Silly Celebrity Lawsuits – Econlib

What do Madonna, Tom Brady, David Ortiz, Jimmy Fallon, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kim Kardashian have in common? Yes, they are all famous, but that’s not it. Rather, it is the fact that they have all been the subject of lawsuits against them for their endorsement of crypto currency.

It would appear that the plaintiffs lost money in their investments, and they blame these celebrities for misinforming them. If justice were to prevail, those wasting the courts’ time in this manner should be severely penalized for bringing frivolous lawsuits; at the very least, they ought to be compelled to pay the legal costs of these high profile defendants.

Endorsing something is merely giving an opinion, and doing so is part and parcel of free speech. Now that this right is under attack by wokist cancellers, it is more important than ever that we defend, to the utmost, what few free speech rights are left to us.

Penalizing endorsers is open to all sorts of reductios ad absurdum. Who else gives of their opinions, for a fee, and whose implicit advice might upon occasion, backfire.

Perhaps the most mistaken endorsers are the meteorologists. Sometimes, it seems as if they flip coins before giving their diagnoses of what is in store for us. But many people depend upon their prognostications, and lose money when (I was about to say “if” but I corrected myself) they are in error.

But these people are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Who else gives out advice for a fee and has deep enough pockets to be profitably sued? Accountants advice clients about how to ward off the IRS; sometimes they are in error. Lawyers give guidance. Whenever a lawsuit goes to court, both sides cannot win; the loser can bring suit. One does not necessarily think of doctors, dentists, psychologists as giving out instruction; but they all do, and are thus vulnerable to lawsuits, when in error. The less said about financial advisors the better. They will be on the front lines of this new intellectual war, if it gets off the ground.

I, too, in writing this essay, can be subjected to legal attack. I am among many others who are giving direction for public policy in the legal realm. Please don’t sue me. What about the owners of the periodical for which I am now writing? They are in the same boat with me (misery loves company).

If we stretch things not too unreasonably, it is possible to bring into this practically every participant in the economy. The grocer, for example, stands by his wares. He is in effect endorsing them. If they boomerang, he can be found guilty of the exact same “crime” as those celebrities named above. Pretty much anyone selling anything at all can be reached by this not unreasonable interpretation.

If we stretch matters a bit, just a little bit, what about those beautiful models who stand by, and sometimes caress, new automobiles at their releases? They too, it might well be argued, are with their beauty endorsing these cars. Certainly they rivet attention on these new vehicles.

No, this latest attack must be nipped in the bud, if we are to retain any modicum of our much under attack nowadays free speech rights. Yes, it is commercial free speech in this case, but there is no warrant to denigrate them vis a vis political or intellectual discourse.

Walter E. Block is Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics at Loyola University New Orleans and is co-author of the 2015 book Water Capitalism: The Case for Privatizing Oceans, Rivers, Lakes, and Aquifers. New York City, N.Y.: Lexington Books, Rowman and Littlefield (with Peter Lothian Nelson ).

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