One day after the Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel revealed his clandestine legal attack on Gawker Media to the New York Times, Gawker reporter Ashley Feinberg published a lengthy investigation that sought to solve the enduring mystery of Donald Trump’s infamous mane, which she described as a “cotton candy hairspray labyrinth.”
Peter Thiel, the libertarian Silicon Valley billionaire who has waged a secret, decade-long, multi-front legal battle against Gawker Media, has somewhat counterintuitively positioned himself as a guardian of free speech principles. But in response to Gawker’s critical coverage of the technology sector—coverage that Thiel has described as “terrible for the Valley”—he decided the company and the people who write for it deserved to be punished, with a campaign he has called “specific deterrence.”
You may have heard about the latest dustup between Jeff Jarvis, a media futurist and journalism professor, and his satirical online alter-ego, @ProfJeffJarvis, who was created several years ago by a software developer named Rurik Bradbury to mock the jargon-laden prognostications for which Jarvis and his ilk are known. The two Jarvises have butted heads in the past, but the most recent incident—in which the real Jarvis, after airing legal threats on Twitter, successfully forced Esquire to delete a satirical essay carrying @ProfJeffJarvis’s byline—shows that, for all of his bluster about the power of free speech, Jeff Jarvis is a cringing hypocrite when it comes to the offensive but entirely legal speech of others.
This morning the Supreme Court declined to hear a case about religious freedom brought by a Wisconsin school district that wanted to hold its graduation ceremonies in a church and got slapped down by the Seventh Circuit. Scalia dissented, indulging in a bit of the old "music criticism" along the way.
Today the Supreme Court turned down the opportunity to rule on a case about same-sex wedding photography that fulfills every nightmare religious conservatives in America have about our new era of gay rights. The state of New Mexico had ruled that if you are in the wedding-photography business, you must be willing to take photographs of weddings involving same-sex couples—even if your own religion opposes such weddings.
Wired is reporting that the activist/journalist Barrett Brown has signed a plea agreement. They have pieced together that conclusion from a motion to seal the plea they say is on the docket (I admittedly don't see that yet myself) and from the fact that earlier this week the federal government filed a new superseding indictment that lessens the charges pending against Brown. To layer on the irony in this controversial First Amendment-involving case, Wired's Kim Zetter couldn't confirm with Brown's lawyers directly, because the lawyers and Brown himself are under a gag order.
Yesterday the Hon. Pamela A.M. Campbell, a circuit court judge in Pinellas County, Fla., issued an order compelling Gawker to remove from the internet a video of Hulk Hogan fucking his friend's ex-wife, as well as a 1,400-word narrative of the video written by former Gawker editor A.J. Daulerio and 466 user-submitted comments. Here is why we are refusing to comply.
Georgia State Representative Earnest Smith has a problem with Photoshop. Specifically, he has a problem with it being used to cause an "unknowing person wrongfully to be identified as the person in an obscene depiction." So, along with fellow Democrat Pam Dickerson, he's trying to make such depictions illegal and punishable by a $1,000 fine. Would, say, taking a Georgia state representative's head and photoshopping it over a male porn star's body fall under such a law? Because that's just what Georgia Unfiltered's Andre Walker did last week (see photo above).
As we increasingly cluster in ideologically like-minded niches, our experiences with social media become more like highlight video. Some obnoxious buddy is saying BOOYA! about something on DailyKos, or someone else is demanding that we please trade the idiot president to another country for two prospects and cash.