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When Gossip Becomes Slander/Libel

Gossip: a person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts about others

Legal Definition of Slander: A type of defamation. Slander is an untruthful oral (spoken) statement about a person that harms the person's reputation or standing in the community. Because slander is a tort (a civil wrong), the injured person can bring a lawsuit against the person who made the false statement. If the statement is made via broadcast media -- for example, over the radio or on TV -- it is considered libel, rather than slander, because the statement has the potential to reach a very wide audience.

Definition of Libel: An untruthful statement about a person, published in writing or through broadcast media, that injures the person's reputation or standing in the community. Because libel is a tort (a civil wrong), the injured person can bring a lawsuit against the person who made the false statement. Libel is a form of defamation, as is slander (an untruthful statement that is spoken, but not published in writing or broadcast through the media).

It seems I have become a topic of conversation at the local California Association of Midwives’ meetings.

Two months in a row, a piece I wrote – and pulled – has been discussed. (Although now I am really tempted to put it back up!) The latest meeting’s public minutes had this statement. I didn’t edit it; this is how it was written.

Barbara’s blog….neg piece about LM’s …a physician is now using her statements in their state to ban LM’s in his state..navelgazingmidwife..

Now, the blog piece I wrote was seen as negative by some, but not by all Licensed Midwives. Sure, plenty commented their anger or frustration that I wrote that I felt LMs needed more education, but for goodness’ sake, it is my OPINION. And I am allowed my opinion.

One person who commented to the PULLED piece said a legislator had mentioned my blog during discussions of something or other, but, first of all, there is NO proof of that at all and second of all, my words did not help to “ban LM’s in his state” (whoever "he" is).

I am LIVID that a group of LMs, CPMs, students and supporters have gathered together TWICE discussing my piece (once again, a PULLED and then revised piece) and are putting out, in email and words, the implication that I am single-handedly destroying licensed midwifery.

Have they ever invited me to come speak about what I wrote? No.

And people wonder why I have issues with professionalism in Licensed and Certified Professional Midwifery; see Example A above.

Because it is apparent that my local community is reading my blog, I hereby demand that the California Association of Midwives and the local licensed midwives that have begun and perpetuated this libel cease and desist or I will bring charges against the lot of you.

And I have PROOF of who started this slander in a vile (and amusing) email by a local Licensed Midwife. She even said she was going to spread the word about my "true self."

Any emails or comments will be used in court. Keep your thoughts to yourselves, oh, local women who are yacking about me.

References (1)

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Reader Comments (13)

Wow! I'm so sorry to hear this has happened. Your site is always thought provoking and insightful. Hang in there. There are many, many of us who value your voice here.

May 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHeather!

OMG That is Awful & very HURTFUL! I was just talking about YOU this morning & how WONDERFUL I think you are!!! Sorry this is happening.

May 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDebstmomy

Don't you love it when people threaten you and you have all the documentation in your favor and they still don't get it? I've gone through a couple of things like this; one midwifery related, the other having to do with another organization I belonged to years ago. People who feel threatened by the truth are always going to come out swinging; you will prevail. What you had to say about Midwifery, I "second" and I am foursquare in your corner on these issues.

I too, have felt the need to get the legalities "straight" for my own peace of mind. You are right to make it clear to your adversaries that you will not take abusive threats lying down; good for you!

May 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKneelingwoman

“I am entitled to my opinion” is a very poor defense. President Bush, for instance, has “opinions” to which he is “entitled” that there are WMD in Iraq and that abstinence education is effective.

By clinging to one’s “entitlement to opinion” one is saying that facts are irrelevant and need not be engaged with; all that is important is the right to think and say as one pleases.

Barb, your opinions are passionate but also very thoughtful and based on fact, not wishful thinking. Please do not resort to stating that they should not be challenged because you are “entitled” to them. Instead, assert that you can back up your opinions with fact and evidence and invite your opponents to do the same.

