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International Privacy Day

As you are undoubtedly aware, yesterday was International Privacy Day (you knew that, right?). And since anonymity is sort of an issue at ye old Humboldt Herald, we thought you’d like this from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The Right to Anonymity is a Matter of Privacy

This Jan­u­ary 28 marks Inter­na­tion­al Pri­va­cy Day. Dif­fer­ent coun­tries around the world are cel­e­brat­ing this day with their own events. This year, we are hon­or­ing the day by call­ing atten­tion to recent inter­na­tion­al pri­va­cy threats and inter­view­ing data pro­tec­tion author­i­ties, gov­ern­ment offi­cials, and activists to gain insight into var­i­ous aspects of pri­va­cy rights and relat­ed leg­is­la­tion in their own respec­tive coun­tries.

Through­out his­to­ry, there have been a num­ber of rea­sons why indi­vid­u­als have taken to writ­ing or pro­duc­ing art under a pseu­do­nym. In the 18th cen­tu­ry, James Madi­son, Alexan­der Hamil­ton, and John Jay took on the pseu­do­nym Pub­lius to pub­lish The Fed­er­al­ist Papers. In 19th cen­tu­ry Eng­land, pseu­do­nyms allowed women–like the Brontë sis­ters, who ini­tial­ly pub­lished under Cur­rer, Ellis, and Acton Bell–to be taken seri­ous­ly as writ­ers.

Today, pseu­do­nyms con­tin­ue to serve a range of indi­vid­u­als, and for a vari­ety of rea­sons. At EFF, we view anonymi­ty as both a mat­ter of free speech and pri­va­cy, but in light of Inter­na­tion­al Pri­va­cy Day, Jan­u­ary 28, this piece will focus main­ly on the lat­ter, look­ing at the ways in which the right to anonymi­ty–or pseudonymity–is truly a mat­ter of pri­va­cy.

Continue reading.

  1. Cliff Huxtable
    January 29, 2012 at 1:33 am

    pseu­do­nyms con­tin­ue to serve a range of indi­vid­u­als

    But as we know from our friends who hang out at LoCO (T & J), we’re all cowards for being anonymous and nothing we have to say has any merit at all. It doesn’t matter if we’re you’re neighbors. To hell with us.

  2. January 29, 2012 at 6:54 am

    …we’re all cowards for being anonymous and nothing we have to say has any merit at all.

    Good point!

  3. walt
    January 29, 2012 at 7:45 am

    There IS no privacy: Google earth takes your picture in front of your house (and from space), Google tracks and sells your internet activity, Your cell phone tracks your location, the NSA and friends track your email, twitter and Facebook postings, and the library is supposed to secretly track what books you check out. The government can photograph (and/or bomb) you with drones, and they can kidnap, torture and imprison you for as long as you live. If you fly on a commercial airline they can grope or x-ray you. And it’s all to ensure your safety or “enhance your internet experience.” So Privacy? Don’t talk to ME about “privacy.”.

  4. No ol' Coward
    January 29, 2012 at 7:48 am

    In the 1870’s the Humboldt Times had a wide cast of pseudonymenous letter to the editor writers with names like Mountain Yelper, Mountain Songster, Nix, Local Option, Pioneer, and Mountain Bugler who would sign off with Toot the Toot. Apparently there is a long tradition of anonymity locally.
    There was the same back and forth yadda yadda “dialogue” between these writers as we see on the blogs, though less mean spirited.

  5. January 29, 2012 at 7:59 am

    The righteous should never show fear; it empowers evil.

  6. January 29, 2012 at 8:04 am

    I’m sure there are some who don’t like the word: “righteous”, but I think if you’re defending those how have no one to defend them, then “righteous” fits. If you’re standing up for truth; it fits. If you’re trying to help someone; it fits.
    If you’re trying to promote yourself, then no. Of course I suppose if someone is promoting themselves, they wouldn’t be “Anonymous” eh?….
    Personally I defend someone’s right to be anonymous. But if you’re a progressive, or a libertarian, or even a #@#$%-democrat; then by all means, come out of the closet, we need you!

