Gawker Outs One Cheater and the Internet Condemns Gawker—Hackers Expose 37 Million Cheaters and the Internet Condemns Cheaters

Comments

1
One death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.
2
"There are a lot of people out there who have good cause to cheat. Men and women trapped in sexless marriages, men and women trapped in loveless marriages, men and women who have essentially been abandoned sexually and/or emotionally by spouses they aren't in a position to leave—either because their spouses are economically dependent on them (or vice-versa)..."

I am one of these people, and I do not condone cheating. Bad behavior does not justify bad behavior, something Savage uses to demonize Gawker while defending the phrase in saying it is okay for some people to cheat on their spouses. You can't have it both ways. If outing and doxxing cheaters is bad, then cheating is also bad. If cheating is okay under certain specific circumstances, than so in theory would be outing and doxxing cheaters.

Which is it Dan? Let's cut through the "It's complicated" BS and strike right to the heart of the issue. Is what is good for the goose also good for the gander, and if not specifically why not? I haven't seen you this upset when Republicans are outed as gay. Why the double standard?
3
The people cheering on the hackers are forgetting one thing - the financial information that was stolen directly affects both the cheater and the cheated on. So all the fucks looking to appear morally superior are actually cheering for the victims to suffer from identity fraud.

Nice work, shitheads!
4
My favorite part of the story is the moralizing of the hackers condemning the cheaters on Ashley Madison. Those people should google "Bill Cosby" and "irony."
5
@2: Outing is permissible in some cases—I made that clear in my post. In the cases of moralizing public scolds and political hypocrites (see: Haggard, Ted; Craig, Larry), outing is completely justified. Like Barney Frank said...

"I think there's a right to privacy. But the right to privacy should not be a right to hypocrisy. People who want to demonize other people shouldn't then be able to go home and close the door, and do it themselves."
6
Going to be a lot of morality pushing top male execs suddenly retired "for family reasons", opening up new hires for women and minority citizens.

Translation: Good Thing.
7
Gawker gleefully assisted a blackmailer with outing his victim, whom they targeted in an act of media industry revenge, and they also gave the blackmailer anonymity. That's what's most outrageous about the situation, and hopefully they'll face charges or one hell of a lawsuit.
8
Dan, when you are saying that Gawker should never have published this piece since sex lives are complicated and private, you are overlooking a history of unequal sexual freedom. Heck, when talking about Sex at Dawn I think you even mentioned the fact that historically, monogamy only applied to women. Men, especially those with wealth and power, often had mistresses or a "piece on the side" that they would hide or, if they were assholes, flaunt their extramarital affairs in the face of their wives who could not take similar liberties. You also pointed out that this unwritten rule changed in the 1970's and 80's as women began to demand monogamy from their husbands as well and the public was no longer willing to turn a blind eye to men's extramarital affairs.
As society begins to step away from the straight-jacket of "monogamy is the only type of sexual relations we are allowed to have" your argument that sex lives are personal may swing back into effect, but for the time being ignoring men in power having affairs should be considered a regression to "monogamy is for women only" rules.
9
Dan, I'm not sure the "Embrace the hypocrisy." angle is really going to win friends and influence people. All you've done is set yourself up as the final arbiter of what is or is not a moral outing. You can't expect other people to live by your morality. That's just projecting.

I also notice you dodge the heart of the question rather handily. Rather than cut through the faux nuance, you instead increase its level. You almost seem to mock the entire question by using a quote from a man embroiled in sex scandal himself. I'm not sure how the hypocritical words of a hypocrite do anything to support your position. In fact, I think they show exactly what kind of tortured double standard one has to use to support the position you do here.
10
What about the piece of shit escort who outed his client after the client paid? That's a breach of professional ethics of the highest order.
11
You missed an obvious point: If Max Read was really so concerned about the well-being of the woman (allegedly) being cheated on, he could have called her up and told her. How does airing her husband's affair in public help her more than humiliate her? It doesn't, of course. Some hero.
12
@9
He's not dodging. You're being obtuse.
13
@9: There's no double standard. Exposing a hypocrite exposes their own hypocrisy and the damage they're doing to a larger community; exposing a run-of-the-mill cheater in public likely hurts the person being cheated on too. The only person who benefits in that case is the exposer, who gets to feel all morally superior to the people whose lives he or she just wrecked. Telling the alleged victim privately would be a far more ethical approach; that way if they tell you it's none of your business you can just shut the fuck up.
14
@8: Did you miss the part about "what if it was a woman cheating on a man"? It was pretty big.
15
One difference between Gawker and the Ashley Madison hackers that makes moral equivalence a bit hard to argue: in the latter case they're not demanding money or political arm twisting; they're asking for Ashley Madison to shut down and stop helping cheaters. The only real victims in that case would be the Ashley Madison owners, and it's hard to have much sympathy for them. The hackers are passing moral judgment on strangers they don't know, and threatening to reveal damaging information (credit cards, affairs), so they're hardly good guys, but I don't put them on the same level as double-dealing blackmailers like the first piece of shit escort.
16
@12 - I must be even more obtuse, because I can't even tell what the hell #9 is trying to say.

