I deleted the comment and wrote:
I don't accept people posting under someone else's name here. I deleted the post that purported to be Lee Siegel because it's inconceivable to me that Lee Siegel could be dumb enough to write: "Ann Althouse astonishingly writes that she 'condemns' me because 'the truth is I never liked Lee Siegel,' so I guess nothing I say will penetrate her bias."I received an email:
Obviously, the post and another comment defends Lee Siegel and I only said I was "tempted" to condemn "the practice" of sock puppetry -- not Siegel himself because I don't like him. (I don't like his writing. Find my old posts criticizing his writing if you like.) I'm defending him in spite of the fact that I don't like his writing. Get it? The opposite of bias. Jeez.
If that actually was Lee Siegel, he can email me and convince me it was him, and then I'll restore the post, which I still have.
Yes, that was dumb old me. Please restore my post.I responded:
I have a strong policy against imitations, so you need to prove it to me. I myself am imitated on a site and I don't like it.He's all:
Prove it to you? Are you kidding? You want me to Fedex you my passport? What childishness. Then I guess you can't prove that anyone is who he says he is who writes in to your "blog." Hey, it's me. You just don't want to restore my post. So don't. One more tale from the brave new blogosphere.I retort:
You've given me the proof that you are not Lee Siegel. Thanks.Am I wrong?
Anyway, with all this explanation, it is not confusing to anyone to reprint the original comment by the person who may or may not be Lee Siegel, so here it is, interspersed with my commentary:
Ann Althouse astonishingly writes that she "condemns" me because "the truth is I never liked Lee Siegel," so I guess nothing I say will penetrate her bias. But let me try.I just didn't like Siegel's writing -- see this old post -- quite aside from his problem with sock puppetry. I think he got a bum rap on that, so accusing me of bias is backwards. My point is that I'm supporting him even though I didn't like his criticism.
Althouse writes: "Siegel should respect the policies his employer lays down." I'm surprised that an evidence-conscious lawyer like Althouse hasn't bothered to find out what those policies were. This is what they were.I didn't say one way or the other whether he violated his employer's policy. I was speaking to what I was in a position to talk about: whether it was inherently bad to participate in the comments under a pseudonym. Spare me the "evidence-conscious lawyer" crap. All I did was concede that the policies -- whatever they were -- would bind him. Meanwhile, I was supporting him!
The New Republic's "Rules of Use" for its Talkback section--where I responded to my detractors--are these: They prohibited "posts that are defamatory, libelous, unnecessarily antagonistic... posts that are obscene, abusive, harassing, threatening, off-topic, unintelligible,Well, maybe you -- if you are Lee Siegel -- will cool down and perceive that I was taking your side! And maybe this whole incident will give you some insight into why I didn't like you as a critic: Your perceptions are off.
The problem is that the New Republic never enforced those rules. Anonymous commenters called me a liar, a fraud, and a pedophile. "Siegel wanted to fuck a child" went one post. These are all libelous things to say.
But the New Republic allowed anyone to post whatever they wanted, no matter how "defamatory, libelous or unnecessarily antagonistic." There was no screening, editing, or filtering of comments. And people were allowed to say whatever they wanted to say anonymously.
When I protested, I was told that I had to live with it. Exasperated, I decided to give my anonymous attackers a taste of their own medicine. I did not take on a pseudonym because I was taking advantage of the Web's convention of anonmymity [sic]. I took on a pseudonyn [sic] TO PROTEST THE WEB'S CONVENTION OF ANONYMITY. I had protested malicious anomymity [sic] several times on my blog and in other venues. It was, you see, a matter of principle, and of journalistic ethics. I could not believe that a serious and distinguished magazine was allowing these things to be published, and anonymously. In fact, no other magazine or respectable blog has ever allowed such comments to be made anonymously. Ann Althouse certainly doesn't.
And lo and behold, since my little scandal, articles have appeared denouncing malicious anonymity on the Internet, a convention that was taken for granted until I began to speak out against it.
I realize that I am making myself vulnerable to Ms. Althouse's derision -- after all, she "never liked" me. But maybe some readers will want now to see my side of the story.
IN THE COMMENTS: Verso said:
What a Kafkaesque dilemma Siegel faces:
Condemned for sockpuppetry, he now is banned from posting under his real name.
The only way Lee Siegel could get a post past Althouse would be by post it anonymously or pseudonymously.
Irony is not dead.