  7. Plain Jane
    January 29, 2012 at 8:32 am

    I don’t know why anyone cares about whose name is attached to an opinion. An opinion should be able to support itself on its merits without provenance. Those who demand an identity are just being lazy and want to accept or reject based on who said it rather than what was said. An opinion isn’t right or wrong because of who voiced it, but on facts and logic.

  8. January 29, 2012 at 9:08 am

    8:32 Well put.

  9. Anonymous
    January 29, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Wow, Jennifer just posted a big F-U to anonymity on the LoCO.

  10. Anonymous
    January 29, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Let’s hope these champions of no-privacy never learn why a right to individual privacy is necessary to a well-functioning society.

  11. Plain Jane
    January 29, 2012 at 9:43 am

    Jennifer, like everyone else, is entitled to her opinion. It’s her job to put her name to her opinions and she admits they may have to be tempered to avoid negative consequences. You have to use your name to get paid for your opinions, but most of us are just exercising our free speech. We don’t get paid for it and we don’t have to pay with our livelihoods for doing so.

    Btw, one could use her same arguments against requiring search warrants. Sure, you have the right to privacy in your home, but most of us don’t have anything to hide so why not just let the police search anytime they want? Some people do.

  12. Anonymous
    January 29, 2012 at 9:55 am

    You have to use your name to get paid for your opinions

    That’s definitely not true. Newspapers have paid columnists who don’t use their real names. Bloggers often don’t use their real names and still earn ad revenue. Someone behind the scenes knows who a check is being written to, but it’s not public common knowledge.

    you have the right to privacy in your home, but most of us don’t have anything to hide so why not just let the police search anytime they want?

    Agreed. The don’t-be-anonymous argument has shades of a police state behind it, paved with good intentions, of course.

  13. January 29, 2012 at 10:11 am

    When it comes to politics I think the “Who” is very important. It’s very easy to say things when there is no cost to the speaker. But, this is an old argument here on this “Anonymous” blog.
    For me, Anonymity is weak. There’s no force behind its speech.

  14. Plain Jane
    January 29, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Which newspapers have columnists who don’t use their real names, 9:55? Blogs which run ads may be a different scenario, but I have never heard of any commenter being paid for their post either at a newspaper or a blog. The blog owner may get paid, but not the posters so there is still no incentive for a non-paid person to put their livelihood (or life) at risk to exercise their right to free speech.

  15. January 29, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Jane: I have a couple of bones to pick. Don’t get mad, now!

    Blogs which run ads may be a different scenario, but I have never heard of any commenter being paid for their post either at a newspaper or a blog.

    See here for a very incomplete overview.

    You have a healthy skepticism when it comes to politicians, big business, etc. Ask yourself: Why wouldn’t they use blogland’s anonymity ethos as a cover for astroturfing campaigns?

    Along those lines…

    An opinion should be able to support itself on its merits without provenance.

    So why do we require political candidates to disclose their list of contributors? An opinion should be able to support itself on its own merits without regard to who is paying for it.

  16. Dan
    January 29, 2012 at 10:48 am

    “For me, Anonymity is weak. There’s no force behind its speech.”

    I find this logic bizarre. If pythagorias had a theorem, a proposition that was not self-evident but could be proved by accepted premises,
    but he was embarrassed at his weird name – and went with anon. would that discount the value of the theorem?

  17. January 29, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Whoops, I fouled that link somehow. Here.

  18. Anonymous
    January 29, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Ann Landers used a pseudonym (and was paid) for years. And Mark Twain…

  19. January 29, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Think about Hollywood during the grotesque McCarthy era.

  20. Anonymous
    January 29, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Think about anyone who doesn’t like you having an extensive record of comments you’ve posted across hundreds of websites because you listened to Jennifer’s advice. At some point you’re going to let drop tidbits of your personal life that are easily assembled into a profile about you within minutes.Google and Facebook do it (Google just changed its privacy policy to share your data between its various web properties). Anyone you absentmindedly offend could look you up, too. It’s easy if you write under your real name.