This Ashley Madison thing could be a big fucking deal! I'll bet a lot of those 40 million users just got a membership for a little while, looked around at profiles, fantasized, and never ended up cheating. But now they'll have to explain themselves to an emotionally shattered - and humiliated, because the list will be public - spouse. This hacker is a complete and utter ghoul, and all these moralizing assholes need to get off their smug f*cking high horses and realize that they are cheering for heartbreak and broken families.
17
#9 Libertine -
Dan rarely responds directly in his columns, almost never more than once, so let me tackle the ‘why is it bad to out gay conservatives who publicly push for anti-gay measures?’ question.
The hypocritical words of a hypocrite support Dan’s position, which is also my position, for the same reason that conservatives who campaign against abortion but order their mistresses to get abortions when knocked up, should be outed (and also support that position.)
If you’re a private individual, your actions related to views on monogamy, abortion, or any number of things, have a relatively small impact. If you’re a politician, and in a position to affect the laws that govern many, your actions on those views (whether you abide by them or not) stand to affect quite a few people outside your own relationships. If you act on your (public) views by passing laws restricting those things, it not only sucks for the people at large, but is something you yourself will never have to suffer for. That’s why you should be publicly exposed for your hypocrisy in those situations, because you’re not just telling but compelling The Little People to live by restrictions that’ll never apply to you.

If the Man in Power is a politician who gets to draft laws, or Henry Ford demanding that his workers keep to a moral code or they don’t get the $5/hour, I fully support outing.

Not sure what the Sex At Dawn /men until relatively lately had pieces on the side has to do with this; Ashley Madision is (was?) a site for both men and women; either sex can be driven to seek relief outside the marriage for the reasons listed. People are having a good laugh picturing the middle-aged guy with a gut and combover who was hitting on his Hooters waitress last night getting busted, but Dan has run plenty of letters over the years of women who need a release valve in their relationships..
There aren’t 37 million ‘Men in Power’ who are going to get their comeuppance from this outing, if it ever happens. Men In Power will have a minimal bump, like Newt Gingrich, and like it or not they’ll have a line of women ready and waiting to help them cheat some more. The people who will be affected - Some good, some bad, and it’ll be both genders. And their relatives, bosses, co-workers, future employers...This was not a crushing blow against The Man/The Patriarchy.

Finally, Dan imagining that all other men want to suck cock, would be ‘projecting.’ Wishing that others would live by your own personal code of conduct is something that more of us do than do not.
18
Blackmail is a crime, and Read's an accomplice. Resignation isn't enough.

And for what it's worth, @2 "If outing and doxxing cheaters is bad, then cheating is also bad" is dead wrong. Orgasming isn't bad. Someone else putting details of your last orgasm up on the internet, without your consent, is bad. Do you really not know what privacy is, or that people have a right to it?
19
#13, yes, but using a hypocrite's words to expose how hypocrites expose their own hypocrisy is as tortured and bizarre as the sentence one has to type just to describe it. It is adding so many layers of nuance that the point itself becomes obfuscated. It isn't a double standard in and of itself (that was in other parts of Mr' Savage's post, not the Barney Frank section), but it neither what I requested nor clarifying anything. It is at best murky and tangential. At worst it is an intentional attempt to sound witty and erudite without adding anything of substance.

Sadly, this kind of too witty by half logic that tortures and strains the English language is becoming more common here. Between the "New Column" and one of the new reporter's journalistic "style", it is becoming nigh impossible to tell where the sarcasm begins and the story ends (and vice versa). To that end, the story is rapidly becoming little more than a canvas for the "journalist" to vomit up his predispositions upon. The news is taking a back seat to the prima donna attitude, and now we're seeing this embraced by Mr. Savage.
20
Max Read just quit Gawker. Over "journalistic ethics" because his muck raking blackmail-baiting hit-piece got pulled. He didn't say shit about attempting to ruin an innocent guys life. What an asshole. That's like those MRA assholes claiming Gamergate was about journalistic ethics.

Gawker has done some interesting things. Going union for one.

But then they kept scum bag shit piles like Max Read and Jordan Sargent around to mine literally the worst natures of the internet rumor-sphere. And now they face the blow back. Hopefully they'll fire Sargent and signal they really are trying to be journalists.
21
@15:

Unless of course the sole purpose of the hack was to destroy Ashley Madison and its related companies. I believe when the breach was reported in the media this morning, the CEO of the parent company expressly indicated there was evidence this was an "inside job", so probably a disgruntled (possibly former) employee seeking revenge, in which case some form of blackmail isn't entirely out of the question, and the moral equivalence may in fact be even murkier than you surmise.
22
19 - Using a liar’s lies to show how liars' lies expose themselves might be a bit of alliteration, but it’s not terribly complex. Same with hypocrisy. When outed, it shows how hypocrites act. What else? This is hardly Dickens.
The question ( I believe) that you want answered is, if cheating is bad, isn’t exposing cheating good? The answer is, what the Church/Paper of Record/Your Grandma calls ‘cheating,’ is not all the same. People make deals with their SO’s, overtly or implicitly, or they make arrangements to stay in the relationship where leaving isn’t an option, and yeah, sometimes they’re what Dan calls CPOS’s.
All these situations are individually different, and if what you do in your relationship doesn’t affect me, my interest in involving myself in your affairs is low. If your overt actions affect others, my interest goes up.
23
"Wishing that others would live by your own personal code of conduct is something that more of us do than do not."

