Announcing A New Addition To The Blogroll

Meta, Politics & Current Events

I'm proud to add Obsidian Wings to the list of blogs on the left-hand side of the page.  I've read the site for years, and find it a source of informed, often funny commentary on politics and law, though from a perspective with which I often disagree.

And I regret that what prompted me to add the site was the "outing" of one of its formerly pseudonymous authors by Ed Whelan of National Review's Bench Memos blog, the story of which is told more fully here. Out of respect for the Obsidian Wings author in question, I'll not mention his name or link directly to the post where he addresses the problem, nor will I link to anything Whelan has written.  It does appear, however, that Whelan's action was motivated by pique at "Publius's" strongly worded but non-libelous criticism of Whelan's writing on the Sotomayor nomination.

There are many good reasons not to blog anonymously, perhaps principally that the author suffers diminished credibility when he doesn't sign his name to his product.  We are fully aware of that when we blog in anonymity here, and are comfortable with it.  Some of us are practicing attorneys, and in at least one case (my own), might find it uncomfortable if certain institutional clients were to discover legal or political views that have nothing to do with the quality of representation afforded those clients.  It's also true that this opens me to a charge of cowardice, but it's my choice to be a coward.  I've been a coward on the internet since the 1990s after I had to change my telephone number thanks to a crank who disagreed with something I wrote under my own name.  That I am a coward, however, does not affect the validity of my opinions or arguments so long as I avoid argument from authority.  Since I'd be the first to admit I'm not an authority on anything, I can live with that.

But from what I see, "Publius," an untenured law professor, had more compelling reasons to wish to remain anonymous.  So long as Publius did not cross the line into libel or other misdeeds, that's a choice I believe Whelan and others should have respected.

One of the early founders of National Review was Whittaker Chambers, the reformed Soviet spy who came into public view when he "outed" Alger Hiss as another Soviet agent.  In the case of Hiss, a high public official, Chambers' actions were laudable whatever their motives.  The public had a need to know that obviously trumped Hiss's desire for secrecy.  In that sense, National Review, like many journalistic enterprises, was founded on an ethos of overturning secrets.

That is not the case here.  No one and nothing is served by Whelan's grandstanding, unless it's Whelan's ego and rage.  National Review today is a shadow of what it once was.  Ed Whelan, you're no Whittaker Chambers.

Last 5 posts by Patrick Non-White

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Chris  •  Jun 8, 2009 @8:23 am

    It's such a bizarre choice, too. It's not that it was a great mystery people were dying to know the answer to, or that he was particularly hiding behind a pseudonym while exhibiting really bad behavior or anything like that. I read the blog for years and it never even occured to me to wonder who he was.

  2. mojo  •  Jun 8, 2009 @8:34 am

    Since the original "Publius" would have been subject to execution for treason had he been "outed", I find it a little precious for this one to whine so loudly.

  3. Patrick  •  Jun 8, 2009 @8:44 am

    Gosh, mojo, the original Publius was three men, all of whom were leaders of their respective political movements, writing six years after the end of the American revolution. They were among the most powerful and influential men in the country even before the ratification of the Constitution.

    They wrote under pseudonym to avoid having their famous names, and the baggage attached to them, distract from their arguments. Admittedly Publius at Obsidian Wings faces no danger to life or limb because of Whelan's stunt, but then neither did anyone writing as Publius in 1787.

    That makes Whelan's conduct no less vile.

  4. Mike  •  Jun 8, 2009 @9:38 am

    Ed Whelen is white trash.

    Why do people think blogging under their real name is courageous?

    In law, if you know your shit, you can prove it. Make your fucking arguments.

    People who blog under their full names want to be lazy. LOOK AT MY (to my pea brain) BIG NAME. I NEED NOT CITE CASES OR ANALYZE ISSUES. BEING ME IS ENOUGH!

    I think that's being a pussy. Make your arguments. Don't rely on who you (think) you are to make your case. (Wo)Man up.

    Incidentally, I blogged anonymously until my blog was one of the first 8 Law.com blogs. (Later I quit because they cramped my style.) Then I had to out myself. It was no thing. If anything, I got "glory." Which doesn't really motivate me. Wow, look at me. I'm a unique snow flake. Whatever.

    Now I blog only under my first name. It just spares me drama to not have people stalking me based on my blog posts. Yes, if you Google my name, my blog will be the first result. So people who know me can find my blog. But people who only know my blog need to do at least some diligence in order to find out my real name…. which is still pretty easy.

    So I'm a half-coward? LMFAO!

    I truly think real-named blogging is self-involved. My blogging has been cited twice in federal judicial opinions. They were "serious" posts on Section 1983 law, about which I'd say I know more than anyone what perhaps Sheldon Nahmod and Erwin Chemersinky.

    Allow me to go orgasm all over myself!

    Seriously, this shit cracks me up. I've had more success when I was blogging as a law student than most people who call others "cowards" for blogging anonymously will EVER have with their blogs.

    They can all fuck off.

    Get cited in some federal opinions. Then fucking tell me how brave and special you are because you blog under your real name!

    The shit that impresses people about themselves truly astounds me!

  5. fozzy  •  Jun 8, 2009 @9:46 am

    National Review itself has an anonymous writer, "Jack Dunphy". He is an LAPD officer who writes about police issues and his anonymity lets him be very critical of his superiors and the LA city government. Ed Whelan hasn't exposed him, yet.

    btw fozzy is not my real name

  6. Dan Hull  •  Jun 8, 2009 @10:06 pm

    Really like your site and your writing–and you clearly seem to be a non-wuss. We do appreciate the link and the comment about nameless blogging, and commenting–which I do see as a problem to the quality of all digital conversation. Also dumbs everything down.

    A dispensation for you, at least, maybe? Seriously, we are really trying to figure out a fair and sane no-anonymity policy, at least for our blog. Your thoughts are welcome. We want to know what people think.

    Again, thanks, sir.