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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Why I Am Anonymous

In the various speeches at the blogosium, as well as comments here and elsewhere, the subject of blogger anonymity was attacked, essentially condemning a 'lack of courage' on the part of the anonymous by those who draw a paycheck, and kudos, for being onymous.


I'm a chicken.

Now that we've cleared that up, here's why:

  1. In a society which all too clearly punishes children for the sins of fathers, I want my children to have the best chance I can give them. I certainly don't want them to zip through that all-to-small window of time without doing a shidduch because thir father is so imprudent as to have a respectful, though differing, opinion.
  2. In a society where conformity is so prized that we entirely forget that the father of our religion and of us all earned his stripes alone, and by being different, I refuse to subject my wife to social ostracism and/or pity by conformists by me being publicly more different than I already am.
  3. In a society where we are expected to jettison chazal and even Torah Shebeksav in favor of following the pronouncement du jour from the dais du jour I refuse to abandon my minyon, my chevrusas, and my chevra by publicizing nonconformist views. Indeed, these are the only means to exposing the error of my ways if indeed my ways are in error.
  4. I can take the heat if necessary, and perhaps do so (even now) more than necessary. But I always try to reckon the collateral damage before speaking out what I view as the truth in person. If any of the 'courageous and conforming' will take the responsibility for preventing damage to my significant others, I'll come out.
  5. There are those who know who I am, including at least one 'dais sitter'. If they advise me to come out, I'll take it under serious consideration.
Now - if any readers think I'm wrong to be anonymous and say what I think, rather than being onymous and considered part of a silent majority, let's hear exactly what my contribution would be in the latter circumstance.


Blogger Yoel.Ben-Avraham said...

No, you are absolutely correct to remain annonymous. The only question that remains is why you continue to live in a culture of fear and hypocrisy. I'm a Torah observant Jew who's sons learn in yehivot - and I never felt the need to hide my identity.

Guess I live in a different culture than the one you do - I live in Eretz Israel amongst Jews that are willing to deal with questions ... and even doubts, without recourse to questionable societal censure.

8:13 AM  
Blogger TheProf said...

Leapa Sir you have my constant support in your endeavors, as critical as I have been recently of some of your opinions. I am one of those who know your identity and I have kept it hidden throughtout the entire blog lifeline. I fully agree with you and your concerns, living as you do in the same society that will not accept any deviation from mainstream doctrine, no matter what. I'm not sure which culture Yoel Ben Avrohom lives in but it sure is different here in America. I've professed strong disagreement with many of the opinions posted here and I've also expressed strong support. I will continue to do so as I fully support the original underlying concept of the blog.

10:14 AM  
Anonymous kendall deerson said...

i think chicken a la carte would be more of an accurate description of yourself since you have succumbed to the dais du jour with a potpourri of apologetics and justifications. you would be better served by not taking such a defensive stance and revel in your anonymity.

8:22 PM  
Blogger Leapa said...

Deerson 11/26/06: "personally i think the most soul searching comment was directed towards the cowards who hide behind the anonomity of the blog"

Deerson 1/2/07: "you would be better served by not taking such a defensive stance and revel in your anonymity"


7:14 AM  
Blogger TheProf said...

It seems that Deerson has no idea of what al todin es chavrecho ad she'tagia limkomo means. You obvioulsly don't walk in the same shoes that Leapa does. I do. And i understand quite well why he has to remain incognito. And Deerson, before you judge others, try, just try a little, to understand.

9:14 AM  
Anonymous deerson said...

soul searching is a private affair not something to be displayed on a blog to satisfy the voyeurism of the reader.

1:45 PM  
Anonymous deerson said...

did i say a dirty lettle secret on the blog that fuels the popularity of this medium? and hence the silence.

6:51 PM  
Blogger Leapa said...

Deerson, don't give yourelf that much credit. We're just scratching our heads about what you said, or working. Despite what you say, there are many worthwhile blogs having nothing to do with voyeurism.

I also want to note that you haven't addressed the important point of collateral damage, certainly a bain odom l'chavero consideration which everyone here understands.

6:15 AM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

An excellent post.

