There is a group of lawyers I’ve come to know over the last six months to a year and to whom I look up because most of them have more experience in their pinky fingers — probably most of them have shed more law experience through their pinky fingers — than I yet have on some issues.

Don’t get me wrong.  From what I’m told, I’m a fine lawyer, even if it doesn’t always feel that way to me.  And yesterday, with numerous families surrounding me as I exited a courtroom, all asking for my card and whether or not I could represent their family member, I started to think Year Four as a lawyer might actually be fun.  But these guys are like gods to me.  They are what I aspire to be.

In some ways.

One thing, though, that I’ve never completely understood — and I’ve remained silent about it until now partly so as not to offend the gods — is their treatment of other lawyers who utilize the Internet differently than they think should be done.  My Pantheon frequently castigates others who choose to blog either under their law firm name, or anonymously, for example.

Frankly, I just don’t get it — especially the anti-anonymity thing.

The posting of opinions anonymously has a long and quite remarkable history, particularly (or maybe this is my own provincialism speaking) in the United States of America.  In fact, a good argument could be made that the United States would not have existed without anonymous opinion writers and publishers.

Maybe blogging anonymously doesn’t bother me as much because I unfortunately do not possess the photographic memory of some of those I admire.  I tend to read things and remember much of what I read, but, for some reason, I don’t usually remember where I read something, who wrote it, or the names of any people who might have been involved in what was being written about.  Possibly, then, I don’t care about the anonymity because I won’t remember the names anyway, unless, of course, I encounter them again and again.  (I think it took me about a month to remember Scott Greenfield’s name, but that’s because I read his blog more than others; pretty much daily now.)

Scott surprised me the other day, by the way — and first started me thinking about writing this post — when, in a footnote, he criticized a blogging attorney for naming his blog the “Koehler Law Blog,” just because his name happens to be “Koehler” and the blog is a “Law Blog.”

But what finally makes me speak out is Norm Pattis, one of the few bloggers who compares (in my mind) favorably to Scott Greenfield, taking yet another great blogger to task because a) he blogs anonymously and b) he disagrees with Norm about something.  Norm normally “agree[s] with what is written there [on the anonymous blogger’s blog]” so he gives him a pass for being a coward.

Ok.  What he said was he gives him a pass for his “feet of clay.”  I take that as an accusation of cowardice.  A completely unfair and false accusation of cowardice unbefitting someone of Norm’s stature and intelligence.

Anyway, now they disagree, so Norm is apparently no longer willing to give Gideon the Pseudonymous a pass.  Hey, at least he has a principled reason for his change of heart.

Norm notes that people have various reasons for blogging anonymously.

Sometimes it is cowardice or fear of the consequences; sometimes it is a juvenile love of mystery.

Apparently blogging anonymously is always a negative thing.  You get to be juvenile or a coward.

Like James Madison or Alexander Hamilton, neither of whom were much known for courage and bravery; both of whom “blogged” anonymously and thereby assisted in the birth of our nation.  In keeping with my piss-poor memory for where I read things, I can’t recall exactly where I got this, but I recently read that Madison, at least, deliberately chose to write anonymously — pseudonymously, to be more accurate, which is how “Gideon” writes, although Norm calls it “anonymously” when he’s not painting it as cowardly — anyway, Madison deliberately chose to hide his identity so as not to have his personal reputation, whether for good or bad, overpower the arguments he made.

I can think of a number of other reasons for blogging anonymously, particularly for someone in Gideon’s position.  Increasingly, employers — particularly and ironically employers who happen to be governments — do not approve of employees blogging.  There is a fear that something will be said that will have blowback for the government employer.  Simple disclaimers are not enough for these employers; if you work for one of them and you blog, you’re anonymous, pseudonymous, or fired.

What would happen to all the good Gideon does if he were fired for expressing his opinions online?

