So a writer who hangs out in a blog that I follow had a very cogent point in a recent post – about calumny – and the moral crime of falsely accusing an innocent person of a crime, ranging from the mild social offense to the deeply hideous crime against God and humanity at large. He felt, if I read the post aright, that calumny is one of those deeply awful things – as it damages an innocent person ….
Calumny has kind of fallen out of fashion as a dastardly deed, and you may well understand why by the time I’ve finished. To my mind it can be a worse deed than any of the above sins … I think it worse than the crime or sin. Calumny is false witness – where the person committing calumny knowingly and maliciously lies in testifying that an innocent person did something that they did not do. … And when you think about this, you can see why this is somewhat worse than the evil deed itself. Firstly, the person who will be punished is innocent. Secondly, the victim has to live with that. Their reputation, even if innocence is eventually established, is tarnished forever …

The thrust of that particular post was to do with the creation of credible villains – but it did set me to thinking about calumny, which is either the eighth or ninth of the Biblical ten commandments, depending on your religious tradition: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. Ancient Biblical law took this prohibition so seriously that anyone found to have brought false witness would receive the punishment for that crime which they had accused an innocent party of. Which brought to mind the unfortunate frequency of political calumnies; the most recent of which being Hillary and her so-called Basket of Deplorables – je suis Deplorable, anyone? At this point, I would venture a guess that those people that she meant to insult are having a good laugh and making a joke of it all through t-shirts and other novelty items, while she has hurriedly backed away and apologized. She is but a single person, and a sick and feeble one at that, even if she is a long-time political operative borne up on the shoulders of a groveling media establishment, attending on her like courtiers of an unpopular monarch.
She is but one person and that was one single instance of shooting from the lip in the manner that we have all come to expect of her. What has been of more damage, over which I took much more offense was the near universal calumniation of Tea Party supporters over the years since the first big protests began in 2009. Here were earnest, educated and contentious Americans, demonstrating their concern over a lack of fiscal responsibility on the part of our national leadership – as is our right and duty to do so. And the wide-spread response from a substantial portion of the so-called media, entertainment and intellectual elite was to be painted as ignorant, racist and reactionary morons. That is calumny on a grand scale, in solo and chorus, and has never walked back from or apologized for by the perpetuaters. That narrative still stands, in the minds of those who never had actual personal experience of participating in a Tea Party event or organization. It is the calumny that will not die, but I can at least take comfort from knowing that it has done at least as much damage to the credibility (and possibly the pocketbooks and long-term careers) of those who flung it, as was done to those at whom it was flung. Discuss.


21 thoughts on “Calumny”

  1. The first person who came to mind was the execrable Senator from Searchlight, Nevada, Harry Reid.
    His claim that Romney paid no taxes, spoken from his safe perch in the Senate, where he cannot be legally responded to, was a perfect example of the deed.
    He recently was asked about it, and responded “Well, we won.” Not one whit of self-examination nor shame at being called out on it.
    Even more recently, he made the same claim about Trump.
    Not one bit of guilt.

    To my mind, there is something wrong with people who abuse their positions of power to injure or destroy other people.

  2. The political establishment made calumny fade away as a crime because it is in their interest to be able to slander anyone with impunity. It is one of their tools of intimidation. Nice [insert business, home, whatever here] you got there. Be a shame if something happened to it like Joe Blow’s down the street.

  3. To my mind, there is something wrong with people who abuse their positions of power to injure or destroy other people.

    You cannot excuse the folks who continually re-elect those POS…..

  4. “You cannot excuse the folks who continually re-elect those POS…..” Exactly: in a democracy, responsibility is the electorate’s.

  5. The word caluminy has fallen out of fashion because the caluminies: racist, sexist, fascist, homophobe comprise Democratic speech.

  6. Reminds me: Anna Timofeeva-Egorova, a WWII Russian attack and fighter pilot,said that as a child she did not understand why her mother’s prayers every night, in which she named all of her children and begged for their health and wisdom, always concluded with “God save them from slander!”

    After her brother was arrested and sent away as an Enemy of the People, she understood.

  7. Have a good friend who was going through a very nasty divorce. And his wife decides to call the sheriffs department and accuse him of molesting their daughter.

    Just to be nasty.

    The sheriffs came out and investigated And found nothing wrong

    And as of this day the daughter still will have nothing to do with the mother.

  8. Exactly, Bill — there are some accusations made which are so heinous, that they can never be walked back, even if they are later found to be baseless.

    Dearie, sometimes I do wonder, if pistols for two and breakfast for one was still acceptable, that perhaps that might put a bridle on some of the nastier accusations. But then, political discourse was conducted with brass knuckles back in the day when dueling was the done thing, so I just don’t know.

    I still would like to throw a cream pie at Anderson Cooper, though. He was the one who started the scurrilous tea-bagger meme on national TV. A cream pie made in a cast-iron fry pan, and he would get the whole works, right in the kisser. Blam!

