A guest post by Eliyahu Fink
What follows is a note Rabbi Fink sent to Harry Maryles in response to his current post about anonymity I was included on the thread, and the note is published with permission
I am not blogging these days as I am studying for the bar. But I could not resist responding to your recent post of anonymity.
I think you are way off on this, and particularly in your attacks against DovBear.
Do you have any idea what it is like to live in NY and try to veer from the accepted norms of the frum community? It's impossible. For DovBear, it would have been literally social suicide to have not been anonymous. He has taken unpopular positions that would have completely cut and his family off from their families and friends. Why should he have to pay that price? Why should his family have to pay that price? It speaks to your inability to put yourself in someone's else's place to criticize him for anonymity.
It is fair to criticize anyone for nastiness. Whether anonymous or not. Personally, I don't find DovBear particularly nasty. Do you even read his blog on a regular basis? And your argument that anonymity as the reason for nastiness is ridiculous. I know plenty of non-anonymous people who are nasty on a regular basis.
Your post misses the point completely. Don't blame anonymous bloggers for being anonymous. Blame hooligans and thugs and stupid social norms for forcing independently minded people into anonymity. YOU have nothing to lose by not being anonymous. The controversial things you might say won't affect anything that you care about. You are an outsider and a grandfather by now. DovBear is an insider with children and a wife on the inside with him. He has everything to lose by not being anonymous.
Would you prefer a world without any DovBears? Because that's your only other option. if you abolish anonymity There won't be DovBears unless you are willing to accept their anonymity. Their world is too dangerous for real names. That's the real problem here.
And nastiness is not as bad as you make it sound. Do you read the rishonim and achronim? They argue vociferously all the time. When truth hangs in the balance, nastiness is part of the territory.
Finally, DovBear's argument for anonymity as a better way for discussing ideas is an excellent point which you handily dismiss. Frum people consider "the source" before all else. If a guy has the wrong yarmulka or a TV in his house, all his opinions are null and void. Anonymity somewhat fixes that problem. You also shrug off the insidious nature of Menken's witch hunt to expose Avi Burstein. He looked him up, found the wrong guy, and then discredited him because of who he thought he was! Insane! If there was even an argument FOR anonymity, Menken made it right there for us all.
I think your post is dangerously wrong. If I were blogging, I would be making these points publicly.
All the best and Good Shabbos
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