“KEEP MY NAME OFF YOUR BLOG OR WE SETTLE UP IN PERSON.”
That was the call I got this morning, at work, at 10:04 am. The caller immediately hung up of course, being the coward he is. But, who could it be? My initial thought was it has to be Casey Affleck, pissed off that I didn’t IMDB his name the other day. Maybe it was Richard Gabriel, my favorite historian, pissed off that I once goofed on Candians. Nah, probably not him either. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Fred Downs. Well, I don’t know who it was, but I can guess. And I will, but first…
I blog pseudonymously. I know, Shocker! My mother never yelled into the back yard “TSO [or the longer more pissed off Thus Spake Ortner]get your ass in here and clean your room!” Not once. Because that isn’t my name. When I started blogging every reader I had was in the 3rd Batt, 116th Infantry, and everyone both knew who I really was, and knew that Ortner was our Battalion Commander. Looking back now, I wish I chose another name, since I have come to peace with the BC, and he’s probably confused why I took his name.
There’s a reason I don’t blog with my real name. I have an employer. I have told them about my blog. My boss knows. His boss is a reader. The boss above that doesn’t know what a blog is. And my ultimate boss used to send me things to write about. But, if you google my actual name, somewhere in the assorted hits will be my employer. And unfortunately, people sometimes are purposefully obtuse about the public/private distinction of blogging. And my employer probably doesn’t use the word “asshat” with the same regularity as I do.
But I don’t hide my identity either. I’ve put videos up of myself here from time to time. The videos actually have my name and title in them. Ace of Spades once put up my full actual name, although he accompanied it with a picture of an obese clown for some reason.
Of all the stuff swirling around about the recent hubub of outing a blogger, I am most partial to Mr Greyhawk of Mudville Gazette’s take on it. I encourage you to all go read it. At the very least he sets out the important elements of it. Mr Greyhawk breaks it down with this question, that I think misses my situation:
Having read some explanations from pseudonymous (non-mil)bloggers for pseudonymous blogging of the “fears for repercussions in my personal/professional life” variety, I must ask the obviously begged question: are you saying people wouldn’t like you if they knew the real you – revealed only in your blogging? This implies you’ve fooled them in the first place…
Or are you saying the blogger you is a fraud? (If that’s too harsh a characterization, perhaps that the blogger you is the person you would like to be if only you weren’t afraid concerned…)
Neither me is the real me, and both are the real me. And trust me, I am self-deprecating enough that either me isn’t the optimal one. I am who I am. But, I need to keep them seperate because when I am called upon in my real capacity, I don’t want to answer the question “Why did you call ___ an asshat?” when I am on the company dime. Sometimes I am cited in newspapers under my real name. That is fine. I always want a distinction between the real me (ie Employee guy doing his best in this world) and TSO, the guy who researches this stuff and actually voices an opinion.
To be sure, the two personalities overlap. During the day I help veterans. And, on numerous ocassions I have offered to help IVAW members, as I said the other day. It’s an open offer. If you are getting screwed by the VA or you need help, email Jonn, he’ll forward to me, I’ll get you help.
The only reason I don’t use my actual name here is so that you all can tell the difference between me speaking as TSO, and me representing my employer. It should be noted that I never, EVER espouse a position contrary to one held by my employer. I doubt I ever will, that’s why I work there. But, I am more diplomatic in real life than I am here. Because here you read me if I am funny, in real life if I tried to constantly use humor as a weapon, I would get nowhere.
I think outing a blogger is wrong. Simple as that. If the blogger engages in potentially illegal activity, then I can understand forwarding to law enforcement, but for harmless squabbling it seems ridiculous. Am I dreadfully worried I will be outed? No, it’s happened several times already. I just note it, and move on. Here at TAH I haven’t even deleted my name when it shows up, although I probably will if it shows up in the comments to this post. Again, I’m not trying to survive in utter secrecy, just making a distinction.
Also, my pseudonym is not about safety or privacy. Hell, I tell you guys where I will be all the time. Just ask me and I will tell you where I will be. I told you about the movie the other night, and I went. I told you about Sniperpalooza and invited everyone and I went. When events come up, I tell you.
And safety has never truly been an issue in great degree until today’s threat. And frankly, this one doesn’t scare me either. For one thing, the whole issue drips with Irony. The thought I would go overseas to face the Taliban and come home only to get wacked by a peace activist is too absurd. That crap only happens in bad movies.
Anyway, back to the threat. In the past I have withstood threats to me, and to my dad, as I talked about the other day. So, when the call came in, I was pretty damn sure it was DeWald or Knappenberger. Since I have exchanged emails with DeWald in the past, I emailed and essentially accused him. However, he was nice enough to respond and allay my fears that it was him with a well reasoned, rational response which is what I have come to expect from him, to wit:
The devil, you say? I wish I knew what you were talking about. Wait; no… no, I don’t. I don’t give a shit. It sounds as if you’ve pushed one of your many enemies to the point where you’re getting harassing phone calls or email messages which either amount to amateur trolling or mean your life is in serious danger. Should it be the latter case, it’s somewhat flattering, and demonstrative of the respect you have for my martial talents, that you’d accuse me, but I’m not the culprit. I’m a bit busy here at USASOC for games or revenge. Oddly enough, I’m off to Iraq in August. Just some light analysis, kicking it in the Green Zone, don’t worry about my safety but envy my compensation package. God, I love defense contracting. Dick Cheney for President! Good thing I quit IVAW before I took this job. Or I was just a mentally unreliable but paid informant who needed the cash for grad school all along. Whatever. At any rate, I recommend you call the D.C. Metro Police. If a crime has been committed I’m sure they’ll get right to the bottom of it. Whoever this bold vigilante might be, I hope he kneecaps you before he’s discovered. The glamor of a blogger’s career is surpassed only by its hazards…
Well, I’d say that takes him off the suspect list eh? I mean, he couldn’t be more clear it wasn’t him. Only the most cynical could think that this was the man as called me and threatened me. And, I certainly appreciate his refreshing honesty and integrity. (More on that in a minute, since alas, the Army is impeaching this man of consummate honor.)
Now we have a poster who is taking credit, and claiming to be Knappenberger. The poster had the exact language down, so whoever it is that wrote that is in fact most likely my caller, since the only people I told about this I actually used a different word than “settle” which as memory serves was the exact word. Naturally, that is showing up from an IP address in Sweden. Which means jack shit since you can always tell someone in Sweden what to say and have them post it.
Either way, I really don’t care. I’m busy studying and don’t have time to worry about this. If you want to be a man and call, at least have the balls to do so as yourself. Tell me where to meet you so you can mess me up or whatever. Again, I don’t really care. As Gunny Highway once said:
You can rob me. You can starve me and you can beat me and you can kill me. Just don’t interrupt me from looking at these Contracts Flashcards, because I only have 52 days before the Bar Exam.