Liberals once insisted that the First Amendment protected everything from the right of Communists to teach in public schools to the right of pornographers to produce films of women getting gang-raped. If you wanted to burn the flag? Cool — the First Amendment protected that “free speech,” too, according to liberals.
Liberals are still in favor of Communism, flag-burning and pornography (some things never change), but the kind of First Amendment absolutism that once characterized liberalism (e.g., the ACLU insisting Nazis had a right to march through Jewish neighborhoods) is long gone.
Destroying anonymity on the Internet for bloggers who stray outside the prescribed lines of acceptable opinion was a project undertaken last year by Cade Metz of the New York Times when he decided to dox the proprietor of Star Slate Codex (SSC). When Metz contacted the (inarguably brilliant) blogger known as Scott Alexander, the SSC proprietor immediately shuttered the blog and put up a post explaining what the New York Times was doing, i.e., trying to destroy his private life in order to punish him for allowing free discussion on his site.
Why? Because Star Slate Codex had become influential among certain computer geeks and venture capitalists in Silicon Valley.
See, that’s the thing about Internet anonymity — you can create a blog or a Twitter account using a pseudonym to say whatever you want, and this probably won’t get you in trouble unless you are so good at it that you attract a following and having real influence on public opinion, in a way disapproved by the liberal Thought Police. People like Oliver Darcy of CNN work more or less full-time to dox conservatives, and this is to say nothing of the SPLC’s massive research staff, which specializes in what Laird Wilcox called the “links-and-ties” smear method.