September 06, 2012

Airing the Family Laundry: Libel, Slander and Defamation of Character (Part One and Two)


Charles Courtney Curran "Shadows" 


"Freedom of speech is the foundation of a functioning democracy." Guide for Bloggers


I've been on both sides of the Blogger's Rights controversy. I've been written about (ouch!) and I've written about people, some of whom were okay with it and some who felt betrayed. I can speak to my personal experiences but I cannot offer legal advice to anyone. Help yourself and visit the overwhelming number of links embedded in my article because I am not an attorney thank God, and I am not an expert on the law no shit, and my interpretation of libel laws should be limited to my pocketbook not yours. Take my explanations with a grain of salt and if you decide to blog about your experiences, leave a link to your website. I'd love to read what you have to say. It surprises me that we haven't had more libel discussions in the blogosphere since what we are writing about on narcissism blogs is indecorous to say the least. And since narcissists are identified by their thin-skins, relentless desire for revenge, and their litigious proclivities, we should familiarize ourselves with Bloggers' Rights. 

What you need to know concerning the Electronic Frontier is that there's enough legal ambiguity to allow anything you have written (blogs are considered publishing) to be used as grounds for libel if the person you are writing about is: a) identifiable; b) suffers a loss. If they have deep pockets with access to attorneys and are sufficiently offended, they could pursue litigation even when they know they can't win. A successful lawsuit resulting in financial compensation is unlikely, though judges have forced the removal of offensive material. What will happen for sure if the people you're writing about find your blog and recognize themselves is that they won't suddenly have a change of heart. They'll get pissed. They'll hate you, even though your motivations were pure as the driven snow, or even more likely, if they weren't. Let me remind readers that on blogs like mine---we get down and dirty, willing to wrestle with ugly truths about others and ourselves. We are attempting to understand and CHANGE dysfunctional behaviors because by the time we create a blog, we realize that the only person we can change is ourselves.

Our change can influence other people's change...but only if they allow it. And this is a wild west guess, but I'd bet my best washtub that siblings don't draw closer together after reading a blog that uses their family dynamics as perfect examples of dysfunctional behavior. I have a sneaky, sneaky suspicion that this writer has heretofore been suspended from future dinners for time and all eternity pass the trifle and whipped cream please. I suppose a strong-armed authority could, possibly, blindfold me, plug my ears and sit me at the table after forcing me to swear an oath and cross my heart and hope to die stick a pin in my eye should I ever dare tell a hyperbole again. This post might be the death knell for sure and if y'all don't hear from me in the next twenty-four hours, please check your newspapers. Imagine the headlines: "Judge Gags Prolific Blogger Who Has NOT Shut Her Mouth in TEN Long Years!"

I'm kinda like the Julian Assange of ickiLeaks right now. Persona non grata, that's me.

Maybe my involvement with recovery work is why I'm not ashamed airing my family's laundry in public. Maybe I'm so seasoned to rigorous self-honesty that shadows behind bleached sheets don't frighten me. Maybe I forget that people who haven't immersed themselves in Adult Child Recovery work, are shocked when the family's underwear flaps in circulating breezes.  After all, the first rule of the dysfunctional family is the No Talk Rule. (And remember: all families are dysfunctional in their own peculiar way). Family members collude in maintaining the status quo, pretending perfection, passing unhealthy behaviors to the next generation who dare not defy the sacrosanct family story. And so the story goes as unhealthy behaviors rigidify into generational patterns.

Breaking the No Talk Rule divides family members against each other and who hasn't experienced this after recognizing dysfunction and making an effort to change? Talking about problems may isolate a family from their community, too. The No Talk Rule came about for good reason. If we value our reputation, unabashed honesty could threaten our status IF other people don't reciprocate such breathtaking veracity. This happens in religious communities which unfortunately (and unintentionally) stifle honesty, admission of mistakes, and individual authenticity since deviation from 'the ideal' invites gossip, judgement, even ostracism.  In recovery communities however, there's a refreshing acceptance of dysfunction as normal. In recovery communities, nobody flinches when we admit we're a mess, our family's a mess, and the family we thought we were protecting from our family-of-origin's messiness, is still a godawful mess. Maybe even worse Lord help us we surely need it.