  21. January 29, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Tell me about it Dalton.
    I was dealing with Eighteenth Century Fox.

  22. Plain Jane
    January 29, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Your link doesn’t work for me, Hank.

    Equating political contributions, which are regulated by law, to free speech which is unregulated for the most part, doesn’t make much sense to me. If you don’t know who donated to a politician’s campaign, how would you know who they’re paying off with their legislation or if they even have a right to donate? Should we abolish all restrictions on contributions and let foreign operatives or even foreign governments choose our government? We might as well just abolish all government and let the multinational corps rule the world. Isn’t that what the “New World Order” is all about?

  23. anonymous, and why not?
    January 29, 2012 at 11:20 am

    “So why do we require political candidates to disclose their list of contributors?”

    We don’t. SuperPacs get around that requirement very nicely.

    In days gone by, orchestras were almost entirely male. Very few women were hired to play. Women, supposedly, could not play instruments as well as men.

    Then they started doing auditions where the players were behind a curtain, so the reviewers could not see if they were men or women. What do you think happened? Women were chosen as often, or more often than men. They were hired solely on their musical abilities instead of being rejected solely because of prejudice.

  24. Plain Jane
    January 29, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Thanks for the working link, Hank. It doesn’t matter to me if a poster is paid by a political organization or not. Their argument either convinces or it doesn’t, regardless of who is posting it or their motive for doing so. There are thousands of people who use what sound like real names in major newspaper comment sections, but that doesn’t mean they are real and doesn’t make their opinions any more valid than if they used a pseudonym. A lie by “Joe Smith” is no more true than a lie by “Obamyloser.”

  25. January 29, 2012 at 11:33 am

    I find it ironic that the purpose of free speech, as included in the First Amendment, was so that people could criticize government without fear of prosecution by that same government. Hence, the alias of Publius many of the founders used to sign their seditious writings.

    No need for that anymore, at least not yet. Still, many still feel the need to hide their identity when giving their opinion. I’d suggest anonymity has little to do with encouraging the free flow of information, but more so in enabling moral cowardice.

    But, no, I don’t really care if someone doesn’t have the courage to make their opinion known under their own name.

  26. tra
    January 29, 2012 at 11:39 am

    It all depends on how folks use their anonymity:

    If someone is posting anonymously and tries to make a claim based on their (alleged) personal experience, such as “I went to school with __________ and he smoked crack every day,” it’s obviously appropriate to ignore the anon poster’s claim (and in a case this extreme, it may be appropriate to remove the comment, since the anon is making a potentially slanderous claim against a named person, while operating from behind a veil of anonymity).

    If, on the other hand, a commenter is simply sharing their opinion or analysis, not attacking a named person, then readers can decide for themselves whether the opinion offered resonates with their own experience and whether the analysis seems valid. Still, if the person offering the opinion or analysis attaches their name to it, this may be helpful to the reader in determining the credibility of the commenter. So, as someone who posts their comments under a pseudonym, I don’t really blame readers if they choose to discount my opinions on the basis that they are not in a position to judge my credibility. That goes with the territory.

    But if someone is making a cogent argument based on facts that the reader either already accepts, or that can be independently verified (especially if a credible source for those facts is named and/or linked to), then there seems to be little reason to ignore the argument on the basis that the person making the argument is posting pseudonymously (or anonymously).

    So I think there are plenty of valid reasons for bloggers and commenters who use their real names to get annoyed with those of us who don’t (way too many anonymous commenters DO abuse their anonymity to engage in endless name-calling and personal attacks), and there’s good reason to ignore or discount certain sorts of claims that are made anonymously. But I also notice that sometimes named bloggers or commenters use the anonymity of a commenter as an easy excuse to dismiss their arguments, even though the arguments in question aren’t the sort for which the identity of the commenter is particularly relevant.

    Consider this comment, for example. Would knowing my real name make any difference in whether this analysis rings true to you or not? I don’t think it should.

