by William Skink
Don Pogreba, the partisan blogger who tries to pass off his blog as a legitimate news source, used to hate anonymity. He even wrote an entire post on the scourge of anonymous commenters, titled The Psychology of Online Comments, where he said this:
As someone who consumes a fair amount of online news and can’t seem to help but read the comments on stories I know I shouldn’t, I think I have gravitated to the position that anonymity is an overall negative for online discourse. At my own site, for every time an anonymous commenter posts a fair critique of one of my posts like Pogo’s critique of my focus on Republicans in this post, there are six personal attacks, off-topic rants, and unsupported insinuations.
Anonymous (or pseudonymous) comments are generally far worse, but certainly don’t have an exclusive hold on the kind of comments that derail thoughtful discussion of issues.
At the time of this post I was an anonymous contributor to 4&20 Blackbirds, and wrote a response to Don’s disingenuous concern over anonymity. I pointed out that although Pogreba lamented over the negative tone of anonymous comments, he allowed plenty of negativity as long as it was directed at Republicans. A regular commenter back then who went by the handle Pogo Possum wrote this insightful comment:
I left these comments comments over at Intelligent Discontent and thought it worth repeating here for those who are opposed to all anonymous posts. I agree that anonymity is often abused, but there is a call for it at times.
My experience following a number of blogs is that the frequency and degree of moderation/censoring of comments often tends to be directly proportional to the degree the commenter disagrees with the political views and statements of the moderator. Uncivil commenters (even those prone to childish name calling) tend to be tolerated much more if they do so while defending the moderator and trashing anyone daring to raise a counterpoint.
One of my old law professors had a fondness for quoting Justice Black. It is worth considering for anyone thinking of accross the board banishment of anonymous comments.
“Anonymous pamphlets, leaflets, brochures and even books
have played an important role in the progress of mankind.
Persecuted groups and sects from time to time throughout
history have been able to criticize the oppressive practices
and laws either anonymously or not at all… It is plain
that anonymity has sometimes been assumed for the most
Justice Hugo L. Black
For Don Pogreba, it didn’t matter that there are good reasons for a person to use anonymity. When he found out my real name, he didn’t hesitate to out me on his blog. That is how much the partisan blogger, Donnie P., used to hate anonymity.
I say “used to” because Don Pogreba is a momentous hypocrite who no longer has a problem with anonymity. A blogger who goes by the pseudonym “Plains Feminist” has been enjoying Don’s faux news platform for years, and even recently begged their readers for money in a post titled Independent Journalism, Freedom, and Accountability is Patriotic (yes, they are still pretending to be journalists at the rebranded “Montana Post”).
In a different post by Plains Feminist, titled Collateral Damage, a commenter who doesn’t used a pseudonym made an interesting comment. Here is what Lorraine Collins had to say:
When I moved to Montana eight years ago, I didn’t know much about Montana politics but I did get to a rally for John Tester within a few weeks and gradually learned sort of who was who in the state. I soon came across a political blog called Montana Cowgirl which I liked. Because I’d been a freelance writer in several states and three other countries, then a commentator on South Dakota public radio and finally a newspaper columnist in the Black Hills, I thought I’d see about contributing to the Cowgirl so I inquired. The author of that column seemed interested in the idea, but when I asked who that person was, I was told she (if it was a she) would remain anonymous. So I couldn’t contribute to the blog. I don’t believe in anonymous letters or anonymous opinionators. Now I’ve read this piece by someone calling himself or herself “Plains Feminist.” Could it be the same person as the alleged cowgirl? I’ve been a feminist for about 65 years and I’ve had some flak in several places for what I’ve written or spoken about. But I do think one should have the courage of one’s convictions. I don’t think Montana is any more hazardous to a writer than other places I’ve lived. So why not sign what you write? I might pay more attention to what you say.
And now, the cherry on top. Here is hypocrite-blogger-journalist-wannabe Don “Pogie” Pogreba defending his Plains Feminist:
I understand your point of view, but none of the writers here are doing this as their profession, and some would find it difficult to write without using a pseudonym. That’s why Plains Feminist does so. I hope you will consider the merits of her arguments in this and other pieces, even if you’d prefer to see a real name.
Oh the glorious hypocrisy of it all!
If someone were to present me with the true identity of Plains Feminist, here is what I would do with it: nothing.
I wouldn’t out an anonymous blogger because, unlike hypocrite Don Pogreba, I understand why someone would need anonymity to write critically about what they know.