Why is Pseudonymous Free Speech Employed in Walker?

Of late it has come to light that the natural, unalienable rights and the Bill of Rights is under systematic assault by legislators responding to self-created financial emergencies.  Whether this assault is intended as a cover-up or a means of keeping peace while things are sorted out remains to be seen.  In any event the following description of pseudonymous speech and fiction through the use of pen names or nom de plumes found at this website is offered to the reader as a partial explanation of why, throughout time, authors writing freely about controversial subject matters have resorted to fictional names to exercise their natural, inalienable right of free speech.  (With appreciation to John Locke and Thomas Jefferson).

With gratitude, reprinted without embellishment or addition:

the zero hedge manifesto

Submitted by Zero Hedge on 05/17/2009 20:03 -0500

our mission:

  • to widen the scope of financial, economic and political information available to the professional investing public.
  • to skeptically examine and, where necessary, attack the flaccid institution that financial journalism has become.
  • to liberate oppressed knowledge.
  • to provide analysis uninhibited by political constraint.
  • to facilitate information’s unending quest for freedom.

our method: pseudonymous speech…

anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. it thus exemplifies the purpose behind the bill of rights, and of the first amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation– and their ideas from suppression– at the hand of an intolerant society.

   …responsibly used.

the right to remain anonymous may be abused when it shields fraudulent conduct. but political speech by its nature will sometimes have unpalatable consequences, and, in general, our society accords greater weight to the value of free speech than to the dangers of its misuse.

– mcintyre v. ohio elections commission 514 u.s. 334 (1995) justice stevens writing for the majority 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.

The American tradition of pseudonyms and anonymous speech.

SOURCE – ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION:  “Many people don’t want the things they say online to be connected with their offline identities. They may be concerned about political or economic retribution harassment or even threats to their lives.  Whistleblowers report news that companies and governments would prefer to suppress; human rights workers struggle against repressive governments; parents try to create a safe way for children to explore; victims of domestic violence attempt to rebuild their lives where abusers cannot follow.

Instead of using their true names to communicate these people choose to speak using pseudonyms (assumed names) or anonymously (no name at all).  For these individuals and the organizations that support them secure anonymity is critical. It may literally save lives.  Anonymous communications have an important place in our political and social discourse. The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that the right to anonymous free speech is protected by the First Amendment. A much-cited 1995 Supreme Court ruling in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission (93-986), 514 U.S. 334 (1995). reads:

“Protections for anonymous speech are vital to democratic discourse. Allowing dissenters to shield their identities frees them to express critical minority views . . . Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. . . . It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation . . . at the hand of an intolerant society.”

The tradition of anonymous speech is older than the United States. Founders Alexander Hamilton James Madison and John Jay wrote the Federalist Papers under the pseudonym “Publius ” and “the Federal Farmer” spoke up in rebuttal. The US Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized rights to speak anonymously derived from the First Amendment.

The McIntyre Court further stated:

“Anonymous pamphlets, leaflets, brochures and even books have played an important role in the progress of mankind.” Talley v. California, 362 U.S. 60, 64 (1960). Great works of literature have frequently been produced by authors writing under assumed names. [n.4] Despite readers’ curiosity and the public’s interest in identifying the creator of a work of art, an author generally is free to decide whether or not to disclose her true identity. The decision in favor of anonymity may be motivated by fear of economic or official retaliation, by concern about social ostracism, or merely by a desire to preserve as much of one’s privacy as possible. Whatever the motivation may be, at least in the field of literary endeavor, the interest in having anonymous works enter the marketplace of ideas unquestionably outweighs any public interest in requiring disclosure as a condition of entry. [n.5] Accordingly, an author’s decision to remain anonymous, like other decisions concerning omissions or additions to the content of a publication, is an aspect of the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment.

***

Under our Constitution, anonymous pamphleteering is not a pernicious, fraudulent practice, but an honorable tradition of advocacy and of dissent. Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. See generally J. S. Mill, On Liberty, in On Liberty and Considerations on Representative Government 1, 3-4 (R. McCallum ed. 1947). It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights, and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation–and their ideas from suppression–at the hand of an intolerant society. The right to remain anonymous may be abused when it shields fraudulent conduct. But political speech by its nature will sometimes have unpalatable consequences, and, in general, our society accords greater weight to the value of free speech than to the dangers of its misuse. See Abrams v. United States, 250 U.S. 616, 630-31 (1919) (Holmes, J., dissenting). Ohio has not shown that its interest in preventing the misuse of anonymous election related speech justifies a prohibition of all uses of that speech. The State may, and does, punish fraud directly. But it cannot seek to punish fraud indirectly by indiscriminately outlawing a category of speech, based on its content, with no necessary relationship to the danger sought to be prevented. One would be hard pressed to think of a better example of the pitfalls of Ohio’s blunderbuss approach than the facts of the case before us.”

_______________________________

Examples of Pseudonyms used by writers during the Anti-Federalist Papers (pre-1789) include:

The Anti-Federalist Authors
PSEUDONYM : Real Name where known

A COLUMBIAN PATRIOT : Mercy Warren
A COUNTRYMAN : DeWitt Clinton
A CUSTOMER
A DEMOCRATIC FEDERALIST
A FARMER
A FARMER AND PLANTER
A FEDERALIST
A FEDERAL REPUBLICAN
A GEORGIAN
A NEWPORT MAN
A REPUBLICAN FEDERALIST : James Warren
AGRIPPA : James Winthrop
ALFRED
AN AMERICAN
AN OBSERVER
AN OFFICER OF THE LATE CONTINENTAL ARMY : William Findley
AN OLD WHIG
AMICUS
ARISTOCROTIS
BRUTUS : Robert Yates
BRUTUS JUNIOR
CANDIDUS : Benjamin Austin
CATO : George Clinton
CENTINEL : Samuel or George Bryan
CINCINNATUS
DELIBERATOR
HAMPDEN
HELVIDIUS PRISCUS : James Warren
JOHN HUMBLE
LEONIDAS
MASSACHUSETTENSIS
MONTEZUMA
PHILADELPHIENSIS
PHILANTHROPOS
PLEBIAN : Melancthon Smith REPUBLICUS
SYDNEY : Robert Yates
THE FEDERAL FARMER : Richard Henry Lee
THE PLAIN DEALER : Spencer Roane
THE YEOMANRY OF MASSACHUSETTS
VOX POPULI
WILLIAM PENN
Consider Arms
Samuel Field
William Grayson
Patrick Henry
John Lansing
Gilbert Livingston
Luther Martin
George Mason
Malichi Maynard
Eleazer Oswald
John F. Mercer
Joseph Taylor

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