Friday, April 22, 2011

Libel per se

I love generating comments, but if you don't see your comment getting published, perhaps it is because I think it is libelous. I keep having to delete comments that are obviously libelous, and I wish people would give some thought to this before sending them. There is something called "libel per se," which means statements that are automatically considered libel without any evidence of their damaging effect on the person's reputation needed. The law just presumes that they were injurious. There are four main categories of libel per se:

1. Accusing somebody of committing a crime.
2. Claiming they have an infections, contagious, or "loathsome" disease.
3. Injuring the person in his or her profession, trade or business, by saying they are unqualified to practice, or otherwise saying things that would tend to hurt their profits (this is called "trade libel").
4. Accusing somebody of being of an "unchaste" character.

I haven't had to delete any accusations about disease or lack of chastity yet, but I get many comments that accuse particular people of crime and that are intended to besmirch their professional reputations by calling them unethical or something similar. I delete these comments, of course, because I don't want to expose myself to the risk of a libel suit for publishing them. In nearly every case, the person who wants me to post their comments is anonymous. They want to make their libelous statements, have me publish them, and remain safely concealed behind a veil of anonymity. No, thanks.

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