Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Right to Reputation

A person makes choices,
both good and bad, 
that create their reputation.
One can form one's own reputation
with the help of the Right to Self-Determination
and the possibilities of the Right to Dream.


But it's one thing to create your own reputation
and another to have someone else harm it.
Defamation can run from mildly mean to extremist hate speech.

 I hereby declare everyone shall have the Right to Reputation,
whereby others shall not seek to defame or destroy
the reputation of another person or a group of persons.
This right shall be protected by the Right to Respect.

This idea has been suggested for a long time,
but never written as a separate right.
The Massachussetts Constitution of 1780 Article XI (prior to U.S. Constitution)
made the point that each individual has a right
to be protected by liberty of the press, and
"ought to find a certain remedy, by having recourse to the laws,
for all injuries or wrongs which he may receive in his person, property, or character."
Character was reputation,
but some people today, with our 21st c. ideas of the individual and self-esteem,
 would say that character is completely separate from reputation,
and therefore no right is needed.
While the get-over-it-you-know-who-you-are attitude is good,
in some cases, actual life can be at stake here,
when a reputation has been so ruined that a person's hope vanishes.

But how can one's character really be protected by law from defamation
with widespread writing on the Internet in the 21st century?
Who do you blame, which writer...
the journalist, the blogger, the blog commenter, the Facebook member,
the Tumbler member, the tweeter, the emailer, etcetera??
You get the picture.
Who is accountable?

Wait.
Let's flip the burden of accountability on to the listener,
each one of us.
We are accountable.
How do we react to this speech?
I would like to suggest that the one who listens bears the burden of accountability.
Defaming speakers/writers will probably always exist,
but what if... what if it was just not cool?
Social norms can have more power than law.
Make the Right to Respect a social norm.
We cannot put limits on the Right to Freedom of Speech.
And we don't really have the Right to Delete, not yet.
But in my writing on Freedom of Speech,
I suggest one answer is the Right to Respect.

Another answer is suggested by the international organization,
the Anti-Defamation League,
who fight hard and actively against defamation of all sorts.
They act quickly and loudly against some tough hate speech.
On their website, they suggest that the answer to bad speech is more speech.
It may make for a lot of noise,
but more speech may be one solution
in the fight against hate speech.


Revision:  thanks to commenters J.D., Hanalv, TP.

57 comments:

Anonymous said...

I believe everyone already has the right to reputation. Even if someone tries to destroy your so called image or ruin the image of a group, it is essentially up to those people to think is it true. Is this person capable of this? From there it is no longer in your hands and everything you have done up until that point determines your reputation.
CP

Anonymous said...

I believe in the right to reputation. This is true that the Internet rules in this regard. People can post anything they want on the internet and make it believable. They can place pictures on articles and just ruin your reputation if they so desire. The internet is a very dangerous weapon. RhW

Anonymous said...

I believe that the people who have a big issue with this are the famous people. Many can’t stay out of their lives trying to destroy it or make it seem something innocent is something bad. They don’t have privacy not even with their partners. I do believe in the right to reputation. Why can’t people just create their reputation without someone trying to destroy it? What do they gain in doing that? I say yes to the right to reputation! Cd884

Anonymous said...

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” (John Wooden). How ironic I just posted this quote as my Facebook status 2 days ago. In my opinion who cares what people think of you. Unless someone’s sentiment about you is, harming you personally it shouldn’t matter. You know who you are. "Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone". People of the human race or so quick to judge and worry about others opinion of them when they don’t have a heaven or hell to put you in. I wish we would put as much effort into impressing God and having his blessings and approvals as we do our peers. I do not agree with the right to reputation it’s such a shallow thought. Your character is who you really are and what takes you places in life.-J.D.

Anonymous said...

I believe in the right to reputation. I have heard of people commiting suicide because their reputation was ruined by people on the internet. The right to reputation should become a serious matter because people's lives are at stake. Hanalv

Anonymous said...

