Wednesday, 10 June 2009

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People who aren’t already the President of their things should keep their traps shut. You know who should be allowed to blog? Presidents of things. Presidents of things who graduated from Harvard and Harvard Law. Presidents of things who graduated from Harvard and Harvard Law and then clerked for a Supreme Court Justice. Presidents of things who graduated from Harvard and Harvard Law and then clerked for a Supreme Court Justices before working in the White House. You know who shouldn’t be allowed to blog? Employees of things. Employees of things who graduated from community colleges. Employees of things who graduated from community colleges and then found a decent enough job. Employees of things who graduated from community colleges and then found a decent enough job but are vulnerable to managerial whimsy. Such is Ed Whelan’s “argument.” If you work for a company that manufactures cat food, you shouldn’t be able to pseudonymously blog about your liberal politics if your boss is a conservative, because “revealing [your] identity breaches no ethical norm,” so everyone you argue with has the “right to tell [on you], for whatever reason it suit[s them] to tell it—including no particular reason at all other than that [they find] it useful at the moment [they do] it.” If your boss fires you because he disapproves of what he now knows to be your views, it’s your fault for having them while not being the President of your thing. (Because when you’re the President of your thing, only you can fire you for your views.) But if you’re not the President of your thing? That makes you an employee; which, following Whelan’s logic, means that you don’t have anything important to say, because you can’t have anything important to say, because people who haven’t already risen to being the President of their thing are worthless people. They shouldn’t be allowed to blog because, when they chatter about their unimportant views, the compel Presidents of things, like Ed Whelan, to listen and respond to them—even though whatever it is they say is, by definition, worthless. Because anything written by anyone with a threatenable job is, by definition, worthless. Unless, that is, they have “extraordinary circumstances in which the reason to use a pseudonym would be compelling.” Having “extraordinary circumstances” indicates that someone’s extraordinary enough to acquire high-caliber circumstances, which means that—despite not being the President of their thing—they are somehow important. What kinds of circumstances does Whelan consider extraordinary? Hard to tell what they are, but we know what they can’t be: they can’t be “private, family, [or] professional,” because when those were offered as reasons not to out someone, Whelan went ahead and, without ever inquiring as to what those reasons might be, outed publius anyway. That can only mean that “extraordinary circumstances” never fall into the categories of private, family, or professional matters, otherwise the President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center would’ve violated his own ethical standards by outing someone who potentially had circumstances of the sort; and, being that he’s the President of an ethical thing, the...

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