Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Anonymous blogging

After a meteoric rise, the "Libertarian" blogger "Old Holborn" has hung up his keyboard because:

Today, a fellow Libertarian decided to post my name , address, email address, business address, photo of me and my children on the web. Because he was angry with me over my stand on Israel.

Tonight, my wife and family have read the consequent death threats and insults to them that have poured in and asked me to close this blog.

Many people now know where I live, where my children go to school, how I earn my crust and I will not put my family at any further risk.

So I am closing my blog.
He has blamed Obo, but wrongly, it seems. He had, in a short career, made a habit of doing things wrongly. But that was his prerogative.

I started this blog anonymously, posting as Freeborn John rather than Peter Risdon, some time in 2005. I've deleted all those posts now and if they were cached anywhere it would be a waste of disk space. I never really found my voice and it all petered out. Then at the end of 2005 the Danish Motoons affair kicked off and because no UK media would publish them, I decided I should do so myself. But to do so anonymously seemed to defeat the object so I changed the settings to use my real name.

Since then, my address and telephone numbers have been published on the web. First by me, then by a criminal who set up a sort of attack site - I hope he didn't pay anyone to get the information because it was in the public domain already. I had a death threat from a member of the BNP (after which a Muslim organisation very kindly offered me a safe place, which I declined), and from radical Muslims - including one rather surreal telephone conversation while I was driving. After a lengthy explanation of why it was his religious duty to kill me, I interrupted to say I had arrived and had to go into a BBC studio for something. He was extremely polite and ended the call, not wishing to make me late.

Paint stripper was thrown over my car.

And without wishing to be grandiose, I'm in the process of doing something that involves a risk of some Joe the Plumber type smearing in retaliation. But I think it's the right thing to do, so I'm doing it. More on that later.

All of which pales into insignificance when compared with the bile that ordinary working journalists have to deal with every day of the week. People as different as Nick Cohen and Melanie Phillips have buckets of ordure poured into their mailboxes and voicemail all the time. Threats abound. Both - and I just picked two names of the dozens that anyone could think of - keep their lines of communication open.

Blogging isn't some kind of especially risky frontier. It's just self-publishing. The risks are the same. Bloggers are in jail, but not here. Journalists are in jail in the same countries as bloggers.

My advice to Old Holborn - a man who was enough of a tough guy to write about getting shotguns to ward off the underclass - is this: grow a pair. Use your own name and write things you are willing to stand for and by.


cabalamat said...

"People as different as Nick Cohen and Melanie Phillips have buckets of ordure poured into their mailboxes and voicemail all the time."

I think we should differentiate between verbal abuse (which is legitimate) and death threats or paint stripper over cars (which are not).

If someone is a public commentator, whether paid or unpaid, they should expect negative reactions. If they don't like tjhe heat they should gbet out of the kitchen.

Trooper Thompson said...

I can understand OH being annoyed about his 'exposure' but share your reaction to his reaction. (As you know I would be arguing from his side of the table on the issue in question).

Personally, I blog under a nom de plume, and prefer it that way as it creates a separation between my private life and blogging, and also to pay honour of an unsung hero from the English Civil War, but I don't live in fear of anyone knowing who I really am, as I figure they could find out easily enough if they wanted to.