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Destroying a Person’s Character
Judaism has a particularly serious law about “speaking evil,” lashon hara, but I’ve never spoken specifically about the ugliness of destroying a person’s reputation. The more I watch Democrats attacking Republicans with lies and innuendo, the more outraged I am at their willingness to destroy the life of another person, no matter their justifications.
One piece on the Chabad.org website asks the following:
Did you know that it is possible for a person to be murdered and not even know about it, even carrying on life as usual?
When people spread rumors about us, they are committing a sin, planting seeds of destruction. As Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachmani said:
‘Why is the evil tongue called a thrice-slaying tongue? Because it kills three people: the person speaking, the person spoken to, and the person being spoken about.’ It may not kill them physically, but it is character assassination.
The Christians quote many sections of the Bible, too, regarding the slandering of others. Some examples include:
From Psalms 71:10
For my enemies talk against me;
Those who wait for me are of one mind,
Saying, G-d has forsaken him;
Chase him and catch him,
For no one will save him
From Proverbs 16:28
You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor; I am the Lord.
From Psalms 31:13
For I have heard the slander of many,
Terror is on every side;
While they took counsel together against me,
They schemed to take away my life.
* * * *
For those who are not religious, can’t they see the destruction they are wreaking? The people who accuse fathers of molesting their children. The people who spread rumors, depriving a person of earning a living. The person who is wrongly accused of stealing.
And in government, how is it possible that the Democrats have no regrets about the horrific accusations they make? How could they watch the face of Brett Kavanaugh as they were skewering him at his hearings and not feel any discomfort or regret? Have they made him into the caricature of the devil? The man was not only being interviewed to be a Justice, but he was the coach of his daughter’s sports team; he had a stellar reputation in his previous positions.
He was another human being, just trying to serve his country.
To go to the lengths that Democrats pursue, to demonize and project on any person the evil and corruption that their own actions are demonstrating, is a sick and perverted endeavor. The Democrats who pursue these efforts are deeply disturbed and betray every virtue and belief this country stands for.
And those who silently witness their behavior are complicit.
I pray that as the Republicans become bolder, they will quietly and firmly highlight this kind of defamation. That they will condemn, with a carefully designed presentation, the lies, and will call them what they are: smear campaigns. They will speak out frequently, not with rancor and defensiveness, but with quiet resolve and commitment. They will act in this manner consistently and repeatedly. It won’t just be the words they say, but their demeanor and tone that will matter. Over time, the public may just wonder if they can actually trust the Democrats in their accusations, when Republicans respond with composure and sincerity.
We can no longer afford to sit back and take these attacks.
We have an obligation to ensure that the truth is told.Published in Culture
I hope for this too; however, sadly the Republican party has decided it has to fight fire with fire. I suspect that we are about to see new lows in our politics where each side slanders the other in an ever downward spiral.
Well, fighting fire with fire, as in Marjorie Taylor Greene, hasn’t done anything to improve our reputation with anyone, not even on our side. Maybe they should try something different.
I tend to agree. Unfortunately both sides are increasingly populated with knaves.
You are comparing this to killing, so I am going to run with that metaphor.
The only way to stop a killer is with force, deadly if necessary.
Standing by and going “tisk tisk” will not stop a killer.
As long as the Democrats don’t pay in their own wounded and dead (metaphorically), they won’t stop.
The key, to be true to the Jewish law, is that we must do it honestly. For example, I just listened to Chuck Grassley on BDB’s post–he was emphatic, basically saying if you have nothing to hide, you must respond to the subpoena. And we’re going to make it happen.
Susan, good post, and I agree.
I see this same sort of thing on the Right, including here at Ricochet. In just the past few days, there was a post accusing a Democratic Congresswoman of illegal insider trading (with very flimsy evidence), and another one accusing the Russian government of having kidnapped an American arrested for espionage (with no knowledge whatsoever as to whether the espionage charge was true or not).
Sometimes the situation may be difficult, as with the revelation over the last day or two of an alleged whistleblower complaint about misconduct by President Biden while he was Vice-President. This one seems to have been handle well by Republican officials, including Sen. Grassley, but the underlying allegations may or may not be true.
Whenever one speaks on this subject with others, there is always the possibility that the other will come back and ask how to determine the truth or falsehood of what information is being conveyed by some source. I’ve been asked this and it has been asked here on R>. What I generally say in response is something on the order of an accumulation of experience with the source where issues in contention at some time upon resolution favored the source in question. With a preponderance of these outcomes comes some level of trust in a source that may be easily broken by a single instance of obvious and deliberate falsehood. And, of course, what I’m describing here is things about which there is no ability to do independent verification.
At some point it seems, outside the realm of political influence, large numbers of people may come to the realization that truth is important for making decisions in life. If I’m right in these thoughts I hope that day comes soon.
I am not sure I understand your point.
Congress critters are explicitly exempt from insider trading.
It depends on whether we are talking about a person’s reputation, or some facts that can be verified. We have to ask ourselves whether the information is important and whether it needs to be verified. In fact, it may not be any of our business and we don’t have a need to know the veracity (except to satisfy our own curiosity). So, for example, I want to hire a person, but another person says the person isn’t trustworthy, I need to know the facts for his or her conclusion. If that person gives me facts, then (as you say), I have to consider how reliable that person is to begin with. If I trust this person, I would probably have to check with the accused, and see how he or she responds. Again, is it something important or not; that matters. I’m not sure we’re in agreement, Bob, but them’s my thoughts.
Sorry–we have to go after them with honest information–not lies, just to get back. Grassley was truthful and stated the facts.
I got you.
I don’t think there is an issue with enough of those things to attack them with for sure.
I just had a fascinating thought. (It happens.) Since no Democrat Senator has been called out for the Ethics Committee by Republicans, they should do that! Oh wait–maybe the Reps have ethics violations on their side. So no one calls out anyone to avoid having someone on their side called out. That’s pathetic. How about we just pick a date and say starting on that date, anyone will be held accountable for Ethics violations. Everyone will hate the idea, but too bad! The only way to begin cleaning things up is for people to hold others accountable, and for people to be willing to be held accountable. Or is the whole Senate just too dirty?
I think we are. I try not to even listen to anything I think is gossip or it’s equivalent. I guess I was a little off your point. But to your point we seem to be facing a lot of what you are talking about throughout the political world.
When Slander Goes Rampant
I love your thoughts on this.
Does this mean that should your idea on ethics’ violations occur, the Ethics Committee could be disbanded?
You know, way back when Sen Diane Feinstein first realized she was gong to be doing some rather shady stuff to help out er hubby’s construction firm, she saw to it that the US Senate’s Code of Ethics was carefully “updated.”
Gossip is the stock and trade of what we call “news.” A person who aspires to character refinement will not waste time hearing or reading it.
Indeed. And yet some people would ask how it’s possible to avoid it. Thanks, Joshua.
According to the sages of the Talmud, we should rather throw ourselves into a fiery furnace than embarrass another person, so egregious is that act.
Thanks, David. As usual a very fine article, and true still. I especially liked this paragraph:
The general rule that one is innocent until proven guilty goes back at least to ancient Roman law: Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat — “Burden of proof lies on him who asserts, not on him who denies.” Over the centuries, not only individuals, but whole classes of people, have been denied this basic human right. The oppressors normally begin by slandering a group, and then use the slander to discriminate and ultimately persecute — and, unfortunately, this persists even in America.
We are guilty. Forget the facts.