Frankly, I think fear of gossip is much worse than gossip itself -- the fear that people will judge, be unkind, violate trust, is much more painful than the actual "being talked about."
And what alcoholic, even the most sensitive or fearful, isn't secretly just a little pleased to be the center of attention? More often than not, even when it's negative, our alcoholism lights up like a Christmas Tree when it looks like the focus is on us.
Of course, the actual attention can be excruciating, but that doesn't stem an alcoholic ego's deep need to seek attention. We are, even after some sobriety and serenity, sometimes conflicted creatures. (Want proof? Conduct an informal survey among the alcoholics you know. Ask them whether they get bored easily. Then ask if they are uncomfortable with change. Do the math.)
My first three or four years sober I was in a kind of "small town" AA environment. And like clockwork, about every three months, someone would get up to the lectern during the sharing portion of the big Friday night meeting and throw a hissy fit. "You're all talking about me!"
"You wish" I would uncharitably mutter under my breath.
(I learned in that very meeting the danger of funny/mean, and how slippery a slope that is for me. Once, when someone who was, to be honest, a bit of a bore, got up to share, he spoke about the fact that fully half his family was hearing impaired. Without missing a beat, I whispered to my seat mates, "And the other half wishes they were." Oh, I am quick. And funny, right? The friends around me thought it was hilarious. And just at that moment, while they were snickering, and I was feeling especially witty, and flush with the kind of poisonous power which comes from being pretty good at being very mean, I looked to the lectern and wound up staring straight into the eyes of the guy sharing. He didn't know exactly what I said -- but he didn't have to. That I had said something cutting, that I'd used what he was sharing as a punchline, was in my eyes. And I could see the awareness of it in his. To this day, when I think back on that moment I feel the same shame wash over me. Why does it seem like some important lessons are learned only at the expense of others rather than ourselves? For what it's worth, that lesson stuck.)
But I know when people were melting down in the meeting over someone saying something about them, probably more than half the time it wasn't at all true.
Which means that sometimes it likely was.
AA is full of wonderful, challenging, often spiritual people -- but they're people. We have the same mixed bag of bad behaviors as any group. It's easy to hold each other up to a level of unrealistic expectation, a sort of, "Hey! I thought you were supposed to be well-er than that!" Personally, I've not encountered a lot of serious gossips in my AA adventures. (And not every exchange of information is gossip, either. I should be able to say anything to my sponsor, for example. Or letting someone know that a friend is in trouble, or hurting, is, imho, not gossip. Intent has a lot to do with it. Are you sincerely trying to help, or are you getting a rush out of being the one with the breaking news story?) Many meetings, somewhere in the format, include the phrase "What you hear here stays here" and I would say the overwhelming majority of the people in Alcoholics Anonymous work hard to respect that.
For those that don't, the problem, the saddest part, with gossips (or with the funny/mean's out there) is not that they're making AA unsafe for others.
It's that they're making AA unsafe for themselves.
And, at the risk of sounding fanciful, that's exactly what their alcoholism wants them to do.