Lawyer Whose Main Claim To Fame Is Suing A News Org To Get It Shut Down, Now Complains About 'Cancel Culture'

from the oh-this-is-rich dept

As a bit of a reminder/disclaimer, Charles Harder was the main lawyer in the lawsuit against us, in which the plaintiff said directly that his intent was that we needed to be shut down. Of course, Harder’s bigger claim to fame was his success in shutting down Gawker, thanks to a concerted effort by a billionaire who didn’t like Gawker’s reporting.

Harder has, in fact, relished his reputation for threatening and suing news organizations that publish information his clients dislike. Hell, he just published a whole book in which the title itself champions the fact that he killed off Gawker. Over the years, we’ve seen Harder threaten and/or sue plenty of media organizations over completely ridiculous things. He sued the New York Times over an opinion piece on behalf of Donald Trump’s campaign (and lost), he helped a cryptocurrency company sue Forbes for an article about how the company was structured, he tried (and failed) to get multiple books about Donald Trump blocked from publication — including suing over the book by niece Mary Trump and threatening a suit over Steve Bannon’s book. He also threatened the New York Times over its big Harvey Weinstein expose.

In fact, nearly every aspect of Harder’s claim to fame is built around his ability to threaten or sue media organizations into silence.

And the impact of his lawsuits has been very real. There have been stories about the Gawker Effect creating a real chill on investigative reporting, especially into malfeasance. And I’ve certainly spoken about the chilling effects of the lawsuit that was filed against me.

Given all of that, it’s incredibly rich for Harder to now publish an op-ed decrying “cancel culture.” And, yet, that’s exactly what he’s done. In a piece that originally appeared on InsideSources and is now popping up in actual newspaper op-eds, like the Jacksoville Journal-Courier, Harder argues that we need to stop trying to cancel people for speech. The whole thing would make me laugh if it didn’t make me actually feel ill.

When it comes to the cancel culture debate, an important litmus test to apply when thinking about whether something?or someone?should be canceled is this: Does the punishment fit the crime? Vigorous debate, and even unpopular ideas, must be protected. Not only protected but encouraged. When people become scared to speak freely or are punished for expressing an unpopular view, American society inches closer to becoming homogenous, and where freedoms and diverse thoughts are suppressed.

Are you for real? Your career is highlighted by trying to shut entire media organizations down for articles that someone didn’t like. Does the punishment fit the crime? Take a look in the mirror, Charles. Vigorous debate must be protected? Is the exception when a client pays you a lot of money to silence one side of that debate? Again, the only actual evidence we’ve seen of people being “too scared to speak freely” or “punished for expressing” certain views came as the result of lawsuits like yours that have chilled investigative reporting — especially on the rich and powerful abusing their positions.

The Founding Fathers wrote the First Amendment to ensure for all Americans the right to free speech and free expression, without persecution. Everyone should feel free to exercise those rights without fear of backlash.

Really? Where do I send the bill for the hell you put me through?

But beyond hate speech and other terribly unacceptable speech, while I don?t condone disrespecting the flag or the national anthem, I strongly support people being allowed to speak their mind without fear of being canceled for it.

Then stop suing people and threatening others for their speech. Hell, your own history had me think twice before writing this very article, because I have no clue if you’re going to sue me. You’d have no basis to do so, but that hasn’t seemed to have stopped you in the past. That is the very chilling effect and “backlash” that you, yourself, created.

Harder’s article goes on to discuss examples of what he believes is “cancel culture” — conveniently leaving out much of the context and nuance behind them. This includes the now-infamous Harper’s Letter, which we noted was not so much an essay on cancel culture, but about professional assholes seeking to hide behind a few legitimate cases of overreaction, and trying to avoid the social consequences of their speech. Incredibly, Harder’s own description of the Harper’s letter situation ends like this:

Naturally, the signatories caught flack for signing it.