Norm and the other attorneys who blast anonymous or pseudonymous bloggers can’t be blamed much, however.  They’re simply unable to break out of the piss-poor training they received in law school, perpetuated by the actual practice of law, where everything is, in the end, actually based on a political game wrapped in a logical fallacy: a kind of “argument from authority.”

As the law is normally practiced, logical arguments are secondary; knowing who stated the rules one hopes to rely upon is primary.

Actually, I’m being a bit simplistic with that characterization — though certainly no more simplistic — and a whole lot less disingenuous — than Norm is with his attack on Gideon.  The practice of citing, rather than simply stating one’s argument, carries the additional burden, allegedly, of keeping the law somewhat consistent.  It doesn’t really work that way, but stare decisis is the alleged rationale behind requiring citations — names of courts and opinions —  to back up one’s argument.

Other than that, though, who really gives a damn for the name of the person who makes a particular argument.  The argument should stand or fall on the logic and factual foundation of the argument itself.

But back when Madison and Hamilton — and numerous others involved in the founding of this nation — were writing anonymously, their arguments were irksome to their opponents, as Gideon’s are to Norm.  A great deal of time was spent trying to figure out who was who.

Because, in the end, when you’re worried that your own arguments are not sound enough to withstand criticism, it helps if you can engage in a little argumentum ad hominem.

And that’s just a little more fun if you know who the hominem is.

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28 comments

  1. As someone who has experienced an attempt to get me fired by a lawyer who didn’t like a post I made on our state bar chat board, I completely understand the desire to post anonymously. While I appreciate the openness of the guys who are in business for themselves, not everyone who has a valid opinion is in the same position. I don’t really think my boss would fire me for something I said, but at the same time I don’t really feel the need to deal with that kind of crap.

  2. As someone who has experienced an attempt to get me fired by a lawyer who didn’t like a post I made on our state bar chat board, I completely understand the desire to post anonymously. While I appreciate the openness of the guys who are in business for themselves, not everyone who has a valid opinion is in the same position. I don’t really think my boss would fire me for something I said, but at the same time I don’t really feel the need to deal with that kind of crap.

  3. That, dear Hamilton, is the Publius Syndrome. It only applies if you suffer from paranoid delusions that you are new James Madison, and hence entitled to take comfort in the pseudonymous ways of our founding fathers. If you do not fancy yourself the modern day equivalent of a founding father, then you will need to find a more applicable rationale for the choice.
    .-= shg´s last blog ..Taking a Breather =-.

  4. That, dear Hamilton, is the Publius Syndrome. It only applies if you suffer from paranoid delusions that you are new James Madison, and hence entitled to take comfort in the pseudonymous ways of our founding fathers. If you do not fancy yourself the modern day equivalent of a founding father, then you will need to find a more applicable rationale for the choice.
    .-= shg´s last blog ..Taking a Breather =-.

  5. That, dear Hamilton, is the Publius Syndrome. It only applies if you suffer from paranoid delusions that you are new James Madison, and hence entitled to take comfort in the pseudonymous ways of our founding fathers. If you do not fancy yourself the modern day equivalent of a founding father, then you will need to find a more applicable rationale for the choice.
    .-= shg´s last blog ..Taking a Breather =-.

  6. Everyone wrote anonymously in the 18th-century. It was the custom! Hamilton was a decorated war hero; he led a nighttime infantry charge over Redoubt #10 at Yorktown, the last decisive battle of the revolution. He also fought on the battlefield at Monmouth, NJ, and was nearly killed there. Another officer mentioned his “frenzy of valor” at that battle. He was fearless and loved to fight.

  7. Everyone wrote anonymously in the 18th-century. It was the custom! Hamilton was a decorated war hero; he led a nighttime infantry charge over Redoubt #10 at Yorktown, the last decisive battle of the revolution. He also fought on the battlefield at Monmouth, NJ, and was nearly killed there. Another officer mentioned his “frenzy of valor” at that battle. He was fearless and loved to fight.