If this is true, #17, then we should all just stop breeding and let our failure of a species die a kind death. The true measure of a human being lies in their ability to both have a personal code and to not demand that others live by that code. The last thing in the world I want is for someone to live by my code. My code was forged in over a decade of PTSD causing abuse in a redneck, racist part of his state. I have spent thousands of dollars reforging my personal code. Why in the world would I ever want to burden anybody (including myself) with views that come from the sum of my childhood?

Wishing that others would live by your own personal code of conduct is inhuman, and a sign of an ego run amok. Human beings wish that others would give them space to live by their own personal code, and wish to give that space to others. You have embraced the same hypocrisy that Dan has. You have made yourself judge, jury, and executioner in your own world and mind and try to convince others of the validity of your sentencing. Were I to speak plainly and cruelly, my recommendation would be to get over yourself.
24
#22, you got my question wrong. My line of questioning was "How is doxxing some cheaters bad, while some cheating is good? What nuance permits one to gleefully enjoy the outing of Barney Frank, yet get all upset about Max Read? Where does one draw this line, why, and why would anyone ever try to declare where they draw that line to be objective truth?"

I agree some people's cheating is not others. But Dan supports cheating in certain situations, by his own admission. This is cheating by the judge's declaration. We're not talking about poly, or open marriages, or anything like that. We're talking about one partner going out without the other's permission to have sex. In sexless marriages, Dan supports this, even as he demonizes people like Max Read, who respond in a manner consistent with Dan (acting as sole arbiter of truth) but to the opposite conclusion. I'm not sure how one cannot see the hypocrisy inherent in this tactic.
25
In a perfect world, every name on the list would be a CPOS, and we could all cheer for the schadenfreude factor, but it's infantile to assume that AM is full of nothing but jerkwads (or men). There are 37 million stories on there, and how many of them are really our business?

Many of the same moral arbiters that condemn AM and affairs (even the affairs which also personally sicken me) likely also condemn other things that they lump together in a big old Sin Pile, like being LGBT, having premarital sex, or enjoying porn. Do we really want people with hacking skills to assume the right to decide which activities are so shocking to them that those who participate in them must be publicly shamed (and, by default, their loved ones embarrassed, too)?

A lot of the people crowing about how wonderful it is that millions of people will be 'exposed' need to keep their eyes on their own damn papers.
26
@23- You really need to learn how to put things simply - and try harder to make sense. Again, I can't understand what you're trying to say. Dan Savage has "embraced hypocrisy?" How? Does the act of giving advice somehow deny people the "space to live by their own personal code?" Then I guess none of us can give advice, about anything. Good to know.

27
Ah, “forging,’ like a sweaty smith, swinging a multi-thousand dollar hammer, bangin’ out that Code in a backwoods smithy, over decades...As Dana Carvey’s Church Lady said, “We like ourselves, don’t we?”
Hey, Tom of Finland, Please, don’t be even more plain and cruel, you’ll make this drink shoot out my nose. Jeez, you sound like a pirate threatening a captive crew after too many elocution lessons, “...and as i was pressed aboarrrrd as a lad, by inhuman scalawags such as yourself, who set yourselves as judge and jury..Fie, fie, we should all just die and leave the earth cleaner!".
The signs of ego run amok are indeed fearsome to behold.

By ‘code of conduct,’ what I, and most people mean are the basics such as live and let live, Golden Rule, let old ladies go ahead of you in line, stuff like that. When you’d tempered your steely Code, what was in it, exactly, that you’d be against others adopting? Do you always get to pick the Redbox movie and pizza toppings now, or what?
28
#26, I think you know the difference between giving advice and acting like the objective arbiter of all truth. If you cannot, I suggest that you might "need to learn how to put things simply - and try harder to make sense.".
29
I twittered furiously that the hackers are Taliban-eque scumbags, but no one cares about a few voices of reason in the face of tabloid frenzy of self righteous glee.
30
#23 libertine: "The true measure of a human being lies in their ability to both have a personal code and to not demand that others live by that code. The last thing in the world I want is for someone to live by my code."

Then why aren't you criticizing the hackers? That's exactly what they're doing, demanding that others live by their moral code.
31
The code of conduct you recommend goes against What Dan and I think you yourself support. The Golden Rule certainly suggests that Barney Frank should never have gotten negative attention due to his sex scandals. A "live and let live" attitude does not support public pillory, for anything.

As for my personal code, I'd be against others adopting my nonconscious racism (that I received as a direct result of growing up in a racist community) and the negative life lessons I learned from prolonged abuse. Lessons like "you physically beat the people you love" (thankfully I worked that one out while barely more than a toddler).

That however, is not the code I tempered. That is the code given to me by my upbringing. That is the code I temper to remove the impurities from. In that way, I become more than just the sum of my upbringing. In that way, I put aside my ego and the demonic tutors of my past, a tool/lesson that apparently many more people need in their lives.
32
#26 - Now, Lance, if your being Arbiter of All Truth is what makes us fold up civilization as Libby says, I’d like you to know I only had a couple payments left on this car.
Like, thanks, man.

#30 - Exactly. Though I’m a bit apprehensive on what the Forged Code will turn out to be, something's telling me it won’t involve being clean, thrifty, reverent, rest of the Boy Scout stuff.
33
#30, I never supported the hackers. But right now, the hackers aren't reading what I'm typing. Even if Mr. Savage isn't responding, he's still listening. If the hackers were here, I'd ask them questions regarding their behavior.

