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.
When Toni Morrison’s Beloved was published, in 1987, Margaret Atwood, writing in the New York Times Book Review called it a “triumph.” She wrote of the novel, which has come to be considered one of the most important of the contemporary era, “[Morrison’s prose is] by turns rich, graceful, eccentric, rough, lyrical, sinuous, colloquial and very much to the point.” A few weeks ago, writing in an email to an AP English teacher who is one of his constituents, Virginia State Senator Richard Black called Beloved “moral sewage.”
You may remember State Rep. Mike Pitts of South Carolina from his defeated efforts to keep the Confederate flag flying at the South Carolina State House last year. The intense media scrutiny of those efforts seem to have inspired a fairly cowardly response: According to the text of a bill he verbally introduced at the State House in Columbia today, Pitts wants to establish a government-run “responsible journalism registry” to screen, approve, and credential reporters and journalists in the Palmetto State—or else. The text of the bill’s summary reads (bolding ours):
America has more or less made peace with Tyler, the Creator, the leader of the (now disbanded) shock-rap crew Odd Future. After a period of inciting controversy with violent lyrics and aggressive teenaged snottiness, Tyler has settled into life as a touring artist with a reliable fanbase. The United Kingdom, though, is apparently not quite as accepting.
Polygraphs are notoriously unreliable, useful in practice mainly because the mere idea of a lie detector test can scare people into telling the truth. This is underscored by the wide variety and seeming effectiveness of anti-polygraph "countermeasures," which can help anyone pass regardless of truthfulness. Now Feds are going after instructors of polygraph-beating technologies, as part of a crackdown on "insider threats."