You know the guy, most likely.
Bearded, always smiling, a CEO who gave his employees a raise to $70K, and took a huge pay cut himself (he was paying himself something like $1,000,000 a year, something I’ve never come remotely close to even in our heady days of success). His constant stream of tweets and instagrams of his tweets shared all over, sharing numbers a la Bernie Sanders about corporate exploitation.
Well, it turns out, among many other things, that he paid someone to write most of those tweets. I’ll assume all the ones with all the study and numbers behind ’em.
And, much more seriously, it turns out he’s a serial sexual abuser, and an abusive abuser.
He’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the very picture of that sleazy New Age guy who just hangs around for the chicks (akin to Russell Simmons or Bikram), the one who talks a good game but is motivated not by the very important sentiments he shares, but by what he can get out of his fame, and is happy to rape and abuse to get it.
Well, a year or so back, I caught wind of this, via Reddit comments, via a site listing his abuses. But I didn’t take it public, even though there was that site (mentioned in the Times expose that blew the lid off this story open, finally), despite there being lots of online “gossip” and stories about his past abuses, even a TedX video (that was not available because he and his lawyers succeeded in getting his ex-wife’s story snuffed, taken offline).
Well, I didn’t go public for one reason, and it’s important to me that we all think about this reason, because if I or others had been confident enough to go public about his abuses, they could have been stopped. That pains me, as it should all of us, that he was allowed to continue causing pain to unsuspecting others.
It’s high time we all get savvy about libel law.
I couldn’t afford for Elephant to defend itself in the lawsuit that, given his nature and money and history and track record, almost certainly would have followed. I could have helped expose him at least a year ago, but I stayed silent because I didn’t have irrefutable proof and the money to defend Elephant in court. I did have many corroborations of various stories—they were there if you looked deeply enough through the SEO he successfully buried his past abuses beneath.
So why share this story, now, here? Because, yes, President Donald J. Trump has many times threatened to try to change libel law, and make it even easier to sue (even without grounds) journalists and the media. The fact is that libel law is already delicate, and whistleblowers and journalists already face dire threats when they take a story public against a litigious rich person like Trump or Price.
So it’s important that we all support a Free Press, the right of journalists to tell stories as long as they’re true, factual, and corroborated, and the rights of whistleblowers to, well, blow whistles on abuses of trust in the public and private spheres.
That’s it. We teach about this in Elephant Academy, but I wanted to make sure we were all aware of the importance of legal protections around tell the truth to power.