Watch your words…

Today I read a short article in the paper relating to libel cases. What struck me in this article was the very fact that one woman had related her own memories in a book that related to an area she had worked in for some time. These were her memories. It turned out she had remembered something slightly differently to how it happened. I am sure we all do this. If you asked 4 witnesses of a car accident what happened they would all have slightly differing stories. We all have different observational skills, we remember things differently, that’s normal isn’t it?! However in this case someone took offence and instead of approaching the writer (who was a friend) they resorted to a libel lawyer. As she herself notes – this is crazy – should this not be the last resort?

It did make me think however about this virtual world in which we all type into every day. On here people blog for many reasons. We share, we offer opinions or advice, we rant, air our irritations (some more than others….) and so on. This is our right, yes? we have a right to air our own views and opinions without risk of recrimination. Ah, but of course we don’t do we? – we may have freedom of speech, but only if it doesn’t offend or incite. So where do we draw the line? At what point does one persons humble opinion become libel or incitement to do something awful?
In the case of religion lines are much more blurred than other areas. Religion is a contentious issue in some circles and often creates heated debates and strong opinions. Does that mean that we should be more careful about what we write? should we be watching our words for fear of the results they may bring? Of course there are obvious areas to avoid, and I would guess that those with particularly extreme views are unlikely to air them on a public blog… but in the case of the woman above she was just reciting her own memories. Her own memories – not a tale reported to her by another, but something from her own mind. So the facts are slightly wrong. Is it her responsibility to check out her own memories before putting them into print – how many of us would do that? And is it right that the person referred to, can then call an entire libel case upon her because of it? (incidentally in this case the info in question related to the design of a tattoo – not exactly toxic information…)
It strikes me that sometimes this world is going a bit nuts. Where is the forgiveness? the love? the trust? the gentleness and respect? Why do people look at others with distrust and suspicion? People have said that I am too gullible, (which is probably true), but actually I would rather be like that – taking people on face value and trusting in them. Simple maybe but it works for me… 🙂

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