  27. January 29, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Anonymity encourages inflammatory statements.

  28. Anonymous
    January 29, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    “I don’t know why anyone cares about whose name is attached to an opinion. An opinion should be able to support itself on its merits without provenance. Those who demand an identity are just being lazy and want to accept or reject based on who said it rather than what was said. An opinion isn’t right or wrong because of who voiced it, but on facts and logic.”

    Thank you, Plain Jane, for expressing an idea I have often wished to convey!

  29. Anonymous
    January 29, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    What idea is that, 12:33, gfys? That’s Jane’s usual diatribe for anyone who disagrees with her.

  30. Anonymous
    January 29, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    Anonymity encourages honest discussion.

    FTFY. If you’re bothered by inflammatory statements, perhaps you should participate in one of the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of lightly moderated forums where inflammatory statements are not an issue. Most venues have developed a means of keeping trolls at bay while still fostering healthy and open discussions.

  31. Plain Jane
    January 29, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Right 12:50, because I obviously can’t make a cogent argument to support my views. LOL! Now GFYS, not because you disagree with me but because your leg humping is boring.

  32. January 29, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    “If you’re bothered by inflammatory statements,” I’m just stating a fact. I don’t really care if people’s statements are inflammatory. But, if your identity is attached to your statement, you might be more circumspect.
    Like I said before, I support anyone’s right to be anonymous if they want to.

  33. Anonymous
    January 29, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    if your identity is attached to your statement, you might choose to remain silent

    FTFY. Anonymity is necessary for open discourse in a free society, and in not-free societies, too.

  34. January 29, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    I can see how anonymity might provide a more open discourse on some issues. Advocating a different view on certain aspects of sex crimes can often have that advocate accused of being a rapist or child molester himself, for instance.

    I could see someone wanting to maintain anonymity in such a circumstance. I’m not sure I can recall any subjects discussed here that would qualify as such.

  35. walt
    January 29, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    “You might be more circumspect” .A little circumspection is a good thing. More hygienic, too.

  36. Anonymous
    January 29, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    However Fred, juries don’t usually hear anonymous testimony, so no worries there.

  37. Not A Native
    January 29, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    I get PJ’s point that arguments can stand competely independently without reference to the source. And tra makes a similar point in many more words.

    But in practice, the real arguments made here almost always involve some degree of personal authority or credibility. For instance, in making many points, pj refers to the ‘fact’ that (s)he works for her(im)self and has clinets whose situations s(h)e refers to. Or pj cites personal experience as a basis for an opinion on some point or other. I’m using a lot of non-gendering becasue can anyone her know for certain what pj’s gender really is??? But I’ll bet many here would swear pj is female, despite it not being verifiable.

    Similarly tra often claims he knows about the details of rural lifestyles because of ‘friends and neighbors’ who are deeply involved in it. Are his ‘facts’ true or just concocted stories intended to draw the gullible reader into unquestioning belief? We can never know. Remember, what makes novels so appealing is that they are beievable but have been constructed by the author to communicate their viewpoints.

    Ronald Reagan was a master at relating concocted stories to show the truth of his political viewpoint. Even when the fiction was revealed, people didn’t care, because the stories were so touching and he told them so well.

    My point is that only ‘in theory’ do arguments stand on their own. In practice, regular anonymous posters, over time, develop a personna that is used to create impressions to give their arguments credibility that isn’t justified by documented facts.

    I’m completely in favor of anoymity, but it doesn’t eliminate the element of personal prestige in debates. In fact, I believe regular blog followers have a social objective, “knowing” other regulars precisely because they’ve built up a body of personal ‘facts’ about them. Whether frue or false, they are unverified.

  38. Anonymous
    January 29, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    But in practice, the real arguments made here almost always involve some degree of personal authority or credibility.

    So… what? Don’t believe the person if you don’t want to.

    We live in the digital age. If you’re making a factual claim and don’t link to a credible source to support your claim, I’m skeptical of your claim regardless of whether you put your real name, fake name or ‘Anonymous’ to your words. People decrying anonymity in a free society come off as petty and ignorant to me.

    I’m completely in favor of anoymity, but it doesn’t eliminate the element of personal prestige in debates.

