Andrew Hamm: the Bipolar Express

Ruminations on theatre, music, and just about anything else that crosses my bipolar brain.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Vaughan on Anonymity

This passage from the latest story arc of Brian K. Vaughan's Ex Machina, one of my favorite comics, resonated for me based on some of the dialogue we've had about anonymous web posting. New York City Mayor Mitchell Hundred, a former superhero, has decided not to fight a post-9/11 KKK demonstration planned in Central Park. Depuy Mayor Wylie argues the decision. Warning: adult language.

Wylie: You're honestly letting those monsters come here? In their fucking masks? Do you have any idea what the op-eds are going to say?

Hundred (reading from a piece of paper): "Anonymity is a shield from the tyrrany of the majority. It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the bill of rights: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation at the hand of an intolerant society."

Wylie: What the hell is that?

Hundred: Something I carried with me back in my Great Machine days. It's from an old Supreme Court case that said you don't have to sign your name when attacking a politician. I used to think it also justified me wearing a disguise while I lamely attempted to fight crime.

Wylie: What does that have to do with those bigots? You were a hero!

Hundred: No, I was an idiot. I rationalized hiding my identity as a way to protect the people I loved... but deep down, I was just embarrassed by my own incompetence. If you want to talk unpopular individuals living in intolerant societies, look at Martin Luther King. Did he ever wear a fucking disguise? He risked his career, his family, his life, because he knew that Americans don't give a shit about people who aren't brave enough to stand behind their opinions. So yeah, let's give the Klan the right to put on their stupid dunce caps and hide their hayseed mugs. Let's give spoiled anarchist kids the right to cover their faces with bandanas so mommy and daddy won't recognize them on CNN. Let's give the extremist assholes who protest the peace negotiations outside the UN the right to cower behind their keffiyehs. Anonymity is the fastest, most efficient way to let the rest of us know that you and your beliefs are worthless.