WARNING: This blog is longer than my longest blongs, but the information that it contains needs to be read by anyone who cares about freedom of speech.
Images of Freedom of Speech by L. Liwag
“There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice.” ~ Charles de Montesquieu
Outing Mudflats: Doogan is a DoDo
I just found out from visiting one of my regular sites, WillPen’s World, that something truly incredible has happened to one of my favorite blogs: Mudflats (http://www.themudflats.net). I’m sure that many of you probably read Mudflats as it is a very well-written, informative political blog. In fact, Mudflats was voted best political blog of 2008, and I helped to put it there, me along with thousands of other faithful readers.
However, I recently learned of something very dismaying: Representative Mike Doogan of Anchorage, Alaska has gone out of his way to out the writer of Mudflats. That’s right, he spent his time finding out the real name of the author so that he could out her.
Here is what Doogan had to say in outing this blogger:
Anonymous Blogger Anonymous No More
The identity of the person who writes the liberal Democratic Mudflats blog has been secret since the blog began, protected by the Anchorage Daily News, among others. 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. So I was interested to learn that the woman who writes the blog is Anchorage resident Jeanne _____.*
Apparently, all of this ill-conceived, pompous drivel was a result of Doogan’s unhappiness with the Mudflats post on the politician’s rude e-mails to his constituents and took it upon himself to find out the real identity of the popular blog’s moderator. How very mature of him.
“If you don’t understand that you work for your mislabeled ‘subordinates,’ then you know nothing of leadership. You know only tyranny.” ~ Dee Hock
As Dawn Teo reveals in her post on HuffingtonPost.com about Doogan’s actions, ” He had saved up all of the emails from constituents on the Troopergate issue, and in December he responded to all of them at once, CC’ing a list of about thirty perfect strangers together in one email, telling them,
Are you people nuts? You send me—and everybody else in the legislature, 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 your obsessions.
Yes America, this is how an elected official actually responded to concerned constituents. I know that I would be supporting and campaigning for someone who addressed me in this fashion. Apparently, Doogan doesn’t care about being re-elected, or at least, that is how it appears. But what really torqued Doogan out of shape was when AKMuckRaker of Mudflats posted an entry in which Doogan’s rudeness is made public for all to see; in addition, the moderator (whose name I will not use out of respect for her desire for privacy, even though she has been outed), took Doogan to task for his lack of etiquette in e-mail.
Even though Mudflats was completely within its rights to voice opinions anonymously under the guise of AKMuckRaker, Doogan’s vanity got the best of him, and he made it his quest to find out the moderator’s name, even e-mailing people to try to get them to identify her. Of course, no loyal reader would reveal such information.
Obviously, Representative Doogan does not know his history. Consider the anonymous authors of The Federalist Papers—Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison, who published their 85 letters using the name “Plubius.” Or how about Thomas Paine’s anonymously published Common Sense, or for that matter all of the work that Benjamin Franklin published under the pseudonym Silence Dogood. We’re talking about the nation’s founding fathers and favorite citizens. Doogan, in his self-righteous justification for outing the blog author, forgot one of the most important lessons of U.S. history: Opposing political views are what made this country.
“The framers [of the Constitution] knew that free speech is the friend of change and revolution. But they also knew that it is always the deadliest enemy of tyranny.” ~ Hugo Black
What Doogan did not count on was the support that Mudflats enjoys nationwide, nor did he stop to consider that bloggers are a very steadfast and loyal group. We look out for our own as we realize that if something like this can happen to one blog, it can happen to all blogs. Bloggers come from all walks of life, countries near and far, different religious and political backgrounds, but we all realize that being able to write about issues that concern us is a precious right, one that we will not cede without a fight.
As a former journalist, Doogan should have had better sense than to make public the name of someone who deliberately chose to remain anonymous. In fact, what Doogan did could be considered illegal as defined by the U.S. Supreme Court:
As JJEagleHawk pointed out in Daily KOS:
Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that “an author’s decision to remain anonymous, like other decisions concerning additions or omissions to the content of the publication, is an aspect of the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment.” In a concurring decision, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote “we should determine whether the phrase ‘freedom of speech, or of the press,’ as originally understood, protected anonymous political leafleting. I believe that it did.” Please note that, in this same decision, Justice Stevens also said that anonymous speech protects “unpopular individuals from retaliation—and their ideas from suppression—at the hand of an intolerant society.”
