Wednesday, June 6, 2007

More on the topic of blogging under pseudonyms

Lately the right-wing leaning newspapers in Missouri – and a few right wing political blogs as well – have singled out left-leaning bloggers for writing under pseudonyms. I find this just a wee bit ironic when our most famous son wrote and published his finest works under a pseudonym.

I suggest they dust off their history books, and perhaps while they are boning up on the basics, they could check a thesaurus and learn the difference between pseudonymous and anonymous. Someone who writes under a pseudonym is creating a body of work that can be pointed to and is identified by that name.

If not for pseudonyms, we might likely still be subjects of the crown. The political debate that led to the revolution and to the ratification of the very Constitution we hold so dear was waged using pseudonyms. Patriots were publishing not just pamphlets (the blogs of their day) but they were published in newspapers – writing under pseudonyms.

An examination of the historical record indicates that the founding fathers embraced the use of the nom de guerre.

Benjamin Austin was a Baptist minister who penned some of the Federalist Papers under the name of Candidus.

Benjamin Franklin had a whole host of pseudonyms (with intricately crafted backstories). In addition to “Poor Richard” Saunders. He also wrote under the names Silence Dogood, Timothy Turnstone, the Busy-Body, Robin Good-fellow and Obadiah Plainman.

John Leland, another Baptist minister, wrote revolutionary tracts under the name Jack Nipps.

Bishop John Carroll – the first Bishop to serve in this nation – wrote under the pen name Pacificus.

Our second president, John Adams, often wrote under the name Novanglus, and was frequently published in newspapers under the pen name Clarendon.

Samuel Adams, by the way, was a hell of a lot more than a brewmaster. He was perhaps the most effective rabble-rouser in all of American history. His writings were known to inflame passions to the point of riot. He published under multiple pen names, in part to make the crown think the opposition in the colonies was stronger than they suspected.

But the most famous of all was Alexander Hamilton, writing as Publius. The very Federalist Papers that the right so reveres were in large part penned pseudonymously.

I do not fancy myself in the same league as Franklin and Hamilton, but I can strive to be a worthy descendant. Those who are getting their knickers in a twist over the issue of pseudonyms would do well to review the history of the revolutionary era in this country, and seriously evaluate which side they would prefer to be associated with.

As for me, there is no question to beg.

And that is my final word on the subject.

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