and it sure didn’t do Whelan any good. I guess it did various bloggers good because they have fodder to write about, but that was hardly the intent of the thing.

    If Publius was sock-puppeting, or if he was crossing the line in a big way (in other words, much much more than he did) or flinging around slander, I could understand it.

    Otherwise please tell me WHAT good was served here?

    The guy threw a hissy fit and he did something stupid. Lets all admit that and move on

    • Whelan’s apology notwithstanding, it was a judgment call on Whelan’s part to place responsibility for what Publius was writing about Whelan with a real identity. A real name, with real responsibility, vs. a pseudonym with no responsibility. I’m not going back into the underlying “what did he say” question, because I’m not interested in that.

      Bruce thinks it’s a question of right and wrong. I don’t think it rises to that. There is no such thing as public statements made in a priviledged privacy of anonymity. And a pseudonym does not constitute a responsible party for a dispute over public discourse. The question could be calumny. It could be honor. It could be insult to reputation. “Publius,” doesn’t answer the bell for that. In my opinion.

      I myself blog with a nom de guerre, but you all know it’s me if you go to my blog, as does anyone who cares to know. For me, it’s a device, not a wall of anonymity. If I wanted anonymity, and there have been times I’ve felt like having it, it would be my responsibility to make it impenetrable. And if the anonymous wall broke down, that’s a c’est la vie, my friend, for me and for Publius.

      • Martin McPhillipsWhelan’s apology notwithstanding, it was a judgment call on Whelan’s part to place responsibility for what Publius was writing about Whelan with a real identity. A real name, with real responsibility, vs. a pseudonym with no responsibility. I’m not going back into the underlying “what did he say” question, because I’m not interested in that.
        Bruce thinks it’s a question of right and wrong. I don’t think it rises to that.

        You’ve mentioned “judgment call” further up-thread, but this is a good place to address it.

        Of course it’s a judgment call.  Every decision we make is a judgment call.  The issue is whether it was a good judgment call.  I maintain that it was not.  No good was served by revealing Publius’ real name; it was a punishment for p*ssing off Whelan.

        This indicates that is WAS a matter of right and wrong.  Whelan obviously thought that what Publius did was wrong, so wrong that he felt justified in punishing him for it.  This leads to the vital question of what Publius DID write.  I agree to some extent with shark: IF Publius crossed from garden-variety insults into libel, then Whelan would have had good reason to reveal Publius’ real name… to an attorney. It serves no purpose for anybody else to know it.

        I think that, as you say, we’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one.

        • I’m stressing “judgment call” because I don’t think it violates any ethical standard. It is a matter of prudential judgment.

          There are distinctions to be made. Whelan can distinguish between taking offense, having his reputation offended, having his reputation wronged, etc. There could be many levels short of it becoming a legal matter. In his action to name Publius’s real identity, he clearly had had enough. On reflection he deemed his own action uncharitable and offered an apology. I would probably be much slower to take offense and very much slower in offering an apology, but indeed I have apologized a for precipitous online behavior.

          A question such as this one does not have to rise to the level of libel for a party to be sufficiently aggrieved to want public satisfaction.  And, again, I think that it does indeed serve a purpose to place accountability for statements with the real identity behind them. It can certainly be a nasty thing, a petty thing, to do, under certain conditions, but I don’t see anything inherently wrong with putting someone’s real name on their own public discourse.

          We’ll have to disagree.

      • Whelan’s apology notwithstanding, it was a judgment call on Whelan’s part to place responsibility for what Publius was writing about Whelan with a real identity. A real name, with real responsibility, vs. a pseudonym with no responsibility.

        I’m not sure how the guy’s real name makes his post have more responsibility than when he posts with a pseudonym? His rep is his rep. If “Publius” writes illogical drivel, the Publius “brand” will suffer, and nobody will bother with his posts. 

        And a pseudonym does not constitute a responsible party for a dispute over public discourse

        We’ll have to disagree.  A “responsible party for a dispute over public discourse” is one who treats it responsibly with their words and actions.  If anything, it’s Whelan who’s not the responsible party for his actions.

        And if the anonymous wall broke down, that’s a c’est la vie, my friend, for me and for Publius.

        Kind of agree. I know that nothing on the net is truly anonymous, but there’s a difference between the wall “breaking down” and a guy busting it with a wrecking ball in a fit of mere pique.

  • Do you all feel better now, and is the bleeding pussy shaved?

  • I will quietly point out that around half the commentors on this topic…(Not just this post) take up positions that are not unlike the position I’ve taken on the issue. Two of them are among the most principled people I know. So, of course I’m taking such a position on all of this because I’m an unprincipled GOP hack, right?

    Forgive me, but I think someone’s missed the mark, and it ain’t me.
     

    • That’s a smoke screen and you know it. You never approached this subject on principle – not even once. So claiming that siding with people who might have done so doesn’t buy you a thing in terms of a “principled stand”. You’re simply trying to borrow one for convenience sake to cover your rear.

      • That’s a smoke screen and you know it. You never approached this subject on principle – not even once.

        That’s your fantasy, Bruce.

        Come back to reality., Go and read http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2009/06/the-education-of-ed-whelan.html

        I did (Unlike Pouge, for example, and I’m not sure about you)  and found it to be way out of line.

        ad Hominem, at least, but more… claiming Whelan is being “educated” while saying that “He knows all this,” ripping on Whalen’s resume, charging him with being disingenuous (claiming among other things”He just enjoys playing the role of know-nothing demagogue.”), with the very clear intent of destroying his credibility, from behind the cloak.

        Now, of course when Whalen responds in kind, pulling out Blevins’s actual resume, (Thus removing the cloak)  Blevans (and you) start treating it like it’s some kind of mortal sin? Sorry, Bruce, No sale. I don’t buy it.

        If you attack someone’s reputation and credentials, your own reputation & credentials are fair game. Blevans hiding prevented that. He knew that going in and tried to use it that way… AAnd got called on it and propoerly so.

        If you can’t understand the concept of a level playing field, and how attacking from behind his anonymous cloak gave Blevans an unfair advantage, then that’s your issue, not mine… and you’re less principled than I thought you…. particularly when others… people that both you and I respect.. come at all this from the same angle that I’ve taken on this from the off.

  • Question of Honor – Whelan fails and manages to recover as much honor as is possible after having stained his own.

    Shark’s right, if the Publius brand sucks people won’t pay any attention to it. 
    If he makes good arguments and good posts, who cares if he’s posting under the name of DogDoo. 

    If Whelan understand it matters to Publius enough not to be public that he deems exposing him a punishment then obviously Whelan understands the honorable code, and chooses to break it out of pettiness.

    That’s the way it is.
    It’s a question of principles and honor, Whelan understands that, or he wouldn’t percieve it as punishment, and he wouldn’t subsequently apologize for it.

    • And he DID take something away from Publius that wasn’t his to take, and he, ultimately, knows THAT too.