    That’s the ol’ Heraldo-prefers-we-use-pseudonyms argument. Fair enough.

  39. January 29, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    Quick clarification/correction to Plain Jane’s 9:43 a.m. comment: It’s not my job to give my opinion. Nor do I get paid to do it. That’s a freebie.

  40. Mitch
    January 29, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    The ability to be anonymous is critical. Like anything else, it can be abused.

    “Common Sense,” authored by Tom Paine, was initially printed and signed “Written by an Englishman.”

    “The Federalist Papers,” written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, were published under the pseudonym Publius.

    Do I dislike anonymous comments? Not nearly as much as I dislike those who proudly use their names while sucking up to power and kicking the vulnerable. I often wonder if such people even realize what they’re doing, or if they’re just such naturals they’ve even fooled themselves.

  41. Anonymous
    January 29, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    You proved our point Mitch. Thomas Paine, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Day… they were all just a bunch of trolling anons too chicken to write under their real names and therefore had nothing credible or valuable to say.

  42. anonymous, and why not?
    January 29, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    NAN, you refer to prestige. In blogdom, how does one acquire prestige? Were you one of Regan’s spinners of impressions?

    That is how I see you.

    He / She. How to tell without raising the veil of anonymity? How frustrating to not know, so you can pigeon-hole.

    Prestige, of course, rightly belongs to your gender. Without acknowledged prestige ( correct gender, race, political affiliation, city of origin) there are only expressions of thought anchored in references to reality.

    NAN, go back to Hollywood, where you know all the prestigious sitcoms regulars. Ideas dislodged from celebrity (prestige) are too difficult for you to handle.

  43. Anonymous
    January 30, 2012 at 5:58 am

    how does one acquire prestige?

    One acquires prestige in the blogging world by writing words people like under a consistent pseudonym. Some of us are not concerned with prestige. Our words rise or fall based purely on merit of our ideas. That is a difficult concept for published writers to grasp… writing without the prestige of tacking your name above your article.

  44. Decline To State
    January 30, 2012 at 6:57 am

    I want my opinions to be taken at face value, not skewed by preconceived ides about who I am thought to be and what my opinions are. If I feel the same preconceptions happening with my pseudonym, I will change it.

    When Heraldo discloses his/her/their “real” name(s) I will disclose mine. Meanwhile I’ll just continue to Decline to State.

  45. January 30, 2012 at 7:02 am

    Jennifer Savage says:
    January 29, 2012 at 8:10 pm
    “Quick clarification/correction to Plain Jane’s 9:43 a.m. comment: It’s not my job to give my opinion. Nor do I get paid to do it. That’s a freebie.”

    Still a rip-off, we deserve journalism.
    And as an environmentalist- Jen, your native trees are dying!
    Why?
    Erosion in the hind dunes.
    Why?
    Wildlife gone.
    Why?
    Disappearing fore dune.
    Why?
    Was this your plan? Where does this newly acquired ‘wasting process’ stop?
    Is anyone at the rudder? Who? A name please.

  46. Anonymous
    January 30, 2012 at 7:21 am

    taken at face value, not skewed by preconceived ides

    True. When Jen posts, and it’s about two particular subjects, I know her motivations and can skip her posts entirely. If she posted anonymously, I’d be more likely to take her ideas at face value. It’s just like if Arkley wrote about big boxes, I’d skip the article because I think I know his motivations and message, but if posted anonymously, I’d at least read the words.

  47. Not A Native
    January 30, 2012 at 8:11 am

    Bingo 7:21 !

  48. Plain Jane
    January 30, 2012 at 8:38 am

    Maybe we should all adopt new pseudonyms for each thread? Anonymous posts create chaos in the discussion because they could all be one person or many. I think it would be an interesting experiment at least.

  49. Anonymous
    January 30, 2012 at 9:18 am

    That Fred Mangels guy sure hit the nail on the head.

  50. Anonymous
    January 30, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Fred Mangels makes the best comments of anyone I’ve seen in the local blogosphere.

