Gawker, Money, Speech, And Justice

Gawker delenda est.

Gawker has occasionally provided quality journalism and entertainment. That doesn't stop me from despising its amoral and repulsive ethos. Gawker's utter destruction produces a feeling of glee in my guts but disquiet in my heart. As I've written before, I'm not sure that the ruinous verdict against Gawker was just, I don't think that the amount of damages awarded was defensible, and I'm concerned that the result was a product of the brokenness of our legal system.

But observers seem eager to push the wrong message about that brokenness. The scary part of the story isn't that the occasional vengeful billionaire might break the system and overwhelm even a well-funded target with money. Such people exist, but getting sued by them is like getting hit by lightning. No, for most of us the scary part of the story is that our legal system is generally receptive to people abusing it to suppress speech. Money helps do that, but it's not necessary to do it. A hand-to-mouth lunatic with a dishonest contingency lawyer can ruin you and suppress your speech nearly as easily as a billionaire. Will you prevail against a malicious and frivolous defamation suit? Perhaps sooner if you're lucky enough to be in a state with a good anti-SLAPP statute. Or perhaps years later. Will you be one of the lucky handful who get pro bono help? Or will you be like almost everyone else, who has to spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to protect your right to speak, or else abandon your right to speak because you can't afford to defend it?

The system isn't just broken for affluent publications targeted by billionaires. It's broken for everyone, and almost everyone else's speech is at much greater risk. Don't point to Peter Thiel as an exception. He's just a vivid and outlying expression of the rule.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

Comments

  1. says

    Every so often when I log into my PACER account, I sit and think, "You know, from the comfort of my desk here I could wreak UNTOLD HAVOC on people's lives."

    I mean, eventually BS filings would get sorted out, but it is astonishing to consider how easy it is to use the legal system to totally ruin somebody's day/week/month/year and how easy it is to avoid consequences for doing it.

  2. Nitpick Ninja says

    There's a reason a ninja's lifespan is so short!

    *DISAPPEARS IN A PILE OF LATIN 2 TEXTBOOKS*

  3. Dictatortot says

    Since the agentive suffix -er is cognate to the Latin -arius (a masculine ending) it should arguably be deletus est. Or, if we hew to the English practice of default neuter gender for non-living things, deletum est.

  4. Erik says

    I remember very few things from Latin other than the names of the really cute girls in the classes.

  5. Bill S. says

    I'm glad Gawker is dead. It was a website run by a formerly wealthy media company whose reportage model included such diverse elements.as outing closeted gay men, doxing a rape victim and then telling her she would "get over it", telling a.(female) victim of strong-arm robbery she should have just let the thief who stole her phone keep it, published an app that was literally designed (and even named) to assist in stalking people….I'm not glad Gawker is dead because I didn't agree with them , I'm glad Gawker is dead because they set out as a matter of course to cause harm to people – not just Hulk Hogan's junk, either.

  6. Durandal says

    How about we compromise and lobby for a 1st Amendment protection statute, call it the "Gawker Memorial Sleazy Tabloid Protection Act" or "GMSTPA" — but explicitly put in a clause stressing it cannot be applied ex post facto.

    There. 1st Amendment saved. Gawker still rots in Hell. As is proper.

  7. James says

    Wasn't this whole trial over Gawker releasing private sex tapes of Hulk Hogan? I don't get why that should qualify as speech to begin with.

  8. Anon Y. Mous says

    Grifter:

    What happens if they win their appeal…but no longer exist?

    Gawker won't exist; what wasn't sold off to Univision is being shutdown next week. But the money will still exist.

    First, the $135 million generated from the sale of Gawker Media's assets to Univision in August will go into a fund overseen by the bankruptcy court. Secured creditors, including Silicon Valley Bank, will be paid about $22 million-but then the rest will sit there until the appeal is sorted out.

  9. David Schwartz says

    @James It's clearly speech. Publishing information is speech by definition. Presumably there some reason you don't think it should be protected speech. If so, is it because it's an invasion of privacy? If so, you should say so.

