Saul Levmore, a leading law and economics scholar and Dean of the University of Chicago Law School, has a quite interesting and sensible piece on the abuse of anonymity on the Internet, and the inexplicable fact that, as current law stands, we treat the Internet differently than all other media of communication, including the proverbial "bathroom wall." I am, as longtime readers know, with Schopenhauer in being a skeptic about the value of anonymous speech in most cases. But I do frequently permit anonymous comments here, though, of course, I serve as the mediator and thus partial guarantor of their reliability and integrity. There are other contexts, too--for example, where fear of reprisal by the state is a real concern; or when feminists post about issues that are likely to excite the vicious misogynistic side of cyberspace--in which anonymity can be quite important. But as things stand now, anonymity is often abused on the Internet, so that individuals can behave irresponsibly with impunity, without incurring any of the social costs that would ordinarily accrue to those who behave that way. (Obviously, anonymity isn't the only problem. There are plenty of jackasses [examples here or here] or just random lunatics who sign their names to their foolishness and/or misconduct, but at least these folks have to bear the costs of their behavior.) In a couple of recent cases, the identity of some obnoxious anonymous bloggers (or, in one case, a commenter) has been brought to my attention, though in the worst case (someone using his blog to attack a fellow student at his university in vicious, personal terms), the blogger deleted the comments after being outed by the victim and apologized in writing. Those who continue to blog anonymously ought to follow the lead of this blog, which after some bad behavior exploiting anonymity by both bloggers and commenters, adopted some fair-minded policies. That someone chooses to blog anonymously creates no moral or legal obligation for anyone else to honor that choice. (In the United States, at least, government may sometimes have a constitutional obligation to protect the anonymity of speech, but that's a different matter.) Anonymous and pseudonymous bloggers ought to bear that in mind.