Notice he didn’t say they were “cancelled.” They “caught flak.” And, uh, just a few paragraphs earlier, you insisted that you supported and even encouraged ‘vigorous debate.’ And the Harper’s Letter… created vigorous debate. Rather than embrace it, you’re suggesting it’s also an example of cancel culture. It seems like Harder is saying that he doesn’t support cancel culture of some people, but is fine in other cases.

The end of Harder’s piece is really quite something.

I believe that less cancellation, and more thoughtful consideration of context?plus appreciation for viewpoints we disagree with, particularly when communicated in a respectful, law-abiding way?would benefit all of us.

This is rich coming from you, who continue to sue media organizations and have just released a book proudly touting your own ability to shut down a media organization.

So applying the test to Colin Kaepernick: Did the punishment fit the crime? My answer: Where?s the crime?

What “crime” did I commit when you represented a client against me, Charles? What did I do that was worth eating up two and a half years of my life?

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Comments on “Lawyer Whose Main Claim To Fame Is Suing A News Org To Get It Shut Down, Now Complains About 'Cancel Culture'”

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99 Comments

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Hain Gon Chinese mountaineer says:

Gawker destroyed itself.

shutting down Gawker, thanks to a concerted effort by a billionaire who didn’t like Gawker’s reporting.

That is FLATLY a LIE. Gawker destroyed itself by deliberately went FAR out of normal and decent to defame the marvelous Hulk Hogan. Judge (and I’m pretty sure jury) agreed, besides is consistent with all law. — Only YOU, Maz, out on the leftist anti-American fringe, want empowered to spew lies and filth about anyone.

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Hain Gon Chinese mountaineer says:

Re: Gawker destroyed itself.

Harder’s effort to STOP and redress some of the vicious attacks enabled by CDA Section 230 are commendable. Section 230 (and SLAPP laws) are ENABLING LIARS that intend to tear down political opponents and civil society. We need more such done, but few are so stupid and arrogant and blatant as you and Gawker.

Now, you’re taking a petty dig at Harder because he took you down too, not far enough, but you now don’t dare write any more lies about Ayyadurai.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Section 230 (and SLAPP laws) are ENABLING LIARS that intend to tear down political opponents and civil society.

For once, you’ve said something that I can say is true — after all, Donald Trump’s supposedly-in-the-works social media service will ultimately rely on Section 230.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
sumgai (profile) says:

Re: Re: Gawker destroyed itself.

No, the real problem here is not Gawker, but the fact that a very rich person didn’t like what Gawker said about him, way back in the dim past. But said rich person knew that he couldn’t sue for it, so he bided his time, and waited a case to come along that had potential for damaging Gawker. We call this the Al Capone case of the digital era.

Recall that Capone was imprisoned not for being a mob boss and thus responsible for hundreds of murders as well as other crimes against society, but for tax evasion. That was provable in court, even thought it was the least of his transgressions, and thus the Feds put an end to his illegal activities.

Gawker stepped over the line on the Hulk Hogan piece, to be sure, but they didn’t deserve to have someone come after them who was carrying a years-long grudge, and holding a Treasury MInt-sized bag of cash with nowhere better to spend it than on his personal desire for revenge. The "I invented email" kid had no case, and yet he put Gawker’s dick in the dirt, and Gawker had done nothing more than tell the truth (in that particular instance) – he didn’t invent email, simple as that. Just like Al Capone, only this time it wasn’t even a small petty offense, it was Truth that suffered the most harm.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Jason says:

I believe that less cancellation, and more thoughtful consideration of context—plus appreciation for viewpoints we disagree with, particularly when communicated in a respectful, law-abiding way—would benefit all of us.

That, sadly, represents the underlying disconnect.

If he says something that other people disagree with, well, that’s his free expression and everyone else should be more tolerant and respectful of his opinion.