For all the criticism directed towards self-help groups (notwithstanding critical scrutiny which is good-and-necessary), our willingness to confront familial patterns has improved the psychological health of our general community. I believe this. I also believe communication with those who are working through childhood issues is essential to a healthy future---an even better society than the one we inherited. I know from experience that our willingness to confront dysfunction will, without a doubt, piss a lot of people off. But if nobody's mad, nothing's changing. Nothing will change. 

Not all of the time but some of the time, it is true that dysfunctional families lack problem-solving skills. They avoid confronting one another since everyone would rather pretend and hope for the best. They lack negotiation skills to get to the root of the conflict. They don't trust each other, often perceiving malicious intentions where there are none. Some behave like victims without trusting their ability (or a family member's willingness) to negotiate solutions. They dig in their heels, refuse to compromise---as if compromise is a dirty word---and there's no conclusion that's acceptable other than punishment. Their knee-jerk reaction? Hire an attorney. "Come hell or high water, that blogger needs a flogger!"

I forget sometimes how shameful it was to admit my life wasn't perfect and that I had, indeed, and despite my best of intentions and efforts, married someone who could not love his family back. You get used to being criticized when you wear my shoes and you learn to steel your nerves and you learn to gird your loins and you learn to accept people's judgments about you, for there but for the grace of God go they.

Being part of the Internet Brigade for Mental Health since 2002, makes me a WWW Veteran in a way. Statistics suggest women of my age are fewer than other age groups using the Internet to work through relationship problems but for me, blogging was a natural fit. I like it much better than the key-locked diary I lost my key to and had to cut open with garden scissors to destroy the bitchy pages written about my sisters. 

And now, you've arrived at Part Two, the really serious stuff. You can come back later to read part two if by this point, your eyeballs have fallen out of their sockets. 


PART TWO

Defamation of Character
The Right to Privacy
Libel or Slander
Hyperbole & Opinion in Context
The Chilling Effect
Blogger's Rights



Cyberspace is most definitely a new world from the print-world I grew up in when the printed word (newspapers and magazines) was the only source of information. Retractions for false information couldn't be edited at a moment's notice and people had no voice for opposition if they didn't own a printing press. Libel suits were integral to a fair and just society because reputations could be ruined and financial losses irreparable by the time a retraction could be published.  This is not our reality today. Our first action ought be contacting the author. Working things out. Resolving our differences. Not hiring an attorney. 


Defamation of Character & Our Right to Privacy

Defamation is"any intentional false communication, either written or spoken, that harms a person's reputation; decreases the respect, regard, or confidence in which a person is held; or induces disparaging, hostile, or disagreeable opinions or feelings against a person."

In the "civilian" population without much (if any) recovery, people protect their image/facade as if it were life or death and it might be. Losing status is nothing to diminish. We are vested in protecting our name and we are driven to present ourselves in the best of light. We realize that being anything less than perfect invites water cooler gossip, juicy rumors, rejection and isolation, even justified bullying. It may not be healthy serving as martyrs to the No Talk Rule; but it's no picnic being rejected by your community either. In recognition of the importance of one's name and reputation, everyone's right to privacy should be respected. In order to protect us from one another and our varying degrees of comfort with disclosure, we have laws:
"Some jurisdictions allow lawsuits for the publication of private facts. In California, for example, the elements are (1) public disclosure; (2) of a private fact; (3) that is offensive to a reasonable person; and (4) which is not a legitimate matter of public concern. 
Publication on a blog would generally be considered public disclosure. However, if a private fact is deemed "newsworthy," it may be legal to print it even if it might be considered "offensive to a reasonable person." ~On Privacy, EFF organization
Any fact that has not been disclosed to the public and would be considered offensive to a reasonable person, establishes precedent for a lawsuit. If you know for a fact that your neighbor had a sex-change operation, don't publish this information unless you enjoy spending money and time defending yourself.

Read more about privacy laws at the Electronic Frontier Foundation's webpage on Privacy: Legal Guide for Bloggers. Please note that laws vary from country to country and in the USA, laws vary from state to state. 

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Is it: a) Libel; b) Slander; c) Butthurt?

