"Crucially, in its place it leaves behind a blueprint for the rich to snuff out publications that step out of line."
Woah - hang on a moment, please.
I keep reading stories on this sorry incident where the main take-away seems to be that a billionaire with a bone to pick somehow abused the system to bring down a media outlet that was mean to him.
So let's get one thing clear: Thiel didn't bring down Gawker; the courts did. A jury decided.
That jury reached a verdict that the actions of Gawker, in publishing revenge porn, caused sufficient injury to the plaintiff* to warrant the award of the damages that forced Gawker into bankruptcy. As a side note, it should be enlightening that the jury awarded more than was sought, meaning that, far from viewing the sought damages as excessively high, they found them to be too low.
A private citizen had his privacy violated in the most personal way and sued the perpetrators. The defendants tried to buy their way out of a court case but the plaintiff refused, opting to have his case heard in a court and decided upon by a jury of his peers.
It is a fundamental part of our western legal systems (and those of many other nations) that a person has the right to have his or her grievances decided on in a court of law. Unfortunately, the cost for exercising this important right can be very high and thus some cases end up being settled out of court.
While many settlements are undoubtedly quite reasonable, others take the form of paying-off the victim to make them go away and be quiet.
It is inevitable, then, that there are plaintiffs who would like to have their cases and decided upon by a jury but are all but forced to take a settlement as the cost of accessing the legal system would be prohibitive for them.
This is where pro bono work comes in. When a lawyer or firm takes a case 'pro bono', he or she is doing so in order to allow the client to access the legal system where otherwise they might not be able to.
Now, while I am not suggesting that this case was necessarily 'for the public good', what Thiel has done in funding this case is to allow the plaintiff to access the full extent of the legal system and take his case 'all the way'.
Now that that's on the table, what is the 'blueprint' you believe has suddenly been laid out? Enable people with worthy legal cases to bring their case to a jury for a verdict?
Does that mean that you are suggesting that it would have been more just if the plaintiff was compelled - due to legal costs - to accept a settlement rather than having his case heard and decided on by his peers?
Whatever anyone thinks of Bollea, Thiel or Gawker, the simple fact is that a private citizen brought a case before an independent jury of his peers and that jury handed down a decision in his favour.
Thiel did not make somehow change the facts of the case or make the jury decide one way or another. All he did was allow the plaintiff the opportunity to have his case decided.
* - Who, let's be very clear, was not Peter Thiel but Terry Bollea - a real person who had his privacy violated in a gross and egregious manner.