Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A Legal Primer On Calling Someone "Racist"

In his journalism textbook News Gathering, Ken Metzler writes:
Libel is defined as defamation in writing...Defamation means an untrue and unprivileged statement that tends to hold a person up to public contempt, ridicule, or hatred, or to injure a person's reputation, or to cause a person to be shunned or avoided, or to injure a person in business or professional pursuits."

Some statements are so recklessly extravagant that they should ring alarm bells the moment you hear them. For example, it's dangerous to call (or quote someone as calling) a person any of these terms: "Adulterer, murderer, cheat, blackmailer, racist, embezzler, gangster," and a host of similar terms.
That's why I won't allow recklessly extravagant statements like that here. And I advise the WSU Young Democrats, the YD's "allies," the Daily Evergreen, and the Comparative Ethnic Studies department to do the same.

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