OKAY, so, first off, the amount of interest we have in the "question" of internets anonymity could fit behind a gnat's ear and still leave room for cochlear implants. It's covered. It's established. It's been done. The internets has nothing to do with it. Anonymity has nothing to do with it. Libel is libel. Interesting how it's the worst sort of overrated opinion whores, the ones whose free pass to making shit up has been, well, sullied by the blogosphere, who have the most difficulty getting their heads around that.
(Conversely, spare me the Tennessee Pinhead Law Professor view of the law, which holds that Nobody woulda known about it except that you sued. Good argument. The cops wouldn't have suspected you if you'd just let them search your house without a warrant! In fact, just spare me Tennessee Pinheads, period.)
Stalkers are bad. Liars are bad. People with hidden political agendas are bad. They're bad when they use the Internets, when they use cellphones, or when they use the Op-Ed pages. Whether they're unfairly maligning professional mannequins or Democratic candidates for President of the United States.
If I read all the vile stuff about me on the Internet, I’d never come to work. I’d scamper off and live my dream of being a cocktail waitress in a militia bar in Wyoming.
Where, incidentally, people would be able to insult you to your face.
Maureen Dowd has standing to criticize Who for What now? The fact that I (presumably) know her birth name, or Katie Couric's married name, means I can show up at their offices and demand a personal apology? Or that I can name her when I write Clark Hoyt a sternly-worded email? I don't recall her open identity doing Al Gore much good in 2000. Dowd hides behind the Public Figure exception to libel law, and behind the self-imposed journalistic "standard" that one may say whatever one wants without regard for fairness, fact, or emotional stability when one writes opinion under a byline, as much as any anonymous blogger slagging some catwalk stick figure.
And Maureen? I don't think you should trouble that hennaed head with all the nasty things the masses have to say about you, any more than I expect you to bother learning the facts of health care, banking regulation, or interpersonal relationships. I do think you ought once, just once, to address the searing criticisms of the named Bob Somerby, say, or even his Tuesday critique of Howie Kurtz. Just once. Without dismissing everyone on the planet who disagrees with you.
Your name's a commodity. You use it to sell books and speaking engagements. Fine by me. But why am I supposed to congratulate you on top of it?
Y'know, thirty-five years ago news media strode the earth like a Colossus. And from that vantage point they saw bigger profits on the horizon from cable, and space phones, and billboards on the Moon, and, especially, unfettered mergering and acquistioning and other rapining. And they decided that the Supermarket Tabloid model of making shit up was an unfair advantage, costing them literally hundreds of dollars a week in fact-checking. Pretty soon you can't say Time without the guy sitting next to you on the bus replying, "Warner." And what happens? When there are no standards left, aside from that byline thing, people discover they can make shit up for themselves and cut out the middle-man. And we learn in short order that there're 40,000 people who can write better than you, would do it for less, and can produce coherent thought without a Blackberryfull of "sources". And 15,000 of 'em would probably do it even if sleeping with a Sulzberger were part of the deal. I'm not saying things would be different now if you'd decided, then, to continue acting as if the News was what is important, and Accuracy your first requirement in relaying it; I'm just saying that now we'll never know. And you can spend you time trying to come up with some reason why we should care. One that doesn't involve knowing the difference between Barney's and Jean-Claude Penney. And better luck with that next time.