James Leroy Wilson's blog

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Strange echoes and distorted proportions, endless strife and confusion

Peter Thiel apparently funded Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker, probably because one of its publications outed Thiel as gay back in 2007. 

If all of that's true, it plays out as exactly as described in William Graham Sumner's essay "The Solidarity of the Human Race." I still can't find a text of it online, but in 2003 I typed this excerpt for an essay at The  Partial Observer:
"Good never produces evil nor evil good. ...  It comes back to you again and again in strange echoes, in distorted proportions, in ghastly colors, with a whole train of weird offspring, bad passions, bitter memories, and endless strife and confusion."
How did this come about?

1. Gawker outs Thiel without his consent. He is hurt and bitter about the invasion of privacy.
2. Gawker shows a sex tape clip of Hulk Hogan without his consent, probably a reminder or "strange echo" to Thiel of what was done to him. 
3. Thiel, to settle scores, helps fund Hogan's suit against Gawker.
4. Hogan wins the jury trial and is awarded $140 million. The damages will likely bankrupt Gawker and seems to be a "distorted proportion" to the actual harm done to Hogan.

And now there's a debate as to whether this suit will have a chilling effect on journalism and freedom of the press. What can and can't be published? What's newsworthy? What's private? Who's to decide?

Hello "endless strife and confusion!"

I don't know if Thiel was right to hold a grudge, or if Hogan's suit was justified. Maybe there were other, non-judicial ways to hold Gawker accountable or settle grievances. Maybe Thiel and Hogan are adding on to the evil, which will have evil consequences down the road for other people.

But it does seem clear that Gawker outed Thiel and exposed Hogan to hurt them for its own profit.

Gawker may still have the legal high ground. But it had no moral high ground. If it wants to avoid expensive legal messes like this, it shouldn't do evil in the first place.    

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