Privacy

Peter Thiel's Free-Floating Right to Privacy Is Inconsistent With Freedom of Speech

The Paypal billionaire, a self-described libertarian, thinks the threat of financial ruin will improve journalism.

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PBS

Paypal billionaire Peter Thiel, who helped finance the Hulk Hogan sex-tape lawsuit that drove Gawker into bankruptcy, defends that decision in a New York Times op-ed piece, arguing that the threat of ruinous litigation is necessary to protect privacy from media outlets that thrive by violating it. Thiel says he decided to help Terry Bollea, who plays Hulk Hogan, with the lawsuit largely because of his own bitter experience with Gawker, which gratuitously outed him in 2007, when he "had begun coming out to people I knew" but had not publicly acknowledged his sexual orientation. "Gawker violated my privacy and cashed in on it," he says. But Thiel, a self-described libertarian who is nevertheless supporting Donald Trump this year, wants us to know he was defending a principle, and not simply pursuing revenge, when he helped Bollea obtain a $140 million judgment against Gawker. If so, that principle is decidedly dangerous to freedom of speech.

"A story that violates privacy and serves no public interest should never be published," Thiel writes. "It is ridiculous to claim that journalism requires indiscriminate access to private people's sex lives….It is wrong to expose people's most intimate moments for no good reason."

One can agree with all of these propositions without agreeing that they should be legally enforceable. Giving juries the power to determine what counts as a "public interest" or a "good reason," not to mention whether a story advances it, poses a threat even to journalism that Peter Thiel would recognize as legitimate, because people commonly disagree about such matters. Even when a news outlet crosses the line of decency by publishing true but sensitive information that causes an innocent person anguish without any benefit aside from entertainment or titillation (as Gawker arguably did in Thiel's case), it does not follow that anyone's rights were violated, which should be a prerequisite for legal action.

When Gawker accurately reported that Thiel is gay, he seems to believe, Gawker violated his right to privacy, which includes the right to prevent publication of legally discovered but inconvenient facts unless there is a "good reason" to publish them. That right is quite different from, say, a movie star's right to prevent a paparazzo from trespassing on her property, a businessman's right to prevent a former employee from divulging information covered by a nondisclosure agreement, or a citizen's right to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures. Thiel's free-floating right to privacy is completely unmoored from property rights, contract rights, or constitutional law. It can be invoked whenever someone objects to a story that reflects negatively on him or complicates his personal life, even when the story is completely accurate, provided that person has the resources to pay for a lawsuit. And as with defamation suits, he need not win to punish his adversary.

Thiel glides over these problems by suggesting that the prospect of financial ruin based on amorphous tort claims can only improve the quality of journalism:

A free press is vital for public debate. Since sensitive information can sometimes be publicly relevant, exercising judgment is always part of the journalist's profession. It's not for me to draw the line, but journalists should condemn those who willfully cross it. The press is too important to let its role be undermined by those who would search for clicks at the cost of the profession's reputation.

Nothwithstanding his protestations, Thiel certainly is trying to draw a line by supporting Bollea's lawsuit and offering to help other litigants who believe their privacy has been violated by the press. "I will support him until his final victory," Thiel writes, noting that Gawker plans to appeal the verdict against it, "and I would gladly support someone else in the same position." Thiel's choice of cases will tell journalists where he thinks the line should be, and this is no mere suggestion. Although he tries to blur the distinction between criticizing someone and taking him to court, only one involves the use of force and the threat of bankruptcy.

NEXT: New Frontiers in Gendered-Bathroom Battles

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  1. It’s not even like Thiel sued Gawker for outing him and ruined the company that way. He got pissed off and bankrolled other people’s suits over unrelated stories. The moral here isn’t even “don’t violate anyone’s privacy, for whatever definition of ‘privacy’ the courts use, or you’ll be held accountable.” It’s “you can do what you want unless you piss off a rich, vindictive person. But if you DO make the wrong enemy then they’ll sue you over and over until something eventually sticks.”

    1. Not even that though, as you point out, he didnt sue for outing him, so he realizes that wouldnt stick.

      1. Yeah, but he was the one who found another claim that would stick (the Hogan sex tape) and made the case happen. I agree that they didn’t even piss him off by doing anything illegal — they just printed something he didn’t want printed, so he used the courts as a weapon to destroy them.

        (Even if you say the Hogan sex tape article would have been a loser in court no matter what, the case was fine-tuned by Thiel to bankrupt Gawker by avoiding their liability insurance, as opposed to reaping the maximum possible damages.)

        1. the case was fine-tuned by Thiel

          I keep hearing people say this without any evidence: Hogan’s lawyers would only answer to Hogan. Any motion they file has to be approved by Hogan. If Thiel were calling the shots, it would only happen with Hogan’s acquiescence.

          1. He was right to fine-tune it. People “commonly disagree” about the limits of “satire” and about accusations of “plagiarism” as well, but that is not a reason to allow anyone to disseminate inappropriately deadpan mockery of a distinguished academic department chairman. As the criminal court trial judge indicated in America’s leading criminal “satire” case, such mockery violates the privacy of its victim, a decent, upright man who is entitled to his reputation whether or not he engaged in “plagiarism.” See the documentation at:

            http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

        2. So how did Thiel and Hogan get judge and jury on side? If you believe money dictates everything, shouldn’t Thiel have been able to sue over his outing? Or maybe there is something to Hogan’s case.

        3. Even if you say the Hogan sex tape article would have been a loser in court no matter what, the case was fine-tuned by Thiel to bankrupt Gawker by avoiding their liability insurance, as opposed to reaping the maximum possible damages.

          Creative lawyers are pretty great at extracting the most pain from their opposition in court.

