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Confirmed Bachelor

PotomacBob

I was told, years ago, by a libel lawyer, that in was inadvisable to use the term "Confirmed Bachelor," because it meant "homosexual."
If that was ever true, is it true today? And, even if it is true today, is it libelous?

awnlee jawking

@PotomacBob

It's possible it was a media codeword for homosexual, just like 'tired' and/or 'emotional' is a current codeword for 'drunk', and 'taken ill' is a current codeword for 'drug overdose' in the context of stars cancelling an engagement at the last moment.

The word 'bachelor' is now somewhat archaic, having caught up with 'spinster' in that respect. 'Single' seems to be the preferred terminology.

AJ

Replies:   Tw0Cr0ws
REP

@PotomacBob

If that was ever true, is it true today?


It wasn't true then, and it isn't true now. However, there are a lot of otherwise intelligent people out there that have some very strange beliefs. Your 'libel' lawyer was probably one of them.

Confirmed Bachelor had, and still has, to do with the person's marital state, not his sexual preference.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@REP

Confirmed Bachelor

It might indicate several things, perhaps an unmarried Catholic who has undergone the rite of confirmation.

"Adjective
confirmed

having a settled habit; inveterate or habitual
a confirmed liar
verified or ratified
a confirmed treaty
(Christianity) having received the rite of confirmation
a confirmed Catholic"

Tw0Cr0ws

@awnlee jawking

I have seen it in some older writing used as a code word for gay.

Another to add to your code word collection; in Hollywood tabloids anorexic means methamphetamine addiction.

Replies:   awnlee jawking  REP
Remus2

@PotomacBob

https://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/bs-fe-everyman-earnest-20181207-story.html

It was in fact true of London's gay community circa 1880s or so. There are several references that come up under "confirmed bachelor gay" search string on google. I'd imagine some of that would have made it to this side of the pond as well.

As for it being libelous, good luck to anyone trying to prove the intent. Especially in the states as the phrase had some mainstream usage pointing to a variety of meanings.

Replies:   PotomacBob
awnlee jawking

@Tw0Cr0ws

in Hollywood tabloids anorexic means methamphetamine addiction.


Thank you and yeuk!

AJ

REP
Updated:

@Tw0Cr0ws


I have seen it in some older writing used as a code word for gay.


I never encountered that usage. However, there are many small groups who redefine a commonly used word or phrase to give it a unique meaning within their group. For the rest of us, we generally are unaware of what that group means by the word or phrase. Then again publicity of a word's alternate meaning can make the meaning clear to many of us.

ETA: It is the use of all of these alternate meanings that makes communication so difficult.

Replies:   Tw0Cr0ws
Tw0Cr0ws

@REP

Then after a while the word usage or the word itself fades away into obscurity.

Tw0Cr0ws

@PotomacBob

In US law the statement being the truth is an affirmative defense to the claim of libel.
In some other countries speaking the truth is not protection.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Tw0Cr0ws

In US law the statement being the truth is an affirmative defense to the claim of libel.


In US law, truth is an absolute defense against libel.

True statements can never under any circumstance be libelous/slanderous.

It is not an affirmative defense in the way that the term "affirmative defense" is used in US law. With affirmative defenses generally under US law, it's not just that the defense has to raise the issue, the defense carries the burden of proof on the issue. This is not so with truth in libel cases. Once truth is asserted, the plaintiff carries the burden of proving the allegedly libelous claim to be false.

Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

Once truth is asserted


Which can only be done by providing proof of it being true, thus there is a burden on the defence to prove the truth.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

Which can only be done by providing proof of it being true, thus there is a burden on the defence to prove the truth.


This is absolutely incorrect under US law. A bald assertion in the defense's initial response, unsupported by any evidence is enough.

Technically under US law, the plaintiff caries the burden of proof on falseness from the beginning, but many trial courts will let it go if the plaintiff doesn't claim truth.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

A bald assertion in the defense's initial response, unsupported by any evidence is enough.


Which is not proof of any sort at all.

The few libel / slander cases I've looked into went along the lines of:

A makes claim about B and then B takes A to court. At that point it is up to A to prove what they said about B is true if they don't want to lose the case. In this situation B is the plaintiff and A is the defender, thus the burden of proof is on the defence to prove what they claim.

Replies:   Dominions Son  REP
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

hich is not proof of any sort at all.

The few libel / slander cases I've looked into went along the lines of:

A makes claim about B and then B takes A to court. At that point it is up to A to prove what they said about B is true if they don't want to lose the case. In this situation B is the plaintiff and A is the defender, thus the burden of proof is on the defence to prove what they claim.


An how many of those were US cases? Under US law, falseness is a necessary element to liable under US law. The plaintiff is obligated to prove falseness if the defense contests it in even the most minimal way.

Remus2

Is anyone in this thread an attorney/barrister/magistrate/solicitor?

REP

@Ernest Bywater

It sounds as if you are describing the defendant is considered guilty and must prove themselves to be innocent, which is not the process in the US.

The plaintiff must produce evidence that substantiates their claim of libel. The defendant then has the right to refute the plaintiff's evidence of guilt.

The accounts you read may have glossed over the plaintiff's presentation of evidence.

Replies:   PotomacBob
awnlee jawking
Updated:

@Dominions Son

In US law, truth is an absolute defense against libel.


In the UK, even if you don't say anything libellous and you get a senile, self-important judge ... https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/may/24/sally-bercow-tweet-libelled-lord-mcalpine

AJ

PotomacBob

@Remus2


As for it being libelous, good luck to anyone trying to prove the intent.

