I came across this article at The Real Presence and found it to be very instructive. Pray for those whose hearts are so bitter that they commit calumny and slander. Pray for their victims who have been irreparably harmed.
The immediate focus of the Eighth Commandment is falsehood that does injury to one’s neighbor. Harm to another person’s reputation, therefore, is the special prohibition of this divine mandate. A person’s reputation may be injured in various ways, notably by detraction and calumny or slander. Detraction is the unjust violation of the good reputation of another by revealing something true about him. Calumny or slander differs from detraction in that what is said or imputed about a person is not true.
A good reputation is the esteem that one person has formed and entertains about another. It may regard his moral qualities, such as honesty, chastity, or truthfulness; it may regard physical and mental qualities or attainments. In either case, reputation is the object of an acquired right, and consequently to take it away or lower it becomes an act of injustice. Not only the living but also the dead have a right to good esteem. During life we wish to remain in the grateful memory of mankind, and such an expectation can lead us to great exploits.
What needs to be stressed, however, is that a person’s good name is something he cherishes even though we may not think he deserves it. No matter; it is his good name, not ours. We may, if we wish, forfeit our good name provided no harm is done to others. But another person’s good reputation belongs to him, and we may not do it injury by revealing, without proportionately grave reason, what we know is true about him.
Continue reading “Commandments of God – Detraction and Calumny”