I will point out though, that the hacker "logic" is at least consistent. My issue is in Mr. Savage's inconsistencies.
34
@33 So you think the hackers had no right to go after AM? I'm trying to do the math on what you're trying to say, but it doesn't add up. Your main or only problem is with Dan, rather than AM and its members?
35
@ I think I see the problem here you are looking for a strict consistency in all things. Sorry that isn't going to happen.

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — 'Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.' — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
36
#34, My problem is with Dan's hypocrisy. I have taken no stance on the actions of the hackers or AM, other than to say that they seem to exhibit consistent behavior. I consider the actions of both to be tangential to the point of my comments.
37
Ashley will
Never be the same. Is cheating permissible, under some circumstances. In the case of the guy who decided after five yrs he was done with sex, then yes. He broke the contract.
Dobbing in a cheat. To one's best girlfriend, maybe, if you know her husband is doing the dirty on her. To do it to total strangers, what an intrusion.
38
I have read all the comments (so far) twice now and I still don't understand libertine's objections. Dan's code says that cheating is okay under certain very limited conditions (spouse has unilaterally cut off sex without reason and for a long period, spouse doesn't want to resume sexual relationship, marriage is otherwise good or necessary). Even then the potential cheater should ask the spouse for permission to have outside sex and should be very discrete so as not to shame spouse or family. All other cases of people (male or female) having extramarital sex without the knowledge or consent of their spouse makes the cheater as CPOS. That is simple enough to understand.

Dan's code also says that people may be outted under certain very limited conditions (the person being outted has public influence and secretly engages in the behavior that they condemn in others). No one else should be outted. That also seems pretty easy to understand and in no way conflicts with Dan's code regarding cheating.

It is worth noting that Dan's code lacks the force of law and is just one man's attempt to influence the society in which he lives. Dan's fame and ability to influence society is a direct result of his attempts to influence society and does not come from some other source - that is, Dan is famous because of his views rather than using his fame to push his views onto others. You are perfectly free to accept or disregard Dan's code as you wish - Dan has no ability to force his code on to you.

Some of the people who are registered at Ashley Madison were only curious or engaging in a fantasy. Others may have intended to cheat but not yet found a partner. There is the possibility that a few of the people registered at Ashley Madison may have done so with the full knowledge and consent of their spouse. If the hackers make good on their threat to expose the registrant's financial information both the cheater and the innocent spouse will be harmed. Therefor the Hacker's demand is equivalent to Gawker's actions.

Is that too hard to understand?
39
One person being exposed by a journalist relies on the veracity of that journalist's sources.

Exposing that all these people signed up for a cheating site simply shows they signed up for a cheating site. There is no filter of truth. If they want to tell their loved ones they were just looking -- that is for them to do, but if the partner didn't already know, why is that?

Nobody makes cheaters not communicate. Makes them cheat. Esther Perel is a cheating apologist with made up credentials. All cheaters are not in "sexless marriages" to harridans. They just feel entitled to taking abusing the trust of their partner.

And I am not saying monogamy is for everyone, but if you committed to it, and your partners trusts that that represents your understanding of your relationship -- then you owe them a conversation that you have changed your mind on this before you start endangering their health and gaslighting. If you don't do that, why? Because you want what you want you you don't think your "partner" deserves the same...
40
@35 - Libertine ain't Socrates. And you ain't Emerson. Make sense or go home.
41
So the Golden Thread That Runs Through Savage Justice is that it is better for millions of CPs oS to go uncriticized than for one cheater with good cause to be exposed. Okay; this may not work quite so well as the Presumption of Innocence works for Rumpole (and even Rumpole regrets a few of his wins), but it can be defended.

I see questions. One is how to care for people who don't give their partners good cause to cheat. First instinct is that this would seem to require retention of the CPoS label as perhaps the only possible salve for a genuine victim of an affair. Another is how to deter people from acting a good deal worse than they would otherwise. If "staying married and sane" were universally accepted as entirely sufficient grounds for cheating, then even Claude Erskine Brown couldn't find a way to bungle 90% of his cases if that defence were a near-automatic winner.

What might be most interesting would be to see Mr Savage back this up with some action and start an agency of his own through which he would facilitate sanity-saving affairs for those whose circumstances met his own personal standard for good cause.
42
France seems to have worked out a way to deal with the truth about marriage, just assume everyone will be going for some variety and get on with their lives.
43
Also, why are you protecting the cheating cabinet members of the BC and Canadian legislatures?
44
>> Take a woman who has two children with special needs, who has been out of the workforce for 15 years, and who is financially dependent on a husband who decided five years into their marriage that he was "done with sex" but refuses to allow her to have sex with anyone else. The marriage is good otherwise, she and her husband have an affectionate, low-conflict relationship, their kids are happy and well cared for, but sexual deprivation is driving her out of her mind and threatening both her marriage and her children's health and security.>>

If the spouses are no longer having sex, the question is easier to answer than if they're having sex once a month while one partner wants it every day. In the latter hypothetical, an affair might be almost ethical if the cheater pushed for condoms during those monthly marital sex sessions and got tested every couple of months. Not ethical, but your kids might understand and keep you in their lives after it all comes out.
45
That said, I think the main problem is that we find hypocrite moralists tend to be given a pass, while society attacks unmarried men and women for having sexual relations with the cheaters.

