The United States prides itself on being a country where freedom of speech is an everyday part of life. Americans take for granted their ability to express their opinions about the businesses they frequent, the products they don't like and even feel free to rant and rave about their employer on popular social networking sites online. This freedom of speech can sometimes carry negative consequences in the form of a lawsuit if someone feels defamed by the words of another.
What It Means To Defame Someone
Defamation involves speaking negatively about something as though it were absolute truth. Giving a negative statement about a country,group, product, government or person as if were fact when it is really false is considered defaming. Defamation occurs when someone takes that negative statement beyond the person or entity they are speaking against and spreads it publicly.
Slander And Its Legal Meaning
The term slander falls under the type of defamation that means words that are spoken to purposefully harm the reputation of another. This includes making false comments that are represented as truth. Slandering someone can also mean using their private information without their permission or revealing facts about that person without the proper authority to do so.
What Constitutes Libel
Libel is just like slander, but it goes one step further. Libel is defaming someone publicly by the use of the printed word. It could mean publishing an article, newspaper story or book that exposes someone to hatred, shame, humiliation, ridicule and disgrace. Libel can cause serious damage to a person's business reputation causing other people to avoid them. This could mean something like posting a statement that someone has a contagious disease or is dying when it is not true causing their employer to lay them off work.
Defamation, libel and slander are all intertwined legally. Without these laws in place, people would feel free to damage another person's reputation for their own personal gain. Unscrupulous business competitors, angry in-laws and jilted spouses could have a field day spreading slanderous statements for revenge. Having defamation laws in place give people a legal recourse if they become the victim of false statements that damage their reputations.
Defamation laws help keep the freedom of speech and press in check. Attorneys that specialize in defamation laws can assist people who have had their personal and business reputations destroyed by the false spoken or written statements of another.
Source: Peter Wendt is a writer and researcher living in Austin, Texas. He recommends you check out Farris Law a Personal Injury Lawyer in St Louis. Visit the website Farrislaw.net.