Monday, December 7, 2009

Exposing Blogger Identities: The Empire Strikes Back?



In this shriveled scrap of empire we call the United Kingdom, there is a fine tradition of the anonymous political missive – Swift, Defoe, Scott, to name but a few. What is interesting is that they all relate to the idea of a greater England. Let’s call it Britain, for argument’s sake.

Daniel Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe (based on the Scot Alexander Selkirk), was the English spy and pamphleteer who came to Scotland to campaign for Union with England in the early 1700s, at great risk to his personal safety. Walter Scott, on the other hand, when not arguing for the continuation of that same Union, fought to save Scotland’s version of English money in the 1820s (that’s why he’s on it). As for Jonathan Swift, well, I defy any adult who knows Irish history to read Gulliver’s Travels and not see Lilliput as a scathing metaphor for English colonial rule: Ireland tied down and crawling with self-important little Englishmen, who all just happen to be six inches long. Brilliant.

All three writers used anonymity to protect themselves from retaliation for their political campaigns. When you are taking on a state, you need to be careful. States are remote, faceless powers that cannot be touched. It is only fair to extend the political pamphleteer, novelist, or blogger the same courtesy.

Once again, though, it seems as if the genre will no longer be tolerated by the powers that be.

A War on Nationalist Bloggers?
With the recent campaign to close down three Scottish nationalist blogs, some may be wondering if the days of anonymous political dissent in Scotland are numbered. The identities of two nationalist bloggers – Subrosa and Montague Burton – were revealed in the same week, while Wardog was harassed at work and home by newspapers.

So who is behind this? Is the establishment fighting back?

As far as I am concerned, for a political blogger, being told to shut up means you are annoying somebody. And if you are someone with a political axe to grind who enjoys pissing people off, this is about as close as you will get to a pat on the back.

So what would happen if my identity were exposed? After my massive ego had dealt with the flattery of it all, next there will be calls from reporters, the paparazzi at the bottom of the garden. I might have to get an agent. Not that revealing my identity would make much difference. If it happens, so be it. My blog hit rate might even soar through a dozen hits a day. The most likely reaction would be a resounding ‘Who?’

Let me be clear. Alex Salmond was right to tell nationalist bloggers to cool the four-letter insults. They convince no one. But these attacks had absolutely nothing to do with obscene language. Subrosa didn’t generally say nasty things about anyone, yet someone tried to reveal her identity. Someone didn’t like what she had to say, and tried to shut her up.

As for Wardog and Montague, these were solid blogs I enjoyed reading, and will miss. Personally, I prefer not to resort to four-letter name-calling, but others may do as they please. If you don’t like to hear it, don’t visit the site. I occasionally use bad language on my blog (So what? We’re all adults) and I feel it is my right to insult political groups I consider worthy of contempt. If challenged, I will respond with:

"Prove to me you are not oxygen thieves."

I have also made the odd poor attempt at satire, which works best when the target is not named but they decide to complain anyway, and to the reply should always be:

"What makes you think the drink-sodden moron was you?"

My blog is a vehicle for my opinions, and what I believe. I happen to believe the British state is technically bankrupt and rotten to its stinking, expenses-fueled, illegal war-waging core. I think that Scotland is in a colonial situation with England, against the wishes of the English people. I believe that most Scots and English are essentially decent people, but that we are ruled by a corrupt, self-serving political class whose continued existence depends on keeping us locked together in an artificial state called the United Kingdom.

No one can condemn me for holding these opinions. Or change them. My self-set task is to convince those of a different opinion, and to ridicule those I consider my political enemies.


Why Jim Murphy is Not a C**t
To simply call someone a c**t, though, is to lose. It convinces no one. In my opinion, it tells your enemies that they are winning, that you are powerless, and is a cry of anger and frustration.

Oh, and by the way, Jim Murphy is most definitely NOT a c**t. He is, in my humble opinion, a second rate political lightweight who has never had a proper job in his life and who is facing electoral oblivion at the next General Election. And quite frankly he is shitting himself.

C**ts, on the other hand, are pleasing on the eye, exciting to see, serve a productive purpose in society, and regularly put a smile on my face. They are, above all, useful. So, Wardog and Montague, on behalf of c**ts everywhere, I demand a retraction. How dare you sully the reputation of these truly wonderful creations!

What is at Stake
Just as for Swift, Scott and Defoe, the anonymous political writer today has much at stake. For many bloggers, exposure might mean your reputation, your career, even your life. Whether it is the university lecturer losing his job for saying things too vulgar for those poor wee precious students to hear (give me a break), the police officer revealing systemic corruption among the officers around him, or the political dissident criticizing his government, it can be a serious business.

Unless you are lucky enough to be a full time sex slave to a rich, horny widow who doesn’t know the first thing about politics and has free broadband, cable and a heated swimming pool. Then you are pretty much in the clear.

"Authority, I laugh at you! Ha!"

No, not you, Sweetie. I’ll be there in a minute.

The challenge for the government is to stop the political blogger from blogging. If you have already made your identity public voluntarily, they only have to wait for you to say something incompatible with your professional position and then hound your bosses till you are sacked. (Wardog and Monty, we await your return. You served a valuable role.)

If you are anonymous, you probably have good reason to be. They first have to reveal your identity, preferably in a way that conceals government involvement, at least in supposedly democratic states. Make it look like a mistake, or the work of a nosey newspaper. (Well done, Rosy, for getting back in the ring. I salute you.)

The question to ask is ‘cui bono?’ To whose advantage was the exposure of Subrosa, Montague Burton and the harassment of Wardog? Other bloggers, jealous of their hit-rates? Newspapers, envious of their readership? The Scotland Office, annoyed at not getting blanket coverage of the independence-bad, Union-good message?

I’m not making any accusations, but just what exactly do the sixty – count them: SIXTY – people in the Anti-Scottish Office do? That’s nearly half the total number of politicians in Holyrood. And what exactly does Jim Murphy spends his £7.2million budget a year on? When Scotland becomes independent, England will have a consular general in Edinburgh with a secretary and a cappuccino machine if they’re lucky. So what the hell do these SIXTY people do? Their total salaries can’t amount to much more than £2million. Where the hell does the rest go?

Can we see the accounts, please, Jim?

Exposure works both ways, too. When my rich widow unties me long enough to blog, I can tell exactly when my missives are read by those in Whitehall, Westminster and Holyrood.

Take this avid little reader, for instance. You can tell a lot about what’s on someone’s mind by the path they take through the site. Any guesses? And a whole hour on my site, too. I’m flattered. They obviously have a lot of time on their hands.


(Green – where they came from, black – what they read, blue – how they left)


Make no mistake, I am under no illusions that the minions of the British government don’t know exactly who I am. To be perfectly honest, though, I don’t really care.

Speak the truth and let the heavens fall, to twist the words of Thoreau. Let them do their damnedest.

As long as I keep my cute little widow happy, I’m not going anywhere.

Oops, spoke too soon. Gotta go.

Duty calls. Ahem.



UPDATE: WATCHING THE WATCHERS

22 comments:

scunnert said...

It is an outrage that bloggers have to defend themselves at all Outlander. For Wardog and UoC to be outed in the MSM and lose their jobs for expressing their political opinions is truly Kafkaesque.

Wardog used a sweary word and that was their excuse? They were offended? Where the hell did they grow up - a convent?

Yes I believe the all seeing state knows who we all are, but I really can't see them bothering with a few obscure blogs with a combined readership of a few hundred like minded folks. No this smells more like a pissed off p[olitician and a juniour hack trying to earn his spurs. A hack job if ever I saw one.

I must admit to using the "c" word in solidarity with Wardog. Why was I not then vilified and outed? My readership is certainly not as wide as Wardog's was - but should that matter? Surely the same principal should apply? But no - I have been ignored because that was merely an excuse. Wardog got up someone's nose - putting in FOI requests on Willie Bain was what probably did it. And eager to please some juniour hack got on the case.

It's a sad state of affairs but I'm moving on now. There are too many politicians to mock and too little time.

Cheers

OutLander said...

Agreed, Scunnert One.

Onward and upward!

subrosa said...

Excellent as always OL. There is a definite agenda towards independence supporting Scottish bloggers. The chain is long and complicated and personally I couldn't given a XXXX who views my blog but my problem was to assured myself my family were safe.

You wouldn't want anyone to be harassing your cute little rich widow now would you? ;) As you rightly say there's also a culture of jealousy within the Scottish blogging scene which I didn't notice until very recently.

We live and learn.

Just love the remark about the consular general and a cappuccino machine. How accurate that may turn out to be.

Quinie fae Angus said...

My goodness, what an excellent post. My first visit, as I am new, but I will definitely be back.

Loved the bit about "speaking the truth and letting the heavens fall". And the Cappucino machine line was a hilarious turn!

The worm is certainly turning. They can monitor us all they like but they're not going to be able to keep us quiet.

Thank you Outlander. But tell me - when am I going to able to get my life back? Since venturing into this for the first time last week I have been glued to my computer, as I browse from post to post, fascinated and absorbed, and made to laugh, writing comments to all and sundry, and having the best time in a long while!

But it's becoming an addiction, and just as I was about to give myself a shake and tear myself away from the screen once and for all, after five solid days of it, even just to get a washing done, or cook my tea, I spotted your post! And the hairs on the back of my neck are standing on end all over again!

Jings, it's 1 o'clock in the morning, way past tea-time.

See what I mean?!

Unfortunately I do not have a hunky hairy widower to hand, to tear me away from my new drug of choice.

cuthulan said...

Another articulate atricle and very much on point.The MSM media is on the offensive to defend thier political masters and Yes I think we are rattling a few cages ,and Yes I think we have them worried , and YES lets keep posting!
They seem to have me confused with someone that gives a damn!!!
Print and be damned ,as they say, just make sure you spell my name right!! I'm sure the government has released my details on CD numerous times already.
BUT I agree that my one worry is to my loved ones .I am willing to take the slings and arrows of outragous fortune and mindless politions and spineless unionists, but my family and friends did not ask to be abused because of my opinions.
BUT there seems to be HIPOCRACY involved from the unionists again. I remember when I used to post on the Scotsman site ,ranting against the delusional unionist "AM2".There was OUTRAGE when someone "outed" him online. Cannot reveal a unionists name online,(especially when he was a 2nd hand car salesman!!!)he feared for his safety!!!! So a nationalists safety is not so important?
Wardog and Subrosa consider this a badge of honour for you work ,I salute you both,please keep up the good work.
When TRUTH becomes HATE speach we cannot stop the fight! We must fight on louder and prouder!!
AS an American unionist might put it, "Bring it on.." or as we say in Scotland , "C'mon if ya think yer hard enuff"
Thought for the day for the unionists
First they came for the anti-war protestors... I said nothing ,I was not an anti-war protestor
Then they came for the anti-globalists ..I said nothing I was not an anti-globalist
Then they came for the nationalists ... I said nothing I was not a nationalist
Then they came for the bloggers .... I said nothing I was not a blogger
Then they came for ME ..and there was no-one to say anything!

Jim said...

Nice one!

OutLander said...

Cheers, Rosie.

I must say, your (temporary) demise angered and saddened me.

It is indeed great to have you back!

The blog envy thing is definitely noticeable. I won't name names, but I somehow doubt they would stoop to tracking down blogger IDs. There are petty jealousies out there, but this stuff takes time and resources.

Now, how do we get Wardog, Montague, Moridura and AMW back in the saddle? I don't understand why they at least don't leave up their blogs. At very least they are valuable sources of information.

I suspect Wardog is already back in his saddle, riding forth with a new identity. Blogging would be a hard thing to give up. I hope he does. It'll be fun trying to spot him.

OutLander said...

Thanks, Quinie.

"the hairs on the back of my neck are standing on end all over again! "

Wow, high praise indeed. Maybe the rage I was feeling at how the other bloggers were treated got me fired up. I was going to call the post "HOW FUCKING DARE THEY?" but that would have been rude and I never use four-letter words. Ever.

"But tell me - when am I going to able to get my life back? "

Sorry, Quinie. your life is over. It never ends.

Tell me though, was it the press stories about the blogger language that drew you to nationalist blogging?

If the exposures were by jealous newspapers, and there are many others like you, this could be one of the most spectacular mistakes in Scottish media history.

And you only discovered us last week? Welcome to the dark side!

OutLander said...

