Slander vs Freedom of Speech
Are you a victim of slander, or is that person simply exercising their right to free speech? This article clarifies the definition of defamation, the elements that compose it, how to recognize if a statement is defamatory, and what actions you should take against the person publishing defamatory statements about you. This article will also introduce you to a convenient and safe way to draft a cease and desist letter using DoNotPay.
Defamation: Definition and Elements
Defamatory statements are false and lower a person’s reputation in society, or expose an individual to hatred, ridicule, or contempt. The table below outlines elements for a statement to be considered defamatory:
|Elements of Defamation||Explanation|
|The statement must be false||If the statement is true, then it is not defamatory.|
|A defamatory statement must be presented as a non-subjective fact about the plaintiff||If it cannot be empirically proven as right or wrong, then it may be classified as an opinion, which is not considered defamation.|
|The statement must involve a third party or publication||If the statement is made directly to the person it revolves around, then it is not defamatory.|
|The defendant must have malice intent when making the statement||The defendant must be aware that the statement is false, or negligently disregards its truthfulness (questions its truthfulness but says it anyway).|
|The statement must inflict serious harm, which can be proven||This includes monetary losses, decrease in wages, unemployment, or emotional distress, as well as damage to one’s reputation and ability to work.|
Two Types of Defamation: Libel and Slander
The law of defamation distinguishes between libel and slander, which are two types of defamation. The following table explains all you need to know about libel and slander.
|Libel is defamation in a non-transitory form with a permanent record. It is generally found written or published defamatory statements||Slander is a transitory defamation form with no permanent record, such as a spoken defamatory statements or gestures|
|Libel can be found in print media such as
and on the internet,
|Slander can be found in
|General punishment for libel is monetary compensation or fines. In the case of seditious libel (printed defamatory statement about the president, government, or Congress), the punishment is generally imprisonment.||General punishment for slander is financial compensation or civil lawsuits – but it may vary depending on the country. In most cases, slander is not actionable unless the plaintiff can prove monetary losses.|
Freedom of Speech Vs Defamation:
- If the defendant can prove the statement they made was in fact true, then the defamation case ends there
- People cannot be punished for speaking the truth, regardless of how embarrassing it is, or if it is an invasion of privacy. The truth is always a viable defense to a claim of defamation
- Opinions, on the other hand, are a grey area. Statements of opinion are generally protected under the laws of the first amendment, but what qualifies a statement as an opinion?
- Starting a statement with “I think” or “In my opinion” is not sufficient for it to be considered an opinion. The US Supreme Court considers a statement of opinion to be:
- A matter of public concern
- Expressed in a way that makes it almost impossible to empirically prove whether it is true or false
- Cannot be reasonably interpreted as a fact about someone
Matters of public interest:
- If you make a statement about a matter of public interest, such as a local political scandal, it will likely not be deemed defamatory
Should You Write a Defamation Cease and Desist Letter?
If you are a victim of defamation and want to take action, the first step is to draft a defamation cease and desist letter before taking more drastic action.
Writing a defamation cease and desist letter on your own is not your best option. It is important to accurately prove the harm that you have suffered in a convincing letter, or you risk that it would be disregarded by the perpetrator, lowering its chance to succeed, even if the trial moves to court. Lawyers are reliable and will draft a convincing letter, however not many can afford lawyers as they are extremely expensive.
Therefore DoNotPay is the safest and best option to draft a cease and desist letter for you in a professional, and affordable manner.
DoNotPay Can Draw Up A Defamation Cease and Desist Letter for You in Minutes!
Let DoNotPay draft a convincing cease and desist letter about your case! All you have to do is follow these three simple steps:
1. Search Defamation on DoNotPay.
2. Explain your situation, including whether the false statements made were libel or slander, listing the statements and explaining why they are false, and outline the consequences you have suffered as a result.
3. Based on your location, in this case, Colorado, DoNotPay will generate a formal demand letter on your behalf with the most relevant state legislation regarding defamation.
DoNotPay Also Helps you With:
- Libel vs Slander
- Cease and Desist Order
- Defamation of Character Lawsuit
- Cease and Desist Letter Template
- Online Defamation
- What can I do if Someone is Slandering Me
- What Does Slander Mean in Law
- What Does Libel Mean in Law
- Federal Defamation Law
- Defamation of Character in the Workplace