It had to happen one day and it happened today. We couldn´t agree. I wanted to write about one subject and TrueGerman suggested another. As this is a two-person democracy the decision was easy. We do both.
TrueG said I am being “Bierernst” today. That is as serious as beer and that is very serious for a German.
I have used pseudonyms on various occasions and on some occasions, when I did not, I wish I had. Based on these personal experiences I cannot do other than feel total empathy with the blogger whose anonymity recently was breached in Alaska.
In a perfect world we would need no dissent and even if we did disagree it would be possible to put our name to everything, from personal appearances, to journalistic pieces to blogging, without having to worry about repercussions as long we follow the rules of the perfect world. But this world is not perfect and even if you follow the rules of the hypothetical perfect world (because we can and do try), be they written or unwritten, of journalism or blogging, you might find yourself threatened once your personal information is exposed.
Here I have to pause. If nobody were anonymous, should a threat not be impossible? That at least is the theory in Germany. The experience of anonymous denunciation has been bitter and has influenced the rule of law today. Transparency yes, but does that mean I can`t draw a line, that I can´t make an exception, that I don`t still encounter circumstances when I need to suspend the rule of law because the rule of law does not protect me adequately even though I speak the truth?
There are many ways of making a bloggers life difficult. In Germany just the threat of possible legal repercussions, can silence the most ardent critique. Unless you have loads of money how can you support the legal battle? Should you win in the first instance, your opponent is sure to take it to the next level and to the next until you are left high and dry. Factually sound, but financially strapped.
Or somebody you have criticized doesn`t want to get his or her own hands dirty so they whip up their followers to persecute, maybe simply pester, threaten or even assault you. Enough said about that kind of follower.
Of course I have come across a blog here and there which claimed to be researched, but with a little thinking and digging of my own, found it to be fundamentally lacking in the most basic principles of reporting. To my great dissappointment I have also encountered this kind of information in the news. What happens then? I don´t return to that blog and I stop visiting a news source. After all the blog is just that a blog, a place to let off steam. Sometimes for all the wrong reason, but what do I care? And a news source can be biased. All I have to do is think a little about it.
And because I think about it I can find blogs that I appreciate and that gain my trust. One that has is by the above mentioned blogger, alias AKM and do ask me why! While always reflecting a personal opinion it is well researched. Is that it, you ask. NO.
Instead of just repeating data we are given information. There is a huge difference! Reading the posts from AKM is watching a brilliant mind at work, analysing political happenings and connecting the dots. We Readers see those dots all over the place and AKM puts the finger right on that nagging feeling in the back of our challenged minds and puts into words what these connections might be. We, as Readers, can agree, speculate or disagree. Well is that it now? NO, I say.
The icing on the cake, the cream in the coffee, “das Tüpfelchen auf dem i” (the dot on the i) is that these posts or commentaries are so well written that thousands glue themselves to the screen daily to read any old post by AKM, be it about a moose called Brian or the latest shenanigans by any politician, that deserve some closer scrutiny.
This Blogger/Writer has been “accused” of influencing politics and by doing that having given up the right to anonymity. I have to think of the reactions of Jon Stewart, when he was “accused” of influencing the election of 2008 with his comedy program “The Daily Show”. He is a smart guy and he certainly would have been flattered by this compliment, if he were not a comedian and smart. The idea that it takes a comedy show to make people think and that they might base their decisions on his analysis, brilliant as may be, made him visibly squirm. And I think the same is true for AKM. This writer would be the first to say, what does it mean of our state of affairs if a blog can have so much influence? Maybe the Readers and Viewers have arrived at the Comedy Doors and Blog Entries because they were thinking in the first place?
And while a German might criticize the wish for anonymity, he will admit that during these last eight years when contacting American friends or travelling to the States, he was becoming increasingly wary of what he would say in open criticism of the Government on a phone conversation or in blog out of fear of the US Government. The renaming of “French Fries” to “Freedom Fries” seemed frivolous and laughable, yet it made everybody nervous and wary of greater implications. There was a shadow over the United States, a shadow which reminded Germans of their worst nightmare.
My advice to anybody that disagrees with a blogger? If you think the blogger is worth your time to worry about their identity, why not make the intelligent choice instead of creating an open and honest dialogue with that dissenter. Maybe the blogger would listen. Maybe it is time for you to listen.
I wonder if this is not really a conversation about truth.
From Dead Poets Society:
John Keating: Close your eyes, close your eyes! Close ’em! Now, describe what you see.
Todd Anderson: Uh, and this image floats beside me.
John Keating: A sweaty-toothed madman.
Todd Anderson: A sweaty-toothed madman with a stare that pounds my brain.
John Keating: Oh, that’s *excellent*! Now, give him action – make him do something!
Todd Anderson: H-His hands reach out and choke me.
John Keating: That’s it! Wonderful, wonderful!
Todd Anderson: And all the time he’s mumbling.
John Keating: What’s he mumbling?
Todd Anderson: Mumbling truth.
John Keating: Yeah, yes.
Todd Anderson: Truth like-like a blanket that always leaves your feet cold.
John Keating: [some of the class start to laugh] Forget them, forget them! Stay with the blanket. Tell me about that blanket!
Todd Anderson: Y-Y-You push it, stretch it, it’ll never be enough. You kick at it, beat it, it’ll never cover any of us. From the moment we enter crying t-to the moment we leave dying, it’ll just cover your face as you wail and cry and scream.
[long pause then class applauds]
John Keating: Don’t you forget this.
Is the blanket of truth too short?