  8. This is an interesting post. One point you made resonated – lawyers tend to castigate others for using the internet in a way that they deem unacceptable. I do this too. I think it’s in the nature of being a lawyer unfortunately. It’s something I have to work pretty hard to resist. It’s just wasted energy in my opinion. The internet is a big place! (That said, there’s a lot of shifty marketing going on and Greenfield and others have done a great job is exposing this.)

    W/respect to anonymity, I’ve never understood why people get so excited about anonymity. People see it as coming out of weakness. Some see it as generational. At the end of the day, it’s really not that big of a deal, and in situations where it is a big deal, people put in the requisite amount of energy and will expose what needs to be exposed. I really don’t get why all of this energy is spent on this. I personally don’t see blogging anonymously as somehow negative, and I’ve never understood why people attack ideas put forth by others because they are offered anonymously. That just makes me discount the person attacking on the basis of anonymity a bit. But we’re all human, and I probably would attack someone for approaching blogging in a way that doesn’t feel acceptable to me.

    It is what it is. Either way, good post.

  9. This is an interesting post. One point you made resonated – lawyers tend to castigate others for using the internet in a way that they deem unacceptable. I do this too. I think it’s in the nature of being a lawyer unfortunately. It’s something I have to work pretty hard to resist. It’s just wasted energy in my opinion. The internet is a big place! (That said, there’s a lot of shifty marketing going on and Greenfield and others have done a great job is exposing this.)

    W/respect to anonymity, I’ve never understood why people get so excited about anonymity. People see it as coming out of weakness. Some see it as generational. At the end of the day, it’s really not that big of a deal, and in situations where it is a big deal, people put in the requisite amount of energy and will expose what needs to be exposed. I really don’t get why all of this energy is spent on this. I personally don’t see blogging anonymously as somehow negative, and I’ve never understood why people attack ideas put forth by others because they are offered anonymously. That just makes me discount the person attacking on the basis of anonymity a bit. But we’re all human, and I probably would attack someone for approaching blogging in a way that doesn’t feel acceptable to me.

    It is what it is. Either way, good post.

  10. This is an interesting post. One point you made resonated – lawyers tend to castigate others for using the internet in a way that they deem unacceptable. I do this too. I think it’s in the nature of being a lawyer unfortunately. It’s something I have to work pretty hard to resist. It’s just wasted energy in my opinion. The internet is a big place! (That said, there’s a lot of shifty marketing going on and Greenfield and others have done a great job is exposing this.)

    W/respect to anonymity, I’ve never understood why people get so excited about anonymity. People see it as coming out of weakness. Some see it as generational. At the end of the day, it’s really not that big of a deal, and in situations where it is a big deal, people put in the requisite amount of energy and will expose what needs to be exposed. I really don’t get why all of this energy is spent on this. I personally don’t see blogging anonymously as somehow negative, and I’ve never understood why people attack ideas put forth by others because they are offered anonymously. That just makes me discount the person attacking on the basis of anonymity a bit. But we’re all human, and I probably would attack someone for approaching blogging in a way that doesn’t feel acceptable to me.

    It is what it is. Either way, good post.

  11. Hmm…okay. I didn’t see a comparison between your post and Norm’s post. They’re actually completely different.

    What I said was that your post made me first start thinking about writing a post about “people who use the Internet differently than we do” — and then I wasn’t perhaps clear enough to write that while initially the idea to write was sparked by your post, “what finally makes me speak out is Norm Pattis….”

    So in retrospect I can see why you think I was addressing both issues, even though the rest of my post talked only about anonymous and pseudonymous blogging (neither of which Koehler was doing). I guess I could have added in there somewhere, “So while Scott’s post sparked my thinking about lawyers blogging, I’m not going to talk about the marketing aspect; I’ll focus only on the anonymous or pseudonymous blogging aspect.”

    And I have read a lot — though not all those you listed — on the issue of anonymous blogging. In fact, my interest in this goes back to before I started blogging here, back even to before I was an attorney. I’ve been blogging since before there was blogging software. (I talked about that here, for anyone interested in knowing my blogging history.) And this issue has come up for me before in relation to anonymous commenters.

