On 5/30/07, Blu Aardvark
Here's another hypothetical question; if WR
were posting what it
thought was the real name of a Wikipedia editor, and further asserting
that that person was a CIA spy, mentally unbalanced, and various other
similar claims, would you consider that "defamatory"? Or do WR posters
have a unique definition of defamatory that ends with "...except when
it's about Wikipedia editors, then anything goes."
There's a difference between saying "So-and-so is a CIA spy"
think it possible that so-and-so is a CIA spy". Both are batshit insane
commentary, but only one is truly defamatory.
Wrapping some weasel words around defamation doesn't stop it from
being defamatory. Saying "it appears that this person was a CIA agent"
is the same as saying that they are one.
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Actually, legally, it's not. I can say "I think John Doe acts a lot
a serial killer", and that's an expression of my personal opinion. On
the other hand, if I say "John Doe is a serial killer", and there's
nothing to back that up, I've just defamed him.
Now, of course, in terms of on Wikipedia, regardless of the legalities,
we should never accept any such edit without very reliable sourcing. But
legally, there -is- a difference between presenting something as fact
and presenting it as opinion. Also, one can present a fact ("John Doe
has been indicted for the murder of Jack Crack") which if it were stated
differently would be quite possibly libelous ("John Doe murdered Jack
Crack", if in reality he's only been indicted but not convicted.) It's
possible to say something very nasty and still not have it be legally
libel or slander.