Libel vs Slander
One should find out the difference between libel and slander as libel and slander are two words that we hear too often but remain confused because of their similar meanings. Both words imply defaming a person and both come under the umbrella term defame. Both slander and libel are used to cause harm to a person or an object and have similar effects. Both slander and libel have one thing in common and that is they are false and have no basis. This is why we get to hear so many libel suits going on in courts of law. However, it is wrong to use them interchangeably. This article will highlight the differences between libel and slander so as to enable the reader to make correct usage of these words.
What does Libel mean?
Libel refers to a situation where written words are used to bring defamation to a person. Unlike slander that is hard to prove in a court of law, libel is very easy to prove in a court with the help of a written statement that has been published in a newspaper or a magazine. This is the way the Oxford English dictionary defines liable; “a published false statement that is damaging to a person’s reputation; a written defamation.” Moreover, according to the Oxford English dictionary libel has a derivative called libeler. Also, libel is used as a noun as well as a verb.
What does Slander mean?
Slander is spoken words. Thus, slander is easy to get away with as it becomes difficult to prove something that was heard through word of mouth. However, nowadays, even slander is easy to prosecute with the presence of media as proof of tape-recorded voice can be presented in the court to prove that the slanderer did use foul words. The definition given by the Oxford English dictionary to slander is “the action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation.” This word slander is also used as a noun and a verb.
What is the difference between Libel and Slander?
• Slander and libel are ways to bring disrepute or defamation of a person.
• While slander refers to making use of spoken words to malign a person, libel refers to making use of written words.
• This distinction today stands blurred because of the influence of electronic media.
While the right to express one’s opinions or share one’s views is a hallmark of personal freedom, it is against law to bring disrepute to another person by maligning him or criticizing him without knowing the facts. With the growth of electronic media, the distinction between slander and libel is getting increasingly blurred as any person using slander in a TV program is no different from libel as these words are heard and seen by millions at the same time. This is why defamation through slander on a TV program is considered to be libel in many countries today. Posting false information about a person on a blog or a website also tantamount to libel and is punishable by law.