washingtonsblog.com / February 10, 2013
Some of the world’s leading social critics and political critics have used pen names.
As Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge points out (edited slightly for readability):
Though often maligned (typically by those frustrated by an inability to engage in ad hominem attacks), anonymous speech has a long and storied history in the United States. Used by the likes of Mark Twain (aka Samuel Langhorne Clemens) to criticize common ignorance, and perhaps most famously by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay (aka publius) to write the Federalist Papers, we think ourselves in good company in using one or another nom de plume.
Particularly in light of an emerging trend against vocalizing public dissent in the United States, we believe in the critical importance of anonymity and its role in dissident speech.
Like the Economist magazine, we also believe that keeping authorship anonymous moves the focus of discussion to the content of speech and away from the speaker – as it should be. We believe not only that you should be comfortable with anonymous speech in such an environment, but that you should be suspicious of any speech that isn’t.
But governments – especially authoritarian governments – hate anonymity.
A soon-to-be-released book by Google executive Eric Schmidt – called “The New Digital Age” – describes the desire of authoritarian governments to destroy anonymity. The Wall Street Journal provides an excerpt:
Some governments will consider it too risky to have thousands of anonymous, untraceable and unverified citizens — “hidden people”; they’ll want to know who is associated with each online account, and will require verification at a state level, in order to exert control over the virtual world.
Last December, China started requiring all web users to register using their real names.
But the U.S. is quickly moving in the same direction.
Thanks to BrotherJohnF