Monday, July 23, 2007

A Rebuttal to Red Tory

"Specious" seems to be his favourite word, but his arguments are truly specious

Sometimes, a person's reputation is only as good as their willing to defend it. As such, in today's blogging environment, it's entirely untenable to allow a personal attack to go unanswered.

So, it is with this in mind that I find myself compelled to address a response to the recent commentary of Red Tory, a blogger who recently chose to weigh in on the challenge I issued to common blowhard Canadian Cynic over his vicious and cowardly remarks addressed to Wanda Watkins, the mother of a fallen Canadian soldier.

For those unaware (and choosing not to scroll down a few items), I issued a challenge to Canadian Cynic: to reveal his name to the public, and put a name to his comments. He declined, noting that he writes anonymously so that he can avoid facing the consequences of his comments--even consequences so simple as having to face the reactions of his friends and family to a vicious attack on a begrieved mother, all for political reasons.

Red Tory chose to weigh in on the subject. In a post directed both at myself and Paul Marek of Celestial Junk.

The argument that Red Tory chose was that the challenges to Canadian Cynic to reveal his identity were conceptually flawed because he allegedly doesn't write anonymously; apparently, he writes pseudonymously. Red Tory wants to pretend there is a difference:

"let’s turn our attention to Patrick Ross at the “Nexus of Assholery” who likewise has a burr up his rectum about “anonymity.” Just as a quick aside, you have to find it more than a little amusing that many of the same people who decry the lack of civility and cheapening of discourse on the Internets tout Patrick’s “Nexus of Assholery” prominently featuring a picture of George Bush giving everyone the finger as an absolutely swell place to visit. Go figure."
Apparently, the most serious criticism that Red Tory can offer about the Nexus regards a banner ad that is actually designed to be ironic. One supposes this must be the most serious criticism he can offer, because what follows is just plain silly, or as Red Tory would prefer, specious.

Red Tory apparently takes issue with the following passage, which he quotes, and responds to:

'Now, a personal note: anyone reading the Nexus will notice that I never post anything under an assumed name. Those who have participated in the various message boards that I have participated in will notice the same. There is a good reason for this.

I never say anything I’m not comfortable attaching my name and my own reputation to. Simply put, I have nothing to hide. I will take responsibility for anything and everything that I say. Certainly, the internet does offer me the same kind of anonymity that Cynic enjoys. My conscience does not.'
"Unfortunately, Patrick makes the same mistake in confusing pseudonymity with anonymity. As someone who blogs in this fashion, I would say there’s an enormous difference between the two. As noted previously, bloggers are far from being truly “anonymous” – they’re most certainly not from a legal standpoint when push comes to shove – and there’s no reason to believe that someone who blogs under a pseudonym is any less responsible, credible or accountable for what they write and publish than someone who uses their actual name (or what they claim to be such)."
"Unfortunate" indeed. What is perhaps more unfortunate is Red Tory's inability (in his comments section) to address what real distinction there is, in terms of the concealment of one's identity, in anonymity and synonymity.

Observe (from the dictionary):

"Anonymous:
adjective

1. without any name acknowledged, as that of author, contributor, or the like: an anonymous letter to the editor; an anonymous donation.

2. of unknown name; whose name is withheld:
an anonymous author.

3. lacking individuality, unique character, or distinction:
an endless row of drab, anonymous houses."
Now, let's consider the definition of Pseudonym:

"Pseudonym:
–noun

a fictitious name used by an author to conceal his or her identity; pen name."
Both anyonymity are methods of an individual concealing their own name. Sure, they're two different words, but in regards to the context of the situation--calling upon a writer to accept responsibility for his comments--they are indistinguishable.

Just to ramp up a hilarity an extra touch, Red Tory envokes the examples of some famous people who wrote pseudonymously:

"Bloggers are not truly 'anonymous' as Paul asserts, although many are pseudonymous — there’s a significant difference between the two. Bloggers can be tracked and traced if necessary and in most cases their identity is well known to their circle of friends and associates. As for pseudonymity, there’s a rich history of this in opinion journalism. Most famously, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay wrote 'The Federalist Papers' using the pseudonym 'Publius' and Benjamin Franklin wrote under a number of amusing pseudonyms including 'Anthony Afterwit' and 'Alice Addertongue'.” As a matter of fact, the 'Richard Saunders' of the eponymous book 'Poor Richard’s Almanac' was another one of Franklin’s best-known pseudonyms. Many other authors have chosen, for one reason or another, to publish their work under pen names."
Allow me to assure you I did not make this up.

Red Tory compares Canadian Cynic, who wrote "Fuck off Wanda Watkins", to the man who wrote: "A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body," (Franklin), the man who wrote "Men often oppose a thing merely because they have had no agency in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike," (Hamilton), the man who wrote, "Ambition must be made to counteract ambition" (Madison), and... John Jay.

Now, the complete intellectual laziness of this aside (it is true that all these men wrote under pseudonyms), there is an important difference that actually demolishes Red Tory's entire argument: these men had to fear prosecution, and possibly execution, by the British crown. All Canadian Cynic has to worry is censure from his friends and family (directed at he himself, not his pseudoname), or perhaps a well-dserved beating from a disapproving Waterloo local (quite frankly, such an experience would probably benefit his disposition; call me a brute if you will, but it's unfortunately true).

Hamilton, Madison, Franklin and Jay wrote psuedonymously in the pursuit of freedom, and in the name of the classical liberalism that Red Tory claims to belove; Canadian Cynic writes pseudonymously (really no different from anonymity in any practical sense) so that he can be vicious to his opponents without having to take responsibility for it.

Frankly, comparing Cynic to these men is insulting to them, and insulting to the intelligence of the reader on a truly historic scale.

Then there is the matter of my comments which he addresses, which he in the original post here on the Nexus, describes as specious (for the record, "having the ring of truth or plausibility but fallacious"). He addresses my explaination of why I blog under my real name.

Is he questioning whether or not I blog under my true identity? That is immediately verifiable by a simple search of this site.

Red Tory's arguments turned out to be ludicrous, and what he described as "specious" actually turn out to be, well... true.

But one almost has to feel sorry for him: he so does want the blogosphere to think of him as brilliant.

3 comments:

  1. Red Tory is full of sh*t. He's an anonymous rat. If he had guts, he'd post under his real name, like normal people do.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I also once got a good chuckle out of his being totally disgusted with me for quoting from The Economist.

    You see, for people like Red Tory, The Economist is too much of an intellectual challenge, which is why he despises anyone who comprehends the articles.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Really? That isn't terribly surprising. How smart could someone possibly be when the only thing they have to blog about is other people's blogs?


    By the by, I found a decent-sized stack of Economist back issues in the building I lived in last year, and I considered them to be quite the treasure.

    ReplyDelete

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