TC Cuthbertson is a guy the cancel culture couldn’t cancel.
A little more than a year ago, a post was made to a community Facebook page to boycott his catering business in Falls, accusing him of being anti-cop. The charge was a lie. But it took off in the summer of 2020 amid nationwide protests sparked by George Floyd’s murder by a white cop in Minneapolis.
The young, Black entrepreneur runs The Falls Banquet by EventRoostr, a catering/event planning business on M-Y Lane, near Morrisville. By the time TC saw the libelous post, it had been shared online a hundred times. He wasn’t sure what to do.
“Learning that my business was being smeared on a community (Facebook) page, and the rate at which it was spreading, was devastating, being in the hospitality business,” he said. “I know how much a negative reputation can destroy a business and the fact that the rumor was completely false made it even worse.”
Terroristic threats were phoned in. A man from Morrisville posted to Facebook, “Let’s go burn it down. Cops won’t show.”
That’s when I received a note from a fellow alumnus of Bishop Egan High School, a lawyer who, knowing the truth, was stunned at the pummeling TC was taking over a lie that had its roots in a misunderstanding. The fellow Egan guy asked if we could set things right. Having been targeted that summer by cancel culture keyboard warriors, I was happy to help.
The misunderstanding that dragged TC’s name through digital mud came in June 2020, after a half-dozen Falls police officers had gathered in their cars to eat pizza on the banquet hall’s grounds. TC is fine with the police using his property to park and eat lunch, but so many at once alarmed a groundskeeper, who called TC.
“I mean,” TC told me at the time, “if you drove up to your house and there were a lot of police cars in front of it, what would you think?”
I’d think there was trouble. So, after he arrived, he asked the cops to give him a heads-up next time they gathered at his place. The officers were fine with it.
Still, rumors spread. A woman posted to social media that TC had “refused” to allow the police to “sit at his outdoor picnic tables and eat their lunch,” and called for a boycott. False, negative reviews by people who had never been to the banquet hall were posted online.
Falls police, as surprised as TC, posted a disclaimer that there was no hostility between the department and the banquet hall. I wrote the column, and then Chief Nelson Whitney and TC joined me in a video podcast to set it right.
And since? Good news.
Read the original column:In Falls, a lie sics cancel culture on Black-owned business
“Without that story correcting the record, I don’t know what our reputation would be in the community,” TC told me last week, as we chatted at his banquet hall.
He said the column sparked a backlash against the woman who first posted the lie.
“The post came down immediately,” he said. “We had customers come in and they said, ‘Hey, I read about you in the newspaper, really sad that type of thing had to happen to you. Let us know if you need any help.’ Things like that.”
But libelous accusations posted to social media is like a stone tossed into lake water — it ripples, and ripples can cripple online. Poor reviews already had been posted by people suckered by the lie.
“Being in the events and hospitality industry, we live and die on reviews,” TC said. “All of them had to be disputed through Google.”
Happily, most were removed by the search engine company, he said.
I asked TC if there should be consequences for people who libel others and for the social media platforms that publish the falsehoods. Presently, you can’t sue big tech companies like Google, Twitter and Facebook, since an obscure federal communications law, called Section 230, protects them from lawsuits. (Unlike newspapers, which are liable for libel.)
“These larger tech platforms that have a lot of reach and power must be more responsible about the content they allow to be shared,” TC said. “Reign these big players in. A person like me who suffered an injury to my business should be able to take Google to court in my local jurisdiction and seek a claim. So the state needs to create laws that allow smaller players like myself to take these guys to court.”
As for the online rabble, none reached out to say sorry.
“I have never received an apology, not even a retraction from the original user who posted,” he said. “These type of people feel like they’re invincible, who spread false accusations, because they don’t think others will fact-check them on such an emotionally stirring subject. So, I never expected a mea culpa.”
But the cancel culture lost. For TC and EventRoostr, that’s something to crow about.
Columnist JD Mullane can be reached at 215-949-5745 or at email@example.com.