Is Slander False?

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SuprunP

Senior Member
Ukrainian & Russian
Inappropriate disclosure of medical information would breach your “patient to provider” confidentiality. In addition to being disrespectful, in the legal world you may commit slander, defaming a person’s character verbally, or libel, defaming in writing.
(NOLS Wilderness Medicine; Tod Schimelpfenig, Joan Safford)

Would you be so kind as to tell me whether I have understood it correctly that 'slander' should not necessarily be false (I've always thought that being false was a defining feature of slander)?

Thanks.
 
  • Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    I clicked on your link. Unfortunately the previous sentence which may have been useful is not fully readable.
    (I've always thought that being false was a defining feature of slander)?
    I don't think it's as simple as that. The writer probably means that disclosing information that the patient may not want others to know could lead to the doctor being held guilty of slander, at least in some places. I can imagine that disclosing that a man is HIV positive and has a history of unprotected sex with prostitutes, for instance, might be considered slander even if it's true, if there was no reason for the doctor to tell others about it, because it can affect that man's reputation.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Would you be so kind as to tell me whether I have understood it correctly that 'slander' should not necessarily be false (I've always thought that being false was a defining feature of slander)?
    What a confusing question! Does a "yes" answer mean that slander is false, or the opposite?

    Anyway, in AE (and in US law) something that is true is not "slander". You can be sued for "slander", but that lawsuit will fail if the things you said aren't false.
     

    SuprunP

    Senior Member
    Ukrainian & Russian
    Thank you!

    What a confusing question! Does a "yes" answer mean that slander is false, or the opposite?
    I've been a student of the inherent ambiguity of the English language for a long time, I reckon I might have finally come dangerously close to mastering it myself.
     

    SuprunP

    Senior Member
    Ukrainian & Russian
    slander The action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person's reputation.
    Would you be so kind as to tell me whether it can be read in either of the two following ways:

    1) The action or crime of making a false spoken statement [that is] damaging to a person's reputation.
    2)
    The action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person's reputation. ~ To cause a false spoken statement to become damaging to a person's reputation (as in 'to make someone happy').

    Thanks.
     
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    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    In English law, slander is the unwritten form of libel. Both of these are defamation: "the publication of a statement which tends to lower a person in the estimation of right-thinking members of society". (Source: L.B.Curzon, Dictionary of Law, Pitman 1990.)

    So slander does not have to be false - it may be true and that is one of the defences against it if the case is brought to court. Here are some examples:
    1. A doctor says in public that a patient has VD. That statement tends to lower the patient in the estimation of right-thinking members of society, so it is slander. If the patient sues him in court, he can defend himself by saying "but it's true". That is a valid defence. So the patient would do far better by suing the doctor for breach of confidentiality.
    2. A doctor says in public that a patient has VD. That statement tends to lower the patient in the estimation of right-thinking members of society, so it is slander. The patent sues him in court, and the doctor admits it was not true. He has no defence and the patient wins thousands in compensation.
    3. A doctor says in response to a parliamentary enquiry that a patient has VD. That statement tends to lower the patient in the estimation of right-thinking members of society, so it is slander. If the patent sues him in court, he can defend himself by saying "but it was on the orders of Parliament; it was privileged". That is a valid defence. The patient shouldn't go there.
    Also, the court cases are notoriously expensive, because this is civil law, not criminal law. The plaintiff has to pay his own lawyer. You can see why most lawyers advise their clients not to sue for slander under current English law.
     
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    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    1) The action or crime of making a false spoken statement [that is] damaging to a person's reputation.

    :thumbsup:
    Your own link gives a good example of what may be considered slander in some countries:
    For example, you may note the patient's breath odor and odd behavior as facts, but to state that he or she is intoxicated without a blood test can be slander, as well as being incorrect.
    So, even though you may be sure that the person is intoxicated based on your experience as a doctor, in the eyes of the law this statement may be considered false as long as it's not proven by a blood test.


    2) The action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person's reputation. ~ To cause a false spoken statement to become damaging to a person's reputation (as in 'to make someone happy').
    o_O I don't understand.
    Do you mean, you want to make a girl happy by telling her "You're so beautiful" even though she's in fact pot-ugly? No, that's not slander. ...although, it might be damaging to your own reputation if somebody hears you... So actually, there is some aspect of slander in there. With a good lawyer you could sue yourself! :D
     

    SuprunP

    Senior Member
    Ukrainian & Russian
    Your own link gives a good example of what may be considered slander in some countries:
    The thing is, it's another paragraph altogether that has little to do with how they chose to express their thoughts in the previous one, which cointains the two sentences in post #1.

    o_O I don't understand.
    2) The action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person's reputation. ~ To cause a false spoken statement to become damaging to a person's reputation. Read it as 'to make it damaging' and not as 'to make a statement'.
    I'll start thinking up different ways of making a statement damaging right after the validity of this reading is confirmed. :)
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    So slander does not have to be false - it may be true and that it one of the defences against it if the case is brought to court.
    This is not so: if it is not false, then it is not slander.
    The existence of slander is entirely dependent upon the statement being both false and damaging1.

    1some statements have to be proven to be damaging, others do not. "Damaging" must refer to a person or legal entity but this is not so where an amorphous group of people or entities is concerned.

    (After this, it becomes rather complicated but the falsity is essential.)
     
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    Bevj

    Allegra Moderata
    English (U.K.)
    This is not so: if it is not false, then it is not slander.
    The existence of slander is entirely dependent upon the statement being both false and damaging


    :tick:

    slander
    n. oral defamation, in which someone tells one or more persons an untruth about another, which untruth will harm the reputation of the person defamed.
    Source
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    The language question has been answered in regard to general usage.
    <Discussions> of interesting legal issues are outside the scope of this forum.

    This thread is closed.

    Cagey, moderator


    < grammar corrected >
     
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