  9. I understand that there are legal doctrines of Libel Per Se and Slander Per Se. The idea is that certain accusations are so inherently damaging to a person–accusing a banker of dishonesty, accusing a woman of unchastity (back in the day), accusing a soldier of cowardice—so inherently damaging that actual damages do not need to be demonstrated.

  10. “And as of this day the daughter still will have nothing to do with the mother.”

    That was a better result than the many, many “recovered Memories” cases in which the daughters were convinced of the father’s crime and never recanted.

    One example, and the one that stopped the whole hysteria, was Gary Ramona, who won but his daughter continued convinced he had molested her and announced she was going to become a “therapist.” The mother was no better.

    Stephanie Ramona, who has since divorced her husband, has stood by her daughter and the therapists who treated her. “I don’t think he should have gotten a penny for raping his own daughter,” she said.

    I wonder if any of them later had second thoughts ? The lawsuit prompted the insurance company that wrote malpractice policies for psychologists to stop offering coverage for “Revcovered Memories” and the entire phenomenon disappeared as if it had never happened.

    Even the Salem witch trial judges had regrets. None of the female family members seemed to.

    The way Ramona told it, he was a loving and bewildered father whose daughter’s therapists had implanted false memories of incest. But to his wife, Stephanie, his daughter Holly, 24, and his two other daughters, Keli, 23, and Shawna, 17, this sober and well-dressed businessman was the demon: He had molested his daughter, and now he was humiliating her in court, attacking the therapists who had kept her from suicide and giving family videotapes to tabloid TV.

    And, the hysteria continues.

    Notice that psychoanalysis is credited by the advocates. Psychoanalysis has been discredited by all serious mental health researchers.

  11. ErisGuy
    The word caluminy has fallen out of fashion because the caluminies: racist, sexist, fascist, homophobe comprise Democratic speech.

    That is about 95% of the Demo narrative: we are the good guys, and Pubs are the evil guys.

    There was a tenant residing in my HOA who made a number of false police reports against his neighbors. The police were pretty good BS detectors, and never arrested anyone as a result of the false reports. The false reports, combined with his being a hostile drunk who also caused problems at the HOA pool, did not go unnoticed. The HOA board informed his landlord that fines for misbehavior could be forthcoming. The hostile drunk was gone within 30 days.

  12. Oh, good lord, Gringo – the neighborhood where my parents lived in when I was in high school and college had one of those nutters resident. He was convinced beyond all reason that everyone in the neighborhood was manufacturing and dealing drugs. He complained endlessly about the smell of the drugs, set up fans around his place to blow the fumes away He called the law enforcement authorities on all of his neighbors, spied on them, harassed them relentlessly. One poor woman was dying of MS – and he put it about that it was because she was an addict/abuser! Of course, the various authorities pretty soon figured out exactly what sort of nut he was, but the closer neighbors got to the point where they took him to court. There was no HOA – just a nice neighborhood of houses on half-acre hill lots. Eventually, he earned the distinction of being absolutely forbidden by the State of California to call 911. IIRC, it took about fifteen years for him to be sorted, and my parents had moved away long before then.

  13. About the Tea Party, sadly you’re correct and I believe the damage even more severe. As I’ve mentioned to anyone that would listen, the Tea Party failure isn’t bad for just Republicans, its bad for all Americans possibly most severe for Democrats – the success of Trump is very likely a reaction to the failure of the Tea Party.

    The Tea Party, well organized and larger than previous grass-roots efforts, was the closest we’ve come to sending a serious group of non-politicians to Washington, possibly since our founding. The fact that they failed at their goal of serious change is a demonstration of the real power and entrenchment that has evolved in our Capitol in the last 100 years. Trump, should he fail, could possibly close the door on what was once a novel and great idea.

  14. Indeed, Doug – they did a number on the Tea Party from all fronts; even in venues like TV and in comic books. It was such a concerted effort, so vicious and so ultimately successful. I’m still horrified at the deliberate falsity and audacity of it. So many ordinary citizens, earnest in their concern … and yet maligned in the most vicious fashion.

    Like Insty says – yeah, you dumped on Tea Partiers – polite, well-organized, earnest … and now you have Teh Donald. Suck it up, cupcake.

  15. @ Sgt. Mom,

    What is your email address? I would like to contact you regarding an idea for a post. It has to do with the Tea Party, Convention of the States, Texas, Wisconsin and the 2018 State legislature elections. tia.

  16. In reading this I was thinking about some of the poor individuals that national media maligned. How about that guy in Georgia accused of setting a bomb what was his name Richard Jewel? And unfortunately because the press is protected, you have to prove a malicious intent to defame, beyond simple negligence or laziness in reporting.

    Richard Jewell will forever be associated with this even though he was innocent.

  17. Yep, keep them staring at their smart phones, nothing to see here in the real world, tweet your emotional opinions and check for the correct, popular viral topics and interpretations. Don’t love the one in front of you, love your BFF’s (until they dis U.


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