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Subject:  Re: Continuing the conversation Date:  7/17/2000  6:12 PM
Author:  aramis1631 Number:  4558 of 10421

TMFSpirit wrote:
I think that after the long ordeal the nation endured during the Paula Jones case and Clinton's impeachment hearings, the words Libel and Slander were almost rendered obsolete. ...So, I have to lay a lot of the blame on the media, not Yahoo as some have suggested, because if you can say and write such strong statements, some of which were proven false, about an American President, calling an analyst goofy, a loser or even evil seem rather mild.

Uh, there's a big difference in the ridicule of a public figure, especially public officials, and a private citizen. Such shenanigans may very well have jaded us to the terms libel and slander. It may be that the general public's notion of acceptable demeaning language has changed; but, that is not a defense.

The cocktail hour conversation defense I believe is attributable to whooshing. It's an interesting concept and will very likely make it difficult for the plaintiffs to prove damages. How can there be damages, if the alleged defamations are not taken seriously?

Of course, a message board, while like a conversation is not merely a verbal exchange. What we write remains available and searchable for an undetermined period of time. It becomes an extended record and a resource used by reporters, investigators and the public.

The fact that someone has filed a lawsuit is not surprising. I have expected this to happen for some time. If we were at a cocktail party, would we repeat some of the things written in message boards, or chat rooms in earshot of the targeted individual? The long-lasting nature of posts are the near equivalent. Surprised that somebody got irate about what they read about themselves? I'm not. Amazed that a company might defend their reputation, or the reputation of their representative? I'm not.

I've been looking for a place to jump in on this conversation. I think a careful reading of Mr. Barker's (TMF Max) article will show he has not chosen sides on the question of the specific case at all. I think it was a good article, and well thought out.

The questions about what constitutes due diligence do not apply (IMHO), since he did not in fact specifically comment on the merits. The focus of the article was about freedom of speech, and criticism of ideas without slander.

There is a difference between criticizing analysts for what they say, and alleging abuse or malintent. Civilization demands that we know the difference.
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