  2. Thiel, a self-described libertarian who is nevertheless supporting Donald Trump this year

    So not a libertarian?

      1. If Kosmotarians are only pretending to be libertarian so they can attend Beltway cocktail parties, what do Trumpertarians drink and where do they party?

        1. Trumpetarians drink cocktails that contain Mountain Dew while typing vicious insults to Jews and feminists on Twitter.

          1. That can’t be easy to do with one hand.

            1. A glow-in-the-dark straw is the solution. It’s like you never spend time over at r/trump.

              1. Fact, this is actually SIV at his grandmother’s funeral.

                1. Wait, I thought SIV was just Nick Gillespie in disguise? You’re saying the Jacket we all know and love is just a paid actor?

                  1. No, “Nick Gillespie” is the name and body taken as a mortal vehicle by an Elder Hierophant whose visual manifestation on this plane is that of a well-worn leather jacket.

                    The rest of us are Tulpa.

    1. You’ve somehow internalized and turned into an autonomic response the art of saying stupid shit and feeling inexplicably smug about it.

      That kind of devotion to stupidity is impressive

        1. wrong thread

      1. To be fair, go fuck yourself.

  3. Peter Thiel could sue Gawker because alien voices in his head; all that matters legally here is the Hulkster’s case. All Thiel did was cut some checks.

    1. Yeah, I’m having trouble with the outrage here.

      Thiele is not arguing that the government should step in and prevent this speech. He is arguing that people should recognize and hew to decent behavior. And if you are an asshole who doesn’t believe those standards of decency apply to you, then it is likely you are going to piss enough people off to cause you trouble.

      Whether the Hogan case was properly decided on Libertarian grounds or not is an interesting subject. It would sure be nice if Reason could give us their analysis on the matter. But assuming such a case doesn’t violate libertarian principles, how is it wrong that Thiele helped Hogan with the case? Whether he believes that Hogan was legitimately, punitively wronged or he believes that he is enforcing a code of decency, as long as the case had merit, his motivations shouldn’t matter.

      If there is anything instructive to this story, Libertarians should understand that this is what happens in a very free society. Yeah, you have the right to say what you want. And you better take responsibility for what you say, because if you make enemies with the wrong people, they will find a way to hold you accountable whether you like it or not.

      1. Yup. Although I would say that in a libertarian society, there actually would be some kind of right to privacy.
        After all, it is a negative right. We’re not talking about Gawker having to cough up Peter Thiel’s health care bills, here.
        Would a society where you can’t publish a naked photo of someone without their consent be a horrible place to live?

        1. I don’t think it would be a horrible place to live. But at the same time, I am not sure how you would define privacy nor what principle you would start from. For example, is it ok to print pics of a streaker at a stadium or free-the-nipple demonstrator? You probably didn’t get their consent.

          In any case, in a libertarian society where government rarely intervened, we could see people getting very testy if you are invading their privacy. And without government redress, people of means will do what they can to enforce their code of decency.

          Again, the moral of this story is that your freedom to say/print obnoxious stuff about people also gives them the freedom to do obnoxious but legal stuff to you. I had a plumber come to my house while I was away who absolutely ripped off my wife for some $700. He legally did it- told her what he was doing, convinced her with truths and got her consent. But his pricing was obscene. And I spent the next 5 years finding every review site of that company possible and printing scathing reviews. Had I the means, I’d have bought billboard space above his shop and taken out ads in the paper with similar messages. This is how a libertopia would likely operate.

          1. Shorter Overt:

            “You have as much privacy as you can afford to defend.”

            1. Doc, this is tough philosophical nut to crack. What to do where speech and privacy collide?

          2. I don’t think this is as hard as some people make it out to be. A person who is streaking or a “free the nipple” girl are in public. They made the choice to be nude IN PUBLIC.

            What about the girl who takes a nude selfie and gives it to her boyfriend, and then he publishes it. Tough shit, unless there was a signed agreement (a verbal contract would work, but since it is he said/she said who do you believe?). You take a picture of yourself and give it to someone else, it is now THEIR property.

            If someone is taking pictures of someone INSIDE their own home, that could get more interesting. Are the shades drawn? Is the person an exhibitionist?

            But most of these cases aren’t that difficult.

            1. See I would say that if a girl takes a nude selfie and gives it to her boyfriend, there is an implied contract that he not publish it. Not all contracts need to be in writing. It’s typical in a boyfriend-girlfriend arrangement that intimate photos be exchanged these days, and it’s also typical that there is some agreement or understanding that those photos won’t be published. I would argue that the law should say that unless there is a signed agreement that it IS okay to publish, that there be assumed to be a contractual agreement not to publish.

              1. What if a man sends a woman he is not dating a nude selfie? Is there still the same unwritten contract? Should that man reasonably assume that the woman who received the nude selfie she did not request will not share it with anyone else, or publish it anywhere?

              2. Not all contracts need to be in writing.

                It sure would be nice to be able to know the actual terms of the contract, though. Otherwise it’s just arbitrary. These “implied” contracts often sound an awful lot like the “social contract” that progs love to talk about.

      2. Being not only libertarian but journalists, I don’t know if Reason can really be objective about this.

        I don’t feel very strongly. If you engage in speech, and that speech results in quantifiable harm to another party, should you be required to make them whole? Often, yes, Other times, there is a counterbalancing good provided, perhaps harder to quantify (e.g. blowing the whistle on a company dumping toxic waste certainly harms that company, but the good to the public outweighs it). And sometimes the harm is entirely warranted.

        I don’t think it’s as clear cut as Reason makes it out to be. If a journalist decides that some celebrity’s bank password is a matter that should be reported, then it isn’t a threat to freedom of speech to force the journalist to repay the celebrity when somebody empties out the bank account.

