Re: Transparency, was re: On January 28th, Criminals No Longer Another Face ...

Date: Mon Feb 05 2001 - 14:59:53 MST

Because Greg invoked my name (or some "Tom" at any
rate), I'll just add that the "lower standard" to which
he refers equates to "at least recklessness." In other
words, under U.S. law you will be held liable for
defaming a public figure or public official only if you
speak with willful disregard of the accuracy of your
statement or, to go further, with intentional malice to
harm his/her reputation.

Among the important caveats: Because it relies crucially
on the First Amendment, this is not a principle of
common law systems generally. English courts, to take
one example, find defamation much more readily.

Greg wrote:
>Beyond this, the developing common law of defamation
>of public figures lays out another vector of insight
>into the question. Communications ABOUT people
>found to be "public figures" (which includes all
>government actors doing so in their public capacity)
>are held to a lower standard in the test for
>actionable defamation. (Tom knows more about this
>field, so I hope he'll correct me if I've misstated
>the law.)

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