Skip to comments.We Don't Need Bad Law
Posted on 01/24/2018 6:59:03 AM PST by Kaslin
President Donald Trump said, "We are going to take a strong look at our country's libel laws so that when somebody says something that is false and defamatory about someone, that person will have meaningful recourse in our courts." The president was responding to statements made in Michael Wolff's new book, "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House."
Our nation does not need stronger laws against libel. To the contrary, libel and slander laws should be repealed. Let's say exactly what libel and slander are. The legal profession defines libel as a published false statement that is damaging to a person's reputation. Slander is making a false spoken statement that is damaging to a person's reputation.
There's a question about reputation that never crosses even the sharpest legal minds. Does one's reputation belong to him? In other words, if one's reputation is what others think about him, whose property are other people's thoughts? The thoughts I have in my mind about others, and hence their reputations, belong to me.
One major benefit from decriminalizing libel and slander would be that it would reduce the value of gossip. It would reduce the value of false statements made by others. Here's a Gallup Poll survey question: "In general, how much trust and confidence do you have in the mass media -- such as newspapers, TV and radio -- when it comes to reporting the news fully, accurately and fairly -- a great deal, a fair amount, not very much or none at all?" In 1976, 72 percent of Americans trusted the media, and today the percentage has fallen to 32. The mainstream media are so biased and dishonest that more and more Americans are using alternative news sources, which have become increasingly available electronically.
While we're talking about bad laws dealing with libel and slander, let's raise some questions about other laws involving speech -- namely, blackmail laws. The legal profession defines blackmail as occurring when someone demands money from a person in return for not revealing compromising or injurious information. I believe that people should not be prosecuted for blackmail. Let's examine it with the following scenario. It's 5 o'clock in the morning. You see me leaving a motel with a sweet young thing who's obviously not Mrs. Williams. You say to me, "Professor Williams, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees me the right to broadcast to the entire world your conduct that I observed." I believe that most would agree that you have that right. You then proposition me, "If you pay me $10,000, I will not exercise my right to tell the world about your behavior."
Now the ball is in my court. I have a right to turn down your proposition and let you tell the world about my infidelity and live with the consequences of that decision. Or I can pay you the $10,000 for your silence and live with the consequences of that decision. In other words, blackmail fits into the category of peaceable, noncoercive voluntary exchange, just like most other transactions. If I'm seen voluntarily giving up $10,000, the only conclusion a third party could reach is that I must have viewed myself as being better off as a result. That's just like an instance when you see me voluntarily give up money for some other good or service -- be it food, clothing, housing or transportation. You come to the same conclusion.
What constitutes a crime can be divided into two classes -- mala in se and mala prohibita. Homicide and robbery are inherently wrong (mala in se). They involve the initiation of force against another. By contrast, blackmail (mala prohibita) offenses are considered criminal not because they violate the property or person of another but because society seeks to regulate such behavior. By the way, married people would tend to find blackmail in their interest. Extra eyes on their spouse's behavior, in pursuit of money, would help to ensure greater marital fidelity.
Those who would like to dig deeper into blackmail can go to http://tinyurl.com/ybvxzaan.
Someone needs to re-watch Absence of Malice.
So if I post on FB “Kaslin (real name) is a convicted child abuser” you think that should not be actionable?
CNN Breaking News: “Trump eliminates freedom of speech. Details at 7pm.”
On a humorous note, my wife employs blackmail everlasting times a week. As in every time I’m out of line she starts reminding me of every past misdeed until I give in to her demands. So do my children. Woe is me.
The only issue with libel, slander, is that you must go to court to clear you name. This takes $$ and as in the case of Gov Palin, the expense can be so disruptive and expensive one is unable to function in one’s duties or is bankrupted pursuing justice. The law should allow the victim to recover all expenses plus serious damages upon winning the case and include jail time for the libelous/slanderer.
“Does one’s reputation belong to him?”
Reputation is what we all have.
I don’t really believe Williams can believe what he just wrote.
“Were it made a question, whether no law, as among the savage Americans, or too much law, as among the civilized Europeans, submits man to the greatest evil, one who has seen both conditions of existence would pronounce it to be the last; and that the sheep are happier of themselves, than under care of the wolves.”
—Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia Q.XI, 1782. ME 2:129
Not correct, Mr. Williams. Your perception and subsequent impression are yours, but the reputation is based entirely upon the company/person in question. This is a legal definition that provides that the public at large have demonstrated a level of trust in a person or organization.
I must disagree, and assume that "noncoercive" here means only that a gun isn't being pointed at me, that I'm not being dangled over the roof of a 10-story building, etc. "Give me $10,000 and I will not ruin your business" is certainly more like "Give me $10,000 and I will not shoot you" than "Give me $10,000 and I will give you the car I'm advertising on Craigslist".
One of the few times I disagree with Walter Williams - maybe if someone would start spreading word he is a closet child molester, and it resulted in him being hounded out of his community and being ostracized from the places he likes to go, he would have to change his mind...
It sounds like jumping from the frying pan into the fire.
Truth belongs to everybody. It may not be wise to take Donald Trump’s proposal past the realm of rhetoric. But to de-sanction any and all false witness as long as it’s not sworn before a government body is to slouch towards that state of mind, most common in primitive societies, that the craftiest and most cunning liar wins.
We stand for some slander/libel sanctions because we don’t want truth to be devalued to the vanishing point.
Now THAT makes sense.
And yet how far off the ground did each one get?
When we honestly reframe the pertinent riterion to be the glory of God, not just the self glory of an abstract freedom, we come to a different conclusion.
And anyhow we have the fallacy of the excluded middle. Europe may be too government centered for the glory of God, but mankind can vastly improve on how it found American Indians. Surely we may discard the bathwater without also discarding the baby.
This surely seems a perilous time for him to put it to the test.
This kind of thinking brings us things like free trade... Economists can 'prove' with crystalline logic that free trade ultimately benefits everyone to the highest degree (on average), and is the best solution to world trade.
Never mind that it drives wealthy nations' wages down to the world wide average.
But generally speaking, it is beneficial, right? Have we not all enjoyed the last 30 years of wage stagnation?
If we could magically have a kind of dueling that also ensured the victory of the more truthful party.
To “sufficiently cunning lies make right” we would not want to add “might makes right.”
Reputation is “The immediate jewel of my soul.”
What Iago had to say (if one can trust anything Iago has to say):
My reputation, my reputation! Ive lost my reputation, the longest-living and truest part of myself! Everything else in me is just animal-like. Oh, my reputation, Iago, my reputation!
As I am an honest man, I thought you had received some bodily wound. There is more sense in that than in reputation. Reputation is an idle and most false imposition, oft got without merit and lost without deserving. You have lost no reputation at all unless you repute yourself such a loser. What, man, there are ways to recover the general again. You are but now cast in his mood, a punishment more in policy than in malice, even so as one would beat his offenseless dog to affright an imperious lion. Sue to him again and hes yours.
Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls:
Who steals my purse steals trash; tis something, nothing;
twas mine, tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed.
Good point... We need the theologian and moral scholar here. Economics can at best be a subset of it.
Witness the debate about what MAGA means. Or maybe it should even be “Make America Great Like It Never Was Before.”
I’m pretty sure Mr. Jefferson was using the two extremes in order to make a case that fewer laws is better than more laws. I don’t think his intent was to be taken literally.
Regarding the “pertinent criterion” being the glory of God rather than some “abstract freedom”, you appear to have a fundamental misunderstanding of the intended role of the government in the lives of U.S. citizens. Our Constitution is structured to protect individual liberty, not to promote the glory of God.
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