Cheers, Cuthulan,

"Yes I think we are rattling a few cages"

Definitely. As I said to Quinie, I think this whole exposure thing may just have backfired spectacularly on the MSM. If people are now coming looking for us to get an alternative opinion from the Labour press releases they find verbatim in the Hootsmon and Herald, then maybe we need to be posting more than before. It might be a turning point.

"AM2 was a 2nd hand car salesman"

That explains so much. Something about the slipperiness. I used to enjoy wiping the floor with him regularly. I remember all that cut-and-paste garbage he used to throw at us, and he would always bolt for cover when you challenged him. Ah, those were the days. *wipes tear from eye*

I did disagree with his outing though. It didn't matter whether he worked for the Scotsman or not. He had the same right to anonymity as the rest of us.

OutLander said...

Cheers, Jimbo.

OutLander said...

Speak of the devil, Rosie.

If you want to see petty rivalry, check this out:

http://linlithgow-libdems.blogspot.com/2009/12/blogging-bias-of-times-or-ignorance-of.html

Handbags at fifty paces. Classic.

Quinie fae Angus said...

Outlander, in response to your request, let me give you a linear summary of my descent into the dark side, because I think it may mirror what has happened with other new recruits. Mine was what you might call a "gradual" journey at first, which tripped into a trot, then a canter, and has now galloped into what you might call a "fundamental" climax.

It all started one Sunday night in the spring of this year, as I lay tucked up in my bed reading all the Sunday papers from that day (sad I know) on my brand new Blackberry (how exciting!). My usual Sunday night diet back then was the SoS, SH, Mail on Sunday and Observer, as I like to get who's saying what on the right, the left, the in-between and the green, if you know what I mean.

Anyway I suddenly realised I was being starved of any sort of real, meaningful pro-independence writing or discourse no matter where I turned. It was maddening. Iain MacWhirter was of course the must-read every week, followed swiftly by Muriel Gray who often has a wee rant at the SNP but is definitely an independently-minded girl on all sorts of topics that interest me. At that stage I had forgotten about Joan McAlpine of the Sunday Times. (Sorry, Joan).

Anyway, in my frustration and desperation, I typed "Scottish Political Stories" into Google to see if I could turn up whatever I must be missing. Lo and behold, I discovered the Scottish Political Round Up, and that's what started it all. I was amazed. Here, for the first time, I was introduced to the kinds of intelligent discussions going on between people of ALL political colours. It was a revelation. At last my thirst for pro-SNP tales was quenched; my faith that people can rise above yah-boo crap was restored when I saw the respect and courtesy that the likes of Jeff, Yousuf, Caron, and some of the Tories (can't remember who, now, no offence)showed each other when discussing the hot potatoes of the day. Wow, this was different. Cross-party discourse passionately fought but in a very adult way. Subrosa was a delight because as you can guess from my psuedonym, the views of a "Dundee wifie" are of particular interest to me. Aye We Can's nuanced inside nous of the modus operandi of the MSM obviously crucial. Wardog, Scunnert, Montague's Cheese, Conan etc made me hoot with laughter. I was hooked. But as my life is packed to the gunnels, at that stage I never got further than my wee Sunday night bed-time swatch at the Scottish Political Round Up. Never fired up the laptop to browse the actual blogs or anything. It was a kind of "What a treat. I'll get into that at some point soon" and then I went on to have a mad summer of camping, caravanning, heavy rock festivals etc etc. My Sunday nights were taken up.

Quinie fae Angus said...

Please forgive the lengthy of this - is that rude, within the Bloggy etiquette rules? I'd be grateful if someone would enlighten me. But for the moment I'll plough on.

Anyway once autumn descended and my Sunday nights calmed down, I got back into this ScoPoRo thing, on my Blackberry in bed, and became all interested all over again. I was thinking "This is amazing, why is no-one in the MSM talking about this, acknowledging this?" Then I started hearing pejorative comments in the MSM about "cybernats", as if they were some kind of sub species. I was indignant, and began to follow the Sco Po Ro thing with even more thoroughness. But I still couldn't really join in, as some of the sites didn't come up very clearly on the Blackberry, and I couldn't make comments on it. I was just a casual browser.

