Gawker: It's Cool to Punish OTHER People for Their Words, Just Not Us

October 23, 2014

As I've noted elsewhere, the most amusing aspect of the whole #GamerGate phenomenon (background here and here and here) has been the angry progressive media types confusedly looking around trying to figure out how we got to a point where they would be targeted for boycotts and the like for casual comments they have made. As Varad Mehta noted,

Crazy, right? They don't quite understand the world they've created. They think it's the worst thing in the whole world for Internet Tough Guys to make death and rape threats* and also that it's cool to joke about Bristol Palin actually being physically assaulted by a man. Because stoopid Rethuglicans, you know? Most amusingly, they don't even seem to understand the contradiction. So they get really butthurt when someone else whips up an Internet rage mob against them. "Don't you understand?" they seem to be crying. "We're the good guys here! We only take on bad people! Those Other people. That aren't good. Like us!"

This is how you get to a place where Gawker Media is forced to talk out of both sides of its mouth, on the one hand callowly apologizing to readers (and, let's be honest, advertisers) for one of its writers launching a disgusting pro-bullying attack on a marginalized group while simultaneously apologizing for the apology and denouncing anti-Gawker campaigns as little better than "fascism" in order to maintain their street cred with their bros. It's a genius move, in a way, one that allows Gawker to tell the companies it relies on for revenue that it's really and truly sorry while also doing nothing to alienate its core readership of angry progressive know-nothings.

But I can remember a time when Gawker Media was perfectly happy to take part in "fascist" campaigns to ruin the lives of those they disagreed with—or just, like, made a joke they didn't like.

1. Valleywag Didn't Like Justine Sacco's Joke

Remember #HasJustineLandedYet? It was a really hilarious story about a woman who made a bad joke about AIDS and was soon inundated with rape threats and death threats and told that she should catch AIDS and die. Gross, right? Well, people sometimes forget that Gawker's Valleywag was the blog that got that lynch mob rolling. Good job, Sam Biddle!

2. Gawker Wanted to Bankrupt Chick Fil A Over Charitable Donations

The New York City website was really super serial in its campaign to cause the destruction of the southern fast food chain, which would have led to tens of thousands of people losing their jobs (and deprived the rest of us of delicious chicken nuggets). Why? Because they didn't like charitable donations made by the company's executives. Yikes. That's not fascist at all!

3. Valleywag Delighted in the Ouster of Mozilla's CEO for Donating to a Political Campaign

Oh that Sam Biddle. When he's not viciously attacking marginalized communities and calling for people to mercilessly bully them, he's taking glee in watching people he disagrees with suffer. For instance, here he is celebrating the ouster of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich after it was discovered that Eich, gasp, donated to a ballot initiative that Biddle didn't like.

4. Gawker Doxxed a Reddit Troll Who Lost His Job—and the Insurance Coverage for his Disabled Wife

Yikes, I'd almost forgotten about this one. Here's danah boyd:

Two weeks ago, Gawker journalist Adrian Chen decided to unmask the infamous Reddit troll "Violentacrez" as Michael Brutsch. When Chen contacted him, Brutsch did not attempt to deny the things he had done. He simply begged Chen not to publish his name, citing the costs that publicity would have on his disabled wife. Chen chose to publish the piece—including Brutsch’s pleas and promises to do anything that Chen asked in return for not ruining his life. As expected, Brutsch lost his job and the health insurance that paid for his wife’s care; Chen reported this outcome three days later.

"lulz," though, amirite?

Just remember: Causing someone to lose their livelihood for what they have said or what political causes they support is totes fine. Unless you do it to Gawker, of course. Then it's "fascist."

Update: From the New Yorker"Hypocrisy is the only modern sin," [Gawker founder Nick Denton] likes to say.

*For the record: People who make said threats are scum and should be punished. But tarring a whole group for the misbehavior of a few people is stupid and bigoted.