This post examines several sides of the collision of privacy and freedom to offend. And comes to a conclusion that surprised me.
There's a lot of complex hand-wringing, celebration, and outrage making the rounds about the recent Gawker post that outed internet uber-troll Michael Brutsch, who for years has led an anonymous and wildly successful movement on Reddit and elsewhere to be as calculatingly cruel as possible to victims of previous crimes and other offences.
The hand wringers are pretty uniformly people who recognize Brutsch for the flaming fucking asshole he is... but who nevertheless feel conflicted about people's rights to a) post anonymously and b) retain a right to free speech. Oh, and possibly c) a right to privacy.
There are others who feel that the mere nature of Brutsch's deplorability (and, seriously, the guy is utterly deplorable) deprives him of his rights to free speech and privacy.
And there are yet still others who feel that the very deplorability of Brutsch's "speech" (and again, seriously, his entire on-line presence revolved around creating, celebrating, and nurturing deplorability) somehow enshrines his rights to free speech and privacy.
Sorry, gang, there's no paradox, no cause for outrage, no cause for censorship, and definitely no cause for hand-wringing.
Instead it's a matter of standards. Standards of decency. Standards of deplorability too.
It is, of course, equally deplorable to either a) to offend sensibilities by encouraging others to jack off to photos of dead minor children as Michael Brutsch, operating under the pseduonym Violentacrez did, or b) to offend sensibilities by outing someone who posts anonymously on the internet, as Gawker Media did.
Sorry, on the hand-wringer-y side it's just true: if you're offended by one you should be offended by the other -- and thus people offended by outing Brutsch's "speech" must by definition be offended by Gawker outing him.
Similarly, sorry, on the censorship side it's just true: if you defend Brusch's right to post calculatingly deplorale "speech" on the internet then you by definition must defend Gawker Media for outing him.
And finally, sorry, on the free-speech side it's just true: if you agree that Brusch should have been outed for posting his deplorable speech then by definition you agree he should be able to post it.
If you think you can weasle out of it by picking one side or the other you're mistaken. (Well, while remaining a progressive anyway: conservatives do it with self-serving ease but that's why they disgust us.) If you think you need to wring your hands over it you're also mistaken. (Well, while remaining progressive anyway: liberals do it with self-defeating ease but that's why so many of them disgust everyone else.)
Update: Other variations include
If you support censor Gawker for outing Brutsch you support censoring Brutsch
If you support taking revenge on Gawker for outing Brutsch you support taking revenge on Brutsch