Monday, September 22, 2008


When I was still in the Philippines, one of my favorite Sunday afternoon routines was watching The Buzz, a popular Philippine entertainment news and talk show featuring explosive celebrity news and revelations. In other words, showbiz gossip.

A celebrity's life is an open book so it does not really come as a surprise to hear 'shocking' news about some entertainment personality. After all, in showbusiness, good news or bad news, is still publicity. However, there are times when the "juicy" news becomes too juicy for comfort and the source ends up being sued for libel.

We know that bearing false witness against our neighbor is contrary to the ninth Commandment. This does not only mean giving false testimony in court but includes gossip and lying, in general.

In Matthew 12:36, we are warned that at the day of judgment, we shall give account of every idle word that we speak. For which reason, we should stay away from backstabbing and rumor mongering, and any form of trash talk or idle conversations. Idle talk (especially peppered with green jokes) could be fun; and gossip feeds into a person's desire to feel superior to others or to fit into a group. Therefore, keeping our mouths shut could be a personal challenge.

A person with malicious mouth may also get into legal trouble. As I was browsing through my notes in Civil Investigation, I found out that there are several causes of action that may be filed like Libel (written defamatory statement), Slander (oral defamatory statement) and Invasion of Privacy. In more serious cases, a malicious person may even be sued for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Alienation of Affections (brought against a person who intended to diminish the marital relationship between spouses), Enticement of Spouse (brought against a person who enticed or encouraged a spouse to leave the conjugal home, or harbor the spouse and encouraged him to stay away from home).

We should always be on guard that no unwholesome talk will come out of our mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up (Ephesians 4:29). We should not 'kill' a brother nor betray a partner's confidence by backstabbing them.

Our prayer:
"Lord forgive us for speaking carelessly about others to make ourselves look better. Help us to think before we speak. Teach us to be loving with our words. Amen."

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