Staying Unknown

When I first started posting online, I used a nom de plume (Own Drummer, in case anyone’s interested) because I was nervous where this whole thing would end up.  Then a couple years in, I began using my real name to post under.  I did this for three reasons:  firstly, because I really didn’t (and still don’t) care what people think of me;  secondly, because I thought it was more honest and lastly, because I believe in that First Amendment thing.  And in the final analysis, using your own name to publish your thoughts can act as a brake on what you say to temper your speech — admittedly not so much in my case, but there it is.

Not everyone feels this way — in fact, most people don’t — and that’s fine;  what works for me might not work for everyone, and so I support the right of people to maintain their anonymity, because there are many good reasons to do so:  to keep your job (I myself lost one because of my fevered rantings);  to be able to publish uncomfortable truths without fear of retaliation or punishment  (especially under repressive regimes such as UC-Berkeley or Iran);  to avoid causing hurt to family and friends, and so on.  When people post comments on this website using pseudonyms, I respect their privacy and use them even though I might know their real names:  they want to remain anonymous for whatever personal reasons, and I’m not going to compromise that.

Of course, anonymity can be abused (and often is) because as we all know, 9.99% of people are rancid assholes and anonymity can be used to cloak malevolence, slander and just outright boorishness (to name but three).  Like all freedoms, the right to anonymity can be abused, but that’s the nature of liberty, isn’t it?  Foul trolls can say unspeakable things just as courageous people can reveal wrongdoing, but to protect the latter we need to tolerate the former.  It’s called the First Amendment Principle.

Needless to say, this noble sentiment doesn’t sit well with bastard government flunkies who want to control or lives and speech — for all the best and noblest of reasons, of course:  national security, good taste, etc. — and so we have the latest example of this bastardy:

Digital IDs should be introduced to stop mob rule and end anonymity online, the security minister has said.
Ben Wallace, the MP for Wyre and Preston North and Minister of State for Security and Economic Crime, said bullying and grooming takes place on social media because people believe they can’t be identified.
He added that websites should be able to identify people online in the same way that banks do.
“It is mob rule on the internet. You shouldn’t be able to hide behind anonymity as much as you can now… If we’re going to make the internet safer, and cut out the abuse, we’re going to have to do something more about some form of digital identification.”

And of course, bossyboots BritPM Thing May had to chime in:

“We know that technology plays a crucial part in advancing gender equality and empowering women and girls, but these benefits are being undermined by vile forms of online violence, abuse and harassment.
“What is illegal offline is illegal online and I am calling on world leaders to take serious action to deal with this, just like we are doing in the UK with our commitment to legislate on online harms such as cyber-stalking and harassment.”

Yeah, it all sounds so reasonable, doesn’t it?  It’s to protect us from mob rule, and child molesters, it’s for the childrennnn!  So of course, countless millions of perfectly decent people have to have their privacy stripped away because of the actions of a tiny minority. 

Predictably, the perfessors chime in:

Alan Woodward, of the University, of Surrey, told the Times: “I don’t think it’s technically workable. For those who persist in the vilest online behaviour, there are so many ways to mask their real identities.”

Which is true, of course.  As we know with gun registration, criminals will always find a way to transgress the law or keep their nefarious activities hidden from official scrutiny;  why should online registration be any different?  Once again, the people most affected will be the law-abiding.  That doesn’t seem to matter to these statist tools:

Anthony Glees, of the University of Buckingham, said: “This is do-able and it should be done. Anonymity on the web is a threat to our national security of the first order. Legal compulsion will be necessary and we should go for it.”

But why stop there?  After all, if national security is involved… well, no sacrifice is too great (according to the State and this Glees person).

People get up to mischief in the anonymity of their homes too — bomb-making, child-beating (a.k.a. disciplining), un-PC speech, unclothed masturbation and who knows what other kinds of anti-social activity — so let’s monitor their behavior just as we monitor their online speech, why not?

It’s been done before — or at least, written about before:

The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live — did live, from habit that became instinct — in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.  — George Orwell, 1984

And Orwell didn’t know about night-vision cameras, back then.

So here’s my response to those who want to strip away our online privacy:

Fuck you.  Fuck all of you, you totalitarian bastards.  Fuck you, your government departments, your sycophantic followers and the evil that lives in all State institutions, no matter their noble purpose or intent.  Fuck you, fuck the lot of you.  I hope you all die a painful, screaming death. — Kim du Toit

How’s that for “hate speech”, you evil bastards?  And I’m not hiding behind a pseudonym, either.

17 comments

  1. There’s this strange idea that statists get where if people are forbidden to talk about problems, then the problems will go away. For example, if you don’t like complaints about immigrants, just forbid it as hate speech. Problem solved!
    And it’s pretty much putting a bandaid over a wound that’s starting to go septic. Or removing a safety valve on the boiler. Things are going to get much, much worse because of the attempt at censorship.

