Mar 2, 2009, 5:10 AM
As kids and then young adults we are encouraged to develop and hone social skills and vocal and written abilities are a key and crucial element of such. Yet with such abilities comes extra responsibilities. Yet are aware of the ones that accompany the aforementioned, ignorance not being an excuse? Of more importance is the knowledge of the laws that govern such. One such misdemeanor is defamation.
Defamation—also called calumny, vilification, slander (for transitory statements), and libel (for written, broadcast, or otherwise published words)—is the communication of a statement that makes a claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual, business, product, group, government, or nation a negative image. It is usually a requirement that this claim be false and that the publication is communicated to someone other than the person defamed.
Now there is something called freedom of expression which is a fundamental human right to be exercised. However, I adamantly believe that the expressions should be genuine and honest. Having the right to speak does not mean that one automatically earns the unquestionable right to say whatever, wherever, however. I look around and I see this offence being carried on blatantly and un-abashedly, in schools among peers (verbal bullying), in the workplace among colleagues and shockingly in the household, among kindred. What might be considered idle gossip could have a profoundly negative effect on the victim of defamation. People have lost their jobs over deliberate slander or idle muttering which have reached the ears of authorities, marriages have been ended and homes broken, reputations destroyed and lives untimely ended. That is how powerful the tongue and pen are.
With the tongue, great and thriving nations are built and flourishing empires are destroyed, and with the all important pen (or keyboard) paths are drawn and littered with little white deadly lies. It has been said that the tongue only discloses what the heart (the core of our being) harbors and how apt that proverb is.
A minor s an individual under the age of eighteen. During this time in their lives, kids are under the control and responsibility of their parents. It is the role of their guardians that they raise the children up in the right way, ensuring that when they do grow up, they will not embark on such practices. Growing up is a process that starts from infancy. So in order for a child to grow up healthy minded and ultimately be a credit to their parents and society, the seeds need to be sown right now. Children tend to emulate the behaviourial patterns of the people around them. As the apt proverb goes, ‘bring up a child in the right way so that when he/she grows up, he/she may not depart from it’.
From experience, I can tell you that gossiping is the favourite pastime of most minors. They are at the phase in their life where they talk about anything and everything and barely ever take responsibility for the repercussions.I often say that surviving school is one of the most important landmarks on the way to maturity. Kids have been known to refuse to go to school or in extreme cases do themselves because of a vicious rumour that has been spread about them. Such traumas occur ever so often especially with the introduction of electronic communication gadgets (cell phones, computers) and the greatest invention since electricity, the internet. With the internet comes social networking sites that can be a minor’s best friend and greatest nightmare with just a click.
I believe that even though laws have been put in place to counter such acts, the number that escapes justice is insurmountable to the prosecuted. Sometimes due to lack of evidence but often times cause such offences are deemed minor. I think that conscience should be the most important deterrent of this occurrence. The bottom line is that we should be very mindful of all manners of self expression, especially ones that involve the mouth because the damage done could be hard or impossible to curtail, and its resulting effects possible devastating. I think the following quote say it best “if you haven’t got something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” So if shutting up is what it takes to save a life, I say go right one.It is a mite small price to pay for the greater good wouldn’t you agree.