On Pearl Harbor Day last year, I noted on twitter that one year when I was a kid my mom wouldn’t let us have Asian food on Pearl Harbor Day. I was just noting it as a funny anachronism, made more funny because while I could get not eating Japanese food on Pearl Harbor Day, we always had Chinese food on Wednesday nights and they had nothing to do with it.
The event in question was about 28 years ago and it turned into a big scandal online. What I tweeted, chuckling as I tweeted it, was proof of racism in my family or some such. A reporter from Gawker called my mother, who didn’t know any better and talked to him, and she had no recollection of this. He tried my sisters as well, but they wouldn’t talk to him. My mother wanted to share Jesus with him. Soon the story became that I was a liar lying about my mother painting her as a racist. It was an event from twenty-eight years ago in Dubai that my 70+ year old mother did not remember.
It was not the first time Gawker had gone after me and there had been a few times I truly did deserve it. This was a nothingburger made into something and they dragged my mother into it for no reason.
Gawker has repeatedly championed destroying reputations, families, and businesses. They have ruined lives and laughed at the destruction. I do not believe in karma, but I do believe that eventually one’s sins are found out and everyone is called to account. Now Gawker is getting its comeuppance. It will shut down next week.
It will shut down because Gawker thought nothing of destroying another life, that of Hulk Hogan, the wrestler. They released a sex tape without any thought other than mocking him and Hogan sued. His suit was backed financially by billionaire Peter Thiel, who himself had been outted by Gawker years earlier.
There was absolutely nothing wrong with what Thiel did, but it is somewhat hilarious to watch liberals who were angry when Gawker outted a Democrat now tut-tutting Peter Thiel for fighting back. Thiel has done a great public service. Journalists and muckrakers sometimes think the First Amendment’s Freedom of the Press applies only to them and that it gives them carte blanche to do whatever they want.
The freedom has responsibility. Gawker chose not to exercise any responsibility, but gleefully harmed as many reputations as possible, taking great joy in causing great misery. The fact that Thiel could help a victim fight back should not be lamented. It should be praised as a necessary corrective on an organization that went too far without ever asking if it should. An organization with no conscience deserves annihilation.
The cess pool will not go away. It will go elsewhere. Those who worked at Gawker will get jobs elsewhere. But Peter Thiel is an American hero for reminding the press that there is a need for responsibility in the exercise of rights. Gawker is, for a few more days, the press equivalent of the open carry gun nuts in Texas who make everyone uncomfortable by parading around grocery stories with rifles hanging off their shoulders. It’s their right, so they don’t care. Now they will…ahem…be made to care.
In a few days Gawker will be no more because a good man decided to stand up their bullying and won.