Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Who has the right to know?

A lot of people were pretty happy when Reddit "troll" Violentacrez was exposed.  he was banned from Reddit and lost his job.  He had posted pictures of women out in public in order to discuss their physical attributes, and also pictures of underage girls.

Not having visited those subReddits I will take Reddit's word on the fact that none of the images was actually illegal.  I assume the women and girls pictures were all clothed to an acceptable degree.  In which case they are not against policy and one wonders why he was banned.

I suppose the argument is that knowing the identity of a guy who obsessively collects pictures of young girls out of a sexual motivation is in the public interest.  And once his real name was outed it is up to other people, including his employers, to decide how they want to react.

But I really am not very comfortable with this. If no crime is actually committed, do we have the right to "out" people for doing things that many (including myself) would consider unpleasant or immoral?


What about the pro-life campaigners trying to prevent the opening of a clinic that would provide abortions.  They say: "We feel if you're pregnant you have a right to know if your midwife performs abortions as well." 

Their motivation is clearly to harrass-by-proxy anyone planning to work at the clinic, cause it not to open, and make abortion far less accessible to people in the region who would have to drive a long way to the next clinic.

But objectively speaking, I am sure they are at least as upset about abortion as most people are about posting pictures of girls in order to have sexualized discussions about them.

Where exactly is the difference in terms of right to anonymity in carrying out a legal activity considered objectionable by some members of the public. Is there such a thing as a right to anonymity? And if so, are these rights subject to some public mandate relating to how many people are disgusted by how you use it, and to what extent?


When discussions of pseudonyms come up, some one inevitably says they don't use one because they are not "ashamed" of what they write.  But guess what, neither am I.  But that does not mean I want to be open to how people would react to knowing that I write gay erotica.

What I write is not relevant to my job, because I do not make it relevant to my job.  And I don't see why some crusader should be able to demand the right break down the paper walls I use to keep my life orderly and focused.  I go to events in my professional capacity, in my author capacity, or in a private capacity. Pseudonyms, and the relative anonymity they create, are part of how I create that clarity for myself and the people I am interacting with.

But do I have the right to retain these distinctions if someone out there thinks I am a moral hazard?  Because I am sure plenty of people would.  Maybe even one of my neighbors who might want to make me feel unwelcome.  Maybe some one I work with, or for.  Maybe some bigot with a can of kerosine and a lighter.

When it gets down to it, where do my rights and and theirs begin?


Teddypig said...

It is interesting you brought up authors using pseudonyms into this discussion.

I have to admit that I have always appreciated authors who publicly state they are using pseudonyms and then tell you what they all are if you are interested.

They maintain their professional anonymity while also being honest which is exactly as it should be. Now this practice has broken down on occasion not due to anything illegal mind you but say an author is caught plagiarizing someone else. Now that is not exactly "illegal" depending on the circumstances but the first thing you see going on is a general public accounting for what pseudonyms and published works can be attributed to them etc etc.

So I think the balance is still there. You are free to use pseudonyms and write what you want but if someone gets pissed off there is retribution even among your own peers in the industry.

Plus I have to say this creep we are talking about did more than just post pictures of some scantily dressed underage females. That was the least of what he was all about. He had way more nasty vices and he made sure they were all out there and was proudly displayed.

Till someone posted his real name that is... I just cannot find it in me to even begin to defend him.

G. B. Miller said...

Anonymity is a double edged sword. While in some instances, having a psuedonym is necessary in order to protect your privacy (like you do), in others, having allows one to troll and harass in online forums and chat rooms.

But it can backfire. While one of the largest chatrooms out there (Topix) had a lot of media companies for partners, the backlash from both the anonymous posters and the fact they selective enforced their T.O.S, not cause them to be put under legal scrutiny, but they lost a lot of their media partnerships as well.