New York Times, Please Do Not Threaten The Safety of Scott Alexander By Revealing His True Name

by Zvi Don't Worry About the Vase1 min read23rd Jun 20202 comments

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In reaction to (Now the entirety of SlateStarCodex): NYT Is Threatening My Safety By Revealing My Real Name, So I Am Deleting The Blog

I have sent the following to New York Times technology editor Pui-Wing Tam, whose email is pui-wing.tam@nytimes.com:

My name is Zvi Mowshowitz. I am a friend of Scott Alexander. I grew up with The New York Times as my central source of news and greatly value that tradition.

Your paper has declared that you intend to publish, in The New York Times, the true name of Scott Alexander. Please reconsider this deeply harmful and unnecessary action. If Scott’s name were well-known, it would likely make it more difficult or even impossible for him to make a living as a psychiatrist, which he has devoted many years of his life to being able to do. He has received death threats, and would likely not feel safe enough to continue living with other people he cares about. This may well ruin his life.

At a minimum, and most importantly for the world, it has already taken down his blog. In addition to this massive direct loss, those who know what happened will know that this happened as a direct result of the irresponsible actions of The New York Times. The bulk of the best bloggers and content creators on the internet read Scott’s blog, and this will create large-scale permanent hostility to reporters in general and the Times in particular across the board.

I do not understand what purpose this revelation is intended to serve. What benefit does the public get from this information?

This is not news that is fit to print.

If, as your reporter who has this intention claims, you believe that Scott provides a valuable resource that enhances the quality of our discourse, scientific understanding and lives, please reverse this decision before it is too late.

If you don’t believe this, I still urge you to reconsider your decision in light of its other likely consequences.

We should hope it is not too late to fix this.

I will be publishing this email as an open letter.

Regards,
Zvi Mowshowitz

PS for internet: If you wish to help, here is Scott’s word on how to help:

There is no comments section for this post. The appropriate comments section is the feedback page of the New York Times. You may also want to email the New York Times technology editor Pui-Wing Tam at pui-wing.tam@nytimes.com, contact her on Twitter at @puiwingtam, or phone the New York Times at 844-NYTNEWS.

(please be polite – I don’t know if Ms. Tam was personally involved in this decision, and whoever is stuck answering feedback forms definitely wasn’t. Remember that you are representing me and the SSC community, and I will be very sad if you are a jerk to anybody. Please just explain the situation and ask them to stop doxxing random bloggers for clicks. If you are some sort of important tech person who the New York Times technology section might want to maintain good relations with, mention that.)

If you are a journalist who is willing to respect my desire for pseudonymity, I’m interested in talking to you about this situation (though I prefer communicating through text, not phone). My email is scott@slatestarcodex.com.

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