Terry Gene Bollea, better known as his professional wrestler name “Hulk Hogan”, has been awarded $115 million for defamation, loss of privacy, and emotional pain caused by a sex tape which was published by gossip website Gawker in 2012.
In the tape, Hogan and Heather Clem, the estranged wife of his friend and radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge, are having sex. The original video is NSFW, so instead you will have to imagine the visuals via this excerpt from the original Gawker post:
“We watch Hulk stand up and clumsily attempt to roll a condom on to his erect penis which, even if it has been ravaged by steroids and middle-age, still appears to be the size of a thermos you’d find in a child’s lunchbox. Hulk hurls his massive body on to the canopy bed and the woman climbs on top, finally, and they begin. There is lots of squealing and moaning from her … There is light spanking from Hulk done to show he supports her efforts and is close to orgasming.”
Yesterday, on March 18th, 2016, a six person jury in St. Petersburg, Florida – four women and two men – deliberated for nearly six hours before they made the verdict. Here are the 7 Things We Learned During The Hulk Hogan vs Gawker Trial…
7. Gossip Websites Will Play More Cautiously In The Future
Online publishers exercise their first amendment rights — which is that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” — to publish whatever celebrity gossip they see fit for public consumption.
The Hogan trial is incredibly important as other publishing outlets may now reconsider publishing material that exposes public figures. For decades now, we have become accustomed to seeing celebrity scandal splashed across our screens – but will this shape a new future where celebrities and public figures are awarded more privacy? Despite the fact that Gawker appears to be on the right side of the law, the jury verdict usually sways against the media in these cases.
Gawker founder and president Nick Denton said ethical guidelines are “irrelevant, even damaging, in the Internet era” and that he believes Gawker is “less sensitive to sensitivity than traditional newspapers. I believe in total freedom and information transparency. I’m an extremist when it comes to that.”