If someone says something he disagrees with, that’s obviously a blatant and despicable crime and should therefore be punished.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The truly ironic thing about Colin Kaepernick is that kneeling during the national anthem was suggested to him by Nate Boyer, white, former Green Beret, as a RESPECTFUL way of protesting. It really looks like the ridiculous right find protesting their abuse in and of itself disrespectful, regardless if its form or merit.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"The truly ironic thing about Colin Kaepernick is that kneeling during the national anthem was suggested to him by Nate Boyer, white, former Green Beret, as a RESPECTFUL way of protesting"

It’s absolutely the most respectful – it’s a silent protest taking place during a break in the game where nobody is expected to be doing anything other than stand there, interrupts zero play and actually replicates what many Christians are expected to do in church to show reverence during mass. If the right-wing outrage machine hadn’t picked up on its, then it would have been a powerful but totally unobtrusive statement.

I’d argue that the people demanding that he loses his job for exercising his free speech in such a way were way less respectful of what the flag represents than he did.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

And the work Shiva Ayyadurai did on his email program had no effect whatsoever on the development of the three protocols that make up the backbone of email as we know it today.

To reiterate: Shiva Ayyadurai — the “real Indian” who lost an election to “fake Indian” Elizabeth Warren by nearly 60 points — did not invent email in any way, shape, or form.

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GE Neric says:

There is no "cancel culture", right? Just getting rid of "spam"!

I’m NOT spamming — that’s only commercial — just presenting my ordinary opinions in reasonable tone without any vile words.

Stop spamming and our spam filters won’t keep thinking your spam.

Don’t like me commenting here with perfectly acceptable elsewhere views? — Get rid of the plain HTML box, which invites everyone, and you don’t specify ANY rules.

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GE Neric says:

Re: There is no "cancel culture", right? Just getting

The SAME text goes in! It’s not ANY textual "filter".

Define spam in some way that isn’t just "don’t like your opinion" — on what appears to be a discussion site!

Don’t like me commenting here with perfectly acceptable elsewhere views? — Get rid of the plain HTML box, which invites everyone, and you don’t specify ANY rules.

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GE Neric says:

Re: Re: Re: There is no "cancel culture", righ

And yet again, session stopped working until after a couple "Resend", then text in without change — well, that time, got rid of upper case!

I’m not spamming, just discussing the topic in civil tone. You are lying that it’s spam. LYING.

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GE Neric says:

Re: Re: Re:2 There is no "cancel culture&amp

Guess it’s not the upper-casing AS SUCH, see?

Now, sheerly for musing: is Techdirt better off with my comments hidden, and forcing me to make several so doesn’t look like one instance of commercial spam?

Does Techdirt think it looks wise and professional to censor on-topic civil disagreement? You’ve already lost hundreds of reasonable people with that surely as part cause!

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GE Neric says:

Re: There is no "cancel culture", right? Just getting

Stop playing whack-a-mole, as you used to advise others.

My opinion — which you won’t deny or confirm cause any statement will be evidence — is that you at times lock down by whatever "security". Because at times I get in with one click, and as today, eventually I’m IN at least until apparently session is poisoned.

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F Layler @ windmills.com says:

The period to apparent blocking is

always about time for an Admin to notice and click…

Behind the scenes, to make clear to anyone actually objective here, not that are any such new to the site, it’s clear to me that Admin measures are taken to prevent comments.

Bet you thought I’d be blocked from reply to your last shot, Maz, or give up.

SO tell me how to avoid this problem! — Without admitting you just hate my viewpoint and don’t want it seen at all, anywhere.

Where your comment guidelines, and which have I broken?

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F Layler @ windmills.com says:

Re: The period to apparent blocking is

See? After many attempts, I’m IN again!

So is that Admin action, Maz? Do you even have an Admin? You never admit even that! — Or just some quirk of your mighty filters? — Which now and then not only STOP a working session, but lock me out for a while? HMM?

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: The period to apparent blocking is

You scream alot despite me always seeing your comments. And for someone accusing others of being off topic please stop yelling and posting huge diatrabs about unrelated stuff, you just attack mike or scream of censorship.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

SO tell me how to avoid this problem!

