Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dilemma at work, although this time not at all work-related: this morning a right-winger circulated an e-mail about how Earth Day was a Communist plot or something like that because it's Lenin's birthday. The official explanation for this is that the first Earth day was a Wednesday, thus not in conflict with exams at any major colleges at the time it was founded or any major religious holidays, in the spring, when all kinds of nature-oriented holidays happen. It's the birthday of the Julius Morton, founder of Arbor Day, and one day after the birthday of John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club. It's also the day Congress voted to put "In God We Trust" on coins, and Robert Oppenheimer's birthday, and Bettie Page's.

And of course, the part about Lenin is far from the only misleading or illogical claim in the e-mail. I'm seriously considering sending everyone who got that a rebuttal to the most egregious offenses against reason. I've mostly written the e-mail and I went so far as to copy down all 57 e-mail addresses so I could send it from home.

So how paranoid should I be about this? Personal or political e-mails are contrary to the policy about e-mail use at work. The current version of my e-mail makes it clear that if the right-winger got away with it, then I should too. Should... Alternately, I'm considering sending it from a dummy e-mail account with a pseudonym. I could use my usual one, or the name "Publius" also has a good pedigree for this kind of thing. But if I do that, it seems a bit underhanded to make a big deal out of the original sender's violation of policy...

Pseudonymity is not anonymity. I've taken precautions to hide the fact that I wrote the e-mail at work, but I'm sure there's some way to figure it out if the IT people really try. Would they be asked to? Probably not, but no way to be sure. I don't know how high up on the totem pole the right-winger is in the office, but almost everyone is higher than me. A couple people in the office could probably figure out on their own that I was the sender, just from stuff I said.

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