        1. If you engage in speech, and that speech results in quantifiable harm to another party

          I’m not sure I believe that’s even possible. If you ‘lose’ some of your reputation, that is due to how other people react to the speech, and not the speech itself. If you ‘lose’ business, it’s the same thing. How people react to speech is entirely up to them, and it isn’t the speech itself that causes harm, if indeed there was harm.

      3. A lawsuit-armed society is a polite society.

  4. Journalists can just get malpractice insurance…problem solved!

    While Sollum is (mostly) right, I wonder how many journalists oppose tort reform and don’t get the connection.

    1. Gawker has insurance, but the lawyers (representing Hogan but paid by Thiel) amended the suit to strike the claims that would have caused its policy to kick in.

      1. They should have bought better insurance.

      2. And I can see where Gawker would have a hard time getting insurance against violation-of-privacy suits. That’s a big part of their job.

      3. And? So?

        Is it really so bad that instead of a hapless insurance company getting stung, the actual wrongdoers get it instead?

      4. Why are there some claims the insurance company would cover and some they wouldn’t? Answer that for yourself, I already know. Gawker knew they were violating a black-letter distinction by not taking down media compromising to two private parties that they did not obtain from either party — or from the negligence of either party to keep it private, as I understand.

        1. Just the way Denton acted in the trial should be classified as gross negligence…

          1. Dalurio (or however its spelled) being flippant about publishing child porn during his deposition would probably have made the lawyers for the insurance company take him out back and shoot him.

  5. Wait a minute… Hulk Hogan is a character?

    …because people commonly disagree about such matters.

    Just as in criminal justice, it takes twelve people to agree, as they did here. I’m not seeing the same slippery slope as Sullum on this one. (I admit it may be that I find Gawker is so vile that I can’t see it.)

    1. One argument I have read states that having a jury decide what is newsworthy is a problem, because that could have lead to a judge forcing the New York Times to stop publishing the Pentagon Papers until a jury decided that it was newsworthy enough to print.

      I have trouble making the leap from “Hulk Hogan’s secret sex tape” to “classified national security secrets.”

      1. “Classified Hulk Hogan security sex tape”??!?!?!

        1. That A: made me laugh, and B: is the name of my next band

    2. Don’t listen to them Fist. Wresslin’ is real.

      1. Indeed. Oh, and this is a worked-shoot; you went off-script.

  6. “But Thiel, a self-described libertarian who is nevertheless supporting Donald Trump this year, wants us to know he was defending a principle,”

    If a person claims to be libertarian votes for Hillary or Trump abandons the right to claim to be one.

    It’s that stark and simple for me.

    Thiel either votes Johnson or get the fuck out.

    1. If a person claims to be libertarian votes for Hillary or Trump abandons the right to claim to be one.

      Suppose one (I am not that one) has concluded that Trump is a greater threat to liberty than Clinton (or vice versa) and that one is voting defensively? If the winner is going to be one or the other (and it is), what is wrong with a libertarian casting a vote to stop the greater threat to liberty?

      1. Except here both are an equal threat in my humble opinion.

        Of course, I speak strictly from a philosophical perspective.

        Strategically and tactically offers different considerations but it still adds up as a negative for libertarian moments I argue.

        Not easy and I’m sure Americans will be making all sorts of these calculations come voting time.

        1. libertarian moments

          hahahahahahah

        2. “If a person claims to be libertarian votes for Hillary or Trump abandons the right to claim to be one.”

          The L ticket VP thinks altering a Springfield M1903 to be automatic should be prohibited. GayJay is ok with some gun control also. Hillary promises if congress won’t act to put common sense gun control in place she will do so by executive order. Trump claims he will leave the gun issue alone.

          I assure you, as long as I have my guns I am a libertarian.

          1. Libertarianism is about more than just guns. or gay cake.

            A libertarian that votes Trump only because of the gun issue isn’t much of one.

          2. Trump claims he will leave the gun issue alone.

            Which means that he is OK with quite a bit of gun control too.

      2. I discovered the LP on campus in 1979 when UT profs dismissed it as the Vegetarian Party. There were hydrogen bombs pointed in my general direction, and Jeff Hummel assured me this was because “we” had failed to surrender to the Soviet Union as demanded by the anarchist=libertarian fallacy of affirming the consequent. So I voted Ronald Reagan for the top job and libertarians safely down-ballot. Only later did it become evident that soviet-clone whack jobs were deliberately infiltrating the LP because the Dems were so saturated they could absorb no more reds. Now we have antichoice, anarchist and communist miscreants masquerading as libertarians and urging us to endorse the initiation of force and other tomfoolery. But the realization that no LP vote is ever wasted, that the 16th and 18th Amendments were added to the Constitution by fanatics with less than 2% of the vote, and that every LP vote repeals or strikes down bad laws makes it certain I’ll never waste another vote.

        1. I love American politics.

      3. Continuing the false dichotomy that is Rep/Dem is the greatest threat.

  7. The references to “public interest” and “newsworthy” are troubling, to be sure.

    But, journalists complaining that other journalists who did something reprehensible are held to account has a whiff of special pleading.

    Based on my superficial knowledge of Hogan’s case, he won pretty much fair and square. So he had somebody bankroll the case – so what? Most cases these days are bankrolled by somebody, often the lawyer who brings the case (that’s what contingency fees are, you know). Maybe he got better legal representation because they could pay up front, maybe not. I’m betting his lawyer wishes he had taken it on a contingency fee now, in any event.

    No precedent was set in this case, really, because it wasn’t a defamation case. The 1A is a protection against state interference with the press; its not a grant of immunity against any and all claims that can be brought against a media organization, you know.

