In the following case, where is the line drawn between slander/libel and freedom of speech?I am a member at a private local club where you must pay to me a member. Every time I go there, this...

In the following case, where is the line drawn between slander/libel and freedom of speech?

I am a member at a private local club where you must pay to me a member. Every time I go there, this certain individual, if there, makes horrible remarks and comments to me in front of everyone. I posted something on a social site that a few members belong to saying that this individual had me in tears which was completely true. Now I am being told that what I posted is slander/liable. How can this be?

Asked on by terif63

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The previous post is correct in saying that it is very difficult to know whether your comments are actually libelous or defamatory, but it leaves out a major point.  This point is that truth is an absolute defense against a claim of libel.  You can see this quite clearly in either of the links below.

In your question, you claim that the statement you made was "completely true."  If what you said was, in fact, true, then you cannot be liable for defamation.  No matter what other factors are present in a case, truth is an absolute defense.

So, the first post is correct in saying that it is important to know exactly what was said.  However, if what you said was true, you are not liable no matter what, exactly, you said.

stolperia's profile pic

stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

First of all, the spoken remarks made by the other individual are slander, which is defined as being a spoken or heard derogatory statement. Visually derogatory statements (writing, performance, artwork) are called libel. Without knowing what you wrote on the internet, it's impossible to evaluate whether or not your comments were, in fact, libel.

Are you concerned about being accused of violating your "freedom of speech" because you expressed your opinion of this individual, or are you feeling that the other person is abusing his/her "freedom of speech" with inappropriate remarks about you?  If this had all happened orally within the confines of the private social club, I think it would be difficult to make any kind of case stand up on either side. Because there are now questions about what you recorded on the internet, it may be harder to settle the issue.

The easy way out of the situation would be to change your club membership. The moral of the story is that we should all learn to think very carefully before putting anything out for public consumption on the internet. Unforeseen consequences can arise from the most innocent of comments!

terif63's profile pic

terif63 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Ok well I am wondering about both issues. I am fairly sure already that what was said to me was abusing the persons right to freedom of speech with completely inappropriate comments, mainly flat out lies and continueing degradation. What I posted was "Left Unami tonight because Dr. Dave had me in tears". I am injured and on social security which he thinks is quite a joke and makes me feel less than human by his constant comments. I had already had an aweful day and went there to relax only to endure more comments about my not "working for a living". Dr.Dave is a nickname, not his real name. It did make me break down and cry and leave...What is your opinion?

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