Tuesday, September 28, 2010

No-one should be forcibly reduced to a single identity

Yes, this is a post about #groggate, #massolagate

I have several identities. I have one identity picking up my children at school, another at church, another when I buy a bus ticket, another at work, and so on.

Most of us do.

I wouldn't matter if I used a different name for each. All the bus company needs to know is that I am the person who paid for the ride. The prepaid ticket suffices, no need for a name there. (Bizarrely NSW tollways go further, wanting to know my credit card details and address in a classic example of overreach - the fact that I had bought a prepaid beeper ought to be enough).

Married women often use different names for different purposes, as is their right.

Human beings have two needs when it comes to identity. One is the need to interact with other people, names help here. The other is the need to keep our wholeness to ourselves, not letting everyone know everything about us helps here.

The energy company AGL doesn't get this. It not only demands date of birth info but also a drivers licence number (in defiance of NSW law) in order to get the gas on, not figuring that I would prefer to keep that between myself and the Roads and Traffic Authority.

Many people don't mind being reduced to only one identity, they have no problem with AGL. But many people do mind. No-one should be forcibly reduced to a single identity. It infringes what I and others believe to be a fundamental right - to only share with others what is needed in order to achieve what we want to achieve.

"Outing" homosexuals to their employers breaches this right. "Outing" a blogger using a pseudonym such as Grogs Gammut to his employer breaches this right.

George Orwell warned of a world in which this routinely happened. News Corporation believes in it. Phone taps, anyone?

James Massola's defence of his action in stripping bare Grogs Gammut is here. He asks "So why did I out Grog if I thought he should keep blogging?", fails to provide a compelling reason and then adds wistfully "I don't want him to lose his job."

Stephen Spencer of Channel 10 (who has other identities in other contexts like us all) writes:

It serves the interests of the gallery and various news outlets. He's silenced and anyone else who speaks out is now on notice.

I agree. For the record, I will never give away the other identities and occupations of the pseudonymous bloggers who routinely interact with me. I am deeply saddened.

Related Posts

. They do things differently at NewsCorp

. The Access Card is a complete mess, buried but still belching up toxic smoke

. How on earth did the Medicare card nearly morph into a universal national ID card?