    My disagreement with those who rant against anonymous or pseudonymous bloggers doesn’t come from lack of knowledge. It’s a difference of opinion, driven, in fact, by the same philosophy that causes us to have a different approach to people who post comments on our blogs. I stopped posting on yours (except short very focused comments) because I could never tell which comments you thought were “off topic” and thus you were going to delete and/or criticize me for; I don’t know that I’ve ever deleted or refused to post comments on my blog except when for spam. As you’ve pointed out when we discussed that once, it’s more work that way — because I often find myself responding longer than I normally would to idiots — but it’s a philosophy I’ve adopted at least as early as May 2004.

    There’s no question that honoring the principles that permit anonymous or pseudonymous writing can also be more difficult than not. My difference of opinion with you on this is a choice, not a lack of thinking on the issue. You can call it that, if you want, but it’s a topic on which I’ve thought and written off and on for years.

  12. Hmm…okay. I didn’t see a comparison between your post and Norm’s post. They’re actually completely different.

    What I said was that your post made me first start thinking about writing a post about “people who use the Internet differently than we do” — and then I wasn’t perhaps clear enough to write that while initially the idea to write was sparked by your post, “what finally makes me speak out is Norm Pattis….”

    So in retrospect I can see why you think I was addressing both issues, even though the rest of my post talked only about anonymous and pseudonymous blogging (neither of which Koehler was doing). I guess I could have added in there somewhere, “So while Scott’s post sparked my thinking about lawyers blogging, I’m not going to talk about the marketing aspect; I’ll focus only on the anonymous or pseudonymous blogging aspect.”

    And I have read a lot — though not all those you listed — on the issue of anonymous blogging. In fact, my interest in this goes back to before I started blogging here, back even to before I was an attorney. I’ve been blogging since before there was blogging software. (I talked about that here, for anyone interested in knowing my blogging history.) And this issue has come up for me before in relation to anonymous commenters.

    My disagreement with those who rant against anonymous or pseudonymous bloggers doesn’t come from lack of knowledge. It’s a difference of opinion, driven, in fact, by the same philosophy that causes us to have a different approach to people who post comments on our blogs. I stopped posting on yours (except short very focused comments) because I could never tell which comments you thought were “off topic” and thus you were going to delete and/or criticize me for; I don’t know that I’ve ever deleted or refused to post comments on my blog except when for spam. As you’ve pointed out when we discussed that once, it’s more work that way — because I often find myself responding longer than I normally would to idiots — but it’s a philosophy I’ve adopted at least as early as May 2004.

    There’s no question that honoring the principles that permit anonymous or pseudonymous writing can also be more difficult than not. My difference of opinion with you on this is a choice, not a lack of thinking on the issue. You can call it that, if you want, but it’s a topic on which I’ve thought and written off and on for years.

  13. By comparing my post about Jamison Koehler with Norm’s about Gideon, you mixed the marketing aspect with the pseudonymous aspect. Don’t blame me for reading what you wrote.

    As for the nature of anonymous/pseudonymous writing, it’s been the subject of many discussions already which have explored the complexities of the issue. If you want to understand why I see this post as simplistic, I suggest you go back and read Dan Hull, Mark Bennett, Gideon, and a host of others on the issue.

    There’s no question that, in very limited instances, anonymous/pseudononymous writing is justified and understandable. But that’s not a blanket to cover anyone who chooses to pontificate without taking responsibility, or pontificate on a subject for which he lacks qualifications or credibility. These things matter, despite our rich history of anonymous speech.
    .-= shg´s last blog ..Can You Hear Me Now? (Plus Bonus Form!) =-.

  14. By comparing my post about Jamison Koehler with Norm’s about Gideon, you mixed the marketing aspect with the pseudonymous aspect. Don’t blame me for reading what you wrote.

