On a broader scale, anonymity has also degraded the political debate -- bloggers often post unsourced information, unmitigated vitriol and patent slander anonymously. When Dan Rather promotes falsified documents, he loses his job; when an anonymous blogger posts false but juicy information about a politician, he boosts his hit count.
The vast majority of mainstream bloggers post under their own names, of course -- and they face the same career risks as more "mainstream" journalists. The blogosphere has, in general, been a tremendous boon to the political process, involving millions who would otherwise remain uninvolved and creating a counterbalance to the left-leaning television media. Nonetheless, the advent of widespread anonymity in the political process has increased the risk of outright falsehood shaping our politics.
A person's greatest capital lies in his good name. If that name is never placed in danger by dangerous or obscene behavior, dangerous and obscene behavior will become ever more commonplace. "Regard your good name as the richest jewel you can possibly be possessed of," said Socrates. "The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear." Anonymity allows bad actors to keep their reputation and avoid the endeavor.
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