One wonders whether the management of The Australian have taken it upon themselves to over-throw the once and future king of Oz Snark, Tim Blair. Not only has a conservative cabal of journalists within the halls of that Murdoch rag taken up the fight for what they believe to be ‘right’, but they’re determined that all those antithetic to ideology so often expressed within that outlet, should be cut down, exposed and have their virtual heads staked onto pikes at the entrance to The Australian town gates. Is this journalistic pique, or is this more of the ideology warfare undercurrent which has existed within the blogosphere ever since the early days of Howardianism in this country. Remember the History Wars? Remember the Iraq War blogging imbroglio? How could anyone who was blogging in those days forget?
Grog’s Gamut, or as we now know him, Greg Jericho, is just another blogger expressing his views. That’s what blogging is all about, but apparently, if you’re a public servant, as Jericho is, and in particular a Commonwealth public servant, apparently you’re not supposed to either have opinions, or express them. You’re not supposed to express them publically without stating for the record your name, APS position and employee number so that you can be tracked down and duly castigated by the pseudo-political commentariat within the main-stream media. Especially within the conservative-allegiant Murdoch media. Anonymity just is not allowed. At least this is the opinion of James Massola, and doubtless various other journos within the rank and file of the Murdoch stable. But let’s be fair and state that opinions on anonymity aren’t just restricted to the main-stream media. Opinions are not restricted, period! Opinions are just that, opinions. As Clint Eastwood’s character in ‘The Dead Pool’ stated many, many moons ago, "opinions are like arseholes. Everybody’s got one and everyone thinks everyone else’s stinks". So it seems to have transpired on Twitter today and doubtless will in many, many other blogs, outside of this one.
So, is anonymity something to be considered sacrosanct? Something of an old-world courtesy between bloggers, be they APS members, main-stream journalists or simply part of the great unwashed blogosphere, as I am? There is some justification to this courtesy being at least acknowledged as existing, given that many, many bloggers do write about their day-to-day interactions with their work life, hence anonymity is vital to self-protection especially where said blogger is acting as a whistle-blower on matters of public import. But for the average blogger, anonymity is simply a bit of a buzz. A way of not being who they are, while they pretend to be someone else. I’ve done it, in fact, I still do. Niall Cook is not my real name. It’s so damn close as to make no appreciable difference, but it’s not who I am in the electoral rolls. So, why do it? Because I can, that’s why. Those who’ve corresponded with me directly over the years know precisely who I am. I don’t hide in emails when someone is good enough to take the time to write directly. Ask Timmy Blair, he’ll confirm that.
Anonymity isn’t a right, or a privilege. It’s a given in the ether purely because not everyone wants or needs or desires to portray their real selves online. Some, like Grog, feel it appropriate to NOT put their real name to their opinions BECAUSE they happen to work in an environment where those opinions may well be conflated as the complete reverse of what they are intended to be. Anonymity exists by the tolerance and courtesy of those who know and the apathy of those who don’t. Stripping away an individual’s internet anonymity, or indeed, anonymity in any environment for the banal purpose of pointing an accusing finger & taunting ‘NYAH-NYAH-GOTCHA’ is simply ignorance of proper etiquette and petty, simple-minded vitriol. Yes, James Massola…..the finger points at YOU!