Libel is a written defamation; slander is a spoken defamation. Be sure you don't slander someone's character while attempting to garner support for your libel suit. On recovery blogs like mine, talking shit about people is called The Smear Campaign; i.e.: ruining someone's reputation and maligning their character to prove they are inferior retrogrades deserving of a public flogging. If you believe your character has been defamed by someone's online writing, or if someone believes YOU have defamed their character, then according to EFF's Online Defamation Law, the following elements must be met. The defamatory material must be: 
1-[in] a publication to one other than the person defamed; 
2- a false statement of fact; 
3- that is understood as:
          a. being of and concerning the plaintiff; and 
          b. tending to harm the reputation of plaintiff 
*If the plaintiff is a public figure, he or she must also prove actual malice.   
As an attorney wrote, "Butthurt is not defamation. Butthurt is butthurt, and you don't get paid for that." So take a deep breath and ask yourself the following questions before seeking legal redress or sending written threats. I know you want to defend yourself initially because I felt reactionary, too. BUT ask yourself:

1- Was the offensive statement or article true or false?
2- Did more than one person read it?
3- Was your/her/his sexual chastity compromised?
4- Were you/they accused of a crime?
5- Were you/they accused of having a loathsome disease?
6- Was your/their workplace compromised?
7- Did you/they suffer financial losses as a result of the published material?  

EFF, Online Defamation  "A statement of verifiable fact is a statement that conveys a provably false factual assertion, such as someone has committed murder or has cheated on his spouse. To illustrate this point, consider the following excerpt from a court (Vogel v. Felice) considering the alleged defamatory statement that plaintiffs were the top-ranking "Dumb Asses" on defendant's list of "Top Ten Dumb Asses." A statement that the plaintiff is a "Dumb Ass," even first among "Dumb Asses," communicates no factual proposition susceptible of proof or refutation."

The case against John Hoff, aka Johnny Northside "The Star Tribune reports that the appeals court ruled in Moore v. Hoff that Hoff can’t be liable if the information he posted is true." Read about the Moore v. Hoff case HERE  

Barrett versus Rosenthal  "Judge Richman dismissed the case (against Rosenthal only) under the California anti-SLAPP statute, which is intended to stop lawsuits that are "brought primarily to chill the valid exercise of the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and petition for redress of grievances." The court further ordered that all three plaintiffs pay Rosenthal's attorney's fees." 

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Hyperbole and Opinion in context 

"...context matters: courts have held that given the nature of online forums, online comments cannot be taken as seriously as those made in real life or in the media. Because of these requirements, bringing a claim for internet libel is a challenge." the Legality 

In the context of the workplace, blogging about the boss isn't the smartest thing a person could do.  So any advice suggesting people avoid writing about their workplace (while AT work especially, duh) makes sense if you need a salary to pay for your Internet connection.  You can read about a popular blogger being fired for writing about her workplace.

I read several articles in preparation for this post and most of them suggested it was ill-mannered and probably not-very-wise to write about family and friends. However, in context of the recovery community, personal narrative and disclosure are de rigueur. Readers expect a certain type of blog when reading about narcissism. We don't expect love stories---unless the blog is seriously pathological and merits being flagged as inappropriately ludicrous like Chicken Soup for the Soul-less or something. We expect bloggers to write from the gut, interspersing emotion-laden anecdotes, not clinical appendages suitable for publication in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. We expect to see a cooperative blog where people share their troubles with one another; i.e.: airing out the family linen together.

On blogs like mine, self-disclosure is i-m-p-e-r-a-t-i-v-e. Bloggers connect the dots between past and present which will, if we are doing our recovery work, focus on family dynamics. Bloggers write about sensitive topics such as: family patterns and dysfunctional behaviors; internalized beliefs and assumptions; distinctions between normal and pathological behavior; traumatic events; intimate details in relationships; our thoughts, behaviors and reactions to other people's thoughts, behaviors and reactions; and never forget: the armchair diagnosis based on accessible information about pathology. We do not expect bloggers to be professional psychologists so whatever diagnosis bloggers have determined best fits, is not libelous. It's opinion. 
"Generally, the non-libelous examples are hyperbole or opinion, while the libelous statements are stating a defamatory fact." ~EFF's Online Defamation Law
For example, I have written on my sidebar that my X-husbaNd is a "Rat Bazturd." Is that libel? Well, it's not libel, it's rhetorical hyperbole and it's also my well-informed opinion. The statement that he is a "Rat Bazturd" communicates no factual proposition susceptible of proof or refutation and is therefore a non-actionable item of opinion. In the context of my blog's subject matter, calling him a "Rat Bazturd" is being generous and I should win an award for uber-kindness.