    Now, if Reason really wants to get wrapped around the axle on a case with serious 1A implications, they might look at Mark Steyn’s years-long, million-dollar struggle against the AGW goons.

    1. Now, if Reason really wants to get wrapped around the axle on a case with serious 1A implications, they might look at Mark Steyn’s years-long, million-dollar struggle against the AGW goons.

      That is legal case that decides future of 1st Amendment. And that is why no one talks about it. If only there was a shitty b-list celebrity sex tape involved there somehow, people might give a shit.

    2. Now, if Reason really wants to get wrapped around the axle on a case with serious 1A implications, they might look at Mark Steyn’s years-long, million-dollar struggle against the AGW goons.

      His views WRT Islamo-Mohammedan Mussel’meny in particular, and immigration in general guarantee that Reason will pay as much attention to his 1A case as to those Planned Parenthood whistleblowers and their 1A case (and future implications thereof, charges dropped not withstanding).

      1. Yep – he says verbotten things and backs them up.

    1. Reported as spam.

      No one cares about your video games.

        1. Apparently no one is – they’re mainly hurling death threats at each other and anyone who dares give the game less than 10/10 GOTY.

          1. I guess that explains the bug up Reality’s ass.

            1. How stupid must you be to think that “no one cares about your video games” actually means “I care about your video games”?

              We’re in a thread talking about a real issue, the thread is fresh, and your fuckwit ass decided to shit it up with OT nonsense about a shitty toy.

              1. No, dummy, you threw a hissy fit because you had to flinch your index finger an extra few millimeters to bypass an OT response, something routinely thrown around on these threads. I realize in your half hour here you might not have memorized the unwritten rules for commenters, so I’ll give you a pass, but don’t fool yourself, you’re the problem here.

                And besides, since you apparently didn’t bother reading the comment in question, both I and the article I linked are taking the piss out of the “shitty toy.”

                1. “No, dummy, you threw a hissy fit ”

                  No YOU dummy, I posted 2 lines that reported you as spam, because it is.

                  “blah blah blahbecause you had to flinch your index finger an extra few millimeters to bypass an OT response, something routinely thrown around on these threads. I realize in your half hour here you might not have memorized the unwritten rules for commenters, so I’ll give you a pass, but don’t fool yourself, you’re the problem here.

                  And besides, since you apparently didn’t bother reading the comment in question, both I and the article I linked are taking the piss out of the “shitty toy.”

                  That’s the hissy fit.

                  1. “Sorry, I’m having a bad morning and for some reason took issue with your link.”

                    1. Done being salty?

                    2. “Let’s get a drink and talk about the reasons my divorce six years ago still have me all fucked up in the head.”

                    3. No one cares Tulpa.

                      At least you admitted you were Tulpa.

                    4. “It started when that fuckin’ bitch started sleeping with my friends, and I went along with it, but when Terry Bollea evinced an interest I had had enough.”

                  2. No YOU dummy, I posted 2 lines that reported you as spam, because it is.

                    Where’s the button to report you as a thread policing douchebag?

  8. As a fellow Libertarian-for-Trump, I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Thiel, prepared to sue the pants off anyone who publishes an expose or sex tape about me that reveals inconvenient truths. Bring it on!

  9. Hypothesis: there is no right to privacy except against (and all legitimate rights are “against”) government search and/or seizure of information for which one has a reasonable expectation of privacy. That expectation would be based on one’s actions to conceal or to refrain from exposure.

    In sum: there is no civil right to privacy per se against private actions not involving force or fraud.

    1. The sex tape was stolen.

      1. Stolen by whom and from whom? As far as I recall, the film was shot by the cuck-fetishist husband of the woman involved, and in all likelihood he himself leaked it.

          1. What an unusually long winded way of saying “you were correct, mea culpa”

            1. “Yes, that is what I’m referring to.”

              1. What an unusual way to admit you were salty because I reported your off topic post as spam, so you tried to come at me when you thought I was wrong, but you failed.

                You come at the king, don’t miss.

                1. “I’m Tulpa, and I’m here to shit up a thread for reasons known only to me and my dog.”

                  1. “”I’m Tulpa”

                    I believe it.

                    1. “I’m rubber and your glue, etc. etc.”

                  2. “I’m Tulpa, and I’m here to shit up a thread

                    At what point do your responses to this idiot rise to the level of “shitting” up the thread? I’d say it has already.

    2. Loophole (one already being used, and for a long time): the right to privacy against the State but not against any private actor allows the State to get private info on you from any private actor who has it. See, also, third party doctrine, landlord consent to search, etc.

      1. The best part of that is when the government *requires* the third party to collect the information, then uses the ‘3PD’ to force the third party to turn over that information to them.

      2. The first half of the third-party doctrine makes some sense (“it’s not ‘your’ information, it’s ‘theirs'”) but the second half does not (“so therefore the government can take it with impunity”). Also, there’s a very simple solution to the first half (contract) but not so much the second.

        1. Maybe it once made sense, but now that pretty much everyone has lots of information stored with third parties, much less so.

  10. There’s a lot to be said for pursuing revenge. Remember Jim Morrison singing Five to One? That’s the odds against the George Bush prohibition and asset forfeiture party getting a chance to nominate mystical bigots to the Supreme Court. See the bookies betting their own money over at Paddypower. Women under 50 were already miffed at having their individual rights violated by pro-life-after-death fanatics. But Georgie’s use of asset forfeiture to replay the Crash and Great Depression may have broken the camel’s back, and it has certainly rekindled the repeal movement of 1932. Those same bookies recently changed the odds against the LP (Independent) from 400 to 1 to 50 to 1. If this be revenge, then let’s make the most of it!

