The High Cost of Privacy

Re: “Free Speech for Sale,” Interview, June 22

Thank you for providing coverage on the important topic of the influence of big money on the First Amendment. I am writing because I disagree with interviewee Brian Knappenberger’s characterization of the Bollea v. Gawker case (the Hulk Hogan sex tape case) as “leverage[ing] money to silence voices.”

Hogan did not use Peter Thiel’s money to silence Gawker’s voice with some frivolous claim; he used it to vindicate his valid legal right to privacy.

The real issue here is access to justice. Whether or not Hogan was well-financed, Hogan either had a valid legal claim or he did not (and the court held he did). It should not require a billionaire’s backing to bring a valid legal claim, and Thiel’s support should not have been necessary.

The fact is that had Gawker published a sex tape of you or me and a billionaire was not interested in playing angel, Gawker would have used its own brand of Big Money to silence the claim and still be in business to invade the privacy of its next victim.

Let’s face it: Gawker made a conscious business decision to build its business on pushing the First Amendment / privacy envelope, and it finally ripped. The unsung issue in the Bollea case is that our justice system today requires a war chest to vindicate a legal right.

Chris Jones, Venice

Fewer Lanes Equals Less Growth

Re: “Road Rage Reconfigu-ration in Mar Vista,” News, June 22

Those residents who oppose the Great Streets reconfiguration on Venice Boulevard in Mar Vista are not thinking of the long-term effects of keeping the status quo.

In a few short years, the six lanes of Venice Boulevard will become highly congested from increased development, and residents will quickly experience the same congestion issues.

By limiting the number of cars able to use this corridor today, the residents will essentially block further development projects, reducing the long-term negative effects of having an excessive number of vehicles driving through Mar Vista.

Ray Shah, Culver City