How about if I had written that my X-husbaNd was a murderer? Well, he's not a murderer as far as I know, so that would be a false statement. Grounds for libel. Being accused of murder would affect his ability to earn a living, not that it matters since the rat bazturd hasn't worked for close to ten years but who's counting? Hypothetically though, calling him a murderer would be a verifiable fact resulting in a measurable loss to him thus allowing financial recompense from me for having defamed his character. I could however, in context of my blog about psychopathology, say he had murdered my soul and this would not be libelous. And if perchance the judge had divorced a narcissist too, s/he'd send my X-husbaNd to Heartbreak Hotel Jail 'cuz she'd know first-hand about soul thieves. 

"Other users have the right to sue you for defamation if they can prove you damaged their reputation or good name with false information.  You can be sued for libel if another user can prove you have distributed defamatory statements about them in a public area---such as a news group or mailing list." ~Link

"A Minnesota trial court did not violate the First Amendment rights of man [Arlotta] by entering a harassment-restraining order that forced him to remove a blog about his relationship with his former girlfriend...Arlotta created a blog called “Help Anna Johnson” that documented his relationship problems with Johnson. It questioned her mental health and stability. Arlotta sent messages about the blog to her relatives, friends and high school classmates. He also sent a message to her employer." ~Takedown of man's blog harassing X-girlfriend UPHELD  


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Charles Courtney Curran  "A Breezy Day"
The Chilling Effect

So let's say you've read enough high-profile stories about libel suits that you're afraid. I know your "self-silencing" pattern of behavior has risen to the fore (don't try to fool me. I'm on to your reindeer games!) You're thinking about deleting your blog just because someone might be offended and besides, the last thing you want to do is go to court. This is called The Chilling Effect and blowhards count on scaring critics into gluing their blogging fingers to their arses. Political bullies capitalize on the l'il people's litigation fears, too. So do big businesses, celebrities, organizations with more money to spend than pajama-clad bloggers in basements. It's what we learn about dysfunctional families: you don't have to beat up ALL the kids. Just one.
"A chilling effect may be caused by legal actions such as the passing of a law, the decision of a court, or the threat of a lawsuit; any legal action that would cause people to hesitate to exercise a legitimate right (freedom of speech or otherwise) for fear of legal repercussions. When that fear is brought about by the threat of a libel lawsuit, it is called libel chill." ~Wikipedia
Narcissists use intimidation to frighten people into silencing themselves. And if the narcissist has more money to spend than yourself, you may back down even though his case has no merit, which is exactly what he intends for you to do. But the law is on to these guys.
"The court agreed that "subjecting Internet service providers and users to defamation liability would tend to chill online speech."~Barrett versus Rosenthal
Don't let the fear that you 'might' be sued stand in the way of speaking your truth.  I would imagine that more than one blogger writing about narcissism has been warned---finger in the blogger's nose---that should she write even ONE WORD disparaging the narcissist's most excellent reputation and untarnished character, that she would be sued into the netherworld of Hell. And yet, here we are---still blogging, still learning, still fighting for healthier relationships by opening the doors on dysfunction...whether people like being written about or not.

The chances that you will be sued are slim-to-none if you follow Good Faith practices protecting your anonymity. If you're the one being unjustly written about, be careful reading websites sponsored by ambulance-chasing attorneys who'll feed your greed and your desire for revenge. You're better off  toughening your own thin-skin and keeping the narcissist away from your blog, than you are engaging in litigation that could cost thousands of dollars and a decade of your life. And what for? So you could tell the narcissist she was a scuz? So you could stick it to the person who said you were scuzzy? I am preaching to myself as much as anyone because it isn't easy defending people's right to free speech when you're seriously butthurt from something they said or wrote about you.

"FirstAmendment Center A local court official has found that a blog that mocks a Northern California newspaper reporter is “rude and boorish” but is allowed under the First Amendment." 

