We all know what opinions are like — everybody has one; some are more inflamed than others. I am personally full of inflammatory and spiteful opinions, and I can and do express them, usually in the most defamatory ways. I can vomit up the most vile, scurrilous and hateful nonsense and not worry one iota about responsibility or conscientiousness. I am free to fly off the handle in my cursing, name-calling and unsubstantiated innuendo, never bothering to state facts or use pesky supporting documentation. I can say what I please in the most vengeful and hurtful manner possible, with absolutely no fear I'll ever be called on a defamation charge.
For I am anonymous.
My autograph has a long and checkered political history. The Founding Fathers hired me as far back as 1780 to write scandal sheets to slander their opponents. As Deep Throat I brought down the Nixon administration. I dropped a rumor in 1996 that Richard Jewell set off the Atlanta Olympics bomb and ruined a reputation that took years to get back.
In January I tossed out a “credible terrorist threat from Yemen” and CNN went berserk with it, citing only the “anonymous source.” I was the first to claim there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. John Kerry blasted me in 2006 as a “coward” who “hides behind an anonymous website” for chastising him in a New York Times article for not donating enough money to Democratic senators in election trouble.
Most recently I was credited by Kentucky Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway, who used my unsubstantiated allegations in an attack ad against conservative candidate Rand Paul.
And none of them could penetrate my shield of obscurity.
Granted, there are many legitimate reasons for sometimes remaining unidentified online. Many responsible writers, bloggers and commentators (especially political ones) remain anonymous or assume fake names as a buffer against unsympathetic employers or spouses, government firewalls and potentially violence-prone opponents. They may have excellent reasons for shielding their identities. Sometimes as anonymous I choose not to attack but to compliment or stick up for someone.
But that's not my style most of the time. I'm referring to those insult-spewing armchair critics mostly consigned to the comments sections of online publications, where there's no reason to believe my rancorous remarks will jeopardize my career or my life. I'm free to respond to any and every article my heart pleases, sometimes with a simple sign-in known only to the website. As anonymous, I hide my identity behind my irresponsible condemnations, like a marksman in Stalingrad hiding behind a shell of a building, picking off targets and unafraid of targeted blowback. As anonymous, I am invisible to my enemies, a cowardly dodger who lobs incendiary grenades that assail personal characteristics, looks, race, upbringing or wealth to deflect attention from the actual issue presented.
I am the drive-by sniper of the digital world, afraid to show my face but eager to hit, run and hide after taking a vilifying potshot at an achievement or a reputation.
I will enthusiastically offer up my insufferable written assaults but I lack the courage and self-respect to put my name on them. I am not the victim of a cataclysmic birth defect, was never in an industrial accident, nor am I an injured war hero, yet I have no spine.
It would be different if I were a battered wife, terrified of an abusive spouse, secretly looking for help. It would be different if I were a dissident hiding in China, or a Cuban refugee. If I were in a witness protection program it may behoove me to remain anonymous. If I were a whistle-blower inside a huge corporation, or if I were reporting or responding to armed militias in the Congo, Palestinian terrorists, or Iranian jihadists and identifying me would cost me my life, I think anonymity would be beneficial to my emotional and physical well-being.
But thank God I am not a double-agent holed up in a Rwandan cave, cringing from roving bands of militias armed with machetes, pecking away at my dying laptop trying to secretly call in a chopper extraction via a barely existent satellite link. No, I am fat and happy, sitting in my apartment, den or in my mom's basement, sipping a diet soda and inflating my own sense of self-worth by deflating others, be they some stupid conservative butthead or stupid tea bagger or stupid “Faux” News bloviator or stupid Virginia attorney general who dares upset my ideological values.
Anonymity allows me to publish hit pieces often written so poorly, so incoherently or so viciously that no worthwhile publication or website would publish them under anyone's real name. Then why do I do it? Sigmund Freud once said, “Envy seeks to destroy,” therefore one may argue that I could be so consumed with passive-aggressive jealousy that I seek out and destroy with my blogs and comments people who put themselves in my crosshairs because of some deeply buried obsession to be the subject or author of a feature article, just like them.
Just because their lives and accomplishments are featured under their real names doesn't mean I have to disparage and scorn them with mine.
Those who can, do. Those who can't, attack anonymously. And you're a moron if you disagree.
This opinion was channeled by Dale Brumfield, a payroll services broker from Doswell.
Opinions expressed on the Back Page are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Style Weekly.