    1. No, statists don’t want you to talk so they can keep on committing the crimes they are committing. If people know what they are really up to, they’re afraid that the problem might rise up and demand accountability.

  2. They certainly don’t have a monopoly on statist stupidity, but why is Brit society >WWII so hell bent on leading the charge off the cliff toward more of it? And, more importantly, why are individual Brits so accepting of it?

    (Which begs the question of why Americans – supposedly steeped in centuries of independence and individualism – haven’t yet provided An Educational Experience to those on this side of the pond with similar attitudes and intent.)

    1. We took a small step towards that EE with the ’16 election.
      Now, it is up to “the statists” as to what the next step may be.

  3. You are right about everything Kim – but an interesting phenomenon occurs even with the most stringent speech controls. Let us consider your favourite mass media outlet: The New York Times.
    That rag sheet is run by leftist f-knuckles, for leftist f-knuckles. Even so it is a fount of truth and information… once you know how to read it. The truth is often the opposite of what they say it is. If they accuse their political enemies of some crime or malfeasance – you can bet it’s something they are doing themselves. So it went in even the most controlled regimes. You can’t lie to people or force them to believe your BS forever.
    I readily admit I will not read The Slimes if I can avoid it either… but let’s face it: those idiots aren’t fooling anyone.

    1. Kind of like translating the popular name of legislation. The easiest example that comes to mind is the Affordable Care Act.

  4. Oddly enough, I’m just getting started reading Shalamov’s Kolyma Tales. That kind of gulag terror shit is what happens when you aren’t anonymous and the government goes to a place where it won’t allow dissent. Screw that. Anonymity on the internet (or at least the appearance of it) is its saving grace. I’m far more likely to take an unpopular position (that I believe to be true) when I’m posting under a screen name than I am on Facebook or something like that — simply because I know that I have friends, colleagues, and family that will disagree or be offended, and I don’t need the hassle of my sincere beliefs bleeding into my private life. That is, there are folks with whom I simply need to get along, and oftentimes my honest opinion wouldn’t allow for it.

    1. Facebook, should the filterers (I’m not certain there is such a word, but you know what I mean anyway) not enjoy your humor (a photo of a fully-occupied Iranian gibbet or another of the burning World Trade Towers, each with suitable comment), they will put a stop to your postings and request that you provide them with your picture on a state-issued document, such as a driver’s license, to prove that you are who you are.
      Right!

  5. At least on this side of the pond, this ground has been covered already and it is a fundamental right (duh) to engage in political speech anonymously. It is almost like enumerating our rights was a good idea or something. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McIntyre_v._Ohio_Elections_Commission

    From my standpoint, I use a cyber name, but I use the same one everywhere and try to make sure I do not say anything online that I do not say in person. I just like my privacy.

  6. “From my standpoint, I use a cyber name, but I use the same one everywhere and try to make sure I do not say anything online that I do not say in person. I just like my privacy.”

    I logged on to say that, but Vonz beat me to it.

    I may be even more careful to consider what I say online than what I say in person. Online communications deny the recipient the opportunity to interpret tone, body language, and the like, so misinterpretation is easier.

  7. The examples you show are from overseas, but since they introduced their new laws about privacy and exposing a person’s real identity to the powers, I’ve stopped using Disqus and other commenting systems. Foreign govts have passed laws affecting themselves, and companies here have rushed to comply. I have no allegiance to – or am I subject to – foreign laws. Therefore, I’ve pretty much gone silent on the internet, except at sites with open commenting. We’re being silenced by foreign sinister government agencies and I see many are just willing to go along with it. I won’t, but nothing I say matters or is heard by anyone anyway….

    1. Given that Democrats want to turn the US into Europe, I see all such developments in the UK/EU as harbingers of what we can expect them to be pushing Over Here in the near future.

  8. It’s humorous in that, having used this pseudonym for over 20 years, I would actually be more anonymous using my government name than this. (And sometimes do that.)

  9. Perhaps as a reminder, the “republicans” in Blighty might consider posting a copy of the Declaration of Independence in each and every town-square throughout that Sceptered Isle. Of course, the offender here isn’t the Royals (except for that prick Charles), but someone that they have elected in free and open elections – or, as Pogo said: We have met the enemy, and he is us!

  10. I have chosen to remain anonymous, because as many here can attest, there is no freedom of speech in the workplace. I cannot afford to be unemployed, so I keep a low profile. And I often think this is as it should be, a company has some expectation that their employees will act with a certain decorum. Maybe not Starbucks, but major engineering firms, more so. Anyway. I keep my mouth shut except around the appropriate people.

  11. 1. KdT, old bean, you are starting to sound like Sean Penn; and that is a Bad Thing.
    Do try to be a bit more erudite, please. The same sentiment, but put forward with better grammar and vocabulary.
    2. “Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants: it is the creed of slaves” (William Pitt, in 1783)

    1. Kim expressed it in exactly the way it needs to be expressed. Don’t get your bowtie all aflutter.

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