Citizen Media Law Project "SLAPP stands for "Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation." It refers to a lawsuit filed in retaliation for speaking out on a public issue or controversy. You might be "SLAPPed" for actions such as posting a blog entry, posting a comment on another person's blog, writing a letter to the editor of a newspaper, testifying before the legislature, reporting official misconduct, or circulating a petition. Often, SLAPPs are brought by corporations, developers, or government officials against individuals or community organizations that oppose their actions." 

"[The] cyberSLAPP aims at chilling free speech by intimidating critics with the prospect of defending an expensive lawsuit. But it also often aims at uncovering the identity of the anonymous critic."


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If you are concerned about your blogging rights and if you would like more information about your protections under the First Amendment, visit the Chilling Effects website: a joint project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF.org) and Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, University of San Francisco, University of Maine, George Washington School of Law, and Santa Clara University School of Law clinics.

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Blogger's Rights

Bloggers have rights and for valid reasons. Some bloggers are writing about oppressive regimes, bringing human rights violations to global attention and putting their lives on the line to do so. Some bloggers put their jobs on the line, acting as whistle blowers to corruption. All bloggers everywhere create a collective voice recording a social history of what we're thinking and what we're doing; how we're changing; recording rights and wrongs---sharing the best and the worst of our human experience.

1- Know your rights. I hope this blog article is a good start on educating yourself. I had taken my right to free speech for granted and never realized the privilege it is, stating my opinion without political reprisals 

2- Tell the Truth. Always good policy. It is the only way to heal. If you are concerned about litigation, keep records with dates and times for every incident you're writing about. If you're worried, document.

3- Write anonymously. Avoid any identifiers of the people you're writing about. The goal is to share your experience. You needn't name-the-narcissist in order to heal. Revenge may be sweet but it always has a price.

4-Ask an attorney to review your blog. If you want to file a libel suit, consult a reputable attorney.

5- Purchase Insurance coverage General liability may be available under your homeowner's policy. If you receive any monies including donations, homeowner insurance may not apply. I read one story from a blogger who called his homeowner insurance to see if he was covered and they canceled his insurance policy.

Lily Spencer "The Jolly Washerwoman"

Wishing each of you Safe and Happy Blogging,

CZ


RESOURCES

Wikipedia: Defamation per se

Wikipedia: Defamation

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Blogger's Rights 

On The Media

Chilling Effects

First Amendment Center

Citizen Media Law Project 

California Anti-SLAPP Project 

Federal Trade Commission
This article by Ethan Zuckerman speaks to an even more complex level of anonymity for bloggers reporting on global events and corruption 

Laundry images located here: It's About Time 

22 comments:

  1. CZ, you are a godsend. (note: I'm an agnostic, but that turn of phrase really applied.)

    Fantastic post. I think you have answered just about all of the questions I have ever had (or could have had) about this issue that I think we've ALL probably wondered about at some time or another.

    I don't have enough thank-yous in my pocket for this.

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    1. Hi there Jonsi! I am absolutely delighted to share what I'm learning with fellow bloggers. You've just made my posting worth it, because I spent about a week in cyberspace reading this and that and trying to make sense out of complicated language nobody can understand but those with legal degrees.

      And since the majority of the bloggers I've known are NOT legal experts, we need a more user-friendly explanation of our blogger's rights.

      Then I stumbled on the Electronic Frontier Foundation (eff.org) and everything cleared up in a few minutes of reading---which meant I could go back to articles written in jargonese and understand more than I did the first time.

      Thank you so very much for reading my long article (took a couple of days to put together even after reading for days). I am grateful to be retired and have enough free time to do this. I know that most of you are busy working and taking care of your families. That's the bright side to being divorced and single, ha!

      Hugs,
      CZ

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    2. I'm with Jonsi. You are a godsend. Your blog was the one that started me up. Writing has had a salutary effect on me. The information you provide here is so lucid, so valuable, such a great service to us all. CZ, honestly, you are such a force for good in the world. I know you won't like that (you're not seeking sainthood god knows), but the way you present information, your equanimity, your fair-mindedness and generosity, THANKS.
      And I'm pretty sure you are safe! At least from a lawsuit!

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    3. wow...well gosh, CS...I hope my blog inspires an army of ACoNs to start writing since nearly every person who does, discovers a power within they didn't realize they had. Writing puts things into perspective and for some of us: restores our SANITY.

      I was thinking about the ACoN community and why blogging is so important. If you ever attended 12-step meetings, you've likely heard the cliche: "Your head is a bad neighborhood to visit alone."