  10. Durandal says

    Wasn't this whole trial over Gawker releasing private sex tapes of Hulk Hogan? I don't get why that should qualify as speech to begin with.

    Because Hogan is as public a figure as you can get, because he banged Bubba the Love Sponge's wife, because he TALKED about banging Bubba the Love Sponge's wife and practically bragged about it on TV/radio.

    That meets pretty much all the qualifications for NYT v. Sullivan that I can think of.

  11. tehy says

    Let's stipulate that, though Hogan's sex tape qualifies as speech, it is directionless, meaningless speech. The main message seemed to be "Hey look, Hulk Hogan having sex!", with an undercurrent of (click this article so we can get ad revenue).

    Additionally, it was most certainly invasive of his privacy. Durandal, consider that, were you to brag about banging your wife publicly, and I to then film you doing it, would this be acceptable? No? Why is that different because he's a public figure?

    Gawker couldn't provide any reason to post the sex tape; in short, they couldn't explain what they were trying to say with their speech. Additionally, it was invasive of privacy. Future media organizations can resolve this issue by not publishing private sex tapes on their websites, thus protecting them from rogue billionaires. And everyone goes home happy.

  12. Norahc says

    GDo you mean everyone goes home happy providing that their speech has a reason to it?

    If that's the case, who gets to decide if the reason is valid? The next Theil?

  13. ElSuerte says

    I really hoped that you'd gone into more detail why you thought the Gawker verdict was bad in the LA Time's article. Mostly I'm confused why Gawker warrants these reservations, but revenge porn publishers/distributors that have no pretense to being media don't.

  14. NickM says

    NYT v. Sullivan was about the constitutional standard for libel.
    Trying to apply it to invasion of privacy cases produces incoherence.

    Invasion of privacy law is a very murky area.
    Barring an appellate opinion on the merits, this case won't do anything to clear it up.

  15. Richard Smart says

    To the latin scholars above,
    You are thinking of the phrase supposedly uttered by Cato (the Elder) before every Senate session: "Carthago delenda est." If you put that phrase into Wikipedia you will discover more than you ever wanted to know about deontic modality.

    I for one was surprised to find that Cato never actually was reported as uttering those exact words by any ancient source – although he was reported saying something to the same effect by several – since my Latin teacher in the fourth form dunned those exact words into our heads.

  16. JonasB says

    According to the bankruptcy filing, Gawker had/has over $500 million in liabilities but only $50-100 million in assets. Even without the Hogan verdict, it seems like it was in a bad financial situation. While I can see the verdict being what tipped things over the edge, I'm unsure how much it can be credited for the site's downfall. I get what Ken is trying to say, but to me the Gawker bankruptcy comes off as the culmination of a series of various poor business/other decisions rather than a free speech/broken system thing.

    Edit: source for the figures I cited is here => http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/gawker-bankrupt-1.3629195

  17. Argentina Orange says

    Scenario 1: "This is Newschannel 2 reporting that the new Star Wars movie comes out tomorrow!"

    Scenario 2: "This is Newschannel 2 reporting that the new Star Wars movie comes out tomorrow!, And in an exclusive, we are going to broadcast a copy of the movie that an anonymous source yoinked from the distribution center!"

    Scenario 3: "This is Newschannel 2 reporting that the new Star Wars movie comes out tomorrow!, And in an exclusive, we are going to broadcast a copy of the movie that an anonymous source yoinked from the distribution center! Even though a judge specifically told us not to run it! Fuck you, you black-robed kiddy-diddler!"

    I'm still waiting for a defense of scenario 3, which is what Gawker actually did.

  18. James says

    @David Schwartz No, I was just asking a question, not trying to imply something with it. I legitimately did not understand the reasoning as to why it should be protected speech.

    As for my own beliefs… speaking only to the ethics and not to the law, it seems like Gawker was guilty of theft, unauthorized redistribution, and invasion of privacy. I don't think any of those things were justified by their half-assed attempt to make it into a matter of public discourse.

