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The Name Game

In Massachusetts, there's a bit of a dustup regarding a blogger. He's decided that he wants people to boycott the sponsors of Howie Carr, a local talk show host, newspaper columnist, and gadfly in general. Now a lot of people want this anonymous chap (presumably) to have his identity exposed, and are denouncing anonymous bloggers.

As someone who still holds the tiniest shred or two of anonymity, I find myself a bit puzzled over this. It isn't that the blogger doesn't use his real name that bothers me -- it's the name he's chosen for himself:

Ernie Boch III.

For decades, Ernie Boch was a very successful car dealer who was his own main spokesman. He died a few years ago, and now it's being managed by his son, Ernie Boch Jr.

The Boch family insists that they have no idea who this blogger is -- especially to those people who call up the Boch family dealerships and want to discuss Howie Carr.

I have no problem with anonymity online. (Obviously.) Where I draw the line, however, is when one attempts to distance themselves from their own words (by constantly changing their identity) or use names that give themselves more credibility or respect than they deserve.

In college, I had a professor who carried a tote bag emblazoned with the following words from The Bard Of Avon:

Good name in man and woman, dear my lord, Is the immediate jewel of their souls: Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing; 'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands; But he that filches from me my good name Robs me of that which not enriches him And makes me poor indeed.

This blogger has stolen the name of the Boch family, and ought to be kicked off Blue Mass Group once more -- this time for good.


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Comments (23)

I don't have a problem with... (Below threshold)

I don't have a problem with anonymity on the web.

It allows the author the right of free expression and not have the compnay he works for threatened with boycotts, etc. Unfortunately there are people who think less in terms of free speech and more in how to silence their critics. This happened at Powerline several years ago.

On the other hand, for someone like me who has retired, and doesn't fear retribution in the workplace, using one's own name instills a discipline in writing many on the web fail to exhibit.

In an imperfect world, I opt for allowing folks to freely express themselves without fear of retaliation.

Russ is actually (part of) ... (Below threshold)
JustRuss:

Russ is actually (part of) my first name, that doesn't mean anyone on here knows me from Adam however. I agree with you though that the line must be drawn at willful misrepresentation of ones self possibly bordering on fraud.

One of the biggest things I hate is people who represent themselves as having been in the military. Being ex-Navy my self that definitely gets my gumption up.

If one wishes to be taken seriously, one should be willing to expose themselves to propper critisism. If one wishes to hide behind a moniker and post anon on the web without being called out. Then that person can be disregarded.

The employer thing is an is... (Below threshold)
JayTea II [I mean epador]:

The employer thing is an issue. When I was AD, I had to be anonymous. Now that I work for folks that send me Obama propaganda that I am supposed to distribute, well, lets say anonymity does help with job security. Not that I am worried any of them read Wizbang.

However, riding on someone else's name, now that's going over the line.

Also, sometimes the screen ... (Below threshold)
Upset Old Guy:

Also, sometimes the screen name tells everyone all they need to know about the writer.

Any dust up over Blogger "a... (Below threshold)
Steve Green:

Any dust up over Blogger "anonymity" stems from a MSM desire to regain legitimacy over their "anonymous" blogging counterparts. They would like the public to believe that those anonymous bloggers are less credible than someone whose real name is out there.

There's some truth in that, but you really have to take it on a case-by-case basis. It really doesn't matter who posts what so long as the truth is being told.

Some blogger named "Wacky Old Guy" can be more truthful than Dan Rather, so the name ultimately matters little.

"Also, sometimes the scr... (Below threshold)
Oyster:

"Also, sometimes the screen name tells everyone all they need to know about the writer."

I wonder what it says about me....

"I wonder what it says abou... (Below threshold)
914:

"I wonder what it says about me...."

Your into seafood?


No really, I used to be virgo, but got so much crap I switched to My BD instead..Its necessary to be anonymous when you offend so many leftists and I like getting crap now.

Where I draw the l... (Below threshold)
Where I draw the line, however, is when one attempts to distance themselves from their own words (by constantly changing their identity) or use names that give themselves more credibility or respect than they deserve.

I agree 100%

Hello, I am the blogger fro... (Below threshold)

Hello, I am the blogger from Blue Mass Group called Ernie Boch, III. I read the post and registered just now at wizbang so i can give some facts and put this context. I won't argue either way. I just want you all to have all the facts to form your own conclusions.
I chose the name Ernie Boch, III because it was humorous in context of the message I posted at the time. This was done on the comment section of another blog. I believe it was Dan Kennedy's media blog but I cannot be sure. This was over three years ago.
I liked the name so much and I was so proud of myself for thinking of it that I chose it as an identity name when I signed-on at Blumass Group on February 23, 2006. Since that time I have been bitching and moaning about one thing or another almost exclusively at this blog. Occasionally I post on Dan Kennedy's blog, or David Bernsteins's blog and Adam Reilly's Blog at the Boston Phoenix newspaper. And Red Mass Group.
This small blogging community of Boston and MA politics and media are pretty much aware I am not related and know I don't claim to be. It has come out in the past .
I have not sent out any e-mails or forwarded my call for the boycott to anyone. Therefore no one should be receiving unsolicited e-mails or calls from strangers claiming to be Ernie Boch, III or acting on his behalf.
I am just a private citizen wishing to express my opinion. The blog allows me to do this. I do not care how many people or who read my posts. I receive no compensation from any person to write me opinions. I am not part of a business model.
Please note, I am not relates to Ernie Boch, Jr. or anyone related to the Ernie Boch car Dealer in Massachusetts.
I do, however, hope to be in his will.