      Talking with other people interrupts unhealthy rumination and even obsessiveness. That's been my experience and believe you me, I know a lot about obsessiveness. ha!

      You've added so much to the dialog already, CS. I'm sure anyone who reads your blog is grateful you started writing!

      Hugs,
      CZ

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  2. Also, something I've always thought about while blogging is that we're a group of people who don't have a "support group" in real life to go to. Alcoholics and gamblers have theirs, but ACoNs don't, and this online community just may be the start of it.

    Of course the narcs want to silence us. That's just more of the same, isn't it? They can't have us "running around damaging their good names" right? Yeah...because it's really US making THEM look like the bad guys. Not them.

    Seriously. This post rocked.

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    1. What you've said is a very important point that's certainly not lost on me. Where do you go to talk about dysfunction and narcissism? If you join your local quilting group and start talking about patriarchal abuse, they'll stick you with their needles and sew your mouth shut. I mean seriously, who are you going to talk with?

      A lot of people have the resources and the time to spend years in therapy. Some of us don't have extra cash for that and our insurance policies won't pay for it anyway. To just sit in our 'shit' and let it fester rather than working through our issues with people who don't shame, blame and "sue" us for defamation, perpetuates dysfunction. We start out with unhealthy behaviors and if left uncorrected, those behaviors turn into traits and pretty soon, you're the lonely old cat lady shooting passersby and muttering to yourself.

      I wanted to get healthy. I needed other people to hear me and bear me. My instincts about finding the right place to work through my issues (and they are 'my' issues), were pretty good. Even talking as gently as I have about our family dynamics, has upset people to the point they think I'm a horrible person who should be silenced.

      Ya know, if anyone oughta sue me, it should be my X whom I have ripped to shreds for his despicable choices. If HE coulda sued me, he woulda. And he has not. I think the depth of his pathology extends to Vaknin-esque notoriety-----because he enjoys being a rat bazturd and asshole. He kinda likes being hated and feared.

      His narcissism is unlike the thin-skinned narcissism each of us deals with when we're insulted or criticized. I mean seriously--I'm pretty rubbery to insults but there's just something about seeing your name in print that jolts your entire being. Then you have to use the SKILLS you learned in Adult Child Recovery Groups to keep yourself from reacting.

      Honestly? I have NEVER met a person YET who would not BENEFIT from participating in Adult Child Recovery. Co-dependent literature, 12-step, the Inner child workshops, John Bradshaw---there are so many resources now that don't cost an arm and a leg. I really don't understand why some people are sooooooooooo resistant. Continued self-help for the past twenty years-plus is why I get along so well with my family (or DID, ha!). I thank my first therapist in 1989 for the lovely relationship I have today with both of my aging parents.

      We need to find a safe group of people who allow us to process our experience however we must---instead of trying to silence us because they refuse to process theirs. ;-P

      Hugs x 2,
      CZ

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    2. Another Jonsi coattail, for me. This is our support group. We need this for our mental and spiritual health.

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    3. I intend to write a few most posts about blogging legalities and update my blog with current law cases. There's no point wasting time worrying about being sued if there's no possibility for that to happen.

      We should talk about blogging legalities openly so people can protect themselves from the very beginning---before they 'get' a threatening letter to take down their blog (or pay $$$).

      Who needs the stress????

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    4. I think that the only genuine danger is probably disinheritance and alienation. But in this litigious age, we must always be careful. The blogs we write and respond to should be where we feel safe to de-stress and examine our lives. They are, after all, OUR lives. Our lives. We do, after all, live in a free country. We are guaranteed free speech. Consequences we cannot prevent: being cut out of a will; being bad-mouthed; getting hate mail. But if we continue to be anonymous, I hope we'll be ok. I'm trying to carry on with my blog without letting fear of discovery by FOO take over. If at some point the whole blog disappears, it will be because I think my identity's been compromised. If that happens, I'll continue to weigh in on yours, and others' blogs. Thanks for this unbelievable helpful, substantive, thorough post CZ. Your writing and intelligence, I'm always reminded, are what started me off in my own blog. Thank you.

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  3. I love you CZ and haven't asked you this in awhile... will you marry me?

