From its inception, Uplift Law has litigated business tort claims such as defamation, slander, and libel, but with the exponential growth of social media, its reach, and the magic of turning a nobody into somebody, along with a movement to “cancel” unpopular beliefs and opinions, the remedies afforded under the law to protect private and public citizens either are blurred, or completely fail.
It used to be that a person who wasn’t a celebrity or a politician would be classified as being in the public sphere. Therefore, any of those types of claims – defamation, slander, and libel – were difficult to prove. According to the law, when you are of such a status, you should know that you invite the public to comment on you in intimate and excruciating detail – from the shoes on your feet to the dinner you order at a restaurant.
But what is one to make of Youtube and Instagram stars who are both public and private citizens? An argument can be made against classifying this new breed of celebrity as high profile enough to achieve celebrity status, but what is this new breed, but a young woman or man who creates attractive pictures and contents out of the comfort of his or her home and would thus, for all intents and purposes, be a private citizen who should have maximal protection. The law says if you’re a private citizen, you have a high interest in being left alone such that when someone does defame, slander, or is libelous against you, it’s a violation of your right to privacy, of being at peace.
But, what are people to do now? At every piece of hate, untrue statement, lodged at their Instagram or their YouTube comments, find their way to a lawyer’s office and attempt to file restraining orders and lawsuits? That squeeze to get to the juice – the legal remedy for a Judge to issue an order against the defamer or harasser is difficult and a drawn-out fight to achieve. What then? There’s no answer that can truly provide solace. The law historically has changed to accommodate – either restricting or expanding – based on culture, perspectives, the new desires of the people. So, many times when I do not have the black letter law, I look to what is happening outside of the courtroom contemporaneously to make an argument that if we cannot find the remedy here in a court of law, then we need to look to each other.
Change in the law, change in policy is truly a change in people. The law morphs according to the crowd. So in the middle of cancel culture, in a society attracted to tearing down and hate speech simply because it’s eyebrow-raising and controversial, people have no choice but to change what actions, speech, and conduct they will and will not accept. Notice that what is harassment, what is hate speech, what is kind, what is good, are different definitions under the law. But I wouldn’t be the type of lawyer I am if I didn’t believe in the law, in people who can effect change such that the law follows suit.