On 5/23/06, David Boothroyd
Unfortunately in English law it is potentially
actionable to call
Only editors from England are subject to that restriction. More
accurately, given England's ... generous libel laws ... saying
ANYTHING about someone they don't like is potentially actionable.
Of course, in the US, you can pretty much sue anyone for anything -
whether you can win in court is another matter, of course.
On the assumption that Australian defamation law has not become
completely divorced from English law (unlikely), defamation is not the
bogey man I see a lot of Americans claiming it is.
It's simply an additional test. In America, I'm led to believe, you can
say whatever the hell you want so long as you can prove you reasonably
believed it to be true. In Commonwealth Countries, what you say *also*
has to be in the public's best interest. If your non-notable next door
neighbour, Matt Brown, has a homoxeual affair, and you create a website
dedicated to revealing that "Matt Brown is a cheating faggot bastard",
and you get sued ... a defence of "but he *was* unfaithful!" will not be
I submit that this is a good standard for Wikipedia to aim for (even if
we don't need to). If something is not true *and* in the public
interest to know, we should not be saying it about anyone, in particular
living people. That's not a legal decision, it's an editorial (and, if
you like, moral) one. We should be displaying more discretion than
simply "oh, it's true, chuck it in". Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate
collection of facts.
"What? I can't hear you, I've got a banana on my head!"
- Danger Mouse