  51. anonymous, and why not?
    January 30, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Not A Native has a closed mind and wants to keep it that way. He doesn’t get the concept of evaluating an idea solely on its merits. He can only evaluate through his prejudice.

    A good example of the biased judgments I described at 11:20 yesterday.

  52. Anonymous
    January 30, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Agreed. Fred has the most sensible and hard- hitting commentary of anyone.

  53. Anonymous
    January 30, 2012 at 9:20 am

    Fred is also the Lord of Niceness and Fairness in the Humboldt blogosphere.

  54. Anonymous
    January 30, 2012 at 9:21 am

    All hail Fred: Writer of great opinions!

  55. Mitch
    January 30, 2012 at 9:23 am

    I prefer the opinions of the fat blue guy with horns and hipster limbs.

  56. Joe Gillis
    January 30, 2012 at 9:34 am

    The reality is that 99% of the posters (or posers, if you prefer) do not want their names mentioned is because of what they write.

    Let’s be honest… when you turn on Fox News you know exactly the slant of the comments.

    When you turn on Keith Oberman or Rachel Meadows on MSNBC you know exactly the slant of their stories.

    When I read a Times Standard Op-Ed the first thing I do is look to see who wrote the story. That way I know exactly what to expect.

    Richard Salmzan – check.
    George Clark – check.
    Linda Atkins – check.
    Ken Miller – check.

    I would venture to guess that the usual suspects of Heraldo blog posters would not hold up to public scrutiny.

    Plain Jane – retired or disabled female, posts 20 times a day.

    Anon – former EPD chief who can’t let go of Eureka.

    A-Nony-Mouse – retired fisherman with anger issues.

    Heraldo – angry gay activist.

  57. Plain Jane
    January 30, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Funny Joe Gillis. There are actually people who know who Plain Jane really is. It keeps me honest.

  58. January 30, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Hey I know a couple of those folks, Gillis.
    Only a fool would lump them altogether.
    There is a lesson here Mr. Gillis, can you spot it?

  59. January 30, 2012 at 10:27 am

    All those great comments about me has me rethinking my feelings about anonymous posters. Some seem to be as smart as I am!

  60. anonymous, and why not?
    January 30, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Forget it, 3rdGrader. For Gillis there is no distinction between a persona and a well presented idea, fact or opinion. He simply can’t sort it out and think critically.

    No point trying to improve Gillis’s thinking skills. His cognitive development will never reach the formal stage. Unfortunately for our country there are many others like him.

  61. January 30, 2012 at 11:38 am

    C’mon Fred, that was all you! Ha! (kidding, you have a fan-club)

    So just to belabor the point: There is a question that comes with anonymous opinions, statements & charges…why don’t they want to use their name? Why not identify yourself with your point of view?
    Up-thread someone was talking about a person who may not like you having a string of comments to use against you (“You” in the generic) Heck, that’s what life is, a person is judged by what they say and do. Here it’s all about what a person says. I don’t think it takes “courage” to ID yourself. Maybe it’s just vanity. Maybe if you’re brilliant (as some are) you want to take the credit. Personally I think a person should ‘own’ what they write. There is a website called: “Backspace” (I think it’s still up) and they have lists of blog comments. I read every comment I wrote going back over a hundred comments. Sure I would want to edit a few, but, at least they’re consistent.
    I don’t go along with the idea of “Knowing what to expect” by knowing the author. Having a name just means they mean what they say and they’re willing to risk saying it.
    My final point is, there’s no hiding anyway. If anybody with power (ie law enforcement, attorneys ex-wives) wants to find out who wrote what when and where; they got you. So why hide when there’s nowhere to hide?
    I love this proverb: “The wicked run when no one is chasing them.”
    No, I don’t think Ms. Jane or Tra is wicked, but you get the point…now Heraldo is another story…..

  62. Anonymous
    January 30, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Home of the brave and land of the free? Working people are not free to express opinions their bosses hate. They MUST write anonymously if they want to exercise their right to free speech without risking being fired.

  63. Anonymous
    January 30, 2012 at 11:43 am

    The moral imperative of identifying oneself on a blog pales into insignificance compared to the moral imperative of continuing to be employed, keeping one’s family supplied with food clothing and shelter.