  11. The article here submits an argument why Thiel’s “privacy” doesn’t exist… (which may or may not be worth caring about)…

    ….but says absolutely nothing about the “public interest” angle.

    You can (may be) be right in saying that the right to privacy doesn’t exist.

    …but without addressing the latter, you’re not actually making any defense that the Gawker case was decided wrongly.

    I keep seeing people make this hand-waving gesture, insisting that ‘of course’ journalists should be obligated to consider the public-interest…. just that Juries aren’t capable of determining what meets that requirement.

    Which strikes me as silly; who is, then? the only way people ever impose any self-limiting factors is if there’s liability. And the “public interest”-ttest seems to me sufficient to protect people like Thiel from damages without restricting the ability of news organizations from reporting on important stories.

    1. What is a public interest? And how do we know what the public interest is until and unless the public takes interest? If the public is never exposed to an item it might find of interest, is it per se not a public interest or is it being covered up? Why is a salacious news story uniquely not of interest to the public?

      1. Your right to privacy has not been violated until you find out about the surveillance?

      2. is a shotgun series of questions an argument, Bo?

        There was a link there to answer your first question. And the answer to the first question probably pre-empts the remainder. Why not go read it?

        maybe you’ve never heard the expression, = “Public-interest” is not simply what “interests the public”. Pretending that’s what it means is just a semantic dodge.

        Change it to “information to which the public is entitled because it relates to important issues affecting their lives”… or some similar formulation.

        The concept behind ‘public interest’ is that not-knowing the information being conveyed might actually harm someone.

        1. I’m not Bo, and I was asking honest questions. And you’re right, I was mistaken in my simplistic understanding of the term. I’m still leery of courts dictating what should be a matter of industry ethics.

          1. I’m still leery of courts dictating what should be a matter of industry ethics.

            Journalists are sometime provided legal protections which ‘regular citizens’ aren’t entitled to. Sometimes they even break the law while pursuing a story, and yet expect courts to find them innocent.

            What grants them this protection?

            1. 4A? It’s not something I’ve given a lot of thought to. Or are you asking rhetorically?

              1. Its primarily the assumption that their actions are on behalf of the best-interests of the public.

                When a journalist publishes information acquired via criminal act, and/or refuses to divulge their sources to a court, they invoke privileges which are encoded in law in many places. the presumption is that journalists provide a vital public service.

                What holds any given profession to ‘ethical standards’? in the cases of other professions, things like the Legal field, Medicine, Finance, etc. there are certifying/regulatory bodies which will revoke a person’s credentials/license to actually ‘do their job’ if they are found in violation.

                Journalism is unique in that there is just as strong a public interest in *preventing* any certification/professional licensing. And that creates the conundrum of “Who Decides”? Is the idea that *any oversight at all* is a threat? (*this is indeed the attitude many journalists take – for obvious self-interested reasons)

                It ends up in court. And frankly, i think a Jury is more reflective of the public than some secret panel of magistrates.

                I haven’t heard a single argument from anyone ever trying to justify Gawker’s behavior on public interest grounds. They don’t even try. because they don’t want anyone to think it *matters*

                1. Thank you. That’s an interesting trade-off between privileges and obligations. I’m not necessarily against it playing out in civil court, it’s just one of those gray areas for a libertarian. For this libertarian, anyway.

                  1. it’s just one of those gray areas for a libertarian.

                    I agree. there’s no slam-dunk libertarian angle either way.

                    What is concerning to me is that journalists are effectively arguing that they are completely immune from liability without ever even needing to present any public-interest justifications at all. “Aint no one the boss of us!” says they.

                    Frankly i don’t buy it. It would also be more-compelling if the people making these arguments even bothered to note the conflict of interest inherent in their position. Should Reason , out of ethical courtesy, provide ‘equal space’ for a rebuttal-argument in their own pages?

                    Everyone knows that laws without any means to enforce them don’t actually exist. Ethical standards are pretty much the same. And if journalists don’t like civil courts? Fine = form a voluntary self-certifying standards organization, like everyone else.

                    Until then, have a good lawyer and don’t be fucking stupid like Gawker.

            2. Being of higher caste than the common herd? Provided they aren’t straying from baseline orthodoxy (hence Poor Gawker, but Fuck Mark Steyn).

              1. I don’t know the Mark Steyn case, but i think i understand the gist of your point

                (*and WHY don’t I know the Steyn case? because journalists decide its not important for anyone to know?)

                The fact is that the Gawker case is not particularly illustrative of any real threat to free speech, nor are any high-minded journalistic principles involved. Its a pretty simple, stupid example of a tabloid fucking itself through hubris, and a case-study in how ‘bad lawyers’+’egotistical-asshole editors’ = obvious conclusion by jury.

                And i assume the Steyn case is an *actual* example of free-expression being threatened… but yet which is widely ignored by the media because the person getting screwed isn’t as “popular” as Gawker Media, or someone the left-leaning media is particularly sympathetic to.

              2. Being of higher caste than the common herd? Provided they aren’t straying from baseline orthodoxy (hence Poor Gawker, but Fuck Mark Steyn).

                Perfect summation of what passes for ethics in what passes for journalism.

  12. “One can agree with all of these propositions without agreeing that they should be legally enforceable.”

    Right here, Sullum shows he not only does not understand free speech, but he’s guilty of misrepresenting what happened.
    First, A-1 only serves to limit what the government can do; it is not a guarantor of ‘free speech’ if there are non-governmental restraints, such as ‘you enter my abode, you are not allowed to say X’.
    Secondly, Gawker and those who work there are still not at all limited by the government or anyone else from saying what they please. The lost a pulpit to broadcast that speech, but not the ability to speak.

