Hulk vs. Gawker vs. Thiel: Whose Side Should We Be On?
Last week, news broke that controversial Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel had been the man funding Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker, reportedly to the tune of $10 million, all of out of anger about the way Gawker-owned outlets treated him and others.
That lawsuit eventually ended in a $140 million (!!) decision against Gawker, with potentially more to come. With Gawker already in tough financial shape, it’s possible that this lawsuit could be the end of Gawker and its wide array of sites, including Deadspin, Valleywag, Jezebel, and more.
It’s a complicated web of deceit, wrongdoing, racism, homophobia and more, but it’s time to take a side. I’m here to break it down. The key players:
1. Hulk Hogan. The former pro wrestler and reality TV star at the center of it all. Gawker published a tape of Hogan having sex with his friend’s wife (at his friend’s request), prompting Hogan to sue the living daylights out of Gawker.
2. Gawker and its affiliates. A relatively popular series of websites that sometimes covers news and sometimes is just mean, Gawker has grown in influence over the past decade. While they write about many newsworthy topics, there is also some pretty gross coverage that is pervasive across the Gawker networks. For example, nearly a decade ago Valleywag wrote a story publicly outing Peter Thiel as gay. Which bring us to…
3. Peter Thiel. The billionaire investor and Facebook board member decided to bankroll Hogan’s lawsuit as an act of retribution against the organization that had outed him and to defend others he says were wronged by Gawker.
On its face, Hogan should be the victim. He was recorded having sex with the intent that this recording would never be publicly seen. Gawker proceeded to get their hands on the sex tape and publish it, considering it newsworthy. Hogan’s actions were weird, yes. But let’s maybe let people be into what they’re into and call it a day, right?
Well… Turns out Hogan was also separately recorded using the n-word and going on racist rants. And his desire to sue the living bejesus out of Gawker for publishing the tape may actually have been an attempt to stop any recordings of his racist words and actions from seeing the light of day. They did anyway, and he lost most of his career. So, um, Hogan’s not exactly the protagonist we’re looking for.
Which means maybe Gawker is in the right, doesn’t it? Sure, they violated basic human decency by publishing sexual content without the participant’s consent but — yeah I’m gonna have to stop right there. No buts about it, Gawker’s skeezy as shit. The site routinely publishes tabloid stories like the Hogan sex tape and its editor-in-chief even said (joked?) during the trial that their standard for publishing sexual content was to make sure the participants were older than 4 years old. If you were lining up behind Gawker, it’s probably time to reconsider.
So if the actual plaintiff in the case is a racist dirtbag and the defendant in the case is a disgusting rag, then maybe the man behind it all is the only one who can be trusted?
Peter Thiel, the Donald Trump-backing libertarian renegade investor certainly is trying to portray himself as a hero nowadays. The dude thinks funding this case is maybe his greatest philanthropic achievement ever (this coming from a man who wants to launch society onto boats to avoid the evil reaches of government), and certainly played the long game here when he vaguely threatened that Gawker would pay for reiterating the public fact that he was openly gay.
But it doesn’t take much critical thought to realize that billionaires probably shouldn’t be using their money to silence critics in court. Granted the Gawker network isn’t a news outlet so much as a group of all the people you used to hate in high school giggling about how to be an asshole, but if this tactic were ever to be replicated it would have chilling effects on the free press and free speech. Plus, Thiel backs Donald Trump. Like for president.
So after examining all that evidence, the question of who to support is pretty easy. It’s time to rally behind the White Walkers.
If #HulkVsGawk has shown us anything, it’s that we do not — as a society or a species — have any right to run this planet anymore. We are, all of us, vile and irredeemable people. There is not a good one left amongst us. Everyone is either racist, homophobic, a bully, a liar, a tyrant, or some combination of the above.
Bring on the Walkers.