    I don't know the law well enough to comment on that aspect. And because I don't know the law very well, I don't know what the consequences would be of generalizing my ethical reasoning, so I'm not even going to try to make a claim about what the law should be.

  19. C. S. P. Schofield says

    The thing about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is that they are such revolutionary and radical documents that almost nobody is really comfortable taking them at face value. Not even the men who voted for them. It's always "Well, the Second Amendment says 'shall not be infringed', but that can't really mean 'no, you can't outlaw whole classes of guns'." or "Well, it says 'freedom of speech', but it can't really mean that he can say things I disapprove of."

    I can't really talk about this specific case, as every time I try to examine something like Gawker or social media in general my sinuses close and my eyes start to water. Looks to me like another case of "If you want to defend the First Amendment, you are going to end up defending the likes of Larry Flint".

  20. andrews says

    Not sure if I will miss gawker very much, since I do not recall having viewed it during its lifetime. None the less, it does show a legal system gone awry.

    The invasion of privacy would have been on the part of the person who made the tape and sent it to Gawker. Against that person, Hogan may have a claim. Against the recipient of the tape, no claim: the recipient did nothing wrong.

    Admittedly my interest in who is making the beast with two backs with whom is rather limited, since I am married to none of the persons involved. To me, its news value is thus limited. None the less, I recognize that my interests cannot substitute for a robust judicially managed system of determining what should be published and what should be punished.

    Wait a minute. A judicially managed system produces silly results like the Hulk Hogan verdict. Maybe we ought to refrain from government institutional control of speech, instead.

  21. AH says

    That's the thing about free speech, you either believe in it, or you don't. There isn't a middle ground: you can hate Gawker and everything they stand for, but if if you claim to believe in free speech, you have to defend their right to use it repugnantly. You can rebuke everything they say, but you have to stand by their right to say it.

    To do otherwise is to be against free speech. Being for speech you like, but against that you don't is no different from being against free speech.

    I don't like many things Gawker did or said, but this outcome is far worse.

  22. Dragoness Eclectic says

    To continue in the Latin theme, it would be a Pyrrhic victory.

    Actually, King Pyrrhus was Greek.

  23. says

    I am less concerned about frivolous lawsuits that threaten peoples' speech because, in my long experience as an attorney, I find actual frivolous lawsuits extremely rare. (This is in contrast with lawsuits which should be frivolous but, because of the state of the law, are not). Contingency lawyers who repeatedly bring lawsuits that they don't get paid on don't stay in business very long. As for the deep pocket client who instructs his lawyer "I don't care if I have a case and I don't care what it costs," unfortunately I have never had the opportunity to be hired by one.

  24. me,here,now. says

    @AH

    Completely agree — Gawker was a cesspool of a web site, but I will vehemently defend their right to be that cesspool even though I avoid the site like the plague.

  25. Ostrijal says

    @AH

    If this case were simply a matter of repugnant speech, I don't think there would be as much of a brouhaha over this.

  26. says

    On their way to the Heller decision, sophisticated gun rights defenders like NRA avoided repellant clients like convicted wife-beaters. Similarly, those promoting SLAPP laws to protect opinion and truthful speech on matters of public interest (cf NYT v Sullivan) should avoid antagonizing the public by defending unlimited invasion of privacy.

  27. Pablo says

    Suddenly, it gets worse. Bill Schmalfeldt (Yes, that Bill Schmalfeldt) currently has a court provided attorney to pursue his civil shutuppery against those with the temerity to quote him.

    While this might be a boon to the court by protecting the docket from his manic filings, it's entirely the wrong thing to do to both the taxpayer and the plaintiffs.

  28. Total says

    That's the thing about free speech, you either believe in it, or you don't. There isn't a middle ground: you can hate Gawker and everything they stand for, but if if you claim to believe in free speech, you have to defend their right to use it repugnantly. You can rebuke everything they say, but you have to stand by their right to say it

    Are you advocating for an elimination of libel and slander laws?