    As for the nature of anonymous/pseudonymous writing, it’s been the subject of many discussions already which have explored the complexities of the issue. If you want to understand why I see this post as simplistic, I suggest you go back and read Dan Hull, Mark Bennett, Gideon, and a host of others on the issue.

    There’s no question that, in very limited instances, anonymous/pseudononymous writing is justified and understandable. But that’s not a blanket to cover anyone who chooses to pontificate without taking responsibility, or pontificate on a subject for which he lacks qualifications or credibility. These things matter, despite our rich history of anonymous speech.
    .-= shg´s last blog ..Can You Hear Me Now? (Plus Bonus Form!) =-.

  15. By comparing my post about Jamison Koehler with Norm’s about Gideon, you mixed the marketing aspect with the pseudonymous aspect. Don’t blame me for reading what you wrote.

    As for the nature of anonymous/pseudonymous writing, it’s been the subject of many discussions already which have explored the complexities of the issue. If you want to understand why I see this post as simplistic, I suggest you go back and read Dan Hull, Mark Bennett, Gideon, and a host of others on the issue.

    There’s no question that, in very limited instances, anonymous/pseudononymous writing is justified and understandable. But that’s not a blanket to cover anyone who chooses to pontificate without taking responsibility, or pontificate on a subject for which he lacks qualifications or credibility. These things matter, despite our rich history of anonymous speech.
    .-= shg´s last blog ..Can You Hear Me Now? (Plus Bonus Form!) =-.

  16. This is a far more complex subject that the post would make it appear. Rather than individuals justifying their own choice, there are a wealth of reasons why people legitimately blog under pseudonyms, or anonymously, as well as a wealth of reasons why their opinions may not carry the validity or credibility of someone who will put their true name to their views or disclose their credentials.

    Some opinions are mere logic. Others are value judgments. Obviously, the value judgment of a 12 year old is different than that of a seasoned attorney. Who you are often matters a great deal. Those who argue that the bona fides of the speaker don’t matter are usually wrong. Very few people really have need to post pseudononymously. They do so in order to enjoy the benefit of expressing themselves without taking responsibility for it.

    In the same vein, very few of us are Publius, and using Madison as the exemplar is absurd. And yet people like Gideon, who have posted consistently under one name for years, has become real, though the name isn’t the one his mother gave him. He has attained credibility by his writing, showing that pseudonymity doesn’t preclude having a worthy view. Few, however, have achieved what Gideon has, and yet that doesn’t stop them from demanding attention and respect though they haven’t earned it.

    Those who use it for marketing purposes present another problem, since they may not be inclined to be honest at all, but rather to post things they think will inure to their financial benefit, or at least offend no one.

    There are many issues and problems related to the subject. This post has grossly oversimplified the issue,
    .-= shg´s last blog ..Can You Hear Me Now? (Plus Bonus Form!) =-.

  17. This is a far more complex subject that the post would make it appear. Rather than individuals justifying their own choice, there are a wealth of reasons why people legitimately blog under pseudonyms, or anonymously, as well as a wealth of reasons why their opinions may not carry the validity or credibility of someone who will put their true name to their views or disclose their credentials.

    Some opinions are mere logic. Others are value judgments. Obviously, the value judgment of a 12 year old is different than that of a seasoned attorney. Who you are often matters a great deal. Those who argue that the bona fides of the speaker don’t matter are usually wrong. Very few people really have need to post pseudononymously. They do so in order to enjoy the benefit of expressing themselves without taking responsibility for it.

    In the same vein, very few of us are Publius, and using Madison as the exemplar is absurd. And yet people like Gideon, who have posted consistently under one name for years, has become real, though the name isn’t the one his mother gave him. He has attained credibility by his writing, showing that pseudonymity doesn’t preclude having a worthy view. Few, however, have achieved what Gideon has, and yet that doesn’t stop them from demanding attention and respect though they haven’t earned it.

    Those who use it for marketing purposes present another problem, since they may not be inclined to be honest at all, but rather to post things they think will inure to their financial benefit, or at least offend no one.

