For the Anonymous Among You

Every once in a while I do get an anonymous commentator who leaves me a comment I cannot track or parse or understand because I cannot determine anything about its authorship or authority.

In one recent comment, one such "anonymous" graces the comments section of one of my entries with the following pleasantries:

Why is this kind of twisted-logic America-bashing on Sun's blog site? Does Sun Microsystems employ lots of people like you?

Totally confused about the authorship, its authority and its intent, I wrote the following response:

Mr. or Ms. Anonymous -

Thanks for catching my typo. It should have read "extension" not "extention" ... Yes, thanks for catching it, and it shows you had the patience to read the whole thing, and thanks for that, too!

Please note what I've said loud and clear on the top left corner of my weblog, in boldface: The opinions expressed here are purely my own, and neither Sun nor any other party necessarily agrees with them.

So, postulating otherwise would not only be quite silly but unreasonable.

Let me address one other point in your comment, as immediately as I can.

If I did not love the community I live in, I wouldn't even bother writing this particular entry. There are far better things to do in life. So, I have no idea what you mean by "America-bashing." Perhaps, you should explain.

As far as the rest of your comment, you don't seem to have the simple courage to say what you're saying with your own real identity, whatever that might be. Hiding behind "anonymous" only makes what you say hollow and impossible to deal with because I have no idea what kind of authority you are and what moves you to say what you're saying.

So, I'm lost [as to] what to say.

Perhaps you're trying to perfect the art of anonymous intimidation.

At least I have the courage not to hide behind "anonymous" when I say what I think.

To say that the U.S. has exercised imperial power in the world should be quite a non-controversial matter.

To say that empires tend to over-extend themselves beyond their means also carries a great deal of scholarship and authority behind it.

If you believe it [to be] otherwise, please present your facts!

And again, in closing, I refer you to the top left corner of this blog:

The opinions expressed here are purely my own, and neither Sun nor any other party necessarily agrees with them.

If you think that anyone who has a job with some company should not say anything [related] to current topics and politics, I refer you to Lawrence Lessig's book Free Culture. For a relevant extract, I refer you to: "A Taboo Against Political Discourse."

As an aside, I think you might also want to consult any of the books by Zbigniew Brzezinski, where he examines the challenges to the empire from a strategic perspective. Searching for recent Zbignew Brzezinski interviews on YouTube might also produce interesting results. [I've also written about one of Brzezinski's recent comments here.]

Yours truly,
M.M.

P.S. I hope next time you write, you'll drop the "anonymous" so I may better be introduced to you and your ideas!

I do wish anonymous commentators find the courage and feel the need to say who they are, and to commit themselves to what it is they write. The least they can do is to use a consistent pen name or a consistent set of pen names and write enough tractable material (with each pen name) so that we know and can construct their position on topics of interest.

That sort of commitment is certainly missing in much of the web. See one of my earlier comments on a related topic at "Existential Phenomenology of The Internet."

There, I leave it, for now.

Comments:

Masood,

Well spoken, and thanks for being a brave American. I love this country and am sorry to see self-professed patriots hypocritically attack free public discourse. This kind of discourse is one of our greatest legacies as a country, and should be protected. If we don't protect it, we will become more like the regimes we claim to oppose.

regards,
Blake Irvin

Posted by Blake Irvin on May 14, 2007 at 05:46 AM PDT #

Thanks for your support.

Posted by M. Mortazavi on May 14, 2007 at 06:21 AM PDT #

Masood, I agree with most of your answers and I guess pretty much every one else here will also support our right for freedom of speech no matter who hired us or were we host our blog. But I guess the anonymity part is not that bad after all. I mean why not encouraging the discussion even under an anonymous name or a fake nickname. Let listen to ideas without really seeing who is saying that.

Posted by Pooya Karimian on May 14, 2007 at 07:15 AM PDT #

Hi Pooya - I can see your concern behind your comment. However, there are some problems. Libelous accusations made anonymously are only meant to intimediate. I do not consider them to be "ideas"...They are more like annoying noise ... Even when it comes to real ideas, if some idea is worth expressing, it worth only increases when the author claims it as his or her own. People, today, fear to make such claims because they fear for their jobs, status, etc. ... Another aspect of the problem, is the "public" of Kierkegaard's The Present Age but I don't think we need to get into that right now ;-)

Posted by M. Mortazavi on May 16, 2007 at 03:01 PM PDT #

I see what you're saying and that is true especially, like you said, when it comes to "Libelous accusations".

Posted by Pooya Karimian on May 16, 2007 at 03:39 PM PDT #

very interesting

Posted by autooo on May 20, 2007 at 08:31 PM PDT #

Best thing about anonymous comments is that there is nothing to determine about their authorship or authenticity. Consider them a fleeting thought brought like a leaf on the wind, or a voice from the back of 'yer head that should be squashed or considered. Nothing more or less.

Posted by anonymous on May 23, 2007 at 04:40 AM PDT #

When put that way, I can see your point.

Posted by M. Mortazavi on May 23, 2007 at 05:34 AM PDT #

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