Given this assertion, it was nice to see that someone else also appreciates the flow of my prose (although his review is, to quote the man himself, somewhat "double-edged"). However, Bill does ask a pertinent question:
although who the person behind that pseudonym might be is not revealed to us.
Why can't people just write what they think without dressing up their ideas in some pretend personality or grouping that exists only in their imagination?
My dear Cabinet, he said we were pretentious! Pretentious: moi? Still, the question that he asks is a relevant one: why hide behind these personalities, as so many of us do?
I think that there are two main reasons, plus a whole load of others, naturally, but they all spring from these two (much as there are millions of stories in the world but, in theory, they are all merely aspects of seven basic storylines). I think both apply to myself, although the first—in my particular position—is more relevant. I shall elaborate.
The first is the fact that it is nice to hide behind a personality. Many take this far further than I, and actually blog in character: of those that I read regularly, both Mr FM (and as Barry Beelzebub) and the P-G do this to an extent. People like Leopard Spaghetti takes it even further. This is partly because, as I certainly found when I started this blog, that writing—entirely as yourself—about your own life, is actually pretty tedious. I really only made very few posts in that vein, and then The Devil's Kitchen nearly died. It was only when I found the political bloggers, many of whom were included in the Cabinet as a homage as much as anything else, that this blog started to take on a life again. But this time it wasn't my life (although I am, mostly, as irascible as I often appear on here!); it was the merry life of the Devil!
What this meant was that I could air my opinions, writing as me (I write as I think and speak; if you like my writing voice, you will probably get on with me), but not about me. Perhaps it's the romance of the pseudonym that I chose (although Devil's Kitchen has been a name associated with me in certain areas of Edinburgh for five or six years now) that helps to inspire, perhaps it's the encouragement from others. In whatever case, the pseudonym is part of the joy of the blog.
The second reason is far more practical, and serious. It is, of course, the trouble with bleed-over into real life, in which your opinions can be detrimental to your... well... pocket, frankly. If what you write about could get you sacked, if disagreeing with one of the nutcases who—inevitably—trawl the 'net can get you fired, then what you can say on your blog must be censured. And then what is the point of writing a blog? Surely the liberating thing about this exciting, new(ish) technology of ours is that you can say what you want and, as most do, invite others to disagree with you.
Unfortunately, this danger has been distressingly highlighted in the demise of John B (who has made innumerable intelligent comments on this blog). According to Nosemonkey,
I thought he was joking, but it seems some fuckwit internet dicks have been causing genuine trouble, and threatening to take it into the real world to fuck up good old John B's career (simply because he was trusting enough to openly include his CV on another part of his site).
This is wrong; apart from anything else, it's just not cricket. Honour comes in where boundaries are not legally set; and on blogs, honour dictates that—no matter how fucked off you are with someone in this medium—it stays in this medium. Whilst I often didn't agree with John, the real life bleed-through barrier should be sacrosanct. So, in memoriam, Shot By Both Sides, read the final post. May it stand as a warning to all who indulge in this blogging lark: there are people out there who do not respect the boundaries in the way that those of us with honour would, and do.
For those of you who lied, twisted, cheated and bullied until the least worst choice available to me was to close the site, congratulations. You've won. I hope it was worth it. It would be ungracious of me to hope that bad things happen to you in return, so I'll merely take solace in my knowledge that you have to go through life having a personality like that... Good work, fellas.
Furthermore, this danger seems likely to increase, if this debate is anything to go by. Despite the fact that, as Tim points out, we bloggers are, in fact, regulated under the same laws as any other published media, I think that it will only be a matter of time before we see specific laws covering bloggers. After all, the body having the debate are not renowned for their reluctance to legislate, and this may be one EU diktat that the mainstream media may be more than happy to support.
You have been warned; whilst I may have the monicker, there are others for whom you should fetch your long spoon...
*Just being able to plausibly use the word "notwithstanding" has cheered me a little...