    There are many issues and problems related to the subject. This post has grossly oversimplified the issue,
    .-= shg´s last blog ..Can You Hear Me Now? (Plus Bonus Form!) =-.

  18. This is a far more complex subject that the post would make it appear. Rather than individuals justifying their own choice, there are a wealth of reasons why people legitimately blog under pseudonyms, or anonymously, as well as a wealth of reasons why their opinions may not carry the validity or credibility of someone who will put their true name to their views or disclose their credentials.

    Some opinions are mere logic. Others are value judgments. Obviously, the value judgment of a 12 year old is different than that of a seasoned attorney. Who you are often matters a great deal. Those who argue that the bona fides of the speaker don’t matter are usually wrong. Very few people really have need to post pseudononymously. They do so in order to enjoy the benefit of expressing themselves without taking responsibility for it.

    In the same vein, very few of us are Publius, and using Madison as the exemplar is absurd. And yet people like Gideon, who have posted consistently under one name for years, has become real, though the name isn’t the one his mother gave him. He has attained credibility by his writing, showing that pseudonymity doesn’t preclude having a worthy view. Few, however, have achieved what Gideon has, and yet that doesn’t stop them from demanding attention and respect though they haven’t earned it.

    Those who use it for marketing purposes present another problem, since they may not be inclined to be honest at all, but rather to post things they think will inure to their financial benefit, or at least offend no one.

    There are many issues and problems related to the subject. This post has grossly oversimplified the issue,
    .-= shg´s last blog ..Can You Hear Me Now? (Plus Bonus Form!) =-.

  19. Scott, first let’s take the easy one: you and I don’t really disagree on the marketers who use blogging to further their commercial interests very much. You and I both find it wrong, if I’ve read you right, although I do think some of those bloggers might actually help people sometimes and I don’t know what you think of that.

    My post, deliberately, did not address these bloggers. I do think we’re not completely in agreement on their activities, however.

    At any rate, there’s blogging — saying what you feel a need to say — that incidentally helps market you. Frankly, I think you and I both do that. Maybe “marketing” is not our goal, and I can only speak for myself, but I nevertheless know that my blog does cause people to want to hire me, and that doesn’t disappoint me. I don’t say, “Dammnit! Someone wants to hire me because of what I blogged about!” It’s not why I write; I write (I think) for the same reason you do. I have things to say and I cannot stop myself from saying them.

    Then, on the other hand, there’s blogging solely or primarily because the writer is marketing himself. You can spot these post usually because of the “call to action” with which these posts typically end. Some of those, as I said above, might actually provided useful information to people. I’m not as incensed by it as I think (my assessment of you being incensed by this might be wrong) you are, although I find it somewhat cheesy.

    In this post, however, I was talking about the question of people who decide, for whatever reason, not to use their real names in blogging or commenting. More specifically, the post itself was finally provoked (although, as I wrote, you started it for me) by Norm’s attack on Gideon.

    You’ve complained that not everyone is Publius. So? That’s not really the point — at least, I dont’ think it is. You don’t write as well as I do, either. But more people read your blog. (Ok, I’m kidding. And that was deliberate faux hubris because I don’t believe what I just said.)

    The point is that the tradition of writing pseudonymously and even anonymously is time-honored and has great utility in some situations.

    You indicate my post is simplistic. Certainly that’s your opinion and you’re entitled to it — unlike some bloggers, I try very hard not to censor posts just because I disagree with them; nor do I argue they’re off-topic when they don’t directly address the issue in my post — but I happen to disagree.

    I’m not sure why you think it’s simplistic, so I can’t be more specific, but I think I completely addressed the issue with exactly the complexity it needed: sometimes, speaking without people knowing the identity of the speaker is a) the only way the speech will become public and b) not dependent upon knowing the identity of the speaker.