It's this morality play that is used to repress mostly women, and rarely men.
46
@19: Maybe you're just thick. There are no layers of nuance.

@21: Fair point, that would not be surprising.
47
#35, I agree that absolute consistency is the crutch of a weak willed mind. But the strong mind is keenly aware of why their inconsistencies exist, and where they are. Mindless inconsistency is simply inseparable from hypocrisy. I support in the moment authenticity. But I support a mindful authenticity.

#38 "All other cases of people (male or female) having extramarital sex without the knowledge or consent of their spouse makes the cheater as CPOS. That is simple enough to understand."

Is it really? Why not all cases? Why does the exclusion of sex (or intimacy for that matter) automatically make cheating okay? Why do loveless marriages get this magic pass?

I think at this point you are intentionally avoiding the key point here. Outing under limited conditions is fine. Cheating under a broad catch-all category is fine. One is a nuanced position, the other a blanket assertion. These two separate thoughts do not seem to be coming from the same skull. They speak to an internal inconsistency. A hypocrisy, if you will.

That Mr. Savage uses his position as a bully pulpit to push his own agenda rather than doing his job as a journalist only underlines the hypocrisy. This isn't an editorial. This isn't an advice column. This is supposed to be news, not what Mr. Savage wants to thrust upon us. If this was a Savage Love response, or if "Editorial" was at the top as opposed to "Panic - News - Sex", I wouldn't have bothered commenting. That would have been the proper place for such a singular attempt to use one's power and influence to impact society.

The formatting looks fine, save for the preview.
48
I think what the hackers did is pretty disgusting, for all the lives they are on the edge of ruining lives in some type of temper tantrum over the fact Ashley Madison doesn't delete profile information as promised. The hackers didn't do this for a moral high ground (blech). I don't buy the number 37 million either. And many people are going to get smeared for nosing around. I regularly nose around places out of curiosity, including some very bad places.
49
@41: People who don't give their partners good cause to cheat don't deserve to be cheated on, but they also don't deserve to be humiliated by having the affair exposed publically. They have a right to privacy and unlike Craig, Haggard, et al, they haven't done anything to merit losing it.
50
I doubt there are 37 million subscribers, btw. That number sounds inflated. Like FB, I'd bet there are many faked profiles.
51
@ 47: Outing is generally wrong but can be okay under specific conditions (when it is the lesser of two wrongs). Cheating is generally wrong but can be okay under specific conditions (when it is the lesser of two wrongs). The only inconsistency is the one you're inventing.

Savage isn't reporting the news, he's commenting on someone else's news. As this is Slog and not the News section, this should not be surprising to you. Fuck off.
52
I radically disagree with Dan in the case of Ashley Madison. I agree on the Gawker conclusion.

To me, here's the difference.

Ashley Madison's entire reason for existence is to promote cheating, lying and emotional abuse of one's partner. That's the upfront stated purpose of the creators of the site.

By choosing to participate in Ashley Madison, you are financially supporting a business whose goal is to wreak havoc on individual lives. Even if YOU have a specific arrangement with your current spouse that makes your participation at AM different than the 99.9% of those who are using it to actually cheat, you are choosing to support a business that is fundamentally at odds with any coherent view or moral ethics.

To that end, if you choose to participate in that activity by financially supporting the business, I care not whether your information is outed.

Most people I know who are in open/poly or other non-traditional marriages eschew the ethics of cheating and sites like Ashley Madison.

In summary...I think you participate in the degradation of honesty through support of Ashley Madison, you have compromised my care about your anonymity.
53
#51, the lesser of two wrongs is part of the problem. Bad behavior does not justify bad behavior. This applies to both outing and affairs. This also seems to be the thing that Mr. Savage has forgotten.

Savage is reporting the news. If he wasn't, this would be in the editorial section. Even here on Slog, stories titled "News" are indeed news. Up until now/recently, that is.

Have a nice day. With levels of invective like that, clearly you need one.
54
I'm most upset with Ashley Madison. They obviously didn't keep their clients' information secure. They even offered a service, for an extra fee, that promised to wipe their clients' personal information from their servers. That turned out to be a lie and fraud. I hope their users file a class-action lawsuit against the website.
55
@54 ScottinClearwater...

So, let me get this straight (because you sound like an AM user)...

You're upset with AM for not keeping their stated covenants?

That's rich...
56
I think the Internet's schadenfreude is mostly directed toward Ashley Madison, not the cheaters themselves (though I agree some folks are blurring the two). There's a difference between cheating and making money off of cheaters.

My way of analogy: it's understandable why I might yell at my spouse in a particular instance, and we may even have some arrangement where we have a Festivus-like "airing of grievances" now and then. But a website that charged users to discover new ways of belittling their spouses would be worthy of contempt.

And here's the distinction: we don't know whether any particular affair is the least-bad option for that marriage. But we do know that in the aggregate, there are a whole lot of affairs facilitated by Ashley Madison that are terribly destructive to a whole lot of marriages. In fact, I'd venture to say that most of the AM-enabled affairs are destructive, and thus AM has an overall negative effect on society. This is basic statistical theory: uncertainties disappear once you gather enough data points.
57
@52 But again, who gets to decide what is 'degradation' or wrong or deserves outing? Let's say you enjoy porn sites for which you pay, and a hacker group comes along and publishes your name and financial info. They insist it's just dandy, because they firmly believe that porn is "a business that is fundamentally at odds with any coherent view or moral ethics." Do you throw up your hands and say "They got me there!"?