Although this is a great concept, unfortunately all the laws and all the protection in the world will never stop people from bad mouthing another. There are people who would never harm someone and who try to refrain from speaking bad about someone. However, there is jelousy and envy in this world as well. In a perfect world we would not harm one another, but in our world it is very real. The answer lies in how we react to it.
~TP~

Anonymous said...

Lets face it, as hard as we try to create our reputation and make it so pretty and perfect, no matter what there will be someone out there trying to ruin it, My brother passed away on Thursday and he passed away through natural causes, he had a reputation for doing drugs in the past but he changed and no longer did, he re-created his reputation to a better person, but people still talked about him and tried to create a bad reputation. In the end, it’s up to you what you make of it. Celebrities’ should already know what there getting themselves into when they become famous, is it right for these outsiders to write false stories? No. But either way creating your reputation is a good thing, but someone will always try to ruin it. It’s part of life. AFF

Anonymous said...

With modern technology, reputation matters to a great extent. It could even make a difference between getting that job one wants or not. However, we can fight it. With facebook and the like, there are a variety of ways to protect your reputation. Like the delete button or the block button. This will help protect one's reputation but still everyone needs to be careful of what people say. GIM

Anonymous said...

I totally agree in the right to reputation. In some cultures if your reputation is tainted, it means that you have created shame on your family and community and may even cause suicide. Can you imagine if someone does not like you and post comments about you without your knowledge, especially if they get some of their friends to join in the conversation? Your only defense would be to reply to those comments. Is it necessary to reply and join a blog that is fabricated? If you join the blog it shows that you are encouraging the conversation and still at the same time if you do not it will seem that you are hiding the truth. This is the reason we need the right to reputation. RR

Anonymous said...

I do believe in the right to reputation.It's very hard to keep it ,since anyone can post something on the internet about you and make it believable.you must learn how to fight it.A good reputation matters because sometimes it can make life difficult for you.cjj

Anonymous said...

I am a strong believer in the right to reputation. Reputation is usually what people see you as. Now a days it is very easy for your reputation to be tainted. I believe the media has a lot of fault to this. They have created a norm to tarnish peoples reputations, just to boost some ratings. Once your reputation is tainted by the social and regular media it is difficult to bounce back from that.
Robert M. Pino

Anonymous said...

My reputation is what I make it, I stick to it, I am predictable sometimes because of it, and people depend on me because of it. There are people that would challenge it, but as stated above several times, that’s their self-serving slant on what I might have said or done that they don’t agree with. Trust me, it doesn’t affect my performance or resolve one bit. I can sleep at night knowing my integrity is intact and my reputation is solid. Always have faith and you never will suffer doubt of your convictions.
CTK

Anonymous said...

A noble cause but this will never work. Even if the Right to Respect is somehow policed on the web (this would go against free speech in this country and other countries could choose not to participate) you would be going against human nature. According to John Gabriel's theory of internet anonymity: "Given both anonymity and an audience, an otherwise regular person can become "a very disagreeable person. There’s a large crowd and you can act out in front of it without paying any personal price to your reputation, which creates conditions most likely to draw out the typical Internet user’s worst impulses." You can see this everyday on just about every modern, popular internet forum today.
If someone’s reputation is truly torn in this country (the state determines that you have lost monetary value) then you may file charges and suit against the individual. I don’t comprehend why the general public has to be accountable for the allegations of one uninformed moronic individual especially if this individual is doing the defacing purposely and with malice.

R.A.T. Jr.

Anonymous said...

I support the Right to Reputation. This is an important factor in our everyday life.The opinion of others toward ourself, the concept that people have about us,it is what make us been acceptable or not in our society. Reputation either good or bad will follow us and will be stuck on us our entire life, so that, it is important to go the extra mile in order to keep it in good standing.
Cyn.U

Anonymous said...

