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28 Cath. U. J. L. & Tech 133 (2019-2020)
How Can We End #CancelCulture - Tort Liability or Thumper's Rule?

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How CAN WE END #CANCELCULTURE-

TORT LIABILITY OR THUMPER'S RULE?



Nanci K. Carr*







I.   WHAT IS CANCEL CULTURE?

   We are living in a cancel culture where if someone, often a celebrity, does
something either illegal or unethical, society is quick to cancel them, or lessen
their celebrity standing or cultural capital.1 According to Ohlheiser and Izadi:
      Some people denounce it, pointing to instances of mob behavior and
      online infighting, or to situations where a career is jeopardized
      because of a bad tweet someone made as a teen. But it also can be
      used to describe how traditionally underrepresented and oppressed
      groups harness the Internet and social media to hold powerful people
      accountable when institutions won't.... Being canceled happens
      when there is a mismatch between the thing someone said or did, and
      the ethical expectations of their audience.'
For example, Kevin Spacey is an Oscar-winning actor who was terminated from
his film and television projects after he was accused of sexual assault in 2017.1


* Nanci K. Carr is an Assistant Professor of Business Law at California State University,
Northridge. J.D., cum laude, Southwestern Law School; B.S., Business Administration, Ball
State University.
  I  Leah Asmelash, Why 'Cancel Culture'Doesn 'tAlways Work, CNN (Sept. 21, 2019),
https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/21/entertainment/cancel-culture-explainer-trnd/index.html;
see also Aja Romano, Why We Can 't Stop Fighting About Cancel Culture, Vox (Dec. 20,
2019), https://www.vox.com/culture/2019/12/30/20879720/what-is-cancel-culture-
explained-history-debate (explaining that a person being canceled means culturally blocked
from having a prominent public platform or career).
  2 Abby Ohlheiser & Elahe Izadi, A Step-by-Step Guide to Why People Can't Stop
Arguing About 'Cancel Culture, 'WASH. POST (Sept. 18, 2019),
https://www.washingtonpost.com/arts-entertainment/2019/09/18/step-by-step-guide-why-
people-cant-stop-arguing-about-cancel-culture/.
  3  Asmelash, supra note 1 (noting that Spacey was fired from Netflix's House of Cards
and cut from All the Money in the World, which is a film he had shot before the allegations
arose); see also Althea Legaspi, Kevin Spacey Removedfrom New Film 'All the Money in

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