Does the hacker 'code' extend beyond AM? Plenty of people with spouses and partners are on traditional dating sites looking for something extra, as well as hook-up sites like Tinder and Grindr. Hell, they're on JDate and whatever Christian sites are out there, too. Should we send in those who feel its their job to police everyone's morals on there, too, ferreting out the coupled up from the singles?

I'm not saying I don't think think there are a hefty number of CPOS on AM, as well as other sites, but I don't think my disapproval of what they are doing entitles me to their VISA card number, and a ringside seat to their trip to the public stockades.
58
@ 47 - As Lance stated earlier, "You really need to learn how to put things simply - and try harder to make sense."

It's funny that you should accuse Dan of being inconsistent when everybody here gets what he says, but we're all struggling to understand where you're going.

And Chase @ 51 is right: this is Slog, not the news section.
59
I can't even figure out what Libertine's point is -other than to be a Dan basher and hey what a surprise, those of us who read here regularly are fans and are willing to defend him even tho I bet not one of us agrees with everything he says. Which also makes the point that Dan doesn't have the godlike moral influence Libertine accuses him of. Reading provocative letters and comments here helps me figure out what my own opinions are, and the discussions in the comments are often full of wide-ranging opinions and disagreements. There's just no way you could accuse Dan of expecting monolithic agreement with his ideas if you read here regularly. (ps the discussion has moved on but YES to #10 and #11)
60
@52

"Ashley Madison's entire reason for existence is to promote cheating, lying and emotional abuse of one's partner. That's the upfront stated purpose of the creators of the site."

um, nuh-uh. here's let's restate your ridiculous notion as a mission statement:

"At Ashley Madison, our mission is to promote cheating on, lying to, and emotionally abusing your partner!"

does that sound sufficiently silly to outline the nuance for you?
61
#52 - Timothy -”you are financially supporting a business whose goal is to wreak havoc on individual lives.” I believe you've confused AM's business profile with that of the Joker.
You weren't just on a website, looking to cheat or not, you were Degrading Honesty. In caps.
Dan, level with us, did you piss off a bunch of your old theater buddies? 'Cause people are writing in, like William Shatner doing the St Crispin's Day speech.
Timmeh, you kind of slipped from cheating to 'emotional abuse' without putting on a condom, there, stud. And you're implying that your own internet history, all the sites you've visited and things you've written for, say, the last ten years, could withstand scrutiny from the public at large.
Any guy who includes “I care not..” in his screed, if he's not wearing a period wig, has something rattling around in that closet.

Let me guess. Your real name isn't Timothy, it's John Snow, and you have a lovely devoted wife, but we can't hear from her, because she Lives North of the Wall.
And your many, many, poly friends...how would they like being outed? Not doing anything wrong, are they? So they're not worried about their relatives, landlords, or bosses knowing that they're drinking from many cups, are they?
I don't like the whole AM thing, either. In a perfect world, people going outside their current relationships would use other means. But once you sign on to peoples' private shit being outed, your private shit is included.
62
Okay guys, I think we can all give up on trying to decode libertine. At this point you're just feeding the troll.
I think I most agree with #56 and #41. I'm not cheering on the hackers or anything but...eh...I think the number of sad mommies with disabled babies on there is being greatly exaggerated.
In other words I kinda accept the concept of cheating to stay sane but I don't see why you can't just be honest and say "I'm a living breathing human being who needs sex, from someone else if not from you", and then not going on some sleaziod site that makes money catering to CPOSs to do it.
63
@52 "who gets to decide..."

We all get to take moral and ethical stands. That's all I've done here. I haven't advocated that the hackers should have a legal right to hack the system, though I'm probably not far removed from support of the idea that if you inflict intential emotional harm on a person through cheating, at the very least there should be potential for civil litigation.

All I'm saying here is that people who are in the specific acts of betraying contractual and personal agreements with the people in their lives get just about zero sympathy from me for anything that may result from their particiaption in those activities.

Further, of course there are people on OK Cupid and Tinder and Grindr who are cheating...but I find there's a fundamental difference in their support for a site whose sole purpose is to promote betrayal of the most intimate of human relationships. And honestly, I value the commitments made in those instances more than I value their economic right to a private credit card number. I know that's a radical position to take, and I don't expect many to agree with me here. Somehow we've concluded that business must be protected at all costs. I just give no fucks for the contractual protection of those whose intent is to break a contract.
64
@61 Cat...

Do some research on the founder of AM; I stand by my statement about the sleazy and unethical behavior of that as a business. You clearly disagree. Fine.

I actually care about integrity and moral ethics. Many people do. If you don't, you don't. But belittling me for caring about the ethics of a business is not really an argument that I take seriously.
65
#58, I'll take Lance's advice after he takes it himself.

