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Media Law, Ethics, Libel and Slander

            In 2007, the Rutgers women's basketball team made the final four and was on their way to play Duke University in the national title game. Needless to say their success on the court brought attention in a very public eye. Unfortunately, their emergence to the spotlight was not well received by all. Don Imus, a former radio personality scrutinized the young athletes with tasteless remarks on air. He referred to the young women as "nappy headed hoes" and "jiggaboos" throughout the broadcast. He later even compares them to professional men's basketball teams. It is safe to say on top of his immediate termination from MSNBC he faced defamation, slander, and libel lawsuits from players and the university (Setrakian, 2007). This particular case of defamation was the perfect example of how defamation terms can be interchangeable in a court of law as well become muddled even when the differences are clearly cut in legislature. Yes, the statements were false and inflammatory, and certainly caused damage to the subject of the statements, as well as were made to a third party, which are all components of a valid defamatory statement. However, to an unfamiliar eye, it could still remain unclear as to why he was brought up on all three charges. It is understandable that the components of defamation, slander and libel can be viewed as rectangles and squares. As a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not a square, libel can be considered as slander, if libel is the primary accusation, but slander is not necessarily libel without the presence of a published defaming statement.
             The evolution of defamation law, in the context of the emergence of libel and slander, as facets, has converged in relation to differentiating them in a courtroom. According to John D. Zelezney's Communications Law, libel is defined as written defamation while slander refers to spoken defamation (Zelezney, 2011).

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