by William Skink
My reasons for maintaining anonymity have evolved over the years. When I first started writing at 4&20 Blackbirds in 2010 I actually didn’t give anonymity much thought. I had commented under a pseudonym and therefore started writing posts under the same pseudonym. As I started experiencing the attacks that come with not adhering to the political binary of Democrat good/Republican bad, and as I started writing about “conspiracy theories”, I felt using a pseudonym allowed me more freedom to write about things that would trigger derision and ridicule.
I don’t worry about derision and ridicule anymore. My concerns are now twofold. Politically, I’m increasingly concerned about what a Nation waging perpetual war across the globe will do with dissenters. Will dissent be conflated with extremism? Will being called a Putin lover be followed with a knock on the door? Across the pond, the UK recently distributed leaflets as part of an “anti-extremism drive”. From the link:
Child protection officials have been criticised after warning parents that young people who take issue with government policy or question what they are told in the media may have been radicalised by extremists.
A leaflet drawn up by an inner-city child safeguarding board warns that “appearing angry about government policies, especially foreign policies” is a sign “specific to radicalisation”.
Parents and carers have also been advised by the safeguarding children board in the London Borough of Camden that “showing a mistrust of mainstream media reports and a belief in conspiracy theories” could be a sign that children are being groomed by extremists.
Seven years ago we were promised a Democratic administration would be more transparent. But, as usual, there is a great disparity between word and action. In practice, the Obama administration has used the Espionage Act to aggressively go after the people who are trying to tell us the surveillance state has destroyed our constitutional rights.
Beyond the political concerns I also have personal reasons for maintaining my anonymity. My work puts me in constant contact with unstable individuals. A few years ago I started receiving letters from a mentally ill woman who thinks I’m her kid. The letters first arrived at my workplace. Then, a year ago, they started arriving at my home address. I have since moved, but I still get the letters forwarded to my home. This woman has threatened to take my kids away from me after having me imprisoned for sexually assaulting her.
A few months ago I was physically assaulted by a mentally ill man who threatened to kill me. I believed this threat was legitimate, and so did a judge, who signed off on a permanent order of protection. These threats are exacerbated by systems that are breaking down, specifically our health care system and criminal justice system. It’s bad and getting worse in ways people outside these systems simply can’t understand because those of us within these systems can’t really talk explicitly about what we’re seeing.
I’m not the only one who is burnt out and exhausted by the volume of problems overloading these systems. As our political leaders commission more studies while programs get defunded, the first responders on the front-lines suffer.
Don’t get me wrong, I greatly value the real-world education I’ve received. It was worth all the vicarious trauma I’ve absorbed over the years. I have a better informed understanding of how difficult policing can be, for example, after seeing up close their day-to-day frustrations. I have a lot of sympathy for law enforcement now. If you would have told me seven years ago I would have these sympathies, I would have laughed in your face.
I don’t know if there are political solutions to the immense problems facing this community and this country. I’d like to see Democrats take responsibility for their part in getting us here, but I don’t expect that is possible in our hyper-polarized atmosphere. While I appreciate this olive branch from one partisan, I’m weary of how our years of disagreement is being framed:
I’ve tried, since last night, to negotiate a ceasefire. My argument is pretty simple: it’s clear we cannot persuade each other, and it’s also clear that the history of bad blood between the two sites is so strong that we’re just not capable of seeing each other’s postings as anything other than hostile acts. There are times when relationships become too toxic to continue, even with the best intentions, and silence is most appropriate.
So one more time, publicly, I ask: can we please put this to rest? Can we agree not to write posts about each other’s sites so that both sites can be better places for the people interested in reading what’s written there? I’m willing to do that. If the writers at the other site are not, then I have to give some thought to shutting this blog down because, rightly or wrongly, I worry that the conflict will spill over into my real life. I am a teacher foremost. This is a hobby, a weird one, yes, but a hobby. I can’t afford to jeopardize my career or personal relationships over this.
I’m not sure what I’m being asked not to write about here. “Posts about each other’s sites” seems intentionally vague. When I wrote about the politics of emasculation, it wasn’t a criticism of a site, but a tactic. When I wrote about reality averse partisans on Syria it wasn’t a criticism of the site, but a criticism of uncritically accepting the erroneous media framing of the dynamics in Syria.
I’m not going to stop writing about foreign policy or our corrupt two party political system. I will, however, do my best to avoid using ID posts as examples of the damaging effects of partisanship and the ignorance that ensues from exclusively relying on western propaganda to understand world affairs.