Two purely bizarre stories made news this week and in a strange and discomforting way — they’re both about the same, clinging, issue that razzle us every day:  Do we own our identity in public?  The first case concerns Hal Turner, a vile-spewing blogger from New Jersey, who claimed he was paid by the FBI to spread his ugly messages of hate. 

Turner argues he isn’t a Bigot or a Racist, but rather an “Agent Provocateur” for the FBI who would then watch and see if anyone acted on his outrageous ideas.

Even though the words Turner wrote and spoke came from his mouth and fingertips he shouldn’t, Turner reasons, be punished for his role in inciting hatred or violence because he was paid by the FBI to pretend to be something he never was.

The disconnect between man and his own memeing is staggering.

Our next case involves Liskula Cohen who was called a “skank” and other nasty names by a blogger.  Cohen fought back and went to court to get Google to reveal the identity of her virtual attacker.

Cohen won, her attacker lost, and we are delighted to know anonymity on the web is truly a facade that can easily be broken if one decides to fight back against the bullies.

Are we skewing the line between private wants and public wishes? 

Have we now thoroughly blurred the line between the self and the social and we are always in the public square — even when we’re safe asleep in bed?


  1. I think if you’re going to call someone a skank you should have the strength to do so without hiding who you are.
    People really think that on the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog. (Old New Yorker reference)
    Clearly that’s not the case.

  2. Excellent argument, Gordon! I love that cartoon. Yes, why not stand behind your words — especially if you’re going to snipe at somebody from afar in a nasty, personal way?

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