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Archive for March, 2009

“I’ll comment more on this later.  For those who don’t follow this blog, it is one of the best in Alaska.”

OK, its later.

First, Alaska Mudflats, an anonymous blogger from here in Alaska that writes the wonderful progressive blog  The Mudflats, has been outed by a state legislator.  A Democratic legislator no less.  Mike Doogan.

Why?

Who knows.

Mudflats is one of the ways that I start my days.  I hit the Alaska Volcano Observatory, Daily-News Miner, Huffington Post, Anchorage Daily News, and the Mudflats.  Several times a day usually.  Often I hit Mudflats before any of the rest, except the Observatory (but only as of late), because it is more honest, better written, and often a day ahead of any news the paper prints.

Moving beyond my anger and disappointment at this event and recognizing that it quite possibly will silence an outstanding commentary on Alaska politics, an underlying philosophical question comes into play.

Are anonymous bloggers a threat to our society and to our form of government?

Apparently, Mr. Doogan thinks so.

Should people be allowed to speak out (or write in this case) for, or against things, without signing their name in big bold letters for everyone to see?

NO!!!  As Mr. Doogan sees it.

Mr. Doogan, who used to write commentary for the Anchorage Daily News, certainly has his right to that opinion.  On the other hand, does he have the right to enforce his opionion on someone who has chosen to be anonymous, using state resources to do so?  We’ll leave that question to be decided in the courts, at leas that is where I hope it gets decided.

Now, back to the subject, does anonymity have a role to place in a democratic society?

Our founding fathers Hamilton, Jay, and Madison felt it worthwhile to speak anonymously in favor of ratification of the Constitution in the Federalist Papers.  Benjamin Franklin published Poor Richard’s Almanac under the pseudonym Richard Saunders.

Apparently they thought expressing themselves politically while remaining anonymous was worthwhile.  So what does Mr. Doogan know that they don’t?

For one, they had not made a career out of working for a newspaper industry that may well be in it’ s death throws, and a paper specifically whose continued viability has been called into question.  Mr. Doogan’s media may be a thing of the past, in part to the immediacy and honesty of bloggers like Alaska Mudflats.  So, maybe he’s just a bitter, old man.

Another dig there.  Sorry Mr. Doogan, I know you are a great supporter of common courtesy.  Back to the topic.

In my opinion, anonymity can provide a forum for honest and intellectual essays devoid of fear of repercussion or judgement.  I value that discourse in society.  I think it leads to an improvement in the public discourse.  Hamilton, Madison, Franklin, and Jay apparently agreed; as they used the format to present arguments via essay and print on matters as important as our constitution.

If one thinks that political opinions don’t carry reward or risk in Alaska, they are sadly mistaken.  When citizens aren’t allowed to discuss concerns, worries and events in an environment safe from repercussion, what does the future hold?  Particularly in a what can certainly be considered hostile territory for progressives.

I’ve written this blog, intermittently of late, but always anonymously.  But many people know me as the author.  That has been my choice.  I have written about some personal things, including conflict in a group as small as our church.  It hasn’t gone without criticism from some friends and fellow church members who thought I was being unfairly critical and mean spirited.

Perhaps.

My response to them is, “If you don’t like it, don’t read it.”

Needless to say, that doesn’t always go over very well.  The message I’m trying to get across to the critic is that the blog is a personal essay, an exercise in writing about something that one feels strongly about.  When well written it brings about a strong reaction in a reader.  Sometimes it is a positive response, sometimes negative.  Sometimes people are so moved they feel the need to comment and hopefully will enter into a conversation with the author.  If so, job well done.

I like to think of blogs as the modern day equivalent of letter writing.  Before our country was formed, our founding fathers discussed politics and philosophy via  letters.  Jefferson and Adams, friends and sometimes political rivals, shared letters.  Imagine, a civil discourse founded on thoughtful, intelligent debate at the end of a quill, or today on a keyboard.

Compare it to the TV bloviators, where posturing, yelling, and personality take precedence over the rational discussion of ideas.  Can you imagine what Bill OReilly’s blog might look like?  How about Rush?  Beck?  Mr. Doogan?  “I CAN TYPE LOUDER THAN YOU!!!!!!  SHUT UP!!!!  #%$!@@#@#!!!!!

Alaska Mudflats has added to the political discourse here in Alaska; providing insightful, at times funny, at times biting (often to those that deserved bit), political and social commentary.

Our state is entering a crucial time.  Our governor and legislature can’t get along, our governor doesn’t know where the state capital is, our state budget is a shambles, Alaska Natives are making the choice between food and heat, and one of our so-called leaders is using our state resources to hunt down the nefarious threat to democracy otherwise known as Alaska Mudflats.

I hope Alaska Mudflats sticks around.  As I’ve said before, reading Mudflats is part of my daily routine.  If it goes away, I’ll miss it greatly.  I feel deeply for Alaska Mudflat’s family, and hope they remain safe.  I hope they feel safe.  The loss of ones comfort and security in their own home, their own community, can be one of the greatest losses one can have short of a loved one.

To anyone offended by Mr. Doogan’s actions, especially Alaskans, his contact info is below:

Mike Doogan
Ph: (907) 465-4998
Or (800) 689-4998
Fax: (907) 465-4419

doogan@akdemocrats.org

Representative_Mike_Doogan@legis.state.ak.us

doogans@gci.net

If you want to keep up with what other bloggers are saying about this event, check out Immoral Minoritys blog where there are links to what everyone is saying.
UPDATE: Another link to with updates and commentary at  the Mudflats Forum.

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