Originally published at Death and Taxes, ed. Brian Abrams, 18 March 2016.
Grateful thanks to the Internet Archive for preserving this work.
The most bizarre argument advanced by Hulk Hogan in this whole fracas is the idea that while the “character,” Hulk Hogan, famous wrestler, may blab about his sex life to Howard Stern in the raunchiest possible manner, mild-mannered Terry Gene Bollea’s privacy (for that is the star’s “real” name) is sacrosanct, and having invaded its tender environs should cost Gawker Media $100 million.
Dr. Jekyll, in short, cannot be held responsible for the actions of Mr. Hyde. And apparently it’s up to Terry Bollea to decide which role he’s playing at any given moment, because he argued precisely the opposite back in 2005, as Peter Sterne reminded us on Twitter.
In that case, Hogan’s lawyers argued that harming Hulk Hogan would have a bad effect on the underlying Terry Bollea. If this were to be considered a reasonable line of argument, only imagine where we could wind up! Any bizarre behavior at all could be excused by this fatuous reasoning. Merely adopt an insane persona, and go on whatever rampages you like.
This brings us to the uniform of Bollea in court every single day of this trial: a black bandana, black suit, black T-shirt, and a silver cross on a chain — without fail, day after day, the same ensemble, which bears a striking likeness to the costumes worn by Hulk Hogan. The Christian symbolism, the do-rag. If we are to believe that this man is Terry Bollea and not Hulk Hogan, then why is he dressing as Hulk Hogan in the courtroom?
The inescapable conclusion is that Bollea wishes to be Hulk Hogan when it suits him, and flee that inconvenient persona when it does not. The laws governing privacy are different for public figures than for private individuals for this very reason: If you voluntarily seek the privileges that come with fame and position, you must also accept the less pleasurable consequences of that decision. This is very established reasoning.
If I were one of Gawker’s lawyers, I would be making this point: Terry Bollea is indeed a little-known private individual, and his sex life is of no interest to Gawker’s readers. But Hulk Hogan’s is. Only in the “character” of Hulk Hogan would the subject’s sex tape be of the remotest public interest, and that is how Gawker published it. The name “Terry Bollea” does not appear anywhere in the sex tape post written by A.J. Daulerio at issue in the trial, the publication of which need not have caused Mr. Bollea, a person entirely distinct from Hulk Hogan, the slightest distress.
It is not Terry Bollea’s privacy being violated, it is that of Hulk Hogan, the wild, coarse “character.” Though Hogan also maintains, when convenient, what is in fact true: There is, or was, a wholesome aspect of the factitious Hulk Hogan character. A lot of the public who knows about Hulkamania and taking vitamins and saying your prayers knows nothing of the coarse sexual talk Hogan has engaged in on “The Howard Stern Show.” Terry Bollea has nothing to worry about, since, as he himself is arguing in court, he is not the same person as Hulk Hogan, sex tape video star.