  29. says

    To continue in the Latin theme, it would be a Pyrrhic victory.

    Actually, King Pyrrhus was Greek.

    And the ones who lost the battle and won the war — and thus immortalized King Pyrrhus' name — were the Romans.

  30. Brian Z says

    @Total

    No, I think he was thinking more along the lines of threats and criminal conspiracy. Ya know, you either believe in free speech or you don't.

  31. M B says

    @Brian Z

    There's "believing in free speech" and then there also seems to be "not understanding what free speech means and using the words like a catchphrase." Threats, fraud, defamation, violation of privacy, and a whole lot of other things don't qualify as protected speech.

  32. Careless says

    Gawker's utter destruction produces a feeling of glee in my guts but disquiet in my heart.

    This, so much.

  33. Careless says

    Publishing information is speech by definition.

    Uh… no one called you out on this, in a thread that was already into nitpicking? No, doing something other than speaking is not speaking. Publishing video is a protected right, but it is not speech by definition

  34. Total says

    No, I think he was thinking more along the lines of threats and criminal conspiracy.

    Well, neither of us can read his mind, and that's not what he said, so I'm going back to my original question.

  35. G Joubert says

    Looked at another way, the system is now rigged for Big Media to, with utter impunity, trash anyone they want to trash, and only people such as properly motivated rogue billionaires, have the wherewithal to do something about it and otherwise set things right.

  36. Glenfilthie says

    Mere legal turd polishing with a portion of sanctimony and a pinch of virtue signalling.

    A stopped clock is right twice a day. if your broken system killed Gawker I have no problem with it. Despite the judiciary, sometimes the good guys win and the bad guys lose.

    I think you have a far bigger problem when a piece of shit like Hillary Clinton can flip off the law and the American people and still run for president. Expecting a rational judiciary from deeply flawed people is rather unrealistic.

  37. Total says

    Mere legal turd polishing with a portion of sanctimony and a pinch of virtue signalling

    Oh, look, college is back in session.

  38. E. Pad says

    Ken,

    I know you feel that the Gawker verdict was unjust but do you have a reason to say it was beyond that? Do you have an argument that some error of process was committed? Maybe I'm just one of those stupid brats who wants to shut down all speech I don't agree with, but their own arguments in their defense seemed laughable. Hogan choosing to talk openly about sex means the minutae of his sex life are public interest now? You write about mental illness at times but you don't see me saying your medical records are public interest! To me, that same logic would apply.

    As for the penalty…I really can't say whether it was harsh or not. Gawker is a strange beast, a conglomeration of IP holders and service providers. I'm frankly shocked they seem to be going bankrupt in a meaningful way from this…I was entirely expecting them to just declare bankruptcy at Gawker LLC or whatnot and then buy themselves out of bankruptcy from some "Gawker Info Corp" offshore IP holder, or pull some similar accounting shenanigans.

  39. Cactus says

    At least it accomplished the goal of overshadowing Hogan's racist rant that got him fired originally.

    Everything about it, including Gawker, is just depressing and I doubt many of those celebrating this are now going to decide that random video game developers have that same right to privacy, nor do I expect the usual Tabloid types to take anything away from this other than "don't upset rich people".

  40. Daniel Weber says

    Why isn't the lede the fact that not even Hulk Freaking Hogan has the assets to finance a lawsuit?

    If Hogan had self-financed this lawsuit and won, would we still be yelling?

  41. RobertB says

    I'm a free speech zealot in most regards, but I've had trouble drawing any lessons from the Gawker case:

    1. As noted, I think there are huge procedural issues that allow meritless lawsuits to impose unwarranted financial hardship on defendants in ways that can chill speech. But this case was litigated to judgment. And for all the mutterings about billionaire money, Gawker's defense was apparently bankrolled by Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch with a $100 million Faberge egg collection. Procedurally, everything seems to have worked out unusually well.

