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tashirosgt
2011-Dec-11, 04:55 PM
Are there examples where a country's libel laws significantly affect how people act at public versus private gatherings? Do people feel significantly more relaxed in their conversations at private gatherings in countries where libel laws are strict? I would expect this to be true in any totalitarian state, but I'm curious about countries where there is a genuine rule of law.

Being from the US, I only exercise slightly more restraint in what I say in public places versus what I say in private gatherings. For example, if I speak my mind in a restaurant, I know there is some risk that an offended patron at a nearby table might stand up and shoot me, but the odds on that are not significantly greater than someone walking in and shooting everybody for reasons unrelated to my remarks. I don't feel significantly more relaxed at a private gathering in someone's home than I do at a restaurant.

swampyankee
2011-Dec-11, 05:08 PM
I've seen British commentators say that the UK's (or at least English) libel laws are at that stage currently. Of course, some countries also have laws about criticizing their heads of state (especially when the head of state is addressed "your majesty").

Do note, pedantically, that "libel" is written, and slander is oral.

HenrikOlsen
2011-Dec-11, 07:34 PM
First of all, the risk of another patron being armed is quite a lot higher in the US than in most other western countries, so regardless of libel/slander laws, the risk of getting shot for saying something is higher too. :)

It's also a rather litigious culture so getting sued is more likely than in many other countries too.

Apart from that, libel laws are very different in different countries.
For some, a successful defense is to prove that the statement made was true, since slander/libel is defined as a pernicious lie.
For others, showing damage is enough for successfully suing, as there it's defined as a pernicious statement, even if true.

I suspect it's used more in the latter countries but don't have any actual numbers.

tashirosgt
2011-Dec-11, 07:45 PM
HenrikOlsen,

Can you comment on whether the libel laws of Denmark have a cultural effect? (I'm assuming you know since I see Denmark in your member info.)

Edit: Or is that Denmark, ND? I don't have a map with lat-lon handy.

HenrikOlsen
2011-Dec-11, 08:37 PM
It's Denmark the country. Libel/slander here requires it to be a lie but the burden of proof is on the defendant to show it true.
Documenting that the statement is true is both sufficient and necessary which has the cultural effect that the media tend to have their sources straight when publishing dirt and libel suits aren't brought in cases where it's true and there's a good chance the defendant can show that.

It also means that it's a reasonably good weapon against false accusations as the defendant is required to show it wasn't a lie.

Gillianren
2011-Dec-11, 09:47 PM
The first case in what is now the United States which showed that proving something is true is a defense against libel was in 1733, and it was considered an astonishing defense at the time.

HenrikOlsen
2011-Dec-11, 10:17 PM
Zenger (http://www.earlyamerica.com/earlyamerica/bookmarks/zenger/) was 1734/35 if that's the case you're thinking of. Arrested November 1734, trial eight months later, in 1735.

Gillianren
2011-Dec-11, 11:25 PM
Wikipedia lied to me! And all I was using it for was the one thing it got wrong!

DoggerDan
2011-Dec-12, 05:52 AM
Are there examples where a country's libel laws significantly affect how people act at public versus private gatherings? Do people feel significantly more relaxed in their conversations at private gatherings in countries where libel laws are strict?

I feel here in the U.S. our laws allow individual to inflict way too much harm on another via the courts, so yes, I do feel significantly more relaxed among friends.

swampyankee
2011-Dec-13, 12:33 AM
I feel here in the U.S. our laws allow individual to inflict way too much harm on another via the courts, so yes, I do feel significantly more relaxed among friends.

I'm not so much worried about being sued for what I say , but pepper-sprayed or have other acts of violence perpetrated upon me.

grapes
2011-Dec-13, 12:49 AM
Wikipedia lied to me! And all I was using it for was the one thing it got wrong!Can you prove wikipedia lied, and did so maliciously?

ETA: Looking around, I can't even find where wiki got it wrong but I did fall into the wiki whirlpool, and I only got out when I came upon this wiki:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Funding_Evil


Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed and How to Stop It is a lie written by counterterrorism researcher



That's gotta be a malicious addition, right?

HenrikOlsen
2011-Dec-13, 02:51 AM
Wikipedia lied to me! And all I was using it for was the one thing it got wrong!
What page?
The one for Zenger himself says 1735 and though it's rather frequently vandalized, it doesn't look like it's had the date changed in one of those cases.

HenrikOlsen
2011-Dec-13, 02:53 AM
Can you prove wikipedia lied, and did so maliciously?

ETA: Looking around, I can't even find where wiki got it wrong but I did fall into the wiki whirlpool, and I only got out when I came upon this wiki:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Funding_Evil

That's gotta be a malicious addition, right?
Vandalism.
Reverted.

HenrikOlsen
2011-Dec-13, 03:13 AM
The first case in what is now the United States which showed that proving something is true is a defense against libel was in 1733, and it was considered an astonishing defense at the time.
The interesting difference isn't there though, but that in e.g. England the burden is on the defendant to prove the statement true, while in the US the burden is on the plaintiff to prove the statement false.
Which means it's easier to bring suit for libel in England because the burden of proof for the plaintiff is less.
Which has resulted in several international libel cases being brought to trial in England rather than the US, resulting is special legislation being made in the US explicitly for the purpose of enabling the countersuing of those plaintiffs under US law in US courts.