[Y]es – I criticized [Ed] Whelan rather harshly. But that’s what the blogosphere is about. Blogging is not for the thin-skinned. And you would think that someone who spends their days trying to destroy other people’s reputations in dishonest and inflammatory ways wouldn’t be so childish and thin-skinned.Here's Ed Whelan, exposing "publius" in the National Review. On what grounds?
Anyway, I’m not sure whether I’ll start posting under my own name or not. And there were several people who already knew – it’s not like this is a state secret. But still, if I wanted my name out on this blog, I would have done so. It should have been my choice.
In the course of a typically confused post yesterday, publius embraces the idiotic charge (made by “Anonymous Liberal”) that I’m “essentially a legal hitman” who “pores over [a nominee’s] record, finds some trivial fact that, when distorted and taken totally out of context, makes that person look like some sort of extremist.” In other of his posts (including two which I discussed here and here), publius demonstrated such a dismal understanding of the legal matters he opined on—including, for example, not understanding what common law is—that it was apparent to me that he had never studied law.Whelan wanted to do a "you a law professor" attack on his opponent. You've got to establish that the person is a law professor first, of couse, but it's not really worth doing, especially if the blogger isn't using his status as lawprof to bolster his opinion.
Well, I’m amused to learn that I was wrong about publius’s lack of legal education....
"You a law professor" attacks are a running joke here on my blog, because they've been aimed at me so often. I don't flaunt my status as a lawprof, but I know it's part of the sense of what this blog is. Even so, I think "you a lawprof" is a pretty lame argument, normally wielded by opponents who don't want to bother making substantive points. It's about on the level of proclaiming you're a moron.
Glenn Reynolds writes:
I think blogging anonymity is fine — though in the absence of a track record I tend to trust anonymous bloggers less — but is it a “despicable” act to identify an anonymous blogger? I’d say it depends. Certainly the political operative who leaked the Foleygate story via an anonymous blog had no right to anonymity. On the other hand, what about people who blog in a non-hitjob fashion but just want to avoid job repercussions? I’m more sympathetic there. But if you appoint yourself someone’s anonymous blogging nemesis, you can probably expect to be outed.I think you should expect it and be fully aware of the risk, but it would take a lot before I would feel justified exposing someone who had chosen the cloak of pseudonymity, certainly something quite different from the usual name-calling, insults, and bad arguments and criticisms, no matter how unfair or vicious.
Publius now needs to decide if he wants to merge his professional identity with his blogging identity and blog under his own name. This is a subject I examined back here, responding a lawprof colleague of mine who had chosen pseudonymity. I said:
Oscar wants to be free to use naughty words and otherwise break out of the professorial mode. But my experience is that even though students know who I am and can and do read this blog, they seem to accept this as a separate mode of mine and don't use it as a basis for talking to me in a newly confidential way. In the law school, the student-professor relationship is very well established. It really doesn't break down, even when students read your personal journal.More here.
Of course, there are things I won't say here, but these are things I wouldn't say even if I used a keyboard name. I would never insult or demean or deliberately hurt the feelings of students. I wouldn't casually knock my law school (though there are some considered criticisms I would be willing to make). I wouldn't hurt my family or acquaintances or even reveal much of anything about them (without permission). So there aren't really any significant ways using my own name limits me. Like Oscar, I care immensely about freedom as I do this blogging. But I also want to be aware of myself as an identifiable person, responsible for what I say (which is true whether you use a pseudonym or not). And I don't mind getting personal credit for anything good I might happen to say. Also, I kind of like being a public persona.
UPDATE: Whelan apologizes. Good.