Defamation can be a horrible experience for anyone. However, this country was built on the right to free speech and expression. I think that a human being can express his or her ideas and opinions in a manner in which it would not disrespect the opposing party. There will always be disagreement, it's inevitable. People begin to take it to another level (which then becomes both: more personal and disrespectful) when they begin to start loosing ground to stand on. We need to teach our children and adults how to disagree without disrespect. We have all said something about someone that we know we shouldn't have. Next time, I vow to stop and think twice before I decide to say anything about anyone. I'm all all about the Right to Respect!
AAA

Anonymous said...

I am with the Right to Reputation. My reputation matter.It could make or brake my future. J.V

Anonymous said...

I agree to have a Right to Reputation. If there is something that is said against us, we have the ability to react and express the truth. Having a good reputation is important. Most people want to be respected and be known as a person of good character and having integrity. Many times citizens respond favorably to people when they know they can trust you. However, there are groups that are unhappy and want others to be miserable too. Having the Right to Reputation would protect your character and we as listeners would do what is right and have the responsibility to disregard the bad speech. DS

Anonymous said...

I believe in the Right to Reputation. I am a firm believer that character and reputation come hand in hand. If you did not have that precise character, which is what makes you be you; you would of not been able to establish a reputation. Sadly, the drive to harming someones reputation comes from Envy. It is very sad that you've worked so hard to build your reputation and someone less deserving ruins it.

Anonymous said...

sorry forgot my initials. KP

Anonymous said...

“The one who listens bears the burden of accountability.” I truly respect this statement. We are all accountable for what we say and for how we interpret what we hear. I think when we disrespect or slander another individual is to boost our self-esteem and/or to make us feel superior to that other person. We all should practice what mother’s use to say, treat people the way you would want to be treated, with respect. Let’s move forward and implement The Right to Reputation. DH63

Anonymous said...

I have a right to formulate my own opinions. If my perception of someone is xyz, even if it may not be true, that happens to fall perfectly in my right to think in that manner.

I'd love to be thought of as a great, loving, charitable person; but I do understand that with some people I may come off that way and to others I may not.

Anonymous said...

last post by *Cbereng.

Anonymous said...

I do agree that we have a right to reputation. But the sad truth is that many times our reputation is not made by us but by what other people think of our actions. The thing is you cannot control what people say and think about you and that is really where your reputation comes from. This being the hard truth makes even more important for us to have the right to reputation. There should be written laws addressing people that purposely attack other people’s reputation. There should be consequences for these actions. Hopefully one day everyone will be truthful and honest and nice but until that day comes we need protection from other people damaging our reputation.
C.Munoz

Anonymous said...

It only takes a single mistake for an individual to gain a "bad reputation", whether their intentions were bad or good nobody cares and everyone is quick to judge. In this day in age I believe it is hard to escape a bad reputation, and with the internet and all these social networks, the situation seems to only make matters worse. People can get on these networks, falsely defame someone, and ruin the person.

In the end it is up to us to overcome this, and not letting what anyone says get in the way of our goals.
-AQ-

Anonymous said...

The listener is responsible. Reputation is important to a degree, but the listener has to do more than take facts at face value. We are encouraged to participate socially in the discussion, but never taught how to participate responsibly. JSS

Anonymous said...

The right to reputation is very important. You make your own reputation and the only way that anyone can damage your reputation is if you give them a reason. My reputation is my name and I will not let my name get misused by anyone, I will not do anything that can jeopardize my reputation. EX: I own a small construction company and my companies reputation was built from the ground up and no one can damage that because I do everything in my power to keep my employees happy so they keep my costumers happy and do a well done job. The right to reputation should come with some inner laws that prohibit other people to make up stuff about you to ruin your reputation.CMP

Anonymous said...

I believe that some people can be very judgemental what we percieve as good that person may percieve as bad.We can't control what people will say good or bad about us.We can always be at our best behavior and keep a wonderful repuation but sadly someone inmature can spread a rumor and destroy someones reputation. The right to reputation should be establish everywhere everyone should have a right to defend themselves.

Anonymous said...

I believe that some people can be very judgemental what we percieve as good that person may percieve as bad.We can't control what people will say good or bad about us.We can always be at our best behavior and keep a wonderful repuation but sadly someone inmature can spread a rumor and destroy someones reputation. The right to reputation should be establish everywhere everyone should have a right to defend themselves.JP

Anonymous said...