    2. I also have trouble seeing exactly what the First Amendment does or should prohibit here. I certainly don't have any problem with it being illegal to publish "revenge porn," especially if it was created or obtained without the consent of a participant. I don't think that changes if the subject is famous (e.g., I'm fine with "Fappening"-style hacked photos being illegal to publish). I'm not sure standard should apply here, nor have I heard anyone convincingly explain one.

    3. It does seem pretty clear that the damages awarded by the jury were bonkers crazy. If Gawker got tagged with a $10 million verdict, I doubt people would be nearly as bothered. This is really a tort reform issue more than a free speech issue though.

  42. Total says

    that the damages awarded by the jury were bonkers crazy. If Gawker got tagged with a $10 million verdict

    True, though I have to say is if the standard is "We can publish this because the damages will only be $10 million or so" isn't great.

  43. uttering says

    "No, doing something other than speaking is not speaking. Publishing video is a protected right, but it is not speech by definition"

    Hey Careless, let me give you a couple of clues here:

    If "publishing video is a protected right," by what law/statute/Amendment is it protected?

    Here's clue number 1: By the 1st Amendment. You know, that one that protects speech

    Here's clue number 2: Speech is not so narrowly defined as "something other than speaking is not speaking." Not even close. What if you write it down, then? It's not being spoken, therefore it's not speech?!?! Surely you can't be that foolish. Can you?
    I suggest you look into Citizen's United where it was ruled that giving money, of all things, is considered speech and is therefore protected by the 1st Amendment.

    You could not possibly be more wrong. Literally everything you said is false.

  44. Careless says

    You seem to be deeply confused by the words "definition" and "literally"

    I suggest you look them up, and stay quiet until you do so.

  45. Total says

    You seem to be deeply confused by the words "definition" and "literally"

    You seem deeply confused about what kind of definition we're talking about here — a legal one. I suggest you figure that out and stay quiet until you do so.

  46. Daniel Weber says

    Like RobertB, I don't really feel what has been lost. Someone filmed Hogan having sex without his knowledge or consent. Someone else wanted to publish it. Is that the right we're losing? Maybe there's a reason I should be worried, but you have to do the hard work to show why, not just say "someone lost a free speech lawsuit."

  47. Viliphied says

    You seem deeply confused about what kind of definition we're talking about here — a legal one. I suggest you figure that out and stay quiet until you do so.

    Evolution is just a Theory, amirite?

    /s

  48. says

    In all seriousness I really don't understand this case. I'm just not processing it properly I guess?

    I don't get that the media company who didn't do the filming got a huge judgement despite not actually invading any privacy and only publishing a snippet, while the person who actually did the invading (the filmer, who IIRC was the husband of the woman Hogan was shtupping) had zero consequences? Don't get me wrong: Gawker was a cesspool. I think that was basically stipulated to. But I would have thought the leakER would get in trouble, not the….leakEE (wait, that might be hogan….you get my point though. Snowden is on the run, not The Intercept)

  49. IForgotMyNameHere says

    Leakee can and should get in trouble, but this is a "in trouble also" situation, not an "in trouble instead."

    This is not my area of specialization, but in other rules and laws I've looked at, such as the guidelines concerning accidental disclosure of another attorney's confidential information, or copyrighted material, there are plenty of situations where wrongful dissemination of materials by someone who didn't commit any wrongdoing in obtaining those materials is still punished. The key factor seems to be whether the wrongful disseminator knew or should have known it was wrong. If you know some document is attorney work product, or copyrighted material, and that you shouldn't be publishing copies online, then you can't really defend your behavior by claiming that an unrelated third party stole the document to begin with and should get 100% of the blame.

    In the Gawker case, as I understand the facts, Gawker pretty much knew that the tape was released without Hulk's knowledge or consent, but they published it anyway. If Gawker had taken reasonable steps to make sure the tape was on the up and up, and were prevented from finding out the truth by the lies and misrepresentations of the leakee, then I'd be inclined to agree that Gawker is innocent.

  50. Total says

    while the person who actually did the invading (the filmer, who IIRC was the husband of the woman Hogan was shtupping) had zero consequences?

