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Every once in a while, the Matador team receives a request from a writer to use a pseudonym. A few months ago, the request was being made with enough regularity that we decided to establish a policy:
No pseudonyms unless someone’s life depended on it.
I was the editor who laid the policy down because if there’s one single belief in life that I’m totally clear about and which I hold dear, it’s this:
And because they matter, we need to own them. If you can’t put your name to your ideas and opinions (especially living in a democratic society where freedom of the press is a protected right), then I’m not too sure you have the prerogative to share them with anyone other than yourself.
I consider it an insult to the writers (bloggers, journalists, what have you– I personally don’t think the distinction is that important) who do put their lives on the line in order to be able to say what needs to be said when someone who is comparatively privileged decides to hide behind a pseudonym for no apparently good reason.
This week, I’m working on a couple of essays that have significant personal stakes, so all of this is on my mind. I’m not sure what else I want to say about the subject now, other than this: Every day, when I wake up and start writing, I do so knowing that I won’t put any words to paper (or to screen, in this case) that I don’t believe in.