A reputation is something so delicate that one wrong comment can completely ruin somebody. peoplel should be more respectful . I agree with RhW "the internet is a dangerous weapon." Once you put something out there, there is no taking it back, and you could regret it for the rest of your life.

Anonymous said...

-LizR last comment

Anonymous said...

"The Right to Reputation" is very simple. Our actions determine what we like to be viewed as, correct? Take for example high school; throughout senior year, different students are taken into account for yearbook categories such as "Most Likely To Succeed", "Most Likely To Become Your Boss", or maybe something not as good "Most Likely To Get a Useless Degree" this is built by the actions taken throughout the year and to my understanding it helps your reputation. Then again, keep in mind that's high school. Once we go into the real world we start learning about people who didn't build their reputation in a year. It has actually taken them years of training, hard work, and anything else they have done throughout their lives. When someone, without proof or evidence, goes out to public and spreads detail or rumors about that person, they are without a doubt looking to damage that person’s image. "The image is more than an idea. It is a vortex or cluster of fused ideas and is endowed with energy." as stated by Ezra Pound. Once the image of a person is meddled with, it may never be regained; therefore damaging what took years of building. A rumor causes doubt and disbelief, and therefore could potentially end the reputation of said person. Unfortunately, there is no law or right per say that can protect you completely from lies and defamation. This is when the “Right to Respect” comes in, I respect what you have worked for and I respect you as a person, therefore I will not make up any lies or rumors that could harm you.

-DBM

Anonymous said...

Although the right to reputation some what exists among the right of press. Without substancial evidence one cannot judge a person solely. The right to reputation would keep many scandals off the air as done with politicians and celebrities. Thus leaving us to figure out who people really are. Not solely based on how the media or what someone else believes them as. The right to reputation is one less worry on our privacy and image... mlv...

Anonymous said...

Reputation is yours for the making. We are all born with a clean slate, and although our parents influence our thinking, we have the freedom of choice. We choose what side of the battle we stand on. Every decision we make, marks our lives, and our future. Not too long ago, children where taught to think before you speak and to think of the consequences of you actions. This new society where children neither respect themselves nor their parents is appalling. If you “choose” to ruin your reputation, then only you are to blame. Why would you be upset that someone is speaking out against what you, yourself has chosen to do? This is where the freedom of speech comes in. All people have the freedom to speak their beliefs and opinions, but only you choose to listen. YYD

Anonymous said...

Calling attention to hateful and malicious speech just adds fuel to the fire. Let us not grant these individuals or groups the celebrity status they crave. Cyber bulling is another issue altogether and needs to be addressed on an individual level. In these cases, I believe social norm carries more weight than any legislation. VMR

Anonymous said...

Although I do agree with the Right to Reputation, I feel like it is inevitable in our world for people to talk badly about others. I don't think that "famous people" are the only ones that get the brunt of it either. I hear stories of teens that commit suicide because some bully thinks it is funny to make a facebook page soley for the purpose of making fun of that person. Personally, I have never cared what people thought about me. I am secure enough to know the truth from things that are not so true but not every person has a strong mindset like that. People are going to say whatever they want to say and post whatever they want to post. Our laws seem to give them rights to bash one another than to protect each other from it. It is up to us as the listeners to not let it consume our thoughts and allow ourselves to make our own opinions about one another instead of believing everything we read or we hear. There are people such as Perez Hilton and companies such as TMZ that make serious money by invading the privacy of celebrities all over but Americans eat it up and all them to succeed. Our country seems to thrive off the drama, gossip and lives of other people. -KKP

Anonymous said...

I agree with right to reputation. However, I believe that the “we are accountable” should be “everyone is accountable.” It takes more than one person to ruin another’s reputation. People know that once you put something on the internet, you can’t take it back. Even if you find it wrong and delete it instantly, the damage is already done, someone, somewhere, already saw it, commented on it, and is in the process of ruining someone reputation. So be careful with what is said or put on the internet, because you have no idea who is on the other side of the screen.
M.D.L.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree to the Right of Reputation due that I have been victim of three fake Facebook pages writing I don't know how many things that where not even true and having all my family member friends and stranger see it.I was reading J.D comment and quote “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” (John Wooden). Before I used to think like that but eventually trough time I have change my perspective of that saying. Reputation is very important because you don't want to be walking along people and them to be pointing finger at you or saying things behind your back. In many occasion they would just invent things to have something to talk about which are not true but the listener will believe them because since you have a bad reputation.
Y.A

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, the right to reputation is as essential as the right to freedom of speech. In today’s society it is easy to damage a person reputation with all the tools available, for example, the internet. Words can not explain how devastating it is to see one’s reputation destroyed by a false accusation. Teenagers have committed suicide do to a lie disseminated by the internet. We need to protect our reputation. It is time for our legislators to get involved in this matter.
Torpedo179

Anonymous said...

Everyone should treat everyone how they would like to be treated. Sometimes common sense can dictate what is wrong better than just a list of rights. People are free to have their opinions of others as they see fit but to set their opinions as the true and absolute description of another person is wrong. This infringes other people’s freedoms and therefore destroys the idea of having rights and liberties. GLT

Anonymous said...

There's a spanish saying that goes like this: " Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres", translation: tell me who you hang out with and I will tell you who you are. Sadly at times its true, we may be good but because of who we relate ourselves with others may start drawing their own conclusions of who we are. I'm not saying its fair nor right but simply the truth. As far as "creating your reputation" we do make good and bad choices but remember we created and choose those choices and with bad decisions come consequences and with good decisions comes change. NOBRA

TrustMeImADoctor said...

I believe a reputation can be formed the same way respect is gained. Reputation of individuals must be earned weather it is bad or good. This right is very difficult because there are individuals that may influence the way others look at us and there are individuals that cover up their true identity. In both cases one is practicing his right to freedom of expression and speech and the other is manipulating his reputation.

Anonymous said...

I do believe everyone should have the Right to Reputation. But how do you defend or protect that? Others will always try to ruin your reputation and there is really no way to protect you from it. I believe this is where your character comes into play and you move on and forget about it or remain in the thought of it and dwell about it. One should try to keep their reputation reputable but not become depressed or less motivated if they aren’t able to. JENS

Anonymous said...

The right to a reputation, or should I say the label that is perceived by others on what you should do as a respectable person. You can go you whole life with the strict intention of doing it all by what others may see as correct. The purpose of living by the book transforms you into the perfected role model. This role model perception can be viewed differently by others, A.K.A. "Haters" as many people like to call them. They interpret your actions and label them to how they see fit. I don't fully agree with the right to reputation because not all subjects in life should have reputations, for example; An innocent person, who inadvertently was at the wrong place and time and stumbled upon a crime scene could consequently be wrongfully arrested and charged for a crime they did not commit. It is true that the accused could go to court and be cleared of all charges but by the views of society, his reputation has already been set as that of a criminal.

Chuck F.

Anonymous said...

If you see the definition of the word Reputation, we can easily see that means an opinion or the estimation in which a person or thing is generally held, sometimes is for good and sometimes is for bad; But it is still an opinion, and people are always going to talk, even if you are Mother Teresa.
In this world is almost impossible be liked by everyone, that’s when we as individuals, need to remember that if we are not hurting anyone with our actions, words, and performance, then our integrity is intact, and not matter what we do, people always talk.
I agree with the right of reputation, but while those right are not written, I make my own right about it, and is to remember myself that my mind is clear of any regrets, and no matter what people say, I know I can raise my head up without any guilt.
~NG~

Anonymous said...