  64. Harold Knight
    January 30, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Anon. 11:38 and 11:43 nailed it.

    Constitutional protections apply under the government…not your employer.

    The moment an employer perceives opposition, an employee (unable to properly fake sincerity), risks losing house, health care, retirement and family. Employers red-bait employees all the time.

    This is what the privatization movement was really about; the power to eliminate perceived opponents, sought by fascists throughout history.

  65. January 30, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    So do you vote the way your “Employer” tells you to? Do discipline your kids the way he/she tells you to? Do you hide your intelligence so as not to let your employer know you’re smarter than they are? Do you support their football team? Do you basically crawl on all fours and with obsequious supplication beg them to not fire you?
    Or is that only for Wal-Mart employees?

  66. Anonymous
    January 30, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    You don’t get it moviedad.

  67. Not A Native
    January 30, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Ah moviedad, Now you understand why we have a public secret ballot, but make legislators vote publically. (Although legislators have developed sneaky ways to ‘trade votes’ and make ‘strategic losing votes’ to conceal their actual positions).

    Fact is, most everyone looking to build a particular personal image chooses to anonymously make their preferred choices when it carries a risk of penalties. Thats why robbers wear masks and stock brokers(and real estate agents) don’t(legally) reveal their client’s identities.

  68. Not A Native
    January 30, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Oops, lest I be misunderstood, anonymity isn’t necessarily for devious purposes. Building a particular image is also why some people make very public philathropic gifts. While giving anonymously is for those who truly care only about the thing they’re contributing to.

  69. Not A Native
    January 30, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Oops again, That should read: “Fact is, most everyone not looking……”

    Bad editing day

  70. undisclosed
    January 30, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Not a Native: While giving anonymously is for those who truly care only about the thing they’re contributing to

    Blogging without using your actual name can be a form of contributing to a thing a person cares about, like ideas. Sharing ideas and engaging in discourse for the sake of expanding the awareness of others. Not everyone is wrapped up in the whole image thing, as Not a Native is.

    An idea trumps personal image. An idea can live and evolve forever. People get fired and die.

  71. Eric Kirk
    January 30, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    I’ve already commented pretty much as much as I care to on the subject over at Jennifer’s thread on Lost Coast Outpost.

    One last anecdote. A few years back I was approached by someone who was the target of a number of anonymous posts on my blog (Reggae War again). He told me that he viewed poster anonymity the same way he views white sheeted Klan members.

    I brought up the French Underground and Committees of Correspondence as contrary examples of productive anonymity. He took that to suggest I was comparing him to a Nazi.

    Flaming doesn’t have to be anonymous. It can even be in person.

  72. Anonymous
    January 30, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    Flaming and anonymity are two completely separate issues. If someone is flaming, blame the blogger or operator of the web forum for not moderating discussions. This is basic stuff that modemers worked out by 1997 on computer bulletin boards. Anonymity rocks.

  73. Anonymous
    January 30, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    Whoops, 1997 should have been 1987. Online discussion forums have existed since the late 1970s (if you don’t count Usenet) and how to have civil discourse anonymously was worked out long ago.

  74. January 30, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    “Flaming?” Is that slang for using inflammatory language?

  75. Noble
    January 31, 2012 at 5:49 am

    People are so eager to get the identity of posters they don’t like so they can smear them publicly, try to dig up dirt on them, and maybe even try to do underhanded shit to fuck up their life. It’s a coward’s prize when they can’t win the argument. If you can’t win an argument, there’s always other underhanded shit someone can do to try and get even. Make these creepers work for that chance.

    You have a right to be anonymous, and the power of your words is the only power that matters.

    Thanks for supporting the EFF Heraldo.

    Anonymous “pamphleteering” is nothing new, has a place, and isn’t going anywhere. Learn to address arguments rather than people and reputations.

