Tied to the mast
…but orange now and black

Scandal! Ed Whelan outs Publius!!1 Guess why…

In what reads to me as an implicit acknowledgment that he can’t respond to Publius’ attacks on their own merits, the NRO’s Ed Whelan yesterday “exposed,” with much pomp and self-righteousness, the “Irresponsible Anonymous Blogger” Publius (of  Obsidian Wings):

Well, I’m amused to learn that I was wrong about publius’s lack of legal education. I’ve been reliably informed that publius is in fact the pseudonym of law professor John F. Blevins of the South Texas College of Law. I e-mailed Blevins to ask him to confirm or deny that he is publius, and I copied the e-mail to the separate e-mail address, under the pseudonym “Edward Winkleman,” that publius used to respond to my initial private complaints about his reckless blogging. In response, I received from “Edward Winkleman” an e-mail stating that he is “not commenting on [his] identity” and that he writes under a pseudonym “[f]or a variety of private, family, and professional reasons.”

His justification for doing this?  The familiar paranoid saw:

One bane of the Internet is the anonymous blogger who abuses his anonymity to engage in irresponsible attacks.

What exactly does he mean by “irresponsible”?  Was Publius inciting violence? Was he strategically subverting the disourse?

The crime that broke the back of Whelan’s restraint? Well… since he doesn’t cite anything specifically in his broad-brushstroke attacks, I presume his beef is with Publius’ most recent post, which Whelan turns to immediately after the ad hominems with a tone like he can barely be bothered:

I’ll respond briefly to Blevins’s latest post, misconceives an exchange I had yesterday with Eugene Volokh about a joke of Judge Sotomayor’s. In my post about the joke (and amidst a flurry of blogging), I initially wrote a sloppy sentence that Volokh used as the occasion for a broader discussion of the Supreme Court’s consideration of consequences in deciding cases…

What Blevins—I mean, “publius”—somehow takes away from all this is that “Volokh actually decimates Whelan’s argument”—the concededly sloppy sentence that I promptly revised—and that I should be “thoroughly embarrassed.” Gee, I think it’s the guy hiding behind the two pseudonyms who evidently has reason to be embarrassed.

Oh the horror! Publius picked up on Whelan’s sloppy wording, wording that was incongruent with the claimed spirit of Whelan’s post, in order to launch an attack?

That’s nothing like the conservative attacks, fully supported by Whelan, on Sotomayor for using, in a sidepoint paragraph in a 4,000 word speech, the phrase “more often than not” rather than something like “as often” to characterize the how often someone with her life experience would come to a better verdict than someone with the life experience of a white male (I wrote about this last week here).


Publius’ explanation for his choice to write anonymously:

As I told Ed (to no avail), I have blogged under a pseudonym largely for private and professional reasons.  Professionally, I’ve heard that pre-tenure blogging (particularly on politics) can cause problems.  And before that, I was a lawyer with real clients.  I also believe that the classroom should be as nonpolitical as possible – and I don’t want conservative students to feel uncomfortable before they take a single class based on my posts.  So I don’t tell them about this blog.  Also, I write and research on telecom policy – and I consider blogging and academic research separate endeavors.  This, frankly, is a hobby.

Privately, I don’t write under my own name for family reasons.  I’m from a conservative Southern family – and there are certain family members who I’d prefer not to know about this blog (thanks Ed).  Also, I have family members who are well known in my home state who have had political jobs with Republicans, and I don’t want my posts to jeopardize anything for them (thanks again).

I’ve chosen to write pseudonymously for very similar reasons. I’d prefer to write without having to stress about prospective employers Googling me and finding out my religious identity, and my opinions about abortion or the Arab Israeli conflict.

Not that it wouldn’t be pretty easy to figure out, with a little effort, who I am.  I’ve laid out a number of data points in the past two weeks, especially in my “about” page. And most of you reading this probably actually know me anyway, and got here through the link I put up to this post on Facebook.


UPDATE: Class is Ed Whelan’s behavior in his e-mail exchange with Publius:

WHELAN: I am reliably informed that you use the pseudonym publius to blog at Obsidian Wings. Please confirm or deny. Thank you..

PUBLIUS (writing from “obsidianinfo@yahoo.com,” registered under the name “Edward Winkleman”… the old site administrator): I am not commenting on my identity. For a variety of private, family and professional reasons I write under a pseudonym (like many bloggers). If I wanted to publicly disclose my name, I would do so.

WHELAN: Well, I didn’t ask you, “Edward Winkleman.” I asked Mr. Blevins… Now who’s the hitman, you coward and idiot.

UPDATE II: The federalist papers, penned by Madison, Hamilton, and John Jay, were also written under the pseudonym Publius. What cowards!


One Response to “Scandal! Ed Whelan outs Publius!!1 Guess why…”

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