#60, How am I a troll? Who have I baited? Who have I flamed? I've taken more flaming than I've dished out. Objectively, I am more likely trollbait than a troll myself. Then again, speaking truth to power tends to have that effect.
66
There are plenty of single people on Ashley Madison. It's a great way to hook up with other singles who are looking for relatively uncomplicated sex.
67
#64 Timmeh – We're not talking about the personal ethics of the founder of AM, or at least I wasn't. And I note that you've neglected to post your personal passwords and browsing history from the last decade. No problem, this is a relatively new thread, you don't want to leave anything out.
Wow, you 'care about integrity and moral ethics?' Besides the slight redundancy of that last one, wow, that's like summiting K2 on the Polish line! You're in exclusive company! You might schedule a meeting with Libertine, who appears to believe she was the first to take in some bad shit as a young'n, then change her mind. She tends to change the focus of her argument, like a child cheating at Battleship, though, so guard yourself.
As SuperChicken used to say, you knew this job was dangerous when you took it, Fred.

I'm not 'belittling you because you care about ethics,' I'm belittling you because you write like a young teen impersonating an English accent from his basement in the flyover 'burbs, plus I'm over 45, and I've heard your rap a million times before, mostly from guys whose personal record was less than sterling, and I have some understanding of human nature from Shakespeare and Somerset Maugham, and the story of the traveling preacher who seduces the housewife is old news.
Newt Gingrich did a previous version of your act, and when he was outed for pontificating about morals while cheating on his wife, it didn't blow my mind, because I never figured he had standards, besides 'act superior' and 'don't get caught.' These people tend to either get caught with the poolboy, or frantically paying off the maid to get an abortion.
68
I think most people are horrified by the hack, but there are no "hacking ethics" to uphold and you're not going to shame hackers. So expecting this story to tweet out like the Gawker one is just loopy.
69
Timothy seems to imagine that only the cheater will pay if his/her financial data is revealed. Not true - the spouse and kids are going to be affected by any financial losses as well.

And plenty of emotional damage will be done in those marriages where the spouse did not know. Heck, even where the spouse did know, there will be the embarrassment that comes when friends, neighbors, family, etc. find out. You can't hurt only the cheater with this scheme.

It does not matter whether you think Ashley Madison is bad or good, revealing the financial data is against the law and I hope the law comes down on these hackers like the proverbial ton of bricks.
70
I think this is a case of false equivalence - unless you can show that the same people applauding the hacking are the exact same people who condemned Gawker.
71
If Max Read didn't resign because of the outing fiasco, he should have resigned for his assault on reflexive pronouns...

"On Friday a post was deleted from Gawker over the strenuous objections of Tommy and myself, as well as the entire staff of executive editors...”

Editor indeed!
72
IMO, AM is gross in that its target demographic is CPOSs and their marketing plays this up with glee, but that doesn't justify hacking and extortion.

While I am firmly against posting the names and information of AM customers, I can't agree that there are times when cheating is justified. I know many cheaters *feel* justified, sometimes for the reasons cited by Dan, sometimes for reasons that are less extreme, but choosing to compound existing relationship problems with lying and unilateral non-monogamy, discreet or not, strikes me as disrespectful to a partner who should be aware of the true state of their partnership and sex life.

I think sometimes people rationalize "discreet" cheating by telling themselves their actions will only cause pain if the monogamous partner discovers the infidelity. While I think there may be some monogamous partners who are okay with discreet cheating, I think that particular rationalization is frequently employed by CPOSs who wish to keep their partners monogamous while playing the field themselves.


73
Mr Chase - Well, I was really thinking more of cases of privately informing the cheated-upon partner, which appears to be equally out of bounds in SJ, on the grounds that some CUPs agree to such arrangements, and what this does to the concept of informed consent. Sorry not to be more clear.

I can see advantages to eliminating social disapproval of cheating or spouse-poaching (if it's acceptable to combine this with Mr Savage's decreasingly anti-CPOS assessment of spouse poaching situations on the grounds that maybe the marriage or relationship was already basically over and it was just a case of being a bit premature), but it's not a complete benefit all around if it gives cover to people who just want to act badly or even feel less disinclined to do so because there won't be any negative consequences.

On the actual case of the post, I'm inclined to agree with you.
74
Well, so I'm someone whose name and info will be on that list. I signed up out of curiosity during a particularly difficult time in my marriage; I looked at a few profiles, wrote to nobody, laughed at the whole enterprise. Then some time later I paid for the "scrub your data" option, and I have to admit I admired the balls these jackasses had. In that regard, I got what I deserved; a site whose business model is soft extortion probably can't be trusted to do what it says it will.

Should they post my name, I'm not at all concerned about how my wife will respond. We each gave as good as we got during that period, and we came out the other side. Those experiences opened us up to a new level of intimacy and a whole host of new problems to argue about. Yeah, she'll roll her eyes that I checked out such a dumb site, but that's all.

What I do worry a little bit about is what everyone else will think. My parents, people on Facebook, job interviewers. The hidden Timothies in my life: The self-righteous types who will see a name on a list and concoct some bullshit story about what I did so they can feel morally superior. Now, I can feel morally superior to them right back; but practically speaking, this will be a stain I'll have to get used to.

It makes me reflect a little on all the stains I could find myself explaining one day. Fetlife, porn, The New York Times, my humiliatingly large collection of Kindle self-help books.

Anyway, I'll be curious to see what happens. I hope not too many outed people kill themselves.
75
#61 - I believe you've confused AM's business profile with that of the Joker.

Best line of the match. Errm, thread.
76
It seems to me that the hackers have made themselves gods and given themselves the right to punish sinners. And history teaches us where such hubris leads.
77
@73: I think if you see your friend's partner out on an apparent romantic or sexual date with someone else it's fine to mention it to them privately, as long as you're genuinely looking out for them and willing to hear that they have an open relationship.

