Monday, March 17, 2014

Anonymity, Privacy, and Freedom

Anne Rice certainly has stirred up a storm. In case you haven't heard, the best selling author has started a petition with the goal of forcing to ban anonymous reviews. Her claim is that it will prevent the bullying of authors, some of which have received threats and unwarranted attacks on their character. At first I was in favor of it, though I didn't go as far as to sign the petition. I simply hadn't had enough time to consider the arguments to do so. Now that I have, my position has been altered.

As a writer, I am in favor of free expression. And though some use the cloak of anonymity to hide the fact that they are truly horrible human beings who derive pleasure from saying reprehensible things to undeserving people, most do not. There are many reasons to want to remain anonymous and the majority of them are understandable and completely valid. To deny someone the ability to say what he/she thinks without fear of retribution is wrong. And as wrong as it is for someone to threaten and harass an author, I don't see where two wrongs make a right.

Indie authors, for the most part, are a bit up in the air about how to feel about all this and have become somewhat divided on the issue. Most of us have experienced personal attacks and have had to deal with people who would like nothing more than to harm our careers. But typically it's someone we know - not an obsessed fan whose cheese has slid off their cracker and could possibly carry out their threats.

This debate rages during a time when people are increasingly in fear of their privacy being violated. In the wake of the U.S. domestic spying program being revealed, it is little wonder that this seemingly minor issue is touching nerves and flaring tempers. It makes me think that perhaps this has more to do with an intrusion upon our rights more than it is about anonymous reviewing. We are slowly seeing our right to privacy eroded by faceless, soulless government agencies, all in the name of freedom.

I for one, believe in freedom. But it seems as if the price of freedom, is freedom...and that's more than I'm willing to pay. So therefore I will not be signing Ms. Rice's petition.

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