A lawyer who contacted Daily KOS made this very insightful point:
This is a violation of federal law and of the state common law right to privacy. The fact that he did it on state time and in his capacity is what is called “state action” for a section 1983 civil rights claim. The Mudflats blogger, who was absolutely entitled to comment on matters of public interest and equally entitled to do so anonymously, has a significant lawsuit against this clown . . . In addition to awarding damages, they also award attorneys’ fees. That is the only way to stop this sort of abuse of public position.
“I can remember when Democrats believed that it was the duty of America to fight for freedom over tyranny.” ~ Zell Miller
By the way, did Democrat Doogan use his state office and state computer in his search for vengeance? Was it on the time of the citizens of Anchorage that Doogan chose to behave like a schoolyard bully? How did he obtain this information? Did he use his political connections?
Important things that should make the people who elected this man to office might want to consider. And consider they are. I have read many blogs posts reacting to Doogan’s petty antics in which they promise to vote for anyone but Doogan and to offer monetary support to anyone willing to take on Doogan in the 2010 election. Count me in on that pool; I’ll add Doogan to Michele Bachman as people I will help to defeat even though they do not represent my state.
Fortunately, the support for Mudflats’ moderator has been very vocal and has not been limited to small-time bloggers. For example, Scout Finch on Daily KOS had this to say:
Whatever your reasoning, you’ve certainly caught our attention. And if you think we are going to scuttle back into the shadows and let this pass, you’ve got another thing coming. Your petty, vindictive, unprofessional, unethical, and perhaps even illegal actions are certain to come back to haunt you.
But one of the responses that really speaks to the heart of the matter is by DemFromCT in The Patrick Henry Press News:
I’m sure Alaskans can appreciate your focus on outing a blogger who is most known for exposing the hypocrisy, questionable ethics, and corruption of Alaskan officials. I’m sure they appreciate your focus on warring with bloggers instead of taking on the difficult economic and social issues Alaskans find themselves faced with this winter, including those who can’t afford to heat their homes. But, instead, here you are — gloating about your efforts to ruin somebody’s life.
For her part, the moderator of Mudflats was been extremely professional and considered in her response, especially considering that she is not the professional writer and Doogan was. Here is a sample of Mudflats’ comments in regards to the whole situation:
I was a bit surprised to see my real name, as you can imagine. But after the initial surprise wore off, it really hit me. This is an elected State Representative, of my own political party, who has decided that it’s not OK for me to control the information about my identity; that it’s not OK to express my opinion on my own blog without shouting from the rooftops who I am.
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.” ~ C. S. Lewis
I know that I am a bit late in joining the game, but I’ve never let that stop me before. What Representative Mike Doogan of Alaska did is reprehensible, but at the same time, it shows exactly how insecure he is.
I have enjoyed visiting Mudflats ever since I began blogging last year. During the election, it was the one source to which I turned to find out what was really going on with the Governator. This blog has been an incredible resource, both through its moderator and through the comment threads. What Doogan did was unconscionable, not because we now know the author’s name as she should be proud of what she has created here, but because a politician should not have the time to go searching for a blogger’s identity.
Politicians should be working on fixing this country, fixing their states. The economy is in the crapper, Doogan. Your ignoramus of a governor is going to refuse money from the Federal government without considering how much Alaska needs this support. As for yourself, look at your state and tell me that the time you spent in outing an intelligent, well-versed, source of news for thousands of people is more important than the bigger issues facing your constituents and all Americans right now.
Doogan, your priorities are incredibly out of whack. Oh, and about 2010? I wouldn’t count on it if I were you. Unfortunately for you and those of your ilk, bloggers have a very long reach, which too many politicians tend to forget.
See these other blogs for more information about Doogan: