So Gawker and its owner Nick Denton filed Chapter 11 today to avoid paying Hulk Hogan the $140 million they owe him after losing an invasion of privacy trial. The suit was funded by libertarian billionaire Peter Thiel, which, according to many liberals, makes this the most vital First Amendment case of our lifetime.
In a spasm of hypocrisy, many of the same people who don’t believe corporations deserve constitutional rights; who think allowing the state to ban political movies and books is a fine idea; who are constantly telling us how important the courts are in realizing a just society; who are in the pocket of the trial lawyer lobby; and who have achieved almost every major political victory through third-party-funded court battles (sometimes taxpayer-funded) now worry about slippery slopes because a libertarian has funded a successful lawsuit.
Take the illiberal New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, a proponent of censorship who is considering using racketeering charges against global warming skeptics. A government official who wants to punish people for thought crimes now has the temerity to talk about freedom of the press. Gawker, by the way, once favorably wrote about arresting climate change deniers. Unlike Michael Mann and Bill Nye and a bunch of AGs, there are those who believe political speech should be protected, and yet also that media organizations should not be immune from the law.