    Of course, you can't put that in writing ya' know! :)

    Your commitment to speaking truth and educating others is awesome.

    thanks my friend -- and wow -- we're coming up to ten years!!!!!!

    (I do have an affinity for exclamation marks!)

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    1. I am still considering your first proposal, Louise but must confess that you have a few competitors at this point. I haven't quite made the switch since the only marriage proposals I get are from women.

      My Dad predicted the other day that his eldest daughter (me) would NEVER get married again. I asked him why he'd say such a thing since I am pretty cute and own my own house. He said, "You've had too much freedom to ever go back!!"

      hahahahaha!! I love my Dad but I sure didn't used to. Goddess bless my teachers and guides who have accompanied me to hell and back.

      You love exclamation marks, too? You must have watched the embedded video in my sidebar---those precious children and their brilliant teacher who's teaching them how to 'connect' with other people and communicate. They said we shouldn't use lots of exclamation points, but that's a bit excessive, don't you think?????????????????????

      I'm so happy that you're still blogging, Louise. You're one of my anchors!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Love you, too!
      CZ




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  4. What's up CZ?
    I used to know this old guy that was a navigator in a B-25 Mitchell in WWII. I forgot how many missions he said he flew, but he said he felt more at ease flying through the ack-ack (anti-aircraft fire) than he did on the ground.
    If some hack wants to threaten me with a libel suit, he knows where to find me. He isn't going to punching my v-card when it comes to making a court room appearance.

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    1. Hi fearless bodacious Q1605!

      Ah, you really know how to sweet talk a WWW veteran, don't you? Sharing stories about missions over anti-aircraft territory literally brings tears to me old eyes. ;-)

      I love high-risk blogging so much that my diaries are stark-empty. I have about twenty gorgeous journals people have given me and I shoulda been more quick on the uptake. I think they'd rather I scrawled my complaints and hid them in an armoire, than posting them online for the entire world to see.

      Not that anyone knows who I am...I've been anonymous since 2002 but people who read me know me---maybe even better than those who see me but don't see me at all.

      "What's up?"

      There is no valid lawsuit against me as far as I know today. There was a threat of being sued which scared me a little bit because I was ignorant about Online Libel suits. There isn't a leg to stand on concerning my blog, but that doesn't mean someone with lots o' money couldn't sue anyway.

      I really wanted my fellow bloggers to dig into this topic and take precautions to avoid spending time in court. Even if a libel suit is frivolous, the whole ordeal is stressful and we’ve had enough of that already, right?

      And NOW, because of all the literature on the web, I am really inspired to learn more about Free Speech and the First Amendment! Digging in to blogger's rights will continue to fascinate me for a while. I'm a bit of a researcher and once an idea is fixated in my brain, there's no stopping the obsession.

      Hugs to you,
      CZ

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    2. I had a person threatening me with all kinds of....threats. He said it was obvious who I was referring to in my posts.
      Ummm. Not so much until you came on and used your real name and location and so one and so on.
      Even had a lawyer send me a letter.
      I guess when I didn't roll over and play dead it just wasn't any fun.
      Who knows.
      How about not being a flaming jack ass 24/7 and no one would be calling you out on you s***

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    3. That's the thing---people are so upset when they think the entire world is reading your blog and recognizing who they are. It's a bit egotistical though I can remember how it felt the first time someone wrote a shitty summary about me and posted it for the entire galactic empire to read. It's shocking, which allows me to give folks the benefit of the doubt if they've never served their time on the WWW.

      There are about two hundred MILLION blogs at this point. Maybe more. Blogger won't release definite numbers of users. Some estimates are at about 400 million which seems a bit high but how the heck would I know?? Even using the lower estimate should help people put their butthurt in perspective.

      I plan on writing about what we can do when WE see ourselves being flamed in cyberspace. Do you have any steps or tips you can offer? When you got the letter from the attorney, what did you do?

