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Internet libel

I think there should be a FAQ created on one of the defence fund web
sites so that we can refer people to that.

I think the list maintainer of this group should establish a clear
policy in regards to messages that might be of a libellous nature,
purely for guidelines. This is how you cover your butt.

I'm not going to venture an opinion about whether any particular
messages posted to this email distribution list constituted libel but
you can judge for yourself by going to the following link:


Here is an excerpt:

"libel laws protects individuals from unjustified attacks on their
reputation. A person is libelled if the words expose him (or her) to the
risk of being: 
 o hated, ridiculed, or viewed with contempt, or
 o shunned or avoided, or
 o lowered in the standing of right thinking members of society, or
 o discredited in his trade, business, office, or profession.

the complainant need not in reality have suffered so long as the words
exposed him to the risk of doing so. Damage is, therefore, presumed
without proof. 

however the law tries to balance the equally important but often
opposing demands for free speech and protection of reputation. The job
of a journalist often involves saying things about people which they
prefer not being said. The law allows you to report on what is true or
comment on a fact based on truth. The law also gives newspapers
protection for reporting on certain public and private organizations."

Clearly libel can still be committed on the Internet. Just because its
the Internet, does not mean that you are free to say anything that you
wish about someone's character or about his business. I urge all of you
readers and contributors to the APD to refrain from making negative
comments about businesses or even the appearance of doing so. Think
twice before activating Send! Never send email when you're feeling

Now sometimes there is a comment or a bit of advice that can be given
when dealing with a particular business and that will be beneficial to
the general community. Such a comment might be: "be sure to specify your
needs clearly when ordering".

If you had an unpleasant experience when dealing with a particular
vendor, you should always try to seek restitution from that vendor
before resorting to publicizing it. Shipping live plants through the
mail or by courier is not always an easy task. You may not want to have
substitutions made in your plant order but remember that retailers
probably do. It's your job to check the policy on substitutions and
clearly specify your needs when ordering. If you get a substitution when
you did not want one, it's fair to ask for your money back. If you get
ripped off and can't reasonably get satisfaction, then perhaps you owe
it to warn others of your misfortunes.

The newspaper (or other public communication media) can help to expose
poor business practices when other methods fail. Remember that
newspapers always review letters from the public before printing them.
That's not appropriate for an unmoderated email list but we do need a
clear policy in our charter.

I would just as soon not hear about defence fund raising on the APD in
too much detail. Use a link to a website or a short message in your sig.

Please reply directly to me and CC Cynthia if you want to respond to
this message. I suppose discussions pertaining to the charter & policies
of the APD are fair game for discussion on the APD. Also, I think its up
to us to formulate those policies, not just Cynthia on her own.

I hope I haven't ruffled too many feathers. I felt we needed a little
balance on some recent postings. I've been purposely coy about my
personal opinions on "the case"; please don't jump to any conclusions!
(now where are my flame resistant asbestos pants? ;-)

Steve Pushak                              Vancouver, BC, CANADA 

Think happy thoughts!!!