Thursday, January 10, 2008

I'm going off the idea of Internet anonymity.

Not enough free time today to do my examination of Mitt Romney.

However, while wandering links related to the New Republic article about Ron Paul's newsletters (which, for some reason, I can't download, dammit, and I don't want to address the article too much until I've read the actual newsletters), I found this site:

The index page is pretty good, for people opposed to Ron Paul's candidacy (like myself). The rest of it, though, is hater garbage: material slamming Ron Paul not because of his positions so much as because he is Ron Paul. The "Cartoons" page in particular is as vile as they come- all hate and absolutely zero humor.

My personal bet is that the website, founded in March 2007, is backed by one of the other campaigns, probably Giuliani or McCain. Unfortunately, when I did a WHOIS search of the domain, I got nothing. The domain is registered through GoDaddy, which offers privacy plans that, among other things, block WHOIS lookups.

A lot of people, myself included, have said at various times that the Internet draws its strength in no small part because people can say the unsayable anonymously, without fear of repercussions. Considering the results- Ron Paul followers on one hand spamming blogs and attacking anyone who dares challenge their idol's credentials, and cretins like this website's creator on the other hand- I'm beginning to see it more as a weakness. The ability to say anything may be liberating for democracy, but too much of the time it sounds like the liberty of Westboro Baptist Church and Fred Phelps to drown out the preacher at veterans' funerals to protest against gay tolerance.

And in politics, where reputation is damn near everything, such tactics do the most damage. As this letter from the Texas state chairman of the Libertarian Party shows, there are people who are leaving the Ron Paul fold because of the abusive and vandalistic habits of certain of his supporters. Anonymity is hurting, not helping, the Ron Paul Revolution...

... and annoying the hell out of the rest of us.

And a web site? Creating a web site, in legal terms, is like publishing a book, newspaper or magazine. The printer (web host) is not responsible for content, but the publisher (person who pays the printer/webhost) IS responsible. Domain registries should not EVER, in my opinion, be secret- not when there are acts of fraud, libel, slander and wrongful defamation on a daily basis on the World Wide Web.

The person behind Ron Paul Revealed obviously feels strongly about his dislike of Ron Paul. So do I- I do not like the man, how he's used the libertarian movement for his own purposes and discarded it afterwards, and who he associates with. Unlike the anonymous web creator, though, I try to base my posts against Ron Paul on persuading people on the merits that he's not the right man for the job- any job. Ron Paul Revealed, however, is nothing more than a slash job on Ron Paul- mean-spirited, anti-liberty, and above all cowardly.

I'm not at all certain whether voting should be secret: in these days when vote fraud is easier than ever before, I'm questioning the merits of the secret ballot. Political advocacy, though, should NOT be secret. A person willing to advocate for or against a candidate should stand on a soapbox... not speak from under a paper bag.

And if your message is too obnoxious for you to say without the protection of anonymity... maybe there's a REASON for that.

Think about it, assholes of cyberspace.

No comments: