Slander is Murder with Words

 

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.

The Atheist Boys Club and Online Misogyny as Sport

On-line misogyny. The anonymous crime against human dignity.

Leah Libresco, who blogs at Unequally Yoked and bills herself the “geeky convert” wrote a fascinating post last week about online misogyny from the atheist perspective.

Her post, Ave atque vale, Jen McCreight, discusses how one female blogger has been forced to retire from blogging due to online attacks from the atheist boy’s club. Ms McCreight’s  explanation for quitting is both straightforward and poignant. I just can’t take it anymore, she said. According to the post, the group primarily responsible for these misogynist attacks bills itself FtBullies.

I’m not going to repeat the things Ms McCreight has suffered at the hands of these people. Leah Libresco covers it in her post, as does Ms McCreight in hers. If you want to see it, you can follow the links. I’m also not going to discuss her beliefs.

The important issue to me is that she is a woman and she has been attacked to the point that she feels compelled to remove her voice from the public debate simply because she’s a woman. Do I need to tell you that this is wrong? I doubt it. Anyone who sincerely tries to follow Jesus Christ already knows that.

The simple fact is, we should never treat human beings made in the image and likeness of God in this degrading manner. We do not have the right terrorize women into silence with threats of rape and by sludging their names all over the internet. Brutalizing women, whether it’s done physically or verbally, is wrong. It is a sin.

Before I began writing this post, I googled “internet misogyny.” I got a pageful of hits with more pages to follow. It was, for the most part, articles by women trying to defend women against this sadistic menace. You can look here, here, here or here. I picked these because they were the first four hits. I don’t vouch for their brilliance or even the specifics of their facts. What I do vouch for is that they point to a real and growing problem of misogyny directed against women in our society.

The debate following Leah Libresco’s post evidently fell along predictable lines. I didn’t read it, but she did, and what she read moved her to write two more posts, defending Ms McCreight’s decision to step down. Based on what she said in these posts, I am assuming that some people felt that Ms McCreight should just toughen up, “take the heat,” and get on with it.

My first thought about this was that it sounded suspiciously like they were expecting the victim to “handle” what no one should be asked to “handle” in a civilized society. Do we believe that misogyny is something that women should learn to accept, and that if they don’t learn to accept it, there’s something wrong with them?

As I said earlier, I’m not going to address Jen McCreight’s beliefs. Whatever she believes she has the right to talk about it in public venues without being assaulted by the misogynist boys club competing in their favorite sport. I’m also not going to discuss the irony of such rampant misogyny from the self-proclaimed “tolerance” police of our society. Ms McCreight did a fine job of that in her post How I Unwittingly Infiltrated the Boy’s Club & Why It’s Time for a New Wave of Atheism that you will find here.

My point is that misogyny is wrong. It is cowardly. When it’s done anonymously over the internet, it sinks to levels of spineless cowardice that defy description. It is also a particularly virulent form of cyber-stalking, which means that it is probably illegal and punishable by criminal statutes.

However, the message I want to convey with this post is not about legal sanctions. It’s about us; about Christians and how we should treat other people. It is simple. If you are a Christian: 

Do not engage in misogynist attacks against women.

Do not go to websites that do this.

Do not click on links that lead to it.

If one of your kids starts using their computer time for this, stop them.

We bear the name of Christ. He has taught us to be better than that.


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