If the yammering mouth-breathers over at the Blogging Tories think that they're eventually going to shame me into disavowing the Wanda Watkins incident, they might want to reconsider since, regardless of what I might think about that blog post in retrospect, it's proven wonderfully helpful into outing (if I might use that term) the more illogical and hypocritical of the wanks over there. Heck, not a week goes by that another one of the BTs doesn't step up, take a careful stance in the batter's box and whack himself squarely in the family jewels with his bat.
Today, it's one Victor Wong of "Phantom Observer", who starts off with just a touch of paranoia:
A blogger called Canadian Cynic is apparently trying to get me expelled from the Blogging Tories blogroll.
Really? Was I suggesting that? I'm guessing Victor's referring to my open challenge to not only Stephen Taylor but every blogging collective in Canada to disassociate themselves from any member who openly encourages outing anonymous bloggers out of sheer spite and vindictiveness, so if the shoe fits, Vic, hey, feel free to try that baby on.
Victor continues in an amusingly inaccurate and hysterical vein:
He is doing so, not because of anything particular that I wrote about him, but because he’s being harassed by a non-Blogging Tory and therefore believes it’s good opportunity to toss a shackle on the backs on every BT member.
Why, yes, Vic, that's exactly what I'm suggesting -- restricting "every BT member." Right. Oh, and the part where that would apply only to those who promoted exposing anonymous bloggers for no other reason than petty revenge? Did you run out of space for that rather crucial qualifier? Pity, since it was kind of important here but, hey, accuracy's never been your strong point, be a shame to start now, right? But I digress. Onward, to where Vic begins his analysis in a rather unpromising fashion:
Apart from the fact that the Cynic offers nothing in return for accepting this challenge [other than symmetrical protection for all of the anonymous BT bloggers, but let's not let details get in the way of a dishonest narrative here], I don’t really care for the rationale behind this proposal. Because I have outed anonymous bloggers. Twice.
I outed them because the bloggers in question were writing blogs on the official Conservative Party website during the 2005-06 election campaign, and I believe, then as now, that the public had a right to know who, exactly, was writing an official communiqué on behalf of the Party. In other words, it was demonstrably in the public interest to identify their real names.
Ignore, of course, that my original proposal explicitly allowed that there might be extenuating circumstances:
(Naturally, there should be exceptions, as in the case of any anonymous someone who has gone beyond just being annoying and is into actual harassment. In cases like that, outing is simply being defensive, but that's obviously under exceptional circumstances.)
And that, of course, there are times when such an outing would be perfectly appropriate if what's happening is, on some level, fraud or misrepresentation. But Vic knows that, of course, he's just setting up some ridiculous strawmen solely for the chance to courageously knock them down. However, Vic begins to skirt dangerously close to reason when he writes:
The public interest, then, is a very good reason for exposing an anonymous blogger, but the point is, it has to be demonstrably in the public interest. Which brings up the obvious question: Is it in the public interest to expose the Canadian Cynic?
Yes, Vic, by gosh, that is the salient question here; can you actually make a case in which the public interest is served by revealing my identity to the world? To which Vic replies:
Does he write on behalf of a corporate interest? No, his is a private blog.
Good point, Vic, very good point. You understand the fundamental issues that are at stake here. Vic continues:
Does he write on behalf of a public figure? No; he may favor one politician over another, but that’s not the same thing as being an official spokesman.
That's it, Vic, you're nailing every important question that should be asked. Keep going ...
Has he libelled anyone? I remind you: this is not the same as being merely rude or insulting. If you check Canada’s libel law, you’ll see that a libel needs to “injure the reputation of any person by exposing him to hatred, contempt or ridicule.” Apparently the worst thing the Cynic ever wrote was a insult to a grieving mother of a soldier. Is that mother going to be on the receiving end of hatred, contempt or ridicule from the general public? I’m more inclined to think that people would be more sympathetic.
My point is that, whatever reasons Patrick Ross may have for exposing the Cynic, the “public interest” is clearly not one of them.
Yes, Vic, oh, yes, yes, yes!! By George, Vic, you're doing a dynamite job of addressing every aspect of this issue, and in just the right way. But, sadly, within sight of the logically obvious finish line, Vic's courage falters and he just can't take those last few steps:
I’d like to think that Stephen Taylor will give the Cynic’s challenge a polite version of the horse laugh that it deserves. And I hope I’ve demonstrated that there are very good reasons for outing anonymous bloggers; the Cynic simply isn’t worth the effort.
He was so close, wasn't he? The obvious conclusion was his for the taking and yet, it wasn't to be. It's baffling how Vic could have laid out the premises so clearly, then so horribly screwed the conclusion. But if you hang around long enough, you'll see that this is a persistent problem on the part of the BTs.
See, these are the (typically) Bible-thumping, Scripture-spouting yobs who delight in telling the rest of us how it's logically impossible to have any sense of ethics without the Bible; how we need a clear and unambiguous set of moral guidelines to know right from wrong; how good versus evil is black and white; and how the biggest failing with all the rest of us is that wishy-washy moral "relativism" whereas what we really need is a clear-cut set of rules that show us when things are good and when things are bad. No waffling, no qualifiers, just some basic rules.
So, abortion? it's bad. No debate. End of discussion, because discussion would involve, you know, some of that nasty moral relativism.
But outing anonymous bloggers strictly as an act of childish revenge? Well, that's ... um, that's ... see, here's how it works ... uh, the public interest ... but maybe not ... and what if they're rude ... but maybe not too rude ... extenuating circumstances, but not too extenuating ... technically not illegal but still pisses me off ... Yeah, you get the idea.
That's some mighty fine moral relativism there, Vic. Way to come down squarely in the waffling middle of the issue. And as for BT co-founder Stephen Taylor, well, I had such hopes for him based on our earlier e-mail exchange. Sadly, it would appear that he's as unprincipled as the rest of his drooling menagerie. And that's a shame, because this would have been an interesting opportunity for Taylor to have demonstrated that, regardless of the ideological differences, there was some behaviour he was simply not prepared to accept. Ah, what a glorious opportunity squandered.
Good job, Stephen. I gave you a chance to take a stand on principle and, like brave Sir Robin, you ran fearlessly in the other direction. Trust me, I won't be wasting my time that way again any time soon.
P.S. Even if Mr. Taylor doesn't have the grapes to take a stand on this issue, I'm still waiting for Canada's other aggregators to make their feelings known. So how about it, Paladiea? Can the Progressive Bloggers and the Blogging Dippers rouse themselves long enough to make a statement? Just curious.