Conservatives should unite with feminists to pass IPPA
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My former colleague Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) recently introduced the Intimate Privacy Protection Act (IPPA) to criminalize revenge porn.  Revenge porn is the distribution of sexual images or video of someone without their consent.   The bill has bipartisan support, including conservative Republicans like Reps. Walter Jones of North Carolina and Tom Rooney of Florida and groups on the Left like the National Democratic Institute, National Organization for Women, and Feminist Majority.

Liberals see stopping revenge porn as a feminist cause, as the majority of victims are female. But ironically, the highest profile offender of revenge porn is the publisher of feminist blog Jezebel, Gawker Media. In fact, many are calling the IPPA the “Gawker Bill.”

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Gawker and its founder Nick Denton are currently facing bankruptcy over publishing a sex tape of Terry “Hulk Hogan” Bollea.  While Bollea is not the feminist’s vision of a revenge porn victim, Gawker obtained a surreptitiously a recorded and stolen sex video of him and distributed it without his permission. 

Daniel Castro of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a lead campaigner for the Gawker Bill, explained last year that Bollea’s lawsuit epitomized “the inadequacy of the legal system in providing meaningful relief and the overwhelming need for congressional action” against revenge porn.   As Scott Greer noted in the Daily Caller, “Denton could find himself in a criminal court if his company posts another sex tape without the consent of the offended party.”

In a stunning lack of self-awareness, Gawker Media published articles attacking revenge porn before the Hulk case. It even supported an earlier version of Speier’s legislation.  One Gawker piece entitled “The Case for Making Revenge Porn a Federal Crime” asked "Why isn't this already illegal?" and complained that "absent specific criminal laws," there is no way to "convince anyone to do anything about it." Another article on Gawker’s tech site Gizmodo, “This Is the Revenge Porn Law We Need in America,” bemoaned that America has “been waiting too long for federal law banning revenge porn” adding, “It's hard to imagine who would condone the practice of publishing naked photos of someone out of spite.” Not surprisingly, since Bollea won his lawsuit, Gawker has been silent about revenge porn and no longer champions the IPPA, which would’ve landed Nick Denton in jail (funny how that works).

Gawker’s general counsel Heather Dietrick denied that it engages in revenge porn because, “no one was trying to get revenge when [the Bollea] video was released.”  However, the Gawker Bill is agnostic about motives and instead focuses on whether distributing sexual content is consensual.  Does Gawker really think releasing non-consensual pornography for profit rather than out of malice makes it any more defensible?

In other cases, Gawker has combined profit with spite to target conservative women.   When Christine O’Donnell ran for U.S. Senate, they published an explicit anonymous account of a man who had brief relationship with her.  The National Organization for Women denounced this attack as “Slut Shaming.”

When Miss California Carrie Prejean made comments against gay marriage, Gawker tried to solicit an unauthorized sex tape of her and mocked rival gossip site TMZ for not wanting to publish them.

Liberal sites like Gawker have a long history of cyber-bullying in the name of journalism. Wonkette once published photoshopped images of conservative columnists Michelle Malkin and Ashley Herzog.  Herzog was only in college at the time, and it accompanied the fake photos of Malkin with captions calling her an “ignorant slut.” 

Not all these actions would constitute revenge porn, but the clear cases of publishing sexual images of someone without their consent has no redeeming value, and the Supreme Court has repeatedly held is not constitutionally protected. The Gawker Bill does just that and is a step in the right direction.

Tom Tancredo represented Colorado's 6th District from 1999 through 2009 and currently serves as chairman of Team America PAC. 


The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.