    Hogan sued the DJ and they settled the case (confidential terms). So, not zero consequences, just largely unknown ones.

    Google is your friend.

  51. uttering says

    "You seem to be deeply confused by the words "definition" and "literally"

    I suggest you look them up, and stay quiet until you do so."

    To Careless: Is this schoolyard insult the best you can do? Really?

    I explained, with examples, why literally everything in your comment is wrong. Perhaps you could try to explain why you think your statements were correct (you can try, but I assure you that you will fail).

    Or you can take the easy way out again and just make an absurd insult.

  52. phonny says

    According to the bankruptcy filing, Gawker had/has over $500 million in liabilities but only $50-100 million in assets.

    @JonasB that is not correct–if you look at the bankruptcy filing
    http://motherboard.vice.com/read/this-is-gawker-medias-bankruptcy-filing
    you will see they checked off "$100,000,001 – $500 million" in liabilities…it's just the range the form provides. The actual debts are detailed later, and they are much smaller than the $130 million judgment that forced the bankruptcy.

  53. tehy says

    The reason that I am in favor of free speech is because I am in favor of freedom of arguments, ideas, and so forth. I am a free argument and free ideas absolutist. (The mask comes off!)

    What was the idea meant to be conveyed by Hulk Hogan's sex tape? What were they trying to say, what argument was being supported? Nothing except "come over here and give us ad revenue". Now, material meant solely to acquire ad revenue is fine, I hold nothing against it in this regard, but I do hold privacy as a more important right than the right to publish privacy-violating material which holds no arguments, no real ideas, nothing but a desire to suck the attention from people's eyeballs and profit therein. As a result of this decision, people now know that if they violate someone's privacy and do not contribute any serious arguments, serious ideas, or information that can be used to support either, they will be sued. That's fine by me.

    By the way, I'm making a clear distinction here – much of privacy invasion is in fact whistleblowing and provides valuable information that inform ideas and arguments about, say, whether or not something is a good idea, or whether or not someone has broken the law. But by the same token, if all you're after is cash money and you're willing to invade someone else's privacy to get it, then inevitably your cash will be someone else's and that's fine by me.

  54. mcinsand says

    Has anyone else experienced further problems with Popehat's webpage caching? F5 used to be a simple way to get the first page to update, but now the first page stays the same. To see most recent articles, I have to go to the second page (via the clicky at the bottom of the first page) and hit F5. The Joe Manchin article appears at the bottom of my first page and then again on the second. Any fixes?

    Thanks.

  55. says

    @Total: Fair enough that they weren't "zero", but they weren't "ruinous" which, granted, some of that is the fact one settled and one went to trial, but it still seems as though it should have been material.

    "I forgave the guy who filmed it, and the person who disseminated it (don't think it's known who that was? ) but one (out of several…other places were talking about it and at least one published screen shots) who posted it gets destroyed."

  56. says

    @Mcinsand

    Mine hasn't worked right in a long time. Refreshing a bunch sometimes works. I think you're supposed to use ctrl/shift / f5, but im too lazy and am often on my phone.

  57. mcinsand says

    Grifter,

    Thanks for the suggestion, but ctrl/shift/F5 did nothing here. I guess I'll have to keep going to the second page.

  58. Cromulent Bloviator says

    @Reader

    Pop quiz:
    Whose speech rights are at issue when twitter bans an account?
    A) The banned guy
    or
    B) twitter

  59. Richard Smart says

    Dear McInsand,
    I've found control-F5 (not F5, nor Control+Shift+F5) to be effective.

  60. Total says

    C. neither. Twitter can do as it likes.

    My semi-annual reminder that the First Amendment is only the American legal manifestation of the right of free speech. There are other manifestations both actual and possible that don't focus strictly on government action.

  61. mcinsand says

    Richard Smart,

    Thanks. That worked. However, I'm starting to wonder if a pony has made its way into the webpage management team.

  62. Hector says

    For those of you gertruding your love of free speech while not being bothered by the verdict against Gawker, may I direct you to something that Scott Greenfield wrote back in March? A federal judge thought that Gawker was protected by the 1st amendment.