It was at that point that the Wardog business blew up, followed shortly afterwards by Cheesegate. This was it now. My interest fully fired up, and enraged/fearful at these "outings" and the subsequent fate of the parties involved, and what this might mean on the wider scene just as pro-independence people were finally finding a voice, I set up the laptop and finally ventured fully fledged into the Brave New World of the Scottish Bloggysphere.

cuthulan said...

Outlander ,as they say,there is no such thing as bad advertising, print and be damned. Hopefully I'll see my blog count go up because of it ;-)
I think this could backfire on the MSM. We are much more entertaining ,thought provoking...and truthful!Maybe we do need to blog more,but I just do not have the time.
To my fellow bloggers in arms ,we are hurting them where it hurts, in thier pockets ,due to lowering thier viewers and circulation figures thus effecting thier advertising revenue. Hint to the MSM, try telling the truth ,people might buy your newspaper and tune in to your program.
But I agree too, outing AM2 was wrong , I totally disagree with him but he deserves the same respect as the rest of us.BUT the OUTRAGE shown at the "outage" of AM2 then because of personal safety ,and TODAY nationalist bloggers are to be "outed" and this is to be applauded ... did I miss something important recently OR is this just total hipocracy?!

Quinie fae Angus , welcome to your new life, I look forward to laughing ,screaming and ranting with you in the future.
Remember
There's NO justice , There's just US!
Outlander you seemed to float into this blogging world in a similar way. I started by just ranting in the comments section of the MSM ,until I realised there was a whole world of people online speaking the same language !
And the MSM wonder why they are loosing money..D'OH!

Quinie fae Angus said...

Final chapter, for now, I promise.

Well, I started browsing these blogs, and the comment threads, and I was well and truly amazed, and cerebrally stretched. Cannot tell you just how weird a feeling I got, reading all these sites and seeing that the TRUTH was being aired at last, and discussed. Hallelujah. It was something of a spiritual experience; a revelation. I was learning so much. But simultaneously with that particular ecstasy, I was also feeling spooked and empathetic at the agony of what was happening with Wardog and Monty. The subsequent sudden disappearance of Subrosa, of all people, really disturbed me, and I now became thoroughly absorbed by the "silencing of Nat bloggers" question. Whether it was the work of an MSM/Unionist conspiracy, or just a lone saddo troll getting a kick out of hurting and frightening people, etc. I was stunned and heartened by the level of support that Subrosa et al were getting from bloggers of ALL political persuasions at these outrageous "outings". I was shocked at Subrosa's stalker's nastiness, and hooked by Cyber Queen Polaris's dogged and selfless attempts (at her own risk) to nail him - she's not even a nationalist! Just a truth-seeker with integrity and ethics! Then of course, we had, at last, Joan McAlpine's piece alerting the general public (well, ST readers...it's a start) to the delights and the nuances and variety of the blogs on offer for people's reading pleasure, and comparing them to the satirical pamphleteers of yesteryear. Fantastic. I was then introduced to the hilarious Lallans Peat Worrier, Jess the Dog and all the others I hadn't yet had a chance to find. It's just fantastic.

Finding your post last night, which proves that we are all potentially being monitored by the British State, really put the fear of God in me, to be honest. But there is support in numbers, and it's all just made me more determined to carry on, get stuck in, get my own blog some day and shout it from the rooftops to anyone who will listen.

I have bought Private Eye for years, and love it.

But this! This is Private Eye, only it's Scottish - and live, before our very eyes!

And "THEY" hate it!!

Well stuff 'em, that's what I say.

Game on.

OutLander said...

No, Quinie,

I agree. Stuff 'em! Thanks for letting me know about your journey. You should start your own blog too - you write well.

And by the way, you can say as much as you want in the comments. It's all good.

You've quite impressed me actually. I didn't think Blogger allowed comments that long.

In terms of getting to the truth, I find Scotsman is a good site (hold on, wait for it) because of the comments section under the articles. The articles themselves are usually mince and I just skim over them - laughably biased, poorly written, and often with headlines at odds with the news. I also skim over the comments from the usual unionist suspects too.

Same crap, different day. And always first to comment, before the article was available online too. Imagine that.

They don't call it MacPravda for nothing. But the comments usually put the record straight - when they allow them, anyway.

Quinie fae Angus said...

Hello Cuthalan

Cheers for the welcome. Strength in numbers, eh?

Your blog looks very interesting indeed but if you'll forgive me I'll have to pay a proper visit there and digest at some other time soon.