    1. The court isn’t an arm of government? Had Thiel bought out Gawker, sent Denton packing, and shuttered the company, you might have a point. But he and Bollea bankrupted it through a court order.

      1. “The court isn’t an arm of government?

        The court did no deny any party their speech.
        This was a civil action; the court, through the jury, enforced what can be seen as an implied contract between the parties regarding their privacy.
        Gawker ‘read’ that contract as allowing such speech, Hogan said ‘I don’t think so’; his stance was supported by the jury. The government played only the role of umpire.

      2. But he and Bollea bankrupted it through a court order.

        No, a jury “bankrupted” it by finding against it and awarding a judgment in excess of the capital available to service the debt. It’s not like Thiel walked into court one day and said “Prithee judge, off with Gawker’s collective heads!” and then it was done, because money. You can think ill of the legal principles that made Hogan’s suit successful, but Gawker wasn’t denied their day in court (or an opportunity to avoid proceedings for that matter). Sometimes bad things happen to bad people.

      3. And as I mentioned above, none of the parties are prohibited from speaking as a result; they lost their ‘loudspeaker’.

  13. the threat of ruinous litigation is necessary to protect privacy from media outlets that thrive by violating it.

    “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

    1. Make sure it’s Type O Negative, Rich. We’re experiencing something of a blood shortage here, and there’s only so many cell-savers to go around.

      1. Hi, Doc! Good to hear from you!

        Hey, I’m curious — What are the, um, atmospherics over there wrt the US presidential election?

        1. Hey, I’m curious — What are the, um, atmospherics over there wrt the US presidential election?

          The local attitude is one of, “I really don’t give a thick, steaming pile of pig shit what imbecile the USA puts in office.” However, Troomp is regarded as entertaining, and viewed largely as a kloun or patsy.

          interesting question, actually. Since Obumbles refused to either sell or donate arms to UKR during the Donbass Invasion, he’s largely dismissed and, in some sectors, outright hated.

          Shrillarly, at one time, was quite popular here, but has taken nose dive basically because of Obumbles and she gets tarred and feathered with it. Interestingly enough, the deal with the Crazy Eddie Hillary USA-to-Russian Uranium Liquidation and Bribefest is not playing well, since Putin is not terribly popular in the majority of UKR. She’s basically seen as the worst for politcal stability in Eastern Europe, but ultimately, The Oligarchs only care about who can be bought. That’s it.

          Troomp has his fans here because he is wildly Anti-PC, and Nationalistic, Anti-Rape-a-Palooza types are definitely taking notes from him.

          1. Very interesting. Thanks, and best wishes!

          2. Anti-Rape-a-Palooza types

            Ha ha. He does hit a few chords with people.

      2. hey…I am O negative…

        1. Here, drink this, Your Suthenship.-) It’s a Crusty Juggler special….

          1. We call it a Jesse, now.

            1. We call it a Jesse, now.

              What do Fuzzies have to do with this?

  14. This guy is one my heroes for taking down the scum at Gawker, right up there on the pedestal with James O’Keefe for taking down the scum at ACORN.

    I don’t see why he can’t be at least as much of a libertarian as Nick “I support the welfare state” Gillespie, Elizabeth “white privelege” Brown, Scott “I still hate and fear Christians more than Muslims” Shackford, and Shikha “fuck you whitey” Dalmia.

  15. Did the “world is not getting more dangerous” article get memory-holed?

  16. It is cases like this that leads me to believe that there is no “Right to Privacy” in the constitution or anywhere else no matter how much I would like there to be.

    Was not Lawrence v. Texas at least in part wrapped in claims of privacy? If so am I the only one to see the irony?

    1. Leftist scum in the media believe that you and I do have the right to not have our privacy violated by anyone….. except by the leftist scum in the media. Shocking, right?

    2. “It is cases like this that leads me to believe that there is no “Right to Privacy” in the constitution or anywhere else no matter how much I would like there to be.”

      I sure wouldn’t. That would amount to the government granting rights, and we don’t wanna go down that rabbit hole.

    1. Maybe it got blown up by a jihadi suicide bomber.

    2. Yeah, I just noticed the whole thing got shitcanned. Down the Memory Hole!

    3. Hmph. I didn’t even notice. It’s not like their reporting on Donald Trump is disclosing anything newsworthy.

      Donald Trump’s mouth moved. Crazy words came out. People lost their shit.

      It’s the groundhog day of articles.

    4. Every single comment was calling BS on the statistics, so maybe they decided to rewrite it? It would be nice if they said as much, though.

    5. Prolly got laughed right off the page.

  17. OT: 55-foot statue of nude woman spurs debate on Northern California tech campus

    “You know how some people are. Some people don’t want to see nobody naked. Not even a bird,” said San Leandro resident William Eckels.

    Bird clothing! I like it, Bill! Think of the JOBS!

    1. The statue of a nude female form with a graceful dancer’s body, her arms outstretched and reaching skyward, made its debut at Burning Man three years ago.

      Someone hauled that thing out to Burning Man? That’s crazy.

    2. 55 foot statue of a naked woman? That’s a big bitch.

      1. Keep it in the circus.

    3. It’s amazing that the country is simultaneously becoming sex-mad (“Teach kindergartners about anal sex!”) and puritanical.

    4. I don’t like to see people with clothes on. Who is agitating to protect my fragile emotional state?

  18. OT, but the slow-motion train-wreck continues:

    “Aetna to pull out of most Obamacare exchanges”
    […]
    “In the latest blow to Obamacare, Aetna is vastly reducing its presence on the individual exchanges in 2017.”
    http://money.cnn.com/2016/08/1…..index.html

    Ignoring turd, Pelosi and Obo, is there anyone who still believes this was a good idea?