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    4. I didn't do anything. I did reel it in. For a while. It was only one post.
      It was a mess really. It was my wife's ex husband and the letter was a general, all purpose, dressing down. It mainly focused on my criminal blog and yada yada yada.
      In hindsight I'm glad he took it there. It broke me in on threats and also about being personally scorched out in the blog-o-sphere. Now I don't care who says what so it worked in my favor.
      He was relentless and when I came to the understanding that he was going to keep it up no matter what I figured F it. What have I got to lose? He isn't stopping so I might as well tell him what I think. (I had pulled the post that set him off the instant he found it)
      If you want to read how I turned his tide you can see it here.:
      http://rumblestripq.blogspot.com/2012/05/lord-of-flies.html

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    5. Well sheesh! That was quite romp through stalker country, Q. Thanks for the link...I must not have been reading your blog regularly when that ruckus as going on. (it's kinda hard to keep up with everyone's blogs so I miss a lot of posts unfortunately).

      You had some powerful back-up, though. I was laughing out loud at the comments!! It can be extremely unsettling when someone suddenly appears out of the blue and starts harassing the blogger. My first experience had me shaking in my slippers...and TW wasn't there to scorch the harasser's hide. ha!

      I'm assuming you didn't receive a 'formal' letter from an attorney and that there isn't an official lawsuit against you?

      I would be very interested in hearing from people who have dealt with a libel suit because of what they've written on blogs like mine.

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  5. It appears to me in view of the reality (yes, I just typed that word) Narcs believe it's ALL about THEM, ALL the time, I could be writing about the antics of the raccoons in my backyard and I guarantee some Narc would be convinced I was cyber stealth-slapping them somehow. Add massive amounts of paranoia to the "Thou Shalt Not Talk" Law, mix with above referenced attorneys and see if you can scare the truth tellers into silence.
    BWHAHAHAAA! And there it is, another criteria-delusions of grandeur. ;)
    Blog ON.
    TW

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    1. Hello dear Tundra,

      How are you? I can't even read blogger comments without hoping you've added your two cents, or ten---whatever you've got in your pocket.

      The problem, as you have astutely pointed out---is the 'interpretation'. During the past decade, I've emailed lots of people, talked with hundreds of people via email and done my very best to resolve online disputes.

      There have only been a handful of disputes when no matter what I wrote, my words were distorted and contorted into malicious attacks on the receiver's character. I could NOT believe it the first time it happened---it was like being hog-tied while the fire-setter threw gasoline and matches in my face, screaming as loud as she could, "CZ's trying to kill me!!!!"

      You're damned if you respond to these folks, and you're damned if you don't. But it is always a surprise when someone perceives an attack when there wasn't one. When they twist things around to believe YOU are criticizing them when in fact, you forgot they even existed. When I refer to myself as a WWW Veteran, there's substantiation to the claim. ha! Anyone who has managed an online forum understands completely what managers go through when people get butthurt over someone's comment.

      And yes, I've suffered my share of butthurt, too. But I never even once, considered filing a suit. Although people have threatened me for years now---even taking screenshots of my Hitlerian abuses. hahaha! I have thought to myself, "Thank God she's not my sister."

      I hope you're in good health, Tundra. I think of you often and am glad to hear from you today.

      Hugs,
      CZ

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    2. TW as well as some other bloggers caught my back in the sling fest. That woman can turn a phrase and she sent my stalker out to the Kuiper Belt.

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  6. Thanks CJ for this timely post (although with the craziness of beginning school, I just read it today.) I was careful to disguise the identity of the N who cast his dark shadow over my life when I wrote my Close Encounter with a Narcissist series. But as the years have passed, I've let down my guard a bit and revealed more comments, details. This is a reminder to keep my guard up....just in case. Always good advice when there are Ns out there! Who knew there was so much great art related to laundry!

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    1. Hello Jan,

      I'd never realized how much we take our freedom of speech for granted until reading more about online defamation laws. You know, I started blasting my X to smithereens way back in 2002 and didn't think a thing about it. Of course, I protected my identity, so I must have a guardian angel somewhere 'cuz my brain had definitely taken a leave of absence.

      And the other thing that is curious to me: authoring books. What about people who write books, which so many of us are encouraged to do. We probably don't hear about the lawsuits because surely the person we're writing about wants to protect his or her reputation. I guess even in that case, the trick is to tell the truth. You can't be stopped from telling about your life and if you happened to marry a rat bazturd, he'll be at least part of the story.

      If you married a narcissistic rat bazturd, he or she will be the WHOLE story and you'll get a footnote or maybe two if yer lucky.

      I LOVED the LAUNDRY pictures too and gave credit to the blogger who had collected them on her extra-wonderful website!

      Hugs,
      CZ

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