Slander is Murder with Words

Slander

Slander is murder with words.

It can lead to the social death of the person who is slandered, which is exactly what its perpetrators are trying to accomplish.

I am not talking about venting to your best friend or your spouse about your dreadnought of a boss. I don’t mean idle chit-chat gossip that intends no harm. I also am not referring to slander as an actionable legal term. I am referring to the deliberate, malicious use of lies — or even truths — to degrade and destroy the reputation of another person with the intent to isolate, punish and hurt them.

That is slander, and it is a mortal sin. You can go to hell for it.

Running a blog opens up the temptation to slander for profit for those who are so inclined. The power to publish any thought that crosses your nasty little mind with the knowledge that it will be read by literally tens of thousands of people is inebriating to a certain kind of person.

Add to that the fact that blogs become a kind of virtual family with regular commenters who form online relationships with the blogger and with one another, and you have a ready-made set-up for hashing and bashing other people around the internet campfire.

I think that slander, at its base, is a form of sick narcissism. Certain kinds of people think that everything that happens is about them. If someone refuses to play one of their games, they see that as an attack on their overweening sense of entitlement. That’s why some people become enraged when they can’t comment on a blog. Their narcissistic sense of entitlement sees whatever they want to do as a “right,” and anyone who tells them “no” is “the enemy” who must be punished and destroyed.

When one of these types has their own blog, they have a ready-made platform for using slander to punish and defame those who dare cross them. The only payback is that they are endangering their immortal souls by committing a grave sin against another person. That, and they become a public jerk.

Slander is murder with words. It can — and it has — wounded and isolated people so deeply that the pain forced them to withdraw from interacting with others. That is probably one of the reasons malicious slanderers engage in their craft. Not only do they get the dark pleasure of acting out their viciousness, but they can silence the person they are attacking and scare others who might come to their defense into silence along with them.

Anti bullying

When this happens, it’s called bullying. But I think that word is too mild for it. It is deliberate cruelty, and it is intended as such.

The fact that this sort of bullying is so often directed at women by men surely has a sadistic sexual component in it. I’m not well enough versed in psychology to define it. What I do know is that I have seen this over and again in my life as a female public figure.

The internet is a place where people can act out their worst verbal impulses with absolute evil abandon. Rapists post photos of their rape victims. Everyone everywhere seems to get into the game of shaming young girls by labeling them sluts and whores and such. Politicians and advocates for such things as pro choice, atheism and gay marriage have a heyday slander-shaming people who disagree with them.

It all goes back to one simple thing: Slander is murder with words. You can use slander to kill someone you don’t like, at least socially, and come out of it feeling all-powerful and victorious.

The interesting thing is that slander is a knife with no handle. It is murder with words, and it does wound the person who is slandered. But it cuts the the slanderer himself even more deeply. There is no explanation which justifies deliberate slander of another person. It is mean and cruel to the core. It also begs the question of whatever reasoning drives the anger behind it.

Once you enter into slander as a means of punishing those who disagree with you, or who you simply do not like, you have tossed in the towel on your own position.

Slander is an admission that you don’t have anything else worthwhile to say. It is a clear indication of both your personal emotional bankruptcy and the paucity of whatever arguments you are advancing.

You might as well say to the person you are slandering “You are right. I am wrong. So here’s a fistful of mud in your face to change the subject.”

These are the reasons why I delete name-calling and vicious attacks on anyone, including public figures, from this blog. This is a Christian blog. I want it to teach and empower Christians to follow Christ in the world.

If I allowed those things, I would be destroying my own purpose.

I would also be committing the sin of slander by default myself.

Because, you see, slander takes two. It takes a slanderer, and a willing listener. In fact to be really damaging, it takes a chain of slanderers who eagerly repeat and embellish the first slanders. If no one listens to slander and no one repeats it, slander dies and the damage it does is nullified.

Unfortunately, what happens in real life is that groups of people get into slander parties. You see it acted out on the internet in a graphic fashion. They join in with the original slanderer trading additional slanders, trying to top one another in the insults they heap on the object of their derision.

There is a word for this: Sin.

In fact there is a phrase for it: Mortal sin.

As I said earlier, you can go to hell for deliberate slander.