    You raise the question of value judgments of 12-year-olds versus those of older, more experienced people. Straw man arguments notwithstanding, a mere value judgment unsupported by argument gets short shrift from me — and I believe that’s the appropriate response — and therefore I’m drawn back to my original comments: the identity of the person making the argument is irrelevant.

    You, of course, are free to disagree.

  20. Scott, first let’s take the easy one: you and I don’t really disagree on the marketers who use blogging to further their commercial interests very much. You and I both find it wrong, if I’ve read you right, although I do think some of those bloggers might actually help people sometimes and I don’t know what you think of that.

    My post, deliberately, did not address these bloggers. I do think we’re not completely in agreement on their activities, however.

    At any rate, there’s blogging — saying what you feel a need to say — that incidentally helps market you. Frankly, I think you and I both do that. Maybe “marketing” is not our goal, and I can only speak for myself, but I nevertheless know that my blog does cause people to want to hire me, and that doesn’t disappoint me. I don’t say, “Dammnit! Someone wants to hire me because of what I blogged about!” It’s not why I write; I write (I think) for the same reason you do. I have things to say and I cannot stop myself from saying them.

    Then, on the other hand, there’s blogging solely or primarily because the writer is marketing himself. You can spot these post usually because of the “call to action” with which these posts typically end. Some of those, as I said above, might actually provided useful information to people. I’m not as incensed by it as I think (my assessment of you being incensed by this might be wrong) you are, although I find it somewhat cheesy.

    In this post, however, I was talking about the question of people who decide, for whatever reason, not to use their real names in blogging or commenting. More specifically, the post itself was finally provoked (although, as I wrote, you started it for me) by Norm’s attack on Gideon.

    You’ve complained that not everyone is Publius. So? That’s not really the point — at least, I dont’ think it is. You don’t write as well as I do, either. But more people read your blog. (Ok, I’m kidding. And that was deliberate faux hubris because I don’t believe what I just said.)

    The point is that the tradition of writing pseudonymously and even anonymously is time-honored and has great utility in some situations.

    You indicate my post is simplistic. Certainly that’s your opinion and you’re entitled to it — unlike some bloggers, I try very hard not to censor posts just because I disagree with them; nor do I argue they’re off-topic when they don’t directly address the issue in my post — but I happen to disagree.

    I’m not sure why you think it’s simplistic, so I can’t be more specific, but I think I completely addressed the issue with exactly the complexity it needed: sometimes, speaking without people knowing the identity of the speaker is a) the only way the speech will become public and b) not dependent upon knowing the identity of the speaker.

    You raise the question of value judgments of 12-year-olds versus those of older, more experienced people. Straw man arguments notwithstanding, a mere value judgment unsupported by argument gets short shrift from me — and I believe that’s the appropriate response — and therefore I’m drawn back to my original comments: the identity of the person making the argument is irrelevant.

    You, of course, are free to disagree.

  21. David, that’s an excellent point. As a criminal defense attorney who occasionally lambastes both the courts and police officers, I occasionally have to endure my wife saying, “I hope you’re not going to get in trouble!,” or her fears that some overwrought officer is going to personally harm me. (I myself realize this could happen, but although I have made some officers angry, I think most of them are too professional for that.)

    The officers I target who are not so professional, I cannot worry about. I’d rather die than live in a country where I allow them to scare me into silence, anyway.

    But back to your comment, I agree. In fact, I’m “sitting” on a post right now that I wrote two months ago because I’m in front of a judge in another county who has already shown he is biased, and I don’t want to further aggravate the situation. (I say this with a bit of trepidation, but with the hope that since I practice in numerous counties, the unethical target will yet not know that I speak of him until the post sees the light of day — after which I intend never to practice in that county again.)

  22. David, that’s an excellent point. As a criminal defense attorney who occasionally lambastes both the courts and police officers, I occasionally have to endure my wife saying, “I hope you’re not going to get in trouble!,” or her fears that some overwrought officer is going to personally harm me. (I myself realize this could happen, but although I have made some officers angry, I think most of them are too professional for that.)

