A guest post by the philosophical primate. Originally a comment on Using anonymity to speak more freely.
Reddit’s terms of service do not in any way guarantee users’ privacy, and anyone who thinks their privacy is protected when using the internet is an idiot anyway. The only privacy that actually *matters* here is the invaded privacy of women and girls having their images exploited without their consent, which is morally reprehensible regardless of its legality. John Scalzi wrote something particularly clear and scathing on this topic yesterday: I encourage all to read it.
The key idea that deserves attention here is that protection of privacy — even anonymity — has a purpose: Whether legally or morally speaking, that purpose is NOT to protect people from the consequences of their actions. Rather, the purpose is to protect people from unwarranted, unjust negative consequences from morally blameless actions: We ought to protect the anonymity of whistleblowers who expose corruption because they are doing something good that might cause them to suffer bad consequences. We ought to protect the privacy of medical records because it’s good that people feel free to seek medical care (especially mental health care) without fear of social stigma or job loss or other negative consequences. We ought to to protect a sphere of private life from the intrusive monitoring of government because powerful institutions have both the motivation and means to abuse that information in ways too numerous to contemplate.
In contrast, we have no sound moral reason to protect the privacy of creeps who use anonymity as a shield from the negative consequences for their own antisocial behavior. More generally, it is rank moral idiocy to argue that anonymity ought to shield someone from the consequence of morally blameworthy actions.
Free speech (as Scalzi points out) isn’t relevant to this discussion at all in any legal sense: Reddit is a privately owned website, not a government institution or public forum. However, in the broader sense that silencing unpopular opinions can be a form of tyranny of the majority, it is potentially relevant: But even John Stuart Mill, the most ardent and eloquent defender of free speech in this broader sense, never argued that freedom of speech even slightly implied freedom from the consequences of your speech. If your speech reveals you to be a loathsome creep with no respect for other human beings and you suffer the natural consequences — that others loath you, lose respect for you, and shun you — you have no grounds for complaint.
Of course, the speech of Brutsch is not truly minority opinion at all: It is the speech of the powerful, the message of patriarchy and rape culture, the voice of the abuser and oppressor. It would be downright hilarious to watch Brutsch and his fellow travelers claim the role of victimhood in this situation, if only there weren’t so many loathsome idiots willing to accept their claims of victimhood at face value.