Commentary on Alabama Law and Society

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Location: Birmingham, Alabama

Thursday, April 06, 2006

To Blog Anonymously, Or Not to Blog Anonymously

Local reporter Kyle Whitmire is offering a reward for the identity of the anonymous author of these satirical websites. Mr. Whitmire's rationale:

"While I welcome competing commentary and criticism of City Hall, these sites are throwing a lot of rocks before hiding their hands. I have written some venomous things about a lot of politicians in this town, but I have never done it without putting my name at the top for everyone to see it. I don't like some of the antics at City Hall anymore than Anonymous does, but I like cowardice even less."

I read Mr. Whitmire's column regularly, he is an excellent writer and reporter with whom I agree more often than not. This is one of the times I disagree with him. Blogging anonymously is not necessarily the result of cowardice. I do not know why Mr. Whitmire's competitor has chosen to go nameless, but I can offer my reasons.

First, unlike Mr. Whitmire, I do not get paid to be a gadfly. He gets a paycheck no matter who he makes mad. I get paid because clients hire me to help them with their legal problems. Whether fair or not, some of the opinions on this blawg could cause potential clients to look elsewhere. For those who do hire me, when I argue on their behalf before the Alabama Supreme Court, I will feel much more confident knowing Mini-Moore does not know who I am.

Second, and more fundamentaly, I wanted my arguments to stand on their own. Being semi-anonymous lends objectivity to the posts. It prevents anyone from responding to a comment by saying 'oh, you would believe that, after all you are a . . . .' No personal information makes the ellipses permanent. You have to respond to the argument.

So, Mr. Whitmire, should you happen to read my blawg, I ask you to call off the dogs. Your competitor may need the anonymity. If you take it away, you may also take away his (or her) contribution to our little society.