By Sallie James
After attending a book signing event by local author Evan Nierman, Parkland resident Karen Bopp gained a new understanding of cancel culture.
“What I walked away with is there is hope, and I believe that people are smart enough to know what is real and what isn’t at the end of the day,” said Bopp, who was among 20 people at the September 27th book signing at the Parkland Library. “I didn’t even understand what it was before I went.”
Nierman, author of “The Cancel Culture Curse: From Rage to Redemption in a World Gone Mad,” signed complimentary copies of his book, posed for pictures, and answered questions about the dangers of cancel culture at the two-hour event where he was peppered with questions. Nierman is Founder and CEO of Red Banyan.
The event was sponsored by the Parkland Friends of the Library.
Nierman kicked off his cancel culture presentation with a discussion centering on the 2020 “San Francisco Karen” incident in which a local woman asked a man whom she did not recognize why he was stenciling “Black Lives Matter” on private property.
Nierman asked attendees if they knew how that incident unfolded and explained how the ensuing fallout exemplified cancel culture.
“[The man] spun around with his camera and started filming her. He followed her and provided his own narrative,” Nierman explained. The man subsequently hired a PR firm, which released his video to the media accompanied by the man’s own inaccurate and misleading account of what happened, Nierman explained.
He added that the video went viral, and its target, Lisa Alexander, was vilified by internet mobs before anyone bothered to get Alexander’s side of the story. Alexander’s personal information was posted to social media, her life was threatened, her livelihood was destroyed, and her family distanced themselves from her, Nierman said.
“Cancel culture destroyed her business and almost destroyed her life,” Nierman told the group. He noted that Alexander was a longtime resident of her neighborhood who was acquainted with the property owners where the BLM message was written.
Nierman said that her side of the story got lost because online mobs attacked her character with a vengeance after taking the video at face value.
“What’s on the news is not necessarily what happened,” Nierman cautioned.
Many in attendance wanted to know why cancel culture was happening. His answer? A “perfect storm” of circumstances that include extreme polarization combined with various factors, including the #BLM movement, the #MeToo movement, and the continuous connectivity made possible by the internet and the ever-present cell phone.
“Every single one of us is actually at risk of it because even though we wouldn’t do it to someone, someone might do it to you,” Nierman warned. People can be “held accountable” in other ways – through conversation or filing a complaint or a lawsuit as examples, he said.
“[Cancel culture] is fundamentally un-American because we are entitled to due process,” Nierman told the group. “Cancel culture is trial, conviction, and execution before a person has ever had a chance to enter a courtroom.”
Nierman was invited to speak at the library because his book was timely and relevant, said Dr. Sharry Kimmel, President of Parkland Friends of the Library.
“I have seen it on social media, the fake information, the damage it causes to people’s psyche,” Kimmel said. “It just seemed like such an important topic right now.”
Parkland City Commissioner Ken Cutler, a Parkland Friends of the Library supporter who attended the event, said Nierman’s presentation underscored what he already knew about the practice of cancel culture.
“As a commissioner and as someone who has had the opportunity of being involved from a political perspective running a campaign and being on the receiving end of the complaints people make, I am very well aware of this cancel culture thing,” Cutler said. “I think it’s a fresh perspective how Evan is trying to alert people how to protect themselves and how they can find themselves on the wrong end of these attacks that seem to be so plentiful.”
- Sallie James is a veteran reporter/blogger/copywriter who spent most of her writing career in South Florida, including 22 years at the Sun Sentinel. She has also freelanced for The Coastal Star, South Florida Gay News & Florida Weekly. Sallie is the mother of grown boy/girl twins, a Guardian ad Litem, an animal rescuer, and a longtime Tamarac resident. She earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism from Indiana University.
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