On Defamation

To be defamatory in Maryland a statement must “expose a person to public scorn, hatred, contempt or ridicule, thereby discouraging others in the community from having a good opinion of, or from associating or dealing with, that person.” Batson v. Shiflett, 325 Md. 684, 722-23 (1992).

Some people are considered to be defamation proof. Such folks have reputations that are so bad that it’s not possible to lower their standing in the community. What could one say about Charles Manson, for example, that would degrade his reputation?

On the other side of the coin, there are people whose reputations for spreading falsehoods are such that nothing they say is taken seriously. Since essentially nothing such persons say is believable, nothing they say exposes their targets to scorn, hatred, contempt, or ridicule. It’s likely that such people are incapable of committing defamation. The ravings of a schizophrenic street person probably aren’t defamatory.

Thus, when a noted liar publishes falsehoods that no reasonable person finds credible, it’s simply a waste of time to sue. At least for defamation.

17 thoughts on “On Defamation


  1. Interesting though – all of those sites do not allow material that addresses private individuals, there is a strict clause in all of them

    Additionally using someone’s RCA copyrighted song for a parody background is not allowed either.

    Also graphic material suggesting underage sex between children is a crime in several states and local municipalities – satire not withstanding

    Things to do, things to do


  2. “Thus, when a noted liar publishes falsehoods that no reasonable person finds credible, it’s simply a waste of time to sue.”

    Maybe, but how else will the New York Times learn their lesson?


  3. Charles Manson: if you call him a Loving caring Christian, his evil reputation would suffer and expose him to scorn in prison and subject him to ridicule there
    🙂


  4. I’m guessing that the defense that a defendant has a reputation as a liar is used rarely. After all, if a defendant is going to say that the alleged defamation wouldn’t have been believed by anyone because he (the defendant) is a notorious liar, that would cast doubt on all the defendant’s own testimony.

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