On reflection, I now realize that, completely apart from any debate over our respective rights and completely apart from our competing views on the merits of pseudonymous blogging, I have been uncharitable in my conduct towards the blogger who has used the pseudonym Publius. Earlier this evening, I sent him an e-mail setting forth my apology for my uncharitable conduct. As I stated in that e-mail, I realize that, unfortunately, it is impossible for me to undo my ill-considered disclosure of his identity. For that reason, I recognize that Publius may understandably regard my apology as inadequate.
This is certainly a welcome development, which, one hopes, will discourage similar efforts in the future. A.L. added, “I think this episode goes a long way toward officially ratifying one of the most important unwritten rules of online ethics, i.e., that a person’s decision to write under a pseudonym should be respected barring compelling reasons not to do so. And retaliating against criticism is not such a reason. To the extent that rule is widely understood and acknowledged, it will encourage greater participation in online politics and result in a greater variety of voices being heard.”
For his part, publius said last night that Whelan’s apology is “of course accepted.” He added that he “consider[s] the matter done,” and is “moving on.”
Sounds good to me.