You also cancel out your Christian witness. If you are deliberately degrading and destroying the reputation of another person for vengeance, gain, or simply because you enjoy doing it, you are not following Christ.

You either follow Christ, or you engage in slander. You cannot do both.

Slander is murder with words. It can lead to the social death of its victim.

It can also lead to the eternal death of its perpetrators.

2013 Favs: Don’t Be a Jerk About It

Jerk

I’m an elected official, which is a spiffy way of saying that I’m a politician.

I am also a blogger.

It would seem, based on those two things, that I must have an opinion about every single thing in the known universe. But that’s not true. In fact, I actually don’t have an opinion about most things. I don’t care if you wear blue shoes or brown, if you shave your head or grow your hair down to your waist.

It matters not to me if you believe that the moon landing was a fraud or that your favorite food is spinach with Kool-Aid. We can still be friends, no matter if you love Bill Clinton or loathe him. Ditto for both Bushes and President Obama.

Here, for your consideration, is a small sampling of the things that I do not care about. Feel free to add your own list of what you don’t care about in the com boxes.

1. I don’t care if you wear a veil to mass. I’m not going to. But if you feel it’s a statement you want to make, whether it’s about sanctity, modesty, or fashion, then be my guest. I’m for you putting whatever you want on your own head.

2. I don’t care if you wear a beard. I only kiss one man and he’s the only man whose hirsutedness matters to me. The rest of you can go slick or bearded or some version in between. It is, after all, your face.

3. I don’t care if you think Halloween is verboten, or you’ve been designing your costume for months. That is your call.Don t be a jerk

Now we come to the I don’t cares with a caveat, and that caveat is, don’t be a jerk about it.

4. I don’t care if you are a Republican or a Democrat. Just don’t be a jerk about it.

5. I don’t care if you are a vegetarian or a meat eater. Just don’t be a jerk about it.

6. I don’t care if you are an atheist or an evangelist. Just don’t be a jerk about it.

7. I don’t care if you are gay or straight. Just don’t be a jerk about it.

8. I don’t care if you are a Protestant or a Catholic. Just don’t be a jerk about it.

9. I don’t even care if you are smart or stupid. But if you are smart, for pete’s sake, don’t be a jerk about it.

What, exactly, does “don’t be a jerk about it” mean? I could reference Jehovah’s Witnesses on Saturday morning. But, Jehovah’s Witnesses on Saturday morning do not even begin to sink to the level of self-righteous, mean-spirited, carping jerkiness that born again Republican/Democrat/vegetarian/atheist/gay/straight/protestant/Catholic/smarties can be. In fact, Jehovah’s Witnesses on Saturday mornings are, in my experience, unfailingly polite and soft spoken. I have never had one of them call me a single name for telling them that I can’t talk now.

The jerks I’m talking about have their pictures in the dictionary right next to holier-than-thou and cross referenced with bully, rude and vulgar.

The trouble in describing this particular flavor of jerkiness is that we’ve lost the common basis for what constitutes healthy human interaction. We can’t define it, so we also can’t define what it’s not. That allows jerkiness to reign supreme and run amuck and generally tip over tables and pour people’s beer in their laps and then tell them the whole thing is their fault since everybody knows that it’s “immoral” by the jerk’s code to drink Coor’s (Budweiser/Tap/etc) beer.

I think that the best way to handle this glaring lack in our common language is to go back a few decades, or maybe even a century or so, to resurrect the Victorian word “boor.”

Picture a Victorian lady with a plumed hat and gloves, carrying a frilly parasol and looking down her little nose at you and pronouncing,  “sir or madam, you are a boor.”

That fits, doesn’t it? It sounds so … entitled … when it’s contrasted with the relatively wimpy “you’re being a jerk” of our day.

And that is what’s lacking here. The jerks of the world have given themselves endless entitlement to practice their jerkiness on people who were minding their own business and didn’t ask to interact with them. They feel entitled to go banging into other people’s lives to throw insults and non-sequiturs around because … well, because they’ve told themselves they are entitled.

What we need is for nice people to get a little entitlement to match that of the jerks of the world. I don’t mean that we should join them in their behavior. I am not advocating that people fight the jerks by becoming jerks themselves. Maybe it’s time we just tell ourselves that we are entitled to, among other things, not listen to people just because they get in our faces and demand that we listen to them.