  76. Anonymous
    January 31, 2012 at 6:58 am

    That is, perhaps, what ultimately drives these vocal whiners. They cannot stand not knowing who is writing what. It’s in a journalist’s blood to be snooty. It was cute for them with wondering about Captain Buhne. Now they’re just pissed that so many anons can be around and be on equal footing with prestigious HSU journalism graduates who never left Arcata. School didn’t prepare them for the online world.

  77. Anonymous
    January 31, 2012 at 7:04 am

    “Flaming?” Is that slang for using inflammatory language?

    Moviedad, it’s not slang. It’s part of the English language. Thirty years will do that to a word. Look it up. Merriam-Webster defines a flame as “an angry, hostile, or abusive electronic message.” Flaming can be used as a verb or adjective in that context.

  78. January 31, 2012 at 7:43 am

    “prestigious HSU journalism graduates who never left Arcata”
    When I think of the crowd represented
    by the Lost Coast Outpost, I don’t know
    whether to laugh or cry.
    They have too many ‘friends.’ Honesty takes the hind end.

  79. Anonymous
    January 31, 2012 at 8:44 am

    At the very least, Hank, Jen and Kym are consistent and predictable in their message and agendas..

  80. Anonymous
    January 31, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Except… in journalism school you don’t get taught to reprint press releases… which is what both local bloggers and reporters spend most of their time doing.

  81. RefFan
    January 31, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Ya ever think that ppl also use anonymity to ward off identity theft?? My son went thru it in college & that was enough for me to try & limit the use of my name. The guy who stole my sons id got his name out of newspaper articles & went to town from there.

  82. Anonymous
    January 31, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Protecting your identity is one of the many reasons people use pseudonyms online. You’ll even find people who teach Internet classes advising students to use pseudonyms online. It’s why I find Jen’s rant particularly ridiculous. She’s out-of-touch.

  83. A-nony-mouse
    January 31, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    Maybe it should be “International Piracy Day”. We could all steal each other’s identities.

  84. Anonymous
    January 31, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    Hot tip: Don’t take advice from people working in dying industries. Journalists are the last people you should listen to when it comes to the Internet.

  85. January 31, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    “Don’t take advice from people working in dying industries.”

    Journalists will always be journalists.
    And who is not in a dying industry?
    The ladies on Third St?
    Shall I seek advice there?

  86. Anonymous
    January 31, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    Most people are not working in dying industries.

  87. Anonymous
    January 31, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    Yet, they’re always the last to find out.

  88. Davey Jones
    January 31, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    If journalists could do their job, more people would understand how the oil and steel-dependent technologies are dying. The planet cannot provide non-renewable resources for the “first-world’s” perfection of waste forever.

    Few know that the Earth is currently experiencing its 6th largest extinction event.

    In a world of deceit, the truth is revolutionary.

  89. Anonymous
    February 1, 2012 at 1:15 am

    Yet, they’re always the last to find out.

    Yeah, I’m sure hair stylists are really fretting over male pattern baldness.

  90. February 1, 2012 at 10:15 am

    Is Anonymous Our future?
    Nathan Schneider, Op-Ed: “Over the past couple of years, as Anons became lulled—pun intended—into politics through their Scientology, Wikileaks, and Arab Spring operations, the lulz ethos has turned into a mode of movement-building. And it’s a movement that appears singularly scary to the powers that be, from globalized corporations to the governments of superpowers, despite (or perhaps because of) the Anons’ apparent disorganization and probably in excess of their actual capacity.”

    http://www.nationofchange.org/anonymous-our-future-1328106234

  91. Anonymous
    February 1, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    Corporatocrisy is threatened when the little people find a relevant news-source to anonymously sharpen their chops in.

  92. What Now
    February 2, 2012 at 5:23 am

    “ToolsoftheTrade says:
    January 31, 2012 at 7:26 pm
    “Don’t take advice from people working in dying industries.”

    Journalists will always be journalists.
    And who is not in a dying industry?
    The ladies on Third St?
    Shall I seek advice there?”
    *************************************************************************************
    A HumCo Sheriff’s officer that lives accross the street forwarded this to me with the comment: “I feel sorry for anyone who risks trading their tool with THAT crowd of gals.”

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