    1. Nope. Even Hillary wants to “build on it”.

      1. Including expanding it to illegals.

  19. An excessive respect for the right to privacy is not the worst thing that could happen to libertarianism.
    Especially in the era of the internet and social media, if people are going to have any privacy at all, we’re going to have to have some restrictions on who can publish what. Copyright ownership of one’s image for everyone would be a place to start.

    1. Copyright ownership of one’s image for everyone would be a place to start.

      … that’s already the current the state of the law. If you ever read past the first 2 words of a user agreement for any of the online services you use, you’re usually granting an unlimited license in perpetuity for the content platform to use the content you generate (including your image and likeness, to the extent you should provide it, and barring exceptions like public spaces, where no one needs your permission to photograph you).

      1. Reason’s been arguing that revenge porn should be legal, so it seems like the current libertarian “doctrine” is that anyone should be allowed to publish any photos they want of anyone, whether they were taken in public or not.

        1. “Reason’s been arguing that revenge porn should be legal, so it seems like the current libertarian “doctrine” is that anyone should be allowed to publish any photos they want of anyone, whether they were taken in public or not.”

          “legal” =/= free from civil action, just so you know.

        2. I thought Reason‘s position was that “revenge porn” should not be a crime which is not quite the same thing as saying “anyone should be allowed to publish any photos they want”. There remains remedy through the civil courts against those who violate privacy, and I don’t think Reason has taken a position against that (although, maybe they have in light of this post).

    2. Copyright wasn’t intended to be used for such a thing. Read the copyright clause.

  20. “But Thiel, a self-described libertarian who is nevertheless supporting Donald Trump this year, wants us to know he was defending a principle, and not simply pursuing revenge, when he helped Bollea obtain a $140 million judgment against Gawker.”

    It’s important to keep the difference clear between what is being said about the merits of Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit and what is being said about Thiel’s participation in that lawsuit.

    What Thiel did in paying for someone else’s lawsuit used to be a crime called “maintenance”

    “Maintenance” is the intermeddling of a disinterested party to encourage a lawsuit.[1]

    http://tinyurl.com/huhg6ot

    I can see good arguments on both sides as to whether and why that should be allowed.

    I can also see that Hulk Hogan’s case featured the merits Thiel is championing in his statements–regardless of his participation in the lawsuit for personal reasons.

    1. Maintenance was a problem before legal fees became outrageous. Now we have the opposite problem

    2. In modern idiom maintenance is the support of litigation by a stranger without just cause.

      Boy, that’s a hell of a qualifier at the end. Seems to me it would make supporting successful litigation, which the court just concluded had “just cause”, not maintenance.

      Now, supporting “vexatious” litgation by a third party, that would be maintenance. Winning litigation, I have a hard time saying its maintenance.

      Champerty is an aggravated form of maintenance. The distinguishing feature of champerty is the support of litigation by a stranger in return for a share of the proceeds.

      So, as far as we know Thiel didn’t commit champerty.

      1. When I was sick, I saw ads for class actions during the Jerry Springer Show. There were a bunch of them.

        There must be somebody out there funding class action lawsuits on a speculative basis. Why wait for an attorney to figure it out?

        We’ll put out a bunch of advertising and hire our own attorney.

        Ka-Ching!

        1. The question remains: is it maintenance to support a suit that has merit? There’s a difference between “a third party funded part or all of this case” and “a third party is funding cases to waste the court or the defendant’s time and money”.

          1. I don’t believe maintenance is a crime at all anymore.

            The question now is just standing, I think. But I’m not a lawyer.

            Like I said, maybe maintenance should be an issue for standing–even if it shouldn’t be a crime.

            Remember, though, there are two “unions” more powerful than the AFL-CIO or the UAW. One of them is the AMA, but the most powerful by far has got to be the ABA.

            The AMA has more influence with the federal government, but our judges, governors, state legislators, and practically everyone in Congress are actually “union” members of the ABA. You can’t get more powerful than that.

            I wouldn’t count on ABA members everywhere to vote to deprive their brethren of a huge, healthy, never ending revenue stream–not on principle.

            1. I’m not talking about maintenance being a crime or not, I’m talking about what even constitutes maintenance. It doesn’t matter “where” in the judicial process it takes effect, if the definition of the offense would not include cases like this. Also, standing is a question of the plaintiff not his lawyers.

            2. And yes the ABA is quite powerful, and no doubt they have gotten rules changed in their favor. But just because a rule was changed doesn’t mean this case would have violated the rule before the change.

        2. To clarify, it is my understanding that the prohibition on maintenance was to prevent someone from funding frivolously/vexatious cases and evading responsibility for this waste of time and money by not being one of the litigants. But if the case is neither frivolous nor vexatious, then what responsibility is being evaded?

        3. There must be somebody out there funding class action lawsuits on a speculative basis.

          Yeah. The law firms. There aren’t third parties funding these, that I’ve heard of (and I’d probably hear).

          The big national plaintiffs’/class action firms have enormous war chests built on contingency fees. That’s how they fund these cases.

      2. One more kick at this cat;

        Under that definition, I think a third party funding a legal defense “without just cause” would be maintenance as well. Wouldn’t it? The defense is just as much a part of the “litigation” as the plaintiff.

        Honestly, I doubt that’s how it was intended, but if you get rid of the (implied) “vexatious” litigation modifier, I think you’d be hard pressed to say that a third party can fund the defendant, but not the plaintiff.

        In short: be careful what you wish for.

        1. “Honestly, I doubt that’s how it was intended, but if you get rid of the (implied) “vexatious” litigation modifier, I think you’d be hard pressed to say that a third party can fund the defendant, but not the plaintiff.”

