Saturday, March 24, 2007

And just who does this Publius guy think he is, anyway

I noticed a couple of new comments on the blog today, which is what drove me out of virtual hibernation in the first place. Normally, I don't delete comments - except for the hideous comment spam that infested the blog before I turned on verification. But if a real live human takes the time to write, I'll leave it up, even if they disagree with something I've said, and even if they use bad language to express their idea.

Today, though, for the first time, I deleted real comments - two of them. Both of them were in reference to militarytracy, and gave her real name and her husband's place of assignment. There are a couple of reasons I felt like I had to get rid of them.

In the first place, there's some risk, albeit small, that someone might use the information against her or her husband. (Not a large one, mind you, even though I was on Ft. Rucker once and got to listen in on an over the top, almost hysterical lecture on the seriousness of the Islamic terrorist threat in Lower Alabama.)

The biggest reason is that I believe strongly, as long as someone doesn't misrepresent their situation, the decision to interact on the web pseudonomously should be respected. I think that we need to respect the marketplace of ideas, and part of that is letting people who want to discuss their ideas without attribution do so. Sometimes, people are at risk of retribution or intimidation for their ideas, and other times they might feel that their ideas are better presented without association with a specific gender, race, class, or background, and I think that's appropriate. Ideas should stand or fall on their own merit, and there should be a mechanism that allows people to express their ideas without fear of reprisal. So, I'm strongly opposed to "outing" people who choose to post behind a pseudonym. And please spare me the post-modern deconstructionist take that you can't understand the idea without exploring the "ideological biases" of the person behind it. That's just an excuse for turning opposition to a particular idea or point of view into an ad hominem argument instead of thinking it through.

Now, that changes if someone publishes pseudonomously and claims to be something they're not in order to give themselves greater stature in a debate. If someone starts a post "as a wounded soldier, I believe . . .", and it turns out they've never been in the Army, then, yes, they should be exposed - and ridiculed. And, of course, I'd make an exception if someone announced that they were doing something illegal in a post somewhere. Other than that, if someone chooses not to identify themselves, I'm OK with that, which is why I felt in necessary to delete those comments.


Blogger Lee said...

I completely agree with you. I have taken the additional step in some blogs that I maintained over the years to remove post from people trying to convert me to their religion. I did mock them for a while, but I realized that was just what they wanted so in the end just deleting them seemed to make the useless posts stop.

12:18 PM  
Blogger dickiebo said...

I sometimes tell my (younger) wife that I'm a 'wounded soldier'. But that's only because I didn't gain promotion! Please don't turn me off!

2:28 PM  
Blogger MuppetLord said...

Good to see you're still active. Keep safe.

6:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree with last comment. Your postings are good, interesting stuff. Look forward to seeing more of it.
V/R JWest

3:41 PM  
Blogger Barb said...

I think that's the right move. Especially for military folks - there is no reason for someone who is actively serving to be forced to reveal themselves to the average spambot, etc. I'm glad you removed them, and hope the guy didn't go post elsewhere and reveal the same intel.

Another option I will use is to edit their comments (which I can do with Haloscan) and redact the details. Either way, it's all good.

And, glad to see you are still around :-)

12:16 AM  
Blogger Army Sergeant said...

Thank you. As a currently serving soldier who posted anonymously for over six months, I have to say that I definitely appreciate your consideration towards others who still wish to preserve their anonymity.

11:42 AM  

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