    As I think Ken has said in some way at some point, defending only speech you like or approve of isn't really defending free speech.

  63. Cromulent Bloviator says

    C) twitter seems remarkably close to B) twitter from my perspective.

    Is it possible there are people who do not consider the right to choose what your own newsletter says as being part of your right to free speech?

    If somebody tried to interfere with their ability to make the choice, could they not get an injunction? I mean, it isn't only that the government can't make a law to blahblah your blahblah, the right then becomes a broader expectation that the government will also help you enforce.

    Twitter has a right to choose their own speech, there is no doubt. It is not merely a physical capability.

  64. Trent says

    Gawker is the worst of the worst of Tabloid bullshit and they've been skirting the line on issues for years in the attempt to draw clicks. They are an awful publication.

    First there is no constitutional protection for privacy. Various amendments have been proposed over the years but such attempts have been vigorously opposed by very powerful people, corporations and government directly. Some states do have seriously watered down laws about invasion of privacy.

    Second, "Bubba the Love Sponge" a radio personality (DJ) in Los Angeles was the man the released the tape to Gawker. His wife was the one that was involved in the sex with Hogan and he's the one that planted the cameras and recorded and distributed the tape. If there was an invasion of privacy he's the one that did it. Gawker took the tape and published it. Hogan is undoubtedly a public person as defined by supreme court precedent in the US. As a result anything Gawker published about Hogan would not be actionable under the US constitution unless Hogan could show that Gawker publishing the tape was malicious (as defined by US law meaning they intended this to harm Hogan, not to generate clicks). This is a damn near impossible standard for Hogan to have proved.

    I have very little doubt that if this is appealed to higher courts the verdict will be thrown out but Thiel got what he wanted with the Gawker bankruptcy and sale to Univision. Honestly you can't call yourself a defender of Free Speech if you think what happened in this case was the right verdict. Though Gawker is the worst of the worst in Tabloid journalism you can't defend speech without defending their right to be utter dickheads. We can't hold them responsible for publishing information given to them, even if that information was acquired illegally as such a result would result in a massive quelling of speech rights.

    Finally, Twitter is free do what ever they want and absolutely free to stop whomever they want from using their platform. The day we apply speech rights to forcing other people to carry and give voice to opinions they don't like is the day freedom is gone in this country. Twitter is a private company, with private servers, private bandwidth and private software and they have a right to control who uses their platform, if you don't like it don't use their platform, there are literally hundreds of competitors.

  65. andrews says

    you can't really defend your behavior by claiming that an unrelated third party stole the document to begin with and should get 100% of the blame

    Maybe you cannot, but the courts can. See Bartnicki v. Vopper, 532 U.S. 514 (2001).

  66. Daniel Weber says

    As I think Ken has said in some way at some point, defending only speech you like or approve of isn't really defending free speech.

    So you approve of death threats?

    I'm sure there's a good argument to be made about why this case is bad for free speech. But so many people are making plainly bad arguments, or just thinking that a "with us or against us" proclamation is enough work for the day.

  67. Hector says

    So you approve of death threats?

    My apologies; I will restate:

    As I think Ken has said in some way at some point, unless we are dealing with one of the few standard 1A exceptions, defending only speech you like or approve of isn't really defending free speech.

    I'm sure there's a good argument to be made about why this case is bad for free speech. But so many people are making plainly bad arguments, or just thinking that a "with us or against us" proclamation is enough work for the day.

    Did you read what Greenfield wrote? Or even the excerpt from the federal judge? The judge thought that Gawker was protected by the 1st amendment. But so many people are making plainly bad arguments, or just thinking that a "Gawker is reprehensible" proclamation is enough work for the day.

  68. Daniel Weber says

    unless we are dealing with one of the few standard 1A exceptions,

    So we're talking about what the exceptions are. Maybe "pornography of someone made without their knowledge and against their consent" belongs in that category, even if they are famous.

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