          If a plaintiff took out a loan, is the bank now a ‘maintainer’?
          AFAICS, the source of a plaintiff’s money to support the law suit is totally irrlelevant.

  21. And reason hits a new low. All Theil did was fund people to sue. Had they not had legitimate cases, Theil funding them would have been at most a nusience.

    Understand Gawker published a stolen tape and then refused to take it down after Hulk got a retraining order. Gawker was free to report on the contents of the tape. They would have been free to put the tape up had it not been stolen. They just couldn’t put up the actual stolen tape. And Sollumn has a problem with this?

    By Sollumn’s logic of Gawker had obtained a secretly recorded a woman being raped, the woman would have no right to demand it be taken down or any claim for damages if they refused.

    Fuck off Sullumn. Journalists are not special and should have to pay for the damages their behavior causes just like everyone else.

    1. There is no god but socialism and the journalist class is its messenger.

      They should be free to do anything with no fear of any public sanction whatsoever, regardless of the merits of the case. The very idea that peasants can deliberate on a case of their standing is unthinkable, and some rich guy funding a lawsuit against them is doubleplus ungoodthink.

    2. I was gonna say that I suppose in a better world, Bollea would have been justified in going down to Gawker’s offices and beating Denton to a bloody pulp with a baseball bat instead of suing his vile organization.

  22. Remember in V for Vendetta, where everyone in the public thought that V was acting in the public’s interest, but it was really about revenge? The message in the movie was about how we all have to want freedom for our own “selfish” reasons. V was a monster. He was a murderer, a terrorist, a kidnapper, and a torturer. Being in it for yourself (for revenge, even) doesn’t necessarily preclude the public interest.

    I feel that way about my rights. The proper response to the government infringing on some terrorist’s Fourth Amendment and Eighth Amendment rights, infringing on some racist’s Second Amendment rights, infringing on some Nazi’s First Amendment rights, infringing on some arsonist’s Fifth Amendment rights etc. isn’t to care about those other people. It’s to care about yourself! I’m not a terrorist, but those are my Fourth Amendment rights you’re treating so shabbily–and I care about MY rights.

    I don’t know whether Thiel should be free to engage in old school “maintenance”, but I’m glad I live in a country where Ken Shultz can sue media outlets to protect his own rights for his own “selfish” reasons.

    1. I don’t know whether Thiel should be free to engage in old school “maintenance”,

      See above. I’m not at all sure this is maintenance.

      1. What’s the essential difference between Thiel supporting Hogan and innumerable “public interest” groups supporting Joe Blow’s lawsuit against a corporation or government agency?

          1. What’s the essential difference between Thiel supporting Hogan and innumerable “public interest” groups supporting Joe Blow’s lawsuit against a corporation or government agency?

            This is the best argument against SF progs, because…

            Thiel bankrolled anti-Prop 8 lawsuits, big time…

  23. Thiel is supporting Trump because he is a major shareholder in a privacy-violating data firm whose major clients are governments allegedly looking for “terrorists”; as much as we can discern a coherent policy from Trump’s ramblings, Thiel’s company would seem to make out like a pandit under a President Trump.

    Theil is not a libertarian; it annoys the shit out of me when people describe him as such.

    1. That is nice but who the fuck cares? This thread is about the lawsuits against Gawker he funded. Either evict Trump out of your head or start charging him rent for living there.

    2. make out like a pandit

      Are Hindu priests wealthier than Peter Thiel?

  24. The article boils down to a cry de coer about Gawker being Progressive and our friends.

  25. If the facts of the Hogan sex tape were reversed, such that a female celebrity was filmed having sex without her knowledge or consent, and a conservative news website then published that footage, and refused to take it down, and then a tech billionaire who opposes Donald Trump funded her lawsuit against the website, would any of the people now defending Gawker take the same “freedom of the press” stance?

    I, for one, am…doubtful.

  26. Obnoxious journalist outraged that someone found a creative way to stick it to obnoxious journalists. Color me shocked.

  27. Gawker routinely plays ancient Chinese game of Fuqqee or Fuqqee aka Fahqu or Fahqmee. No sympathy

  28. “Free speech” doesn’t mean an unfettered right to defame people or cause them harm. Gawker had the right to publish whatever it liked; it did not have any “right” to be immune to the consequences of its actions. Hulk Hogan proved to a jury that Gawker damaged him to the tune of $140 million. I don’t know how that number was arrived at, but (as I recall) it withstood a challenge on appeal so there is clearly some basis for it.

    It’s a fundamental libertarian principle that we are all responsible for the consequences of our actions. Gawker is no different. This is not a “free speech” issue; there is no governmental action or prior restraint. It’s just a garden-variety tort claim.

  29. Here’s fervently hoping that vindictive, gun-hating little fag dies of aids. And the sooner the better.

  30. You know what they say about turnabouts.

    A gossip site could out a gay man who wished to come out on his own term. That gay man could use his own money to fund a lawsuit of man whose privacy was violated by the site’s decision to post unauthorized footage. If Hogan set up a go fund me page, some people would have donated money. No difference.

    And whether lawsuits like this have a “chilling” effect on free press is a non sequitor. It’s his money and resources. Freedom of association. No one here minds a billionaire donating 100 million dollars to Trump at any time, no matter how often Clinton screams “election integrity”.

    The democrats and George Soros could theoretically fabricate all sorts of lies to sue the oil company, Koch brothers, etc. But in reality these lawsuits would cost a fortune, and the return would be minimal. Thiel sounds like tech gazillionaire and he spent his own money (no input necessary from shareholders and such, I imagine) to settle a personal score against a tabloid. His goal here wasn’t making money. Something like this won’t happen that often.

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