Thank you.

May 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAlison Cummins

Lots of drama on the internet these days...lots of bloggers considering taking down their blogs due to said drama (myself not included)...not sure where this will all take us, but I surely hope it will not lead to "safe" blogging.

You are right! (of course) But, the comparison to Bush and I is a farrrrr stretch. I am writing in a blog - a public journal - and everything ANYONE writes on the Net should be taken with a salt lick. For goodness' sake, it is a JOURNAL where I share my thoughts and beliefs in a (somewhat) cogent format, but that doesn't mean I am the be all and end all to the discussion. I sent through all the comments to that post even though I wildly disagreed with some of them. Egads, some, even from those that should have known better were atrocious in their understanding of what I was doing/saying/demonstrating.

I know I hit quite close to home for many midwives who know exactly what I am talking about, the unethical behavior, the lying, the cheating of clients... granted, it is a distinct minority, but it is a minority that smells up the place pretty badly. I am just damn tired of being in the same club as these women who give midwifery the crappiest name.

How's that for an opinion? *laughingwink*

May 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

Amazing how high and mighty CAM is lately. You aready know my opinion of a certain representatives of theirs. If they are truly worried about threats to the legality of midwifery, they should police their own people more carefully!

May 1, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterda

Barb, no I am not comparing you to Mr. B! Sorry. It's just one of my pet bugaboos that people are so used to hearing "I'm entitled to my opinion" and being told to be respectful that they don't realise they can challenge opinions with fact. With, in some cases, tragic consequences.

Yes of course it's your blog. No, of course you don't make public policy. Yes, other people get upset. No they don't have the right (even more importantly, the ability) to tell you what you can say.

On the other hand, by choosing to post your journal publicly you open it to discussion and challenge (which you very gracefully accept). All I'm asking is that people try to set a good example by saying "my opinions are founded in fact" rather than "please don't react to them, they're just my opinions and I'm entitled to them."

Some people, of course, can't say that!

Just something I fret about.

Thanks for the blog!

May 2, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAlison Cummins


I do appreciate exactly what you were saying and considered taking the sentences out, but thought it explained it better when you brought it up here in comments.

I will remembmer your thoughts when I want to defend myself in this way again.

Because I *do* have proof! Loads of it.

Thanks again.

May 2, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

I have also been recently attacked, lied about, and somewhat slandered online right now in my own life. I feel for you and send you much love and strength. It can be the most frustrating and infuriating stuff, and also, it hurts and it sucks! These blogs have been so good and so bad lately, huh? We love you, keep on truckin.

May 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

God almighty. & I thought I had blogging problems?!

May 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAgatha

FYI, I found your blog through the Google search "cease and desist blog slander," so you can guess that I am dealing with similar issues in my professional life as well. Your situation seems much more dire (in my case, my company is being attacked and the person's vituperations are based largely on comments that I didn't make) because it is so individual and personal.

I am very sorry to hear about your situation. Incidentally, I am a huge fan of midwifery and have had children delivered both by a midwife and by a physician (both in hospital settings, for what it's worth, but 2 very beefy all-natural baby boys to show for it). I greatly preferred the midwife experience and wish it had been a good option the second time around, but very unfortunately the medicine vs. midwifery issue played a large role in my decision. It really doesn't HAVE to be so contentious. Okay, there's a bit of opinion for you there. :)

In any industry, a few bad apples can ruin the reputation of a large group of hard-working, diligent and honorable people. To point such a thing out should not be considered a heinous crime -- your aim is to better the profession, not eradicate it.

At any rate, I hope it means something to have even a bit more moral support out there on the Internet sending out good vibrations. And, to all the petty bloggers (and jaw-yappers) who fabricate tales in the name of venting and creative writing, Shame on You!

June 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Thanks and do check out my post "Blog-sided." It might help you, too.

Also, read _The Four Agreements_ - it continues guiding me even in the darkest of blog-times.


June 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

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