If I don't get off this PC and start answering the phone to people, and getting on with the millions of real life things I have been neglecting over the past five days, it'll stress me out and cheese off (I use the expression deliberately) my poor family.

Thanks so much for the kind welcome, and the validation, and the solidarity etc. It means a lot and fires me up.

I'll need to ask for help now and again from you as I am no cyber queen. Have learned how to paste links into browsers but that's about it. Don't understand feeds or RSS or Javascript or anything. But several on here (Alex Porter, Tris et al) have offered me help with setting up a blog. I have a computer boffin pal coming to stay at Christmas (another nat, though not a cybernat - yet - but a computer programmer nonetheless. I'll get him to sit with me and set me up properly (security wise etc, and how to monitor who's monitoring me), and I'll introduce him to the delights of the Bloggysphere. He'll love it.

Think it's a viral thing. Is that what it's called? Is that what we are unleashing here? Wow! How exciting.

Cheers all. Back soon!

OutLander said...

Cuthulan,

Aye, you're not far off the mark.

My young sexy widow got tired of me shouting at the telly and ranting about the crap in the Scottish press and talked me into starting a blog.

Now she gets peace, my blood pressure has gone down, and I have more time on my hands.

Part of my agenda is to get as many coherent, articulate nationalist supporters to blog as possible. I don't care about my own hits, only that the truth is getting through this media equivalent of elevator music we call the Scottish press.

Did I mention my young sexy widow is loaded?

cuthulan said...

Outlander ...LOL
Totally agree as well. Most of the time I post its for "thereputic" reasons, like you, bloodpressure and to stop me shouting at the TV! and for me as well,its the comments I keep an eye on ,not the counter. As long as we are getting the message thru ,the more bloggers the merrier. It was the first time I've heard of "blog jealousy"!
I stopped posting on the "hootsmon" long ago, I did not want to increase its web count by commenting on it.Even removed it from my favourites, just check the blogs for news these days.I agree there where some good posters there , when they where allowed to post!
btw You didn't mention if your sexy young loaded widow has a sister? ...You never know if SHE plays her cards right ,She could get a guy just like ME ;-)

Quinie
You're very welcome, and I look forward to your first blog.

Blog on , Blog on
With hope in your heart
Cos you'll never blog alone
You'll never blog alone!

I'll get ma coat.........

OutLander said...

Quinie,

You should do it. Definitely.

Here's some free advice:

1. Use Blogger (the platform you're on). It's a good balance between ease of use and professional appearance. There are other platforms out there that are better, but you need to know more to use them. Do the Blogger tutorials first. Set up a dummy blog and play with it.

2. Write you posts first in Word - the spell checker will save you embarrassing typos.

3. Don't post comments on potentially hostile blogs. You saw what records are available about ALL visitors to blog sites.

4. Be nice to everyone who comments, unless they are rude, then be rude right back. At least, that's my policy. Remember, it's your blog.

5. Don't be a hit whore. Hits don't count who reads you through readers like Google Reader, etc, anyway.

6. Post as often as you can without it taking over your life. Quality is better than quantity.

7. Don't say anything you don't think is true, or don't have evidence for. You don't have to use references or links for everything, unless it's something people might not have read.

8. Talk to your IT friends to put some digital distance between you and your online presence. They will know what I mean.

There are sites that tell you this sort of stuff better than me.

I look forward to reading what you have to say.

Happy blogging!

OutLander said...

Cuthulan,

Now that you mention it, she DOES have a sister. She's not bad, either. A little firecracker.

The problem is she's married to an unrepentant Unionist.

Would you like her to be a divorcee or a widow?

Quinie fae Angus said...

Thanks both of you. Great advice.

I don't think I'll remotely think about setting up until my IT pals have seen to the digital distance aspect first.

Although I suppose I'll have fallen foul of that already just be being a naive commenter who stumbled into this by accident, little realising how I would be drawn in.

Never mind, I haven't said anything I don't think is true or couldn't back up, and I don't use abusive language. I am also very ecumenically-minded and believe in free speech for all, so won't be ranting rudely on others' posts.

Can't afford to waste time worrying about it, though can I? As someone said, that is true enslavement and we must resist that.

Night night guys!