Leveling the playing field

On Saturday, our friend Ed Whelan provided the identity of a previously anonymous blogger who has been attacking his work in rather nasty fashion. That blogger, who went by the unoriginal and pretentious name “publius,” turned out to be a law professor at South Texas College of Law named John Blevins.

Ed’s decision to expose Professor Blevins has generated a considerable amount of discussion on the internet. My view is that “publius.” having elected to debate Ed, has no complaint. For in a debate between a blogger who identifies himself and one who doesn’t, the anonymous blogger has an unfair advantage — he is not constrained by the full range of consequences normally associated with being exposed as dishonest, sloppy, or unintelligent. The same is true if there is no debate and the anonymous blogger simply goes after someone like Ed. Therefore, once Blevins took Ed on, it was not improper for Ed to place Blevins under the normal constraints.

Now that Ed has removed Blevins’ cover, he will have an incentive to produce better work on the internet. Whether he is capable of producing such work remains to be seen.

JOHN adds: Anonymity is the curse of the internet, and the principal reason for the dismally low level of discourse that generally prevails online. Which is why we have absolutely banned anonymous comments from our experimental comment system. In my opinion, the idea that a goofball like Blevins has some sort of “right” to smear Whelan anonymously, without taking responsibility for his assaults, is ridiculous. Be a man, for God’s sake. Or, for that matter, a woman–you don’t see Michelle Malkin, say, scurrying out from under a rock to issue anonymous attacks. If you can’t muster the gumption to say who the hell you are and stand behind your words, my view is: get lost. You have nothing to contribute.

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