You could stop commenting. I mean, that would fix most of your problems…except for the obvious mental illness that makes you obsess on a daily basis — often to a point of unhealthiness — over a site where someone quoted Barack Obama at you almost a decade ago and you still take it personally.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110621/16071614792/misconceptions-free-abound-why-do-brains-stop-zero.shtml#c1869

Out of the Blue/Blue Balls/Brainy Smurf (whichever one you prefer) has literally trolled this site in a decade-long temper tantrum because of that one comment — which is a quote from Barack Obama’s memoir, Dreams From My Father, meaning Brainy is mad because someone quoted a Black man at him.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The period to apparent blocking is

SO tell me how to avoid this problem!

You could start by not being an asshole. You could also stop asking someone else to figure out your problem, and figure it out your damn self. Something something bootstraps.

But neither would fall in line with your incessant whining and perpetual victimhood.

So let me help you – your viewpoint is the problem. I don’t associate with nonsense-spewing assholes like you in real life. Why the fuck would I put up with a fool like you online? It’s not like I go to Gab or Parler and complain about how simple-minded, easily fooled idiots just don’t get my viewpoint. Frankly, I don’t care – you morons simply aren’t worth the time. I’m a big proponent of letting morons be morons – case in point, the dipshits currently sitting in jail or facing felony charges for thinking it’s a good idea to storm the Capitol. There’s no reaching dimwitted fucktards like that. They’re too far gone.

You should go somewhere else, where people won’t persecute you so badly and hurt your feelings. Where your opinions will be welcomed. That’s what I would do. Then again, I’m not an asshole.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: The period to apparent blocking is

Yep, you’re right – my bad.

Shit, I’d lower his asshole rating a full point if he’d just put his thoughts into one fucking post instead of posting, replying to his post, then replying to his reply. Then of course he’ll repeat the same thing again. And again. And again. And then the complaining about his god-given right to act like a douchetard starts.

It happens on every single article.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The only time when out_of_the_blue gets his asshole rating lowered is when he’s not posting, and even that is stacked up against the immense volume of trash he’s posted over the last decade. He’s sucked up to Prenda Law, Andrew Crossley, Cara Duckworth, Cary Sherman, Mitch Bainwol, Chris Dodd, and just about every single copyright troll you can name – because the idea that copyright enforcement misses more than it hits triggers him like poison ivy on a rash.

Really, the last decade has not been kind to him. There was the fall of SOPA in 2012. Then there was the mass realization by judges that copyright enforcement, especially the kind hired by porn producers, might not actually have everyone’s best interests at heart. Then Shiva Ayyadurai, out_of_the_blue’s chosen one, failed to kill the website that some would claim was instrumental in the death of SOPA.

Trump winning the 2016 elections was a glimmer of hope for blue. He got an opportunity to turn the Devin Nunes memo thread into his own personal wall of graffiti, hoping desperately that some random schmuck would notice his collection of far-right opinion pieces would somehow lead to an anti-Democrat revolution or something – but more importantly, that the high reply count would somehow be proof of his efforts against… well, something else. That failed, of course, when the Content Moderation article on Anti-Vaccine movements quickly doubled his own spamfest in size, in less than half the time it took for him to hit half a thousand. blue then disappeared for a year, somehow managing to not off himself by following his Dear Leader’s instructions on coping with COVID, and proceeded to lose his shit completely once the 2020 election results were out.

Put simply, there’s no curing blue. Treating him like a not-asshole has, in ten years, done nothing to curb his RIAA/police/authoritarian/Trump fellating. Mockery is all he deserves.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

'Only my side is allowed to silence people!'

With hypocrites like that you need only understand that the only speech they value is speech they agree with, and that they are such self-entitled little brats that the idea that other people might apply consequences for their words and action is seen as utterly unacceptable.

Once you’ve grasped those two facts then it becomes easy to understand how they can both decry the dreaded ‘cancel culture’ (read: applying consequences for being an ass) while at the same time being all for trying to punish others for speaking their minds, because in their minds only them and theirs are saying things worth protecting and everything else is without value and those speaking would be better off intimidated into silence as a result.

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