Monday, October 04, 2010

No opinions allowed

Let me extend a hypothetical situation. Imagine one of those groups you see quoted in the papers, let's say an independent group that monitors religious activity, produced a report that areas with a high number of religious institutions also had the largest number of violent crimes.

Now imagine I took that report and wrote an article headlined "Religions promote violence" and in said article I took the report and used it as an attack on religion, that it should be abolished, outlawed, etc. etc.

Now imagine that yourself as the free-thinking individual that you are pointed out that my views were a little extreme, could act as propaganda to radical atheists, and that such ideas had been mooted and acted on in the past (and present) by various totalitarian dictators.

Congratulations you've just found yourself in a libel case. Oh not started by me, but by the group that produced the paper. They're claiming you've linked them with totalitarian regimes which is a detriment to their reputation.

Does this all sound insane? Well take a look at this. Yep Sally made comments regarding an article in a paper and now is being sued by the group that wrote the report that the article was based on. As always seems to occur in these instances I doubt anyone linked Sally's remarks to the report until the writers brought it to everyone's attention.

So remember if you state that any such articles produced by a newspaper are in any way 'excessive' you could be defaming the writers of the original report and they might sic their legal team on to you.