It’s come up on a comment thread at the Orthosphere what big professional risks Richard Cocks and Thomas Bertonneau are taking by blogging there under their real names. I do admire their courage and the sacrifices they have made and will make, but I still don’t plan on joining them. Not even if I get tenure.
Avoiding job risk is not my main reason, although it’s a perfect valid one for anyone to consider. We all avoid danger unless there’s a strong reason not to. But doesn’t the movement gain by having successful, prestigious people dare to identify it? Perhaps, but I don’t have any particularly high status to lend.
One big issue for an academic in deciding whether to go public is whether his dissent from liberalism is connected to his academic work, to his research or teaching. I gather that for Bertonneau and Cocks there is a connection, so that to remain concealed, they would have to obfuscate their thoughts and not write as accurately or wisely as they could. In my case, there’s no connection, and I would prefer my students to think of me as “Mr. Astronomy” with no outside opinions. Being a conservative, I know the discomfort that comes from knowing one is part of a group that one’s professor hates. In liberal-speak, I’m creating a “safe space”, although I would prefer to say that I’m avoiding a distraction.
Also, the other Orthosphere writers, especially Kristor and Prof. Bertonneau, write on very abstract issues of metaphysics and aesthetics. I often can’t follow them myself. I write a lot about sex, which is where the fights in the Church unfortunately are right now. There’s always the danger, when one writes about how X really is a sin that readers will assume the writer is setting himself up as morally superior to people who do X. I’d hate for people to think that in writing this blog I’m presenting myself as a model of chastity when I’m nothing of the sort. In fact, I’m not presenting myself at all. By using a pseudonym, I’m inviting everyone to assume I’m a child molesting serial killer, and that my arguments are to stand alone and be judged on their own merit.
Why do I keep writing blog posts this morning? Because I’m supposed to be writing a proposal, and I absolutely hate doing that. I guess I can’t put it off any more though.
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