As was stated, we cannot put limits on the Right to Freedom of Speech. We as listeners are indeed responsible for the famous and infamous. There will always be critics, and negative opinions about someone or something. As long as the listeners adhere to the Right to Respect, the Right to Self-Determination, and the Right to Dream, no one's reputation is at stake. -PCR.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the right of reputation. Yes their will be people that try to bring you down but if you know what people say isn't true then why worry about it. If you get all mad you are only proving that the others person comment may be true. Just live up to what you do and don't worry about others. H.I.V

Anonymous said...

The right to reputation can be crucial for the survial of some people. When defamation takes action on those who are in a sense emotionally weak the results can be deadly. Therefore if you are talking about someone thats you just don't like for any reason and they kill themselve's because of what you said, then fault is in your name. Sometimes people can't take the pressure of being center of attention, and only fight back by making everything permanetly silent for themselves. JE

Anonymous said...

I agree that reputation and character are completely separate and I also believe that no right is going to cure this because it is ultimately up to an individual to respect another one. I think the closest thing that will stop this is to put a stop to people talking about things they do not know about. Make people realize that there is 99% opinion and 1% fact in life. It is hard to give credit to something as being true if you have never experienced it or live it. We need to teach other to respect different views and keep their bad opinions and thoughts to themselves and their own lives. In the end it is also your responsibility to upkeep your own reputation.
-Lz

Anonymous said...

I know that almost everyone wants to have a good reputation and I respect that. But, also people need to remember that they only have one life to live and instead of worrying about their reputation and thinking about how other people percieve them, they should also consider what makes them happy and staying true to themselves. -NR

Anonymous said...

I do believe that though we all face this issue, those in the public eye do have to deal with this much more often then say others like you and I. Many people try to judge and bring down other peoples thoughts and choices taking away ones right to dream. People just don't have the right to bring others down. so i do think that people should respect the right to dream. VA

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with this post, people should have the rights to protect their image. Reputation is something that can either hurt you or help you. Having someone tarnish your image on the internet or at the work place is not something you should stand for even if is true. A person should have the right to defend themselves against defamation.

HM

Anonymous said...

Reputation can lead to all sorts of things, for one, inventors wouldn’t invent if they didn’t get the reputation they deserved. Same goes for all other things, people need to feel they are recognized when they achieve something. As a result we can expect great things from people, because they know they will get the reputation and fame they deserve.
AG

LXC said...

Reputation is a part of our society and alway will be. People will always talk about other people and nothing can be done to stop that without affecting our freedom of speech. However, we can help protect what other people say about each other with the right to respect. Therefore, I stand by the right to reputation as long as it does not affect our other freedoms.

muaath alheji said...

In this century, our society has developed immensely- we have internet, cell phones, television, media coverage, etc. Everyone has the right to speak their mind and express their opinions. Any one of my peers can comment and say anything about myself or anyone else that may or may not be true, risking their reputation. A simple status update on "Facebook" can turn into any legal matter than can ultimately ruin anyone's life forever. They would no longer be able to get a job, education, start a family, or anything of the sort. People need to watch what they say, and what they read on the Internet; everything you read on the Internet, or hear on T.V. or receive in a text message isn't always the truth.
M.A. (Muaath Alheji)

Anonymous said...

Everyone should have the right to make their own reputation.Make it how they want it and not what people talk about it.If anyone should be accused to destroy someone reputation i would say it's the listeners who believe in what other people say.If society was more interested about their lives and not paying attention to others gossip i don't think anyone's reputation would or could be destroyed. But Unfortunately were in a generation were people love to hear about others being destroyed emotionally and sometimes physically.

BJO

GT said...

I agree with JD 100%.Our character is what defines whether we are going to stop and listen to what everyone has to say about the way we lead our lives or to just keep moving forward and focus on what we are here for. Our reputation can change by the minute if we want it to but character will define us for life. Society is lacking strong convictions and they let just about anyone crumble them to pieces. Instead of focusing on what they think, we should spend more time finding out who we are, standing up for that and live by it.

Anonymous said...

Just as one can harm your reputation one can boost it to heights unimagined. Imagine if every comment about every person was a high praise, you would never know their faults you could never learn from someone else's mistakes (bad reputation).

-AJG