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Thursday, May 2, 2013

The world may be changing, but you can't write lies and get away with it.

Absence of Malice was a great film. On many levels. It certainly had two great actors, in Paul Newman and Sally Field. A stellar script and great suspense. But mostly, the hook of the movie rested on the issues. Or in this particular case an issue.

 "Let us suppose that your story proves to be false on its face. If newspapers printed nothing but truth they need never employ attorneys.....I'm not a whit interested in the facts, I'm concerned with the law.
The question is not whether your story proves to be true. The question is what protection do we have if it proves to be false?...If he talks to us we will include his denials which will create the appearance of fairness. If he declines to speak we can hardly be responsible for errors which he refuses to correct."

Pseudo reporters. The internet has created them. But what are they really? A bunch of gossipy twenty somethings who haven't grown up. They haven't made the leap from high school to adulthood. The rumors and lies they used to spread in high school are now being told over the internet and discussed like they are facts. They aren't harmless anymore. 

"He said he first heard the comments about Burke through a friend and on various online hockey forums.

Bradley, who found out about the case on Friday when reporters started contacting him through Twitter, said he has yet to be contacted by Burke’s lawyers or to receive notice of the suit against him.

He is questioning why Burke is now singling him and 17 others out.

“Why would you go through so much trouble just to remove (18) comments?” he said. “It makes me wonder, why is it a big deal?”

They are slanderous, many times false and hurt reputations. And when that used to happen, people sued those who did that. That is why reporters almost never did that. Because it was against the law and those slandered would not look the other way and say "it's just the internet" and newspapers had a team of lawyers to make sure that the proper care was done up front before you printed anything. Like maybe contacting sources, getting proof, asking the person directly to deny it and then printing that in the article or catching them in the act. In this case, none of that happened.

“It’s a crazy idea, right? . . . I thought it was just a rumour. I said speculation,” Bradley told the Star on Monday. “What I said wasn’t probably true and I just removed it because I don’t want anything bad to happen in the future.”

Yes, we have free speech in our society. But you don't get to just say or print anything. And you can't just delete them and think they go away. In the internet world, just like the real print world, once it is out there you can't unring the bell. You will have to answer for your actions.
Younger people just don't understand that. Brian Burke does.
He is the first one I know of that is actually going to do something about it.

http://www.thestar.com/news/crime/2013/04/30/young_target_of_exmaple_leafs_gm_brian_burkes_lawsuit_wonders_why_is_it_a_big_deal.html 

The lawsuit, filed in B.C. Supreme Court last week, claims comments that refer to an alleged affair between Burke and Rogers Sportsnet reporter Hazel Mae and that say Burke is the father of her child are “false” and “defamatory.” It seeks an injunction to prevent their publication as well as undisclosed damages and costs.

I had heard the Hazel Mae rumors before, and some even said that was part of the reason that Burke got fired by the Leafs. People did start talking about it like it was true. But so far, nobody has offered up one shred of proof to back that up. Did Brian Burke have an affair and a child with Hazel Mae? I don't know. But until someone shows me some concrete proof, it didn't happen and you can't say anywhere in public that it did. If you want to spread lies and rumors in your own private e-mail or inbox, then nobody can or should be able to stop you from doing that.  But if you put it out over the open airwaves and think you can just skate away from that without consequence, then you are sadly not aware of how our society works. The internet doesn't give you a free pass from the rules of society. Slander is against the law.
Good for you Brian Burke. It is about time someone stands up to these punks.


About a month ago, Bradley said, a lawyer claiming to represent Mae contacted him twice through private messages on Facebook requesting that his post — which was published online on Jan. 17, a week after Burke was removed from the helm of the NHL team — be taken down by a certain date or he would face legal action.

“I thought this can’t be that important if he messaged me on Facebook,” Bradley said. “I really didn’t take it seriously.”

Young Mr. Bradley was given the chance to take them down, and even retract his statements, but he chose not to. Because he didn't take it seriously. That was obvious to Brian Burke, who obviously does take his own reputation seriously. As anyone should. 
What is most troubling about this whole thing is that the troublemaker in this case, Zach Bradley, is a first year Journalism student at Carleton University. This is a University with a very good reputation and a highly regarded journalism program. One has to wonder what is being taught to these students and what the current screening standards are.
If I were Carleton I would be taking a very long hard look at that. What if he had been using the Universities resources and posted his comments or blog on that? 
The time has come for people to stand up to these types who lack total respect for peoples free will and reputations. Maybe a hefty fine or some jail time will get the attention of the 2.0's who haven't learned that lesson yet, at home, or in the institutions of higher learning that our tax dollars go to support.

 "You say somebody's guilty and everyone believes you.  You say someone is innocent, nobody cares."

"I picked up a newspaper and there it is for everyone to see."

"She writes the story that sets him up. He writes the book on getting even."



Brian Burke is here to remind Zach Bradley that when you write something that is false, or without proof that it is true, someone might be there to get even. Even if that is the internet. Lies are still lies. Rumors are still rumors. And proof is still proof. The question is what protection do we have if it proves to be false?
Maybe they should ask that question at Journalism school.





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