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How to deal with Lies, slander and libel
Gossip is an oft ignored problem
The damages inflicted by gossip and slander can be severe. It is not by accident that scripture addresses gossip and the dangers that it can inflict. Gossip is often seen as a minor offense in the eyes of many people, until they have been the victim of such actions. Gossip can concern moral character with allegations of theft, infidelity, cheating, or other actions. It may also include allegations of drug use or criminal activities as well.
Although many people by their nature talk about the actions of others, the intentions may not be of a malicious nature. Spreading misinformation or distorting of facts occur by accident is very different from such actions occurring with a malicious intent. The malicious use of gossip can be based on revenge, political motives, or indirect assault on the person. Revenge minded persons often try to destroy a person’s character indirectly through slander and libel.
What are slander and libel?
Slander occurs when people present another person in a bad light based on lies. Slander is typically defined as being an oral defamation. Typically such slander makes them look bad in terms or morals or moral conduct. Lifting a person up to ridicule and defame their character based on a false representation of facts.
When the defamation which occurs is written, in print or broadcasted it is considered libel. Both slander and libel are considered ‘torts’, and carry with them legal penalties (a tort is a legal suit under civil laws). Like many legal torts, questions quickly arise concerning what constitutes proof or evidence. There are also statutes of limitations on the offenses. Since the statute of limitations on slander and libel are a year, it behooves someone to take action promptly on such issues when they choose to pursue legal remedy for their situation.
Preventing and pursuing remedy
Although a person may be guilty of libel or slander, taking the matter to court and winning the case may be a challenge. The mental status of the person along with their age will be taken into consideration. Many times when people are hurt, they find ways of hurting those they blame for their hurt.
In my case, the slanderer was my mother, and since she was an ‘old woman’, little could be done to keep her from slandering and libeling me and my husband. Since many people often allow little old women to talk, little was done. Even when legal matters were underway, her behavior was excused, citing that “she is just angry”.
It is difficult to prevent others from saying things about you. People often talk. Taking preventative measure such as treating people decently, using manners, and keeping ones reputation in a good light are helpful in dispelling false accusations. Keeping your dealings above board and steering clear of ‘questionable’ people and events are some of the better practices that can keep ones character from being impugned. Even in societies where freedom of speech is controlled” by government policy, they have not been 100% effective in keeping people from gossiping.
- Prevention of slander
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