    The officers I target who are not so professional, I cannot worry about. I’d rather die than live in a country where I allow them to scare me into silence, anyway.

    But back to your comment, I agree. In fact, I’m “sitting” on a post right now that I wrote two months ago because I’m in front of a judge in another county who has already shown he is biased, and I don’t want to further aggravate the situation. (I say this with a bit of trepidation, but with the hope that since I practice in numerous counties, the unethical target will yet not know that I speak of him until the post sees the light of day — after which I intend never to practice in that county again.)

  23. I blog as a solo in my own name. I am selective in what I address, and I self-censor. I suppose purists could be critical of my motives, which are partly commercial but more about providing alternative views on the civil justice system. Critics could also take issue with my self-imposed restrictions.

    My self-censorship stems from simple considerations. My clients shouldn’t be punished for intemperate comments their attorney made about a judge. Nor should my clients face harm on their cases because of statements I made on my blog.

    When, for example, I am ridiculing the US Chamber of Commerce or the tobacco company’s bold assaults on the civil justice system, the values that I talk about transcend political labels and dogmas. I have no interest in undermining whatever efficacy I might have on policy issues by distracting readers with my personal noise.

    All of that is an over-long explanation as to the downsides of law bloggers who blog as themselves. I contrast that with the benefits of blogging under a pen name. I understand the shadow of anonymity. But at bottom, I think this stuff is much grayer than those who scorn law bloggers who opt for pen names.

    As I said on da Twitter, good post.
    .-= David Sugerman´s last blog ..Oregon legislature provides consumers with tools to fight bank fraud =-.

  24. I blog as a solo in my own name. I am selective in what I address, and I self-censor. I suppose purists could be critical of my motives, which are partly commercial but more about providing alternative views on the civil justice system. Critics could also take issue with my self-imposed restrictions.

    My self-censorship stems from simple considerations. My clients shouldn’t be punished for intemperate comments their attorney made about a judge. Nor should my clients face harm on their cases because of statements I made on my blog.

    When, for example, I am ridiculing the US Chamber of Commerce or the tobacco company’s bold assaults on the civil justice system, the values that I talk about transcend political labels and dogmas. I have no interest in undermining whatever efficacy I might have on policy issues by distracting readers with my personal noise.

    All of that is an over-long explanation as to the downsides of law bloggers who blog as themselves. I contrast that with the benefits of blogging under a pen name. I understand the shadow of anonymity. But at bottom, I think this stuff is much grayer than those who scorn law bloggers who opt for pen names.

    As I said on da Twitter, good post.
    .-= David Sugerman´s last blog ..Oregon legislature provides consumers with tools to fight bank fraud =-.

  25. You know, I always wondered if the anti-anonymity blawgers had what I do in mind when they would write about how people shouldn’t be able to write anonymously?

    After all, if I didn’t write under a pseudonym, I wouldn’t be able to write what I write about for very long.

  26. Yes, I think that’s something people don’t always consider. It’s not a just matter of being afraid to expose oneself. You can be the bravest person in the world. But if you’re attempting to bring to light things the way you do, brave people can be stopped as easily as cowards, once found.

    That’s what I was saying when I asked, “What would happen to all the good Gideon does if he were fired for expressing his opinions online?”

  27. Yes, I think that’s something people don’t always consider. It’s not a just matter of being afraid to expose oneself. You can be the bravest person in the world. But if you’re attempting to bring to light things the way you do, brave people can be stopped as easily as cowards, once found.

    That’s what I was saying when I asked, “What would happen to all the good Gideon does if he were fired for expressing his opinions online?”

  28. Yes, I think that’s something people don’t always consider. It’s not a just matter of being afraid to expose oneself. You can be the bravest person in the world. But if you’re attempting to bring to light things the way you do, brave people can be stopped as easily as cowards, once found.

    That’s what I was saying when I asked, “What would happen to all the good Gideon does if he were fired for expressing his opinions online?”

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