Alaska blogger Mudflats (herself a Democrat, who has supported Mike Doogan in the past) earned a substantial rep last year for blogging about Sarah Palin from a local perspective. I always appreciated Mudflats' observations, because (unlike many bloggage about the presidential race) it was always even handed and clear headed. Considering what a frenzy the blogosphere was last year, her posts were always a well reasoned breath of fresh air. Last December, Mudflats (along with several other people) sent Doogan an email asking for more transparency and accountability in government. Doogan responded with a single response to everyone who had emailed him - he put them all on the CC line, and responded with a snarky, dismissive message. Irate, the recipients used "reply all," which really got Doogan's goat. Here is his response, copied from Mudflats' blog post on the incident:
"Are you people nuts? You send me - and everybody else in the legislature [sic], from the looks of things - Spam and then lecture me on email etiquette - as if there were such a thing? Here's an etiquette suggestion: Abandon your phony names, do your own thinking and don't expect everybody to share you [sic] obsessions."This was particularly surprising since Doogan first made a name for himself as a columnist with the Anchorage Daily News. Surely, as a published author, Doogan is cognizant of the effect of the written word on his audience? Surely he would have realized that he sounded like a huge jackass, in an email to his constituents, who had contacted him with a reasonable request? (i.e. this was not a response to a hate mail campaign.) Alas, no. And rather than apologize, or take some time to reflect upon his own actions, or even consider that other people might be right, Doogan tilted off against that "phony names" windmill. I guess when you can't attack the charges, you attack the accuser. (Is that a lesson Doogan learned in the House of Representatives, or during his newspaper career?) Doogan proceeded to spend an unknown number of hours tracking down Mudflats' true identity. Why? If the words of a pseudonymous blogger lack credence, surely publishing that blogger's identity would only give them the credence which the pseudonym formerly undercut. The only possible motivation behind Doogan's action is spite, pure and simple. Bloggers are often accused of "hiding" behind pseudonyms. Why is this the case? What's to hide? A blogger's identity is never the issue. The issue is the words that they publish to the world. Rather than address those words, Doogan set up a straw man (pseudonymity). Then, like an idiot, he attacked his very own straw man. What Doogan fails to realize is that no one else cares about Mudflats' identity. She chooses to publish under a pseudonym, and we respect that. Only a childish fool would take delight in digging up her true identity and publishing it in his own legislative newsletter. In the article where Doogan outed Mudflats, he adds that "My own theory about the public process is you can say what you want, as long as you are willing to stand behind it using your real name." Really? Why? What is the reasoning behind this? And who is Doogan to decide what we can say, and when? Shouldn't the words stand on their own merit? Just as an example, if we didn't know the true identities of the men who wrote up the Constitution, would that dilute the power and impact of its words? Shakespeare worked this out about 400 years ago, when he pointed out that a rose smells just as sweet, no matter what name you give it. Naturally, the opposite holds true, as well.