Personally I think actual cases of justified cheating are exceedingly rare (and becoming more so) and exist mostly for the sake of argument. The stronger argument I think against the public exposure of affairs is the damage that would be done to the innocent party in the affair. If A cheats on their partner B, B is the only victim, so B is the only person who has a right to know. Which is why the hackers are wrong.
78
Instead of going after easy targets like ordinary people having extra marital sex go after the pimps, the child sex traffickers, the abusers and child sex offenders. The people who do major harm. That would be something. This is just trashy and a way to sell.
79
*shrug* I still don't think there is a hard and fast rule to be found here. There are too many variables.
80
So Savage says, "This seems weird and possibly classest." Yes it does seem classest Dan because this was an Obama ally. If the subject in question was Ted Cruz or Donald Trump with the male escort, you would be ALL over it girl!!
81
#74 - 'Soft Extortion' would be a great name for an English New Wave band, can see them opening for New Order.
82
I'm just going to say it: fuck Ashley Madison and the douche canoes who use it. I just don't buy into Dan's philosophy of people who are justified in cheating-life is about choices, sometimes they're devastatingly hard, too bad. Unless your spouse is in a coma/has Alzheimer's/somesuch people need to put on their big boy/girl panties and have hard conversations and make tough choices.
83
I'm glad that Max Reid and his second-in-command resigned, but they did so for the wrong reasons. They didn't acknowledge that running the story was a mistake. In fact, they continue to defend runing the story. They resigned in protest after management pulled the story from the website.

We have no idea that this executive was lying to anyone. What we do know is that the escort was committing a felony by extorting his john, and Gawker played along. The escort violated every unwritten rule about client privacy and confidentiality. If anything, HIS name should have been publicized, but not his client's. And let me repeat, the escort was committing a crime. A very serious crime. A felony for which another escort, Jarec Wentworth, was just convicted and faces up to 9 years in prison.

I find it highly improbable that it's mere coincidence that this particular client just happens to be an executive at a media company in direct competition with Gawker. If he instead was an exec at IBM or Google or Bank of America or Boeing or Chevron, would Gawker have even bothered? Especially running a story that publicizing the john's name while keeping the felonious blackmailer's name private? I sincerely doubt it.
84
@80 - If it were Ted Cruz or Donald Trump, it would be newsworthy because both (yes, even The Donald) are running political campaigns with "morality" platforms condemning other people for legal, harmless behavior. So yes, for them it would be genuinely newsworthy. But if it were a Republican executive of a fortune 500 company who happens to donate to Republican politicians, that would be a more accurate comparison to this situation, and I would still maintain that it was unethical and inappropriate.
85
"Now, I know that Gawker is a news site that does journalism (yes, they do journalism), and that as journalists they're held to a higher standard—by themselves and others—than a bunch of anonymous hackers."

Dan, I have a lot of respect for you, and I know that there are writers who were on The Stranger staff who ended up working for Gawker Media at some point or other, but I can't help but disagree. The number of times that Gawker and its affiliated sites have been caught doing things like publishing totally unconfirmed rumors as fact, failing even the most cursory investigation into spurious claims, having double standards for the sake of scandal, doing their best to throw someone, anyone under a media bus for the sake of making a story out of nothing, is legion. Gawker is the poster child for the worst that online media has to offer, and as much as they would like to call that journalism, they are by no accounts held to any kind of a higher standard than anonymous hackers, a fact which they time and time again have proven by posting "leaked" material regardless of whether or not the content is worthy of being leaked.

That being said, this article was a breath of fresh air among many voices who just take it on faith that each and every one of these marriages has been deeply violated in some way by people who, horror of horrors, actually want some physical intimacy in their brief time here on Earth. If anyone ought to be ashamed, more than merely the people who actually leaked this information as if that isn't bad enough, it's the people who feel perfectly justified in giving no thought at all to whether or not marriages are more nuanced than two people being basically "locked in" with one another forever. People change, needs change, life changes, that's no reason to punish people for acts which might not have had a shred of malice or even neglect behind them. It isn't really a surprise that we still hold monogamy to be in some way magical, that there is some special quality to it that makes it oh so much better and more meaningful than polygamy (perhaps, for some, because it's something to be overcome, or some indicator that someone has a higher tolerance or a stronger capacity for a relationship they don't want, and I say that as someone who is and wants to remain pretty much monogamous--within reason. Who can say?). But it is disappointing to see a lot of people coming out of the woodwork to finger-wag and say "tsk tsk tsk, well you shouldn't have cheated" without knowing anything else about these relationships. That in itself is shameful.
86
To extend my Rumpole comparison, Mr Savage's cheating policy seems established for the purpose of the equivalent of Rumpole's defending the Timsons (who commit Ordinary Decent Crime, much the way Mr Savage seems to want everyone to excuse Ordinary Decent Cheaters). The difficulty is that he creates loopholes that can be used to superiour benefit by the much more dangerous Molloys.
87
I haven't read all the comments so my apologies if this has already been mentioned, but outing the cheater publicly is not in the best interests of the cheated-on, irrespective of whether or not they were already aware of the cheating. Public exposure of being cheated on can be just as embarrassing as being exposed as a cheater. The cheated-on have a right to privacy, too, and they likely don't want the world to know they've been played the fool.