In an interesting little bit of local drama, leftward-leaning Alaska blogger "akmuckraker", whose blog Mudflats
came to national attention last fall when Palin was tapped for VP, had her identity outed by Rep. Mike Doogan
after publishing a blog post criticizing him. He apparently went to some trouble to find out, too, looking at this exchange of emails
reproduced on Progressive Alaska
, in which he tries to badger another member of Alaska's small and somewhat close-knit progressive blogosphere into revealing the identity of the blogger in question.
This is doubly interesting to me right now, because I've been following the "pro writers behaving badly" saga known as "Racefail" since January (there are several timelines around; here's one of the best
), and one of the big issues that came up in that one was the value of anonymity (or, rather, pseudonymity -- not quite the same thing) when, about a month ago, a political blogger who'd gotten on the bad side of some of the famous names involved in the mess (basically for calling them out on their stupid crap) was "outed" by the people she'd blogged about -- see "Derail the Fourth" in the timeline linked above. I ran across a number of good links talking about anonymity/pseudonymity and free speech in the course of linksurfing the debate -- here's one good link
that discusses the value (and history) of anonymous political commentary and some of the rationalizations that the "outers" used ... which sound awfully familiar to the Doogan situation.
Possibly one of the biggest bits of WTF? in the whole Doogan mess is semi-anonymous gossip columnist Alaska Ear siding with Doogan
(more or less). Alaska Ear has been running in the Anchorage Daily News for at least
20 years (I definitely remember it from when I was a teenager) and for a lot of that time, the identity of the person behind it (Sheila Toomey) was a well-kept secret. She came out publicly awhile back, but Progressive Alaska points out
(scroll down, it's buried in the article) that Doogan worked with Toomey and helped protect her secret for years.
Now, suddenly, Doogan is all about accountability and public disclosure and how you can't trust what anybody says if it's not under their real name.
Anyway, here's a list of a bajillion links
on the Doogan thing. Racefail is documented extensively at rydra_wong
and in timeline/compilation posts like the one linked above. (Here's another useful roundup of Racefail posts
at the blog Biology in Science Fiction
Racefail is about much more than one blogger being outed, of course. But focusing just on that specific instance and comparing it to the situation with Doogan and akmuckraker, I think in both cases, it has nothing
to do with accountability and everything
to do with "punishing" someone who said something you don't like by taking away something valuable to them (the separation between their online and RL names). In the first case, Shetterly et al knew
the identity of blogger coffeeandink already; they made it public to punish her for talking about them, and then rationalized it with a bunch of blather about "owning your words under your real name" and such. In the second case, Doogan went to a great deal of trouble to find out akmuckraker's real name and then to publicize it -- in a state as politically conservative and small-townish as our own, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to put two and two together and see that as a rather transparent attempt to silence her. If either Shetterly & co or Doogan actually believed
their lip service about anonymous words being less meaningful and valid than words written under one's real name, then they would have been more than happy to make sure that both bloggers stayed anonymous, rather than giving them "validity" by making their identities public. No. It's a punishment, and an attempt to silence speech that they don't like, and that's completely disgusting.