Thanks
Ernie Boch, III

Thanks for the info, Ernie.... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Thanks for the info, Ernie.

Back when the intertubes were new, or at least when I was new to the web, it seemed everyone had obvious User Names that were not real.

A blog that I started commenting on probably had 'WKRP' or somesuch as a topic. Therefore, I chose Les Nessman (a fictional character on the TV show that was off the air for 20 years) as my nick.

For continuity's sake in that thread, I kept up the name. For further comments, I kept up the name so everyone there knew who I was and had a history of my past statements. As I went out to other linked sites, I kept the name so everyone at the original blog would know who I was when I commented elsewhere.
Inertia took over, and here I am years later, using the same name.
Even those who don't know the TV character, and think Les is my real name, don't think I am a known or notable person.

I don't know if you are over the line Ernie, but you are close to it.
If you are using a name of someone real or someone who others think is a known or notable person in your community; you may want to rethink using that name. Especially in a geography-centric blog dealing with local issues.

I used to write letters to ... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

I used to write letters to the editor of the local newspaper, and as is common, they expected you to use your real name and your city and state. About 5 years ago I had a number of my letters selected for publishing in a short time and I noticed it effectively ended my relationship with several casual friends. I say casual because they didn't know I was conservative and I didn't know they were liberal.

Lot's of people's livelihoods depend on getting along with co-workers, bosses, and not alienating customers, so publicly sharing your political views can cost a person more than just a few casual friends. That's why I post under an alias. If I couldn't do that I would quit posting, and without the ability to give my 2 cents, I would also quit reading blogs.

I would call it as being ov... (Below threshold)
jim m:

I would call it as being over the line.

I see no problem with an al... (Below threshold)
jim m:

I see no problem with an alias, but I would agree that using one that is so easily mistaken for a real person or being related to a real person is wrong.

I think if you make up a na... (Below threshold)
Madalyn:

I think if you make up a name for blogging purposes, it causes no harm; but, if you delberately take the name of someone locally, it should be considered identity theft. Especially if you are asking readers to boycott a business. Use your real name if you have a beef with that business. Don't hide behind a false name so you won't be targeted. It sounds like you are a real creep. What else do you do using someone else's name?
Madalyn

I wonder what it says ab... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

I wonder what it says about me....

Pearls of wisdom, of course.

It's one thing to b... (Below threshold)
Knightbrigade:


It's one thing to blog anonymous and YAP about things.
It's another to use a name close to a REAL person and instigate ACTIVITY that will have a negative effect on REAL people.

That's why there is the $2000 bounty to find out who you really are.
RUNNNNNN...EB 3..runnnnn....lol

As a Howie listener I find ... (Below threshold)
RedWhtBlue:

As a Howie listener I find it funny that "Ernie" decided to come on here and explain himself. I do believe he picked the name he did to gain some credibility. Hiding behind a name that is not your own does and then trying to explain why you chose it does not justify what you are trying to do.

Bryan D.'s intertubes maxim... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

Bryan D.'s intertubes maxim the 6th_

Any blog attribution by a person with a nomen of III or greater written in American English should be considered as written anonomously unless the domen is magnified, however tactfully, in posts or information on site.

10. Posted by Les ... (Below threshold)
Anon Y. Mous:
10. Posted by Les Nessman

One of my favorite lines from that show (from Johnny Fever, in an on the air promo): "More music and Les Nessman!" :)

BTW, I am totally against these cowards posting anonymously. Why can't they man up and use their own names if they have something they want to contribute?

Errr wait, umm never mind.

Jay, is your real name Jay ... (Below threshold)
Tina S:

Jay, is your real name Jay Tea? If not will you stop using it, there is a musician called Dee Jay Tea.

Here some information on Ja... (Below threshold)
Tina S:

Here some information on Jay Tea the musician. He has been active in the music industry for 10 years.

http://www.last.fm/music/Jay+Tea

Thanks, Tina, but I've been... (Below threshold)

Thanks, Tina, but I've been using the phonetic spelling of my initial for over 20 years now, in various fora. I only recently found out about the music guy, and I ain't changing now.

J.

hello again. Ernie Boch, II... (Below threshold)

hello again. Ernie Boch, III here. I apoligies. After reading my above comment and the comments that followed i realized I left out some facts that caused further misunderstanding.

Ernie Boch was a popular and media driven Auto Dealer in the metro Boston area dateing back to the late 1950s. He was on TV alot.

He diesd aboout 7 yeears ago. After his passing his son Ernie Boch Jr. took over the business and as much of a media/publicity hound his dad was, which was great for business, Ernie Jr has made it all about him and doesn't miss a chance to get his name and picture in the newspaper. He even has a band which he promotes and has television commercials promoting their album.

It is in this context that I chose the name Ernie Boch, III on the very specific MA political blog Blue Mass Group.

BTW I am not a lefty but a blue dog dem that has been bothering the MA liberals for a few years here.

The name Ernie Boch, III usually would get a laugh from Bostonians who have never heard of me. It has that much satirical effect here.

Take care,

Ernie




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