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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Slander and libel

The Wikipedia has a good article on slander, defamation of character, and libel. All of these are attempts at harming a person's reputation by spreading false statements about them. Slander is basically done in ordinary speech. Libel is written. I'm not sure what a YouTube video, or a newscast on radio would be, assuming that it was spreading false statements, as such speech has a longer life than something you might say while in line at Walmart, and, therefore, is not "ordinary speech." Under U. S. law, defaming a public person requires that not only are false statements spread, but that they are spread with malice, intent to harm. That's often difficult to prove, even though it's often true.

Depending on the version used, there are about ten mentions of slander in the New Testament, all of them condemning it in some way. Here is the results of a search for that word, using the English Standard Version. One of the instances (1 Timothy 5:14) warns against giving enemies of Christians reason to slander them. The others warn against slander as sinful behavior. The word, libel, does not occur in the New Testament, at least not in the ESV.

Here are two of the passages mentioning slander, quoted from the World English Bible, which is in the public domain.:
Matthew 15:16 So Jesus said, “Do you also still not understand? 17  Don’t you understand that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the belly, and then out of the body? 18  But the things which proceed out of the mouth come out of the heart, and they defile the man. 19  For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual sins, thefts, false testimony, and blasphemies. 20  These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands doesn’t defile the man.” (Mark 7:17-22 is similar. The World English Bible uses "false testimony," rather than "slander.")

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but only what is good for building others up as the need may be, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, outcry, and slander, be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God also in Christ forgave you. (Colossians 3:8 and 1 Peter 2:1 also warn Christians against practicing slander.)

Thanks for reading. Be careful what you say about other people.

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