Language and the Law


11 comments posted
Are the accusations

Are the accusations available as a public legal document?

Posted by Milan (not verified) on Fri, 05/30/2008 - 01:39
not sure

Hey Milan - Not from either PPO or FPPC - I think if you went to the courthouse and requested the statement, it might be, but I'm not sure.

Posted by megan on Fri, 05/30/2008 - 07:31
I remember discussing this with some friends

Back when the story broke... No disrepect to PPO but I could definitely see how, legally, calling FPPC "anti-choice" would be defamation... Considering FPPC actually do refer people for abortion, though perhaps not many and perhaps they council it as a last resort only, they still give an individual choice... Semantics for sure but PPO would have been better off calling FPPC pro-life leaning or life-first, rather than anti-choice, but that does sound as good in the media.

However for one charity to sue another is just bad for all involved... kinda shows FPPCs true motivations, ie. funding for themselves vs. helping unplanned pregnant mothers... of course that could also go back to the original comment from PPO... are they interesting in helping unplanned pregnancies or defending their ideology? (for the record I am pro-choice I just thought the bickering between the groups served no good purpose for either group...)

Posted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 05/30/2008 - 09:33
I thought that, for a claim

I thought that, for a claim to count as defamation, it actually needs to be false. 'Anti-choice' may not be a term the group would use to describe itself, but it is an accurate and comprehensible description.

In many ways, it is a shame we inherited weak free speech laws from England, rather than created more durable ones like those in the United States.

The biggest danger is probably that high court fees will foce the defendents to settle out of court, rather than risk the expense of a trial.

Posted by Milan (not verified) on Fri, 05/30/2008 - 13:52
From what I've read (the NP

From what I've read (the NP story, so not confirmed personally) FPPC don't give referrals for abortions. According to their website, they will mention abortion as an option during counselling. But I think not giving referrals for only one of three options gives a clear message to the women being counselled.

Personal opinion, of course.

The language is incredibly sticky, and it's all because we live in a culture of dyads. You say "pro-life," and the groups who aren't pro-life are "anti-life." You say "anti-abortion" and the groups who advocate for full education and referral for all options are suddenly "pro-abortion."

So if we're dealing in dyads, and we are, pro- and anti-choice seems to be about the most neutral to me.

I do think it important that PPO raised this issue in the first place. To me, it wasn't bickering. It was that potentially thousands of dollars ($150, 000 is what's named in the suit, I believe) were going to a group about which the public didn't have complete information.

But like I say, I'm too close to the situation to want to get into it any more specifically than that. Especially since I know squat about defamation laws.

Posted by megan on Fri, 05/30/2008 - 09:57
I used to volunteer with PPO

I used to volunteer with PPO in their Insight Theatre show, so I followed this story when it first broke. I listened to PPO coordinators on the radio in interviews, and I was impressed with how they handled the situation; everyone was calm, there was no name calling, it was just a matter of making sure the right information was out. Perfect. Everyone wins.

Hearing this makes me VERY angry. I believe that "anti-choice" is a good title - exactly as you say megan, if you're pro-choice, it doesn't mean you're anti-life. But if you're "pro-life" it does mean you are against the choice of having an abortion. You want to take that choice out of the equation. I think the title is acurate, not defamation. And I'm really angry that PPO is being attacked in this way. They are a wonderful organization and a nice bunch of gals, and I don't want anything to happen to them.

Posted by Evey (not verified) on Fri, 05/30/2008 - 13:11
Canadian defamation law

Canadian defamation law (Wikipedia)

"As with most Commonwealth jurisdictions, Canada also follows English law on defamation issues (although the law in the province of Quebec has roots in both the English and the French tradition). At common law, defamation covers any communication that tends to lower the esteem of the subject in the minds of ordinary members of the public. Probably true statements are not excluded, nor are political opinions. Intent is always presumed, and it is not necessary to prove that the defendant intended to defame. In Hill v. Church of Scientology of Toronto (1995), the Supreme Court of Canada rejected the actual malice test adopted in the US case New York Times Co. v. Sullivan. Once a claim has been made out the defendant may avail him or herself to a defense of justification (the truth), fair comment, or privilege. Publishers of defamatory comments may also use the defense of innocent dissemination where they had no knowledge of the nature of the statement, it was not brought to their attention, and they were not negligent."

It looks like you can get in trouble just for telling uncomfortable truths about people...

Posted by Milan (not verified) on Fri, 05/30/2008 - 13:54
Oh good lord. So what I said

Oh good lord. So what I said up there about the Sens Better Halves could be defamation? Not that I should be pointing that out.

Posted by megan on Fri, 05/30/2008 - 14:44
Did your comments about them

Did your comments about them "lower the esteem of the subject in the minds of ordinary members of the public?"

When the law makes people fearful about expressing their justifiable opinions, you are on the road towards tyranny.

Posted by Milan (not verified) on Fri, 05/30/2008 - 21:04
one and two

1) well i don't think my readers are ordinary members of the public, so i'm safe.

2) dude, totally.

Posted by megan on Fri, 05/30/2008 - 22:30
I was talking to someone who

I was talking to someone who works there a few days ago and she said the suit was for $550,000.

The truth should be protected from anti-defamation laws.

By the way, Megan, I'm subscribed to your feed in Bloglines and I'm not getting notified when it's updated.

Posted by zoom (not verified) on Sun, 06/01/2008 - 12:52