A blog for Christian men "going their own way."

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Anti-Anonymous Craze

Ted Slater has recently published a piece indicating his dislike of anonymous posting. He has made known his objection to anonymous posting before, even directing some of his criticism at me. Ted is not alone in his assertions; the anti-anonymous craze seems to be the latest fad floating in the Evangelical Blogosphere. Somehow, we are led to believe that if people gave up their privacy, and submitted to "accountability", everyone would play nice.

I'm not buying it. The people who have so much problem with anonymous writers need to go back in a time machine and give their lecture to not a few Biblical writers, Patristic writers, the writers of the Federalist Papers, etc. If they want to throw out the charge of cowardice, then let them consider the example of the Israelite spies who hid themselves in Rahab's house or even what our Savior did on occasions (John 8:59). There is no law set in stone that good people have to make their whereabouts known to a hostile audience.

Let those religious writers who have the biggest problem with anonymous posts walk a mile in the moccasins of the rest of us. Many of us do not have multi-million dollar ministries that bankroll our operations. Let them get jobs out in the real world. How would they like the idea of potential employers Googling their names and snooping on their blogs? Would it be tempting to tone down one's opinions and just go with the status quo?

Because many of us do not get paid or get support for what we are doing, we write as private citizens. Therefore, we demand to be treated as such. Public scrutiny into our lives is unnecessary and uncalled for. Shall we do the opposite of what Jesus did? Instead of hiding when when people come after us, should we just stay out in the open and play nice--to the point of sacrificing the truth? After all, "it's only the bad people that have something to hide", doncha' know! What a great line to use on Christians who worship in underground churches, political refugees, whistle-blowers, etc.

I am concerned that some calls for banning anonymous posters, etc. is simply an attempt to smoke out the undesirables and silence dissent. If one speaks a little too forcefully against some religious writer, he may get a phone call from his church. Is this the kind of environment we want to foster? I have already read where someone has tried to get a professor to go after a student who is a critic of the Marriage Mandate Movement. This is the kind of garbage that needs to be denounced, not anonymous writers.

I will conclude by saying this: Debbie Maken put her name to a book along with her credentials and background. She had one or more well-known religious pundits review her book. Editors, literary agents, her pastor, her publisher, the folks at Boundless, her fans in the Evangelical blogosphere, etc. did not prevent her from penning some of the most nastiest and irresponsible statements about single men that I have ever seen from a religious writer. Some of the people who are complaining about the rudeness of anonymous posters gave this woman a free pass. It's not the name attached to the writing but what is written that's important. Let's stop trying to play snitch and let's get on with the business of arguing our points, shall we?


Anonymous said...

Six of one, half a dozen of the other. I can't form a moral or scriptural argument in favor of making a hard and fast rule that is always applicable.

I have adequate NT precedent to associate people with their ideas, and so I can, and do.

I am also unhappy with the tenor of discussion, but I am also unhappy that real discussion doesn't take place all the times and places where it should. Some of what is coming out on the 'net is raw and unfiltered, but it's a true representation of what churches are doing to people and/or where people are at.

singleman said...

There are a number of reasons I prefer using a handle or posting anonymously rather than giving out my real name. For one thing, I'm presently looking for another job and am aware of prospective employers' snooping tactics. For another, I disagree with a number of my relatives on issues of faith and deem it best to use a handle for my own protection.

I believe one reason Ted Slater opposes anonymity is his theological background. Mr. Slater is a member of the Sovereign Grace denomination, known for its authoritarian structure and its propensity to discipline members who stray from its legalistic rules and regulations.

And now you know one reason why I don't comment at Boundless.

Anonymous said...

Ted Slater quoted approvingly from a Dennis Prager piece calling for less anonymity in cyberspace.

I can't help noticing that the sudden evangelical crusade against anonymity dovetails nicely with the war on privacy (and, ultimately, freedom) that is being conducted in the political sphere.

In the age of the Patriot Act, Total Information Awareness, Operation TIPS, data mining, warrantless wiretapping with impunity for the telecoms that act as government handmaidens, domestic spy satellites, the soon-to-be-forced-on-us REAL ID card, etc., etc., it appears that we live in the age of Big Brother. (Politicians of both parties are to blame, by the way.)

If I didn't know better, I'd think that the same people were behind all of it.

It might be instructive to speak with a current or former member of the persecuted or underground church and ask them whether anonymity is the church's friend or not.

Just sign me, anonymous.

Ken said...

I can understand why people like Dennis Prager and Dr. Laura denounce anonymity. They get vicious personal attacks directed at them daily by people who refuse to identify themselves.

People like DP and LS make a living out of controversy. Unless they have handled their finances badly, they could probably get fired tomorrow and they'd be able to live out the rest of their days in comfort. The more controversy associated with their names, though, the more money they are likely to make.

For most of the rest of us, that is not the case. We work with or for people who are intolerant of dissent. Questioning the feminist or homosexual agenda or the tactics employed by their activist groups can easily result in the loss of a job and threats to our person and property. Many years ago, I was scared to the point of emotional distress by someone several levels up the chain of command at my then-employer over something I wrote, and I was just a teenager. (Turns out my opinion was demonstrated by subsequent events to be right on the money.)

I am married, and some things I should keep anonymous so as to not compromise the privacy of my wife.

Finally, I make a living writing, and in many cases, representing others. I do not want there to be any confusion that my personal opinions on controversial issues in any way represent those who are paying me to represent them.