Slander and detraction?

If we watch a news program where as they talk about a grave fault of someone else etc., are they committing the sin of slander or detraction? If so, are we too, because we watch it?

“Mud slinging” like they do on TV (on the news or other “public” forum) it’s almost a given that the bad news would be given. I’ve heard the expression “Good news is no news.” So, perhaps they are. But what can we do to hold them accountable? I think the easiest thing to do is to take it all with a grain of salt. It isn’t sinful to hear about this stuff. But it would be if you helped spread this sort of thing. I guess what I’d like to say is, yes it’s detraction/slander. But some of the stuff is actually right. Not always, but sometimes. Watching the news, or listening to it on the radio/reading the newspaper, it isn’t a sin on our part. We could only sin if we knowingly spread stuff about someone that isn’t true, and we know it isn’t true. I hope this makes sense to you. It barely does to me. :shrug:

This is a good question. I also question this in regards to sports shows that have anchors or writers “reporting” news that is not official. I know commonly it is not negative, but nonetheless it is stil speculation. My personal opinion is that certain issues, if it is necessary for the safety of the public and/or is common knowledge, that very well cold be acceptable. I’m speaking candidly, so by no means take what I say as doctrine. I struggle with scrularity, so I know what its like to be anxious on isues (not to say that is what you’re doing).

Slander is lying, or taking things out of context and retelling it.

Detraction is truth that doesn’t “need” to be said, but the media leads determine what gets retold, not us.

If you hear either, you are guilty of neither.

If you retell, then you may be guilty of either.

If, regarding detraction, you say “I am a pro life Catholic vote that, way, regardless of Nancy Pelosi’s agenda,” you’re fine – although she has a right to a good reputation, she is a. a public figure who exposes her opinions and b. has expressed those opinions publicly.

It would, however, be slander to say that Ms. Pelosi is a demon or demon possessed, because there is no proof.

Catechism to the rescue:

2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury.278 He becomes guilty:

  • of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;
  • **of *detraction ***who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them;279
  • of *calumny *who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.

News programs usually (not always) aren’t detraction because the material reported is either in the public record, or the material regards a figure who holds a position with public trust, which would constitute a valid reason for disclosing faults (but that can get dicey).

But this is broad and a more specific example would help.

Thank you for all of the responses, would I be sinning by telling my neighbor about Michael Vorises’ episode when he condemned Cardinal Timothy Dolan for giving communion to Joe Biden?

No. All of that is in the public record.

johnnyt3000 asks :
1)** “If we watch a news program where as they talk about a grave fault of someone else etc., are they committing the sin of slander or detraction? If so,
2) are we too, because we watch it?”**

I will start with question 2: If a person witnesses a person being murdered … is that witness guilty of murder?
Unless that person was part of a conspiracy to murder that person, EVERY witness to that murder (in my mind) is NOT guilty of murder.

I analogize this to the possible “crime” of witnessing a newscaster demeaning people (whether or not this is LEGALLY Slander).
The analogy also goes to the conspiracy of that TV viewer.
If a person watching the “Slander” going on, takes that on slander as his OWN opinion of that person, that may be considered as a Sin (in the same way that the newscaster himself has maybe sinned).

It has something to do with that “weird” thing Jesus said : Judge not other people (and their possible sins), unless you want to be judged fully for your own Sins.

Simply saying that MV had an episode does not seem to be wrong. But caution:

  1. It is too easy to think and or imply that MV was correct in his criticism and to convey your thoughts in that direction.

  2. I have 20 years experience as a government auditor - trying to keep the government honest to the power of one man. I deal mostly with good, honest, sincere people. They tell me forthrightly that something is exactly as they tell me. I listen. THEN I check the records and the rules and often determine that they were significantly wrong in their statements.

  3. The thing to remember is that we seldom get enough RELIABLE facts to make a sound judgment. So we should be very careful what we pass on.

In the example you give, it is highly likely that MV does not have all the facts and passes on a false conclusion. It is unlikely that MV had a sit down with the Cardinal to discuss this issue. It is a certainty that the Cardinal will keep silent about any Confessions. A Cardinal knows more about one’s readiness to receive Holy Communion than a commentator.

Publically condemning a Cardinal with some, but not ALL the facts is a very serious matter. Going public which such statements is the wrong approach. Writing his concerns to the Cardinal’s boss is the proper approach.

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