Recently a prominent Catholic blogger posted articles on his FB page where he attributed something completely unsubstantiated about them and when asked how he knew about it, said the onus was on the challenger to disprove it otherwise.
To count as slander, the statement must be untrue - so yes by definition slander involves a lie.
But a true statement can still be immoral - this can be the sin of detraction.
In your case, we simply don’t know enough to comment. If the claims are untrue, they should not be made of course. But even if they are true, it would depend on context and the poster’s reasons for revealing them. Generally, someone revealing another’s faults needs to have a good reason for doing so, and to be able to substantiate such a claim.
Yes. And, therefore, a violation of God’s Commandment “Thou shalt not bear false witness”.
If you look up “slander” in the glossary of the Catechism, it points you to “calumny”. The Catechism defines calumny as “A false statement which harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them (2477).”
Though, technically, slander is false words that are spoken. If the blogger is posting these statements in written articles online, the term would be “libel.”
That assumes the comments are untrue. If the comments are true but still damaging to the other person’s reputation, it would be the sin of detraction. That is provided the blogger has no “objectively valid reason” to disclose the person’s faults. If the person the blogger is speaking about is potentially leading people astray, that could constitute an objectively valid reason.
Either way, I’d probably steer clear of the whole exchange and try to assume the best about both parties.
As both Underacloud and Neofight have already pointed out, if an allegation is true, it isn’t slander. But as far as I can tell from what little you’ve told us in your OP, the blogger is quite wrong to claim that the onus of proof lies on the person who has been (allegedly) slandered. The truth of the matter is exactly the opposite. The blogger can (notionally, at least) be found guilty of slander – or more probably, in this case, of libel – unless he can convince a court that he was telling the truth.
I would think it would lying.
Whether true or not, disclosing another person’s faults could be a sin against the 8th Commandment.
I say “could” because, for all I know, the blogger in question has a legitimate reason to air these things in public.
Sounds like guilty until proven innocent.
I would be tempted to ask this blogger if it would be okay to post all kinds of nasty unsubstantiated things about him and then claim the onus is on him to disprove them.
May I know who the blogger is?
Do we really need to know? Then the OP might be guilty of detraction. :o
Not wishing to be guilty of detraction :o I will post the links to his FB page where the offense took place and tell you where I believe (but am totally OPEN to being corrected) he made his errors.
In the first link he shared a news story where he captioned it himself as:
Today in anti-abortion but not prolife “devout Christian” crazy.
An Orange County attorney is proposing a new law that would do just that. “The Sodomite Suppression Act” would allow for executions of men and women who are identified as gay. And punish those who encourage gay behavior with major fines and jail time. CA Attorney General Kamala Harris has said she probably would have to allow it on the ballot if it meets the basic requirements - but that the idea is unconstitutional anyway, and has no place in reality.
When I read the article I kept asking myself how is the remotely related to Pro-Life activities or even a Pro-Life organization? Apparently in the comments so did a few others. Said Blogger had one of his friends answer it by saying that the Attorney has identified himself as Pro-Life.
However, there is no information on the news article that he identifies himself as such, no information on a Google search, and when asked where said blogger identifies himself as pro-life, they say its on them to disprove it otherwise.
In the 2nd link he shared a news story where he captioned it himself as:
Queen Elizabeth,Cleopatra, Margaret Thatcher, Indira Ghandi, Nefertiti, Queen Victoria, and Benazir Bhutto: All flighty hormone-driven ditzes.
The people working hardest to make sure that Hillary is elected belong, like this woman, to the Party of Crazy**. People who are uncomfortable touching Hillary with a barge pole will, in the final analysis, scream “Oh for pity’s sake!” and pull the lever for her rather than let lunatics like this anywhere near having a say in who holds the reins of power.
This news article is about a woman who says that women are unfit for the role of the President. His first paragraph is fine as he successfully refutes what the woman says but in the 2nd paragraph he attributes this woman as a Republican but yet offers no proof whatsoever. Again others ask where is the proof that this woman is a Republican and the only reply is from one of his fans saying
She’s from Texas, she talks about the Bible, and she says that Hilary should be disqualified. What other proof do we need?
I ask you all here. Is this blogger slandering? Am I slandering?
Again, it is only slander if it is untrue.
This is a blogger re-posting news stories with some brief commentary of his own. I don’t really see what you or anyone else is concerned about. Journalists, including prominent bloggers, do not have to offer references for ever single factual claim made. Cases of slander are brought by those who think they have been slandered. Journalists generally don’t have to be accountable to “Joe public” for their references, although it is right for Joe public to call them out if they believe a factual error has been made.
This could be shown to be slanderous in the following ways:
a) The attorney addresses these news reports and corrects them by saying he is in fact pro-abortion. (or other evidence to this effect).
b) The female CEO addresses the reports to say she is in fact a Democrat voter. (or other evidence to this effect).
I’m not holding my breath for either of these things to happen.
Also, journalists have a much wider range of freedom with regard to detraction than do the rest of us. These are rightly public interest stories and there is no detraction in reporting them.
In sum, without evidence to the contrary, I see no slander or detraction here.
Thank you underacloud for your analysis.
It could be true but there is no proof to substantiate the claim.
Posting the articles are not the problem. The problem is when he injects unsubstantiated information that slants the conversation.
They should have to reference for this claim. Considering its the only claim that is essentially made. The news articles in question are not in dispute.
Bloggers aren’t journalists by ANY stretch of the imagination but they should be for significant claims that they can’t back up.
Neither am I!
Perhaps slander or detraction is the wrong word but you can’t tell me that Mr. Shea can say whatever he wants and not be held accountable.
This is something of a grey area, but some bloggers are certainly journalists.
Mark Shea blogs for the National Catholic Register; this makes him a journalist by any measure.
So, he does enjoy the freedom in these matters that other journalists enjoy.
No journalist can say “whatever he wants”. But there is more leeway than for regular people or bloggers who don’t write for recognised journalist sites (ie “the press”).
I see nothing wrong with what Shea said - provided it is actually true (regardless of whether he substantiates it).
I hope saintjohnxxiii doesn’t mind me chiming in but I think the problem is more to do Mr. Shea’s biases.
If you read his Patheos blogs and his FB page you will see he is quite critical of the Pro-Life movement in General as being suckers for the Republican party and not being morally consistent by not tackling gun culture.
Also while he is critical of Democrats, he is far more critical of the Republican party and while there is no problem with that in general, nevertheless, it hurts his credibility when makes unsubstantiated claims for the purpose of marginalizing them.
Another way of looking at it is this, Sean Hannity is a journalist too, but I wouldn’t listen to him as an unbiased source of information about the President or Democrats in general.
A dictionary could give you the answer you want…
It’s lying simply by definition.
the action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation.
“he is suing the TV network for slander”
a false and malicious spoken statement.
plural noun: slanders
“I’ve had just about all I can stomach of your slanders”
synonyms: defamation (of character), character assassination, calumny, libel; More
verb: slander; 3rd person present: slanders; past tense: slandered; past participle: slandered; gerund or present participle: slandering
make false and damaging statements about (someone).
“they were accused of slandering the head of state”
synonyms: defame (someone’s character), blacken someone’s name, tell lies about, speak ill/evil of, sully someone’s reputation, libel, smear, cast aspersions on, spread scandal about, besmirch, tarnish, taint; More