Quasi-anonymous blogger on the experience of being exposed and of exposing oneself

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2021/01/22/quasi-anonymous-blogger-on-the-experience-of-being-exposed-and-of-exposing-oneself.html

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anyone have a TD;DR on this? why is he significant? why was he doxxed? why do people what to hurt him now that he’s not anonymous?

He is a prolific and erudite blogger who writes long-form posts on a wide range of subjects. (I’m most familiar with the one where he argues that insisting on essentialist, cis-normative definitions of “male” and “female” is bullshit on stilts.*)

The NYT wanted to do an article on him and (I think) several other bloggers, which was fine until the reporter said that they would have to use his real name, not the pseudonym he blogged under. When he asked them not to, or to leave him out of the story, they said they were going to go ahead anyway.

* https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/11/21/the-categories-were-made-for-man-not-man-for-the-categories/ (Content warning for transphobic abuse in the comment thread folllowing the article.)

ETA: my apologies, I had forgotten that the last time that particular post was linked to, someone pointed out that there is a lot of virulent and vile transphobia in the comments following it. I’ve removed the link and replaced it with a reference to the plain-text URL.

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So many rabbit holes to dive down in that article with the overriding theme to it all that maybe people do still care about their privacy?! Not just for professional reasons either. I thought it was all best summed up by the following paragraph.

For the first ten or twenty years of its history, the Internet had a robust norm against doxxing. You could troll people, you could Goatse or Rickroll them, but doxxing was beyond the pale. One of the veterans of this era is Lawrence Lessig, who I was delighted to see coming to my defense. We’ve lost a lot of that old Internet, sold our birthright to social media companies and content providers for a few spurts of dopamine, but I think this norm is still worth protecting.

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I’m not sure how the guy who wrote an anti-Libertarian FAQ and an anti-Neoreaction FAQ can be at the ‘place where erudition and reaction meet’.

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Namely the direct adherence to free speech as an ideal led reactionaries to try to hang out around him as much as possible, because having a smart person as one of their own allows them to cloak in a veneer of respectability. Certain posts of his about “you are still crying wolf” and others made him a target du jour amongst those who want to continue to fight on the internet.

I disagreed with that post, but I still like his writing. I read Unsong fervently, and enjoy one of the other two "Scott A"s (Scott Adams of Dilbert fame is not fun). The “rationalist” sphere, as well as the atheist-sphere had weaknesses, in that policing against reactionaries is difficult, as generally it seems to be norm-based instead of rule-based, as fascists don’t care about rules and will willingly use them to their advantage.

Explaining this in good faith would require a 15000 word essay, so instead,

My “Not involved in the neo-reactionary movement” T-shirt has people asking a lot of questions already answered by my shirt.

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Great piece. I like his explanation why he didn’t lay out a detailed case of why he in particular shouldn’t be doxxed:

Why didn’t I do this? Partly because it wasn’t true. I don’t think I had particularly strong arguments on any of these points. The amount I dislike death threats is basically the average amount that the average person would dislike them. The amount I would dislike losing my job…and et cetera. Realistically, my anonymity let me feel safe and comfortable. But it probably wasn’t literally necessary to keep me alive. I feel bad admitting this, like I conscripted you all into a crusade on false pretenses. Am I an entitled jerk for causing such a stir just so I can feel safe and comfortable? I’m sure the New York Times customer service representatives who had to deal with all your phone calls thought so.

But the other reason I didn’t do it was…well, suppose Power comes up to you and says hey, I’m gonna kick you in the balls. And when you protest, they say they don’t want to make anyone unsafe , so as long as you can prove that kicking you in the balls will cause long-term irrecoverable damage, they’ll hold off. And you say, well, it’ll hurt quite a lot. And they say that’s subjective, they’ll need a doctor’s note proving you have a chronic pain condition like hyperalgesia or fibromyalgia. And you say fine, I guess I don’t have those, but it might be dangerous. And they ask you if you’re some sort of expert who can prove there’s a high risk of organ rupture, and you have to admit the risk of organ rupture isn’t exactly high . But also, they add, didn’t you practice taekwondo in college? Isn’t that the kind of sport where you can get kicked in the balls pretty easily? Sounds like you’re not really that committed to this not-getting-kicked-in-the-balls thing.

No! There’s no dignified way to answer any of these questions except “fuck you”. Just don’t kick me in the balls! It isn’t rocket science! Don’t kick me in the fucking balls!

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