Thursday, October 30, 2003

Luskin v. "Atrios"

Glenn Reynolds hears that Donald Luskin is threatening to sue Atrios. If true, he pronounces it "just embarrassing".

Not being a law professor I'm sure there are things I don't appreciate here. Being a blogger I'd like to see the lawyers kept far away. So what's unique about this situation?

IMO it's that Atrios is free to hide behind his pseudonym to traffic in stories alleging that Donald Luskin is a stalker. (Spare me the "alternate meanings of stalker" rap - would it have been juicy enough to post if Atrios had meant anything but the worst sense of the word?)

The problem here as I see it is Atrios' pseudonym. He can spew insults forever without ruining his personal reputation. If he wears out his welcome he can come up with a new handle and get back into the game - too bad Joe McCarthy didn't think of that. (Wouldn't it be funny if he decided to use Armed Liberal's real name instead? After all, we already have a lefty blogging as "Roger Ailes".)

Luskin, OTOH, will show up in Google queries alongside "stalker" for a long time. If you want to question the way Luskin has handled this, be my guest - this post is about what should be done about people hiding behind pseudonyms while defaming others' reputations.

So what's a fitting punishment for Atrios? Out him. If he wants the freedom to behave as he does, let his personal reputation be accountable. If he's been publishing things he's ashamed to be associated with, too bad.

Either that, or let him do what Luskin requested. Or let Blogger take down his site.

In conclusion, if someone wants to blog under a pseudonym, fine - there are defensible reasons. But if you want to attack others' reputations, then you should be prepared to be outed, to prevent abuse of the pseudonym privilege. This isn't about free speech, it's about behaving like a decent human being.

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