Maybe we should tell the boors, that if they persist in their boorishness, we won’t play with them anymore. They’ll have to take their toys and go play with the other jerks over in their yard with no grass and broken glass scattered around.

If, on the other hand, they can manage to stop engaging in their bullying, defaming, chest-pounding gorilla act and tame their inner jerk, they can come around.

I can do that, if you can. I can shut jerks down like slamming a lid shut. I can also let reformed jerks come play in my yard.

Because I don’t really care if someone is a vegetarian/republican/democrat/atheist/gay/straight/protestant/Catholic/smartie with a beard who wears a veil while putting on their Halloween costume to go denounce trick or treaters.

But I will not put up with them being a jerk about it.

Gallaudet University Employee Suspended for Signing Petition on Same-Sex Marriage

Dr Anglea McCaskill (CNA)

Evidently, academic freedom and the right of citizens to petition their government is a hit and miss thing at Gallaudet University.

Dr Angela McCaskill was placed on administrative leave from her position as chief diversity office at Gaudet University for exercising her right as an American citizen to sign a petition calling for a vote of the people.

The petition in question sought to allow the voters of the state of Maryland the opportunity to vote for or against allowing a law legalizing same sex marriage that had passed through the Maryland Legislature. Dr McCaskill has stated that she signed the petition because she wanted to give the citizens of the state the right to vote on the issue.

All American citizens, including homosexuals, have the right to advocate for changes in the law through lobbying, the electoral process and the courts. I support homosexuals’ right to do this unequivocally. However, the people who disagree with them on various issues have the same rights.

These bullying tactics cheapen their cause.

A CNA article describing Dr McCaskill’s situation reads in part:

Annapolis, Md., Oct 24, 2012 / 04:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A university employee who was placed on administration leave said that she has been humiliated and intimidated for her belief that Maryland voters should determine whether to implement a “gay marriage” law in the state.

“I am dismayed that Gallaudet University is still a university of intolerance, a university that manages by intimidation, a university that allows bullying among faculty, staff and students,” Dr. Angela McCaskill said at an Oct. 16 press conference in Annapolis, Md.

“I am pro-democracy,” she stated, explaining that she believes it is important “that we as the citizens of Maryland have an opportunity to vote.”

McCaskill, a deaf African American, spoke in sign language with the help of an interpreter to explain how she had been removed from her position as Chief Diversity Officer at Gallaudet University, an institution that serves the deaf and hard of hearing.

In March, a law to redefine marriage in the state of Maryland passed, but it was delayed from taking effect until January 2013, allowing time for its opponents to put it before voters in a November referendum.

McCaskill was one of 200,000 Maryland residents who signed a petition to put the measure before the people. Now, she believes that she is facing intimidation and punishment from her employer for exercising her rights.

At the press conference, McCaskill said that she had been approached by Martina Bienvenu, a Gallaudet University faculty member in the American Sign Language and Deaf Studies department.

Bienvenu asked her if she had signed the petition, and she replied that she had.

“In this very moment, she determined that this signature meant I was anti-gay,” McCaskill said, explaining that Bienvenu and her partner wrote a letter to the president of the university asking that she be punished.

On Oct. 10, university president T. Alan Hurwitz announced that McCaskill was being placed on paid administrative leave. He said that he would announce an interim Chief Diversity Officer and would “determine the appropriate next steps.”

Upon hearing the news, McCaskill said she “couldn’t believe it.”

“I was shocked, hurt, insulted. I was humiliated,” she explained. “Not only for myself, but for the students of Gallaudet University. They deserve better.”

“I offered to have a campus-wide dialogue on this very sensitive issue,” McCaskill said.

“I believe in civil discourse. I thought it was important that as a citizen of the state of Maryland, that I could exercise my right to participate in the political process.

“I thought that this would have been an incredible opportunity to teach our campus,” she explained. “Unfortunately, that opportunity was lost.”

She said that the university has “allowed misinformation to be circulated throughout the campus community,” adding that her reputation and 24 years of service to the university have been tarnished. (Read more here.)


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