I'm not anonymous. To some extent, this is for the same basic reasoning you give, but reversed: I feel like I lose nothing if people who dislike my non-mainstream opinions want to have nothing to do with me. I likely don't want to have much to do with them, either. (That's part of what the header of my blog is about: "Be yourself, because the people who care don't matter, and the people who matter don't care.")

I wonder if the difference lies in one of the two following reasons:

1) I am far younger than you. If I'm outspoken, it's the words of a younger person who "just doesn't understand yet", and there's no way to truly "ostracize" me or my family, to shunt us off in any way from a community. Perhaps for someone in your position, the consequences are far greater and far more possible.

2) Perhaps I'm not as "out of the mainstream" as you are. I've never been here before, so perhaps your views are further from the mainstream, and more likely to raise eyebrows. While mine may cause disagreement, they're not completely off the mainstream if at all, most of the time.

[As a note, I completely understand why people would remain anonymous and wrote about it a couple of times over a year ago when someone tried to "out" a friend of mine on my blog, among others. I just found the reasoning you gave ironic in light of my own opinions on the subject for myself.]

12:54 AM  
Blogger Leapa said...

Super post.

A note on point 2: It's not so much that my views are out of the mainstream as it is that they are out of what the mainstream officially deems acceptable.

12:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Schick said...

It's everyone's prerogative to remain anonymous, but the notion held by many in the charedi world that they would suffer something terrible is they would actually publicly express their opinions in sheer nonsense and paranoia.

The reality is that conformity is highly valued in the charedi world (and in the non-charedi world too, to a large extent), and charedim therefore are afraid not to conform. This does not mean that the few with the guts not to conform are engaging a high-risk behavior.

6:20 PM  
Blogger Joe Schick said...

My apologies for my terrible grammer in the previous comment - I quickly responded to your post with one hand while the other hand holds the telephone and waits for someone to pick up.

6:22 PM  
Blogger Leapa said...

Joe, I like you and your blog.

However, I know whereof I speak.

Believe me, I'd be more comfortable opening up my big mouth, and perhaps already have done so too much.

6:29 PM  
Blogger Joe Schick said...

"I know whereof I speak."

Can you provide examples? I grw up in Boro Park, didn't conform, and while there may have been a price, it was a limited one, and surely less of a price than forcing myself to conform.

Unless you try to publish something or directly challenge the kanoim, I maintain that people can do their own thing, even in the charedi world.

Alas, conformity has unnecessarily become a value in itself within the charedi world.

7:00 PM  
Blogger TheProf said...

Joe you need examples, I'll give you real life examples. I took my son out of the chasidish yeshiva of my particular sect because he wasn't learning well. He went to another yeshiva, with a yeshivish emphahsis, and was very successful. However, he wasn't a "learner" type and instead of sitting on his posterior and staring at the arba koslei beis medrash, he went to work. I had a rough time finding a shidduch for him. And I personally know of several of my friends who had that problem and several who still have the problem. Not conforming to the societal mores of any chasidic sect will land you in hot water and this is not paranoia, it is a fact. I was told by the "education minister" of my Rebbe that a third of the boys in that yeshiva don't belong there but their fathers are afraid to take them out of the system.
To answer your last point about conformity; yes, conformity is a value in and of itself. Strong adherance to mesora, no matter which particular sect's mesora, has held us to our religion through these past millenia. You have a perfect right to non-conform to your heritage. But step back a second and think. All you've done is moved into another group's societal mores and you are now conforming to that. In the end, no matter where you go, you'll conform to somebody's way of life. It might as well be the way of life of my father, grandfather, et al.

9:19 AM  
Blogger Joe Schick said...


You don't seem to understand my point. What I'm asking is how being anonymous makes all that much of a difference? Your son's relative difficulty in finding a shidduch had nothing to do with that, it had to do with his correctly choosing the right path for himself.

You write: "I was told by the 'education minister' of my Rebbe that a third of the boys in that yeshiva don't belong there." How can you justify conformity when it is so destructive to people?

Finally, I think you also misunderstand my own non-conformity, but that's really irrelevant to this thread.

10:13 AM  

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