I was under the impression that intent is not necessary as a factor in determining whether an "ordinary Joe" has been libeled, though "absent malice" is a factor for public figures. Is that impression in error?

Replies:   Remus2
PotomacBob

@REP


The plaintiff must produce evidence that substantiates their claim of libel


Isn't it sufficient for the person who claims he or she was libeled to get on the stand and say something like, "what they wrote about me is a bald-faced lie." I know that one of the factors considered in libel is that the story must have damaged the plaintiff's reputation. I saw a libel trial many years ago in which a newspaper was found guilty of libel, and the jury awarded the plaintiff one dollar - saying the plaintiff's reputation was so bad before the story that the story didn't do much to hurt it.

Replies:   REP
Remus2

@PotomacBob

A confirmed bachelor could either be just that, a bachelor with no intent to marry, or a code word for a homosexual. Context will be everything in that. Proving intent would therefore be necessary. It could be intended as an innocent or malicious statement.

Replies:   PotomacBob
PotomacBob

@Remus2

Assume, or the sake of argument, that a political media outlet calls a straight guy a "confirmed bachelor," and, assume further that a jury finds that, in the context of the story, meant that the media outlet meant to convey that the straight guy was actually homosexual, and that they did it with malicious intent, knowing ahead of time that what they were reporting was false. In today's climate, is being falsely seen as a homosexual so damaging to one's reputation that a judge or jury is likely to award substantial damages?

Replies:   Remus2
Paige Hawthorne

In my circles it's, "He's one of nature's bachelors." implying he was born that way. More eloquent than, 'light in the loafers'.

Paige

REP

@PotomacBob

That type of testimony would not be considered evidence by they court.

Replies:   PotomacBob
PotomacBob

@REP

That type of testimony would not be considered evidence by they court.


On what grounds would a court find that "that type of testimony" would not be considered evidence? If I am spreading lies about you - you're not allowed to testify in court that they're lies?

Replies:   Dominions Son  REP
Dominions Son

@PotomacBob

On what grounds would a court find that "that type of testimony" would not be considered evidence? If I am spreading lies about you - you're not allowed to testify in court that they're lies?


Sure, you would be allowed to testify to that effect, but without more, the court is under no obligation to consider your testimony credible evidence.

Self-serving testimony by a plaintiff, not corroborated by other testimony or evidence will not be given much weight in ANY tort case.

Replies:   garymrssn
garymrssn

@Dominions Son

The US legal system is as torturous as it is tortuous.;)

Remus2
Updated:

@PotomacBob


Assume, or the sake of argument, that a political media outlet calls a straight guy a "confirmed bachelor," and, assume further that a jury finds that...


Media, especially political media, tell lies all the time. It's full stop at the word jury. Something like that scenario would never see the inside of a courtroom with a competent judge.

ETA: Don't forget the media get out of jail free card. "Sources say"

Put that in front of nearly anything and they can post/print/say damn near anything.

REP

@PotomacBob

Sure the plaintiff can express their opinion that the defendant's comments are lies, but it is just an opinion and opinions aren't accepted as proof. The plaintiff has to prove their opinion is fact and that requires evidence.

Replies:   PotomacBob
PotomacBob

@REP

Sure the plaintiff can express their opinion that the defendant's comments are lies, but it is just an opinion and opinions aren't accepted as proof.


What the plaintiff is testifying to is that he, personally, is not a homosexual. You think he doesn't know his own sexual preference - that it's only an opinion?

Replies:   REP
PotomacBob

@Remus2

ETA: Don't forget the media get out of jail free card. "Sources say"

Put that in front of nearly anything and they can post/print/say damn near anything.


that may be true when the story is about a public figure. I think it is not true with regard to one who is not a public figure. I believe, if the case goes to trial, a defense is not that somebody said it, but that the fact asserted is itself true.

Replies:   Remus2  Remus2
Remus2

@PotomacBob

that may be true when the story is about a public figure. I think it is not true with regard to one who is not a public figure. I believe, if the case goes to trial, a defense is not that somebody said it, but that the fact asserted is itself true.

You did frame the thought in politics. I take it you'd now like to frame as non-political?

There has been a few successes in the non-political realm. However all them I'm aware of have extreme circumstances revolving around them. That aside, the addition of words along the lines of 'suggest' and other wiggle words and phrases usually gets them out of it.

Replies:   PotomacBob
Remus2

@PotomacBob

One other thing to consider. Being accused of being gay is viewed much differently today than it would have twenty years ago. The fourth estate is more likely to attack someone trying to prove they are not gay.

awnlee jawking

@Remus2

ETA: Don't forget the media get out of jail free card. "Sources say"


In the UK, some things are too off-limits to be mentioned even when prefixed by 'allegedly' or whatever. Tony Blair's youthful experimentation with homosexuality, and Prince Philip's many other women, for example.

AJ

Replies:   PotomacBob
PotomacBob

@Remus2



You did frame the thought in politics.


How did you reach that conclusion?

PotomacBob

@awnlee jawking

Being accused of being gay is viewed much differently today than it would have twenty years ago.


Which is why I asked if it's true today, is it libelous?

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@PotomacBob

Which is why I asked if it's true today, is it libelous?


Shouldn't that question have been directed at @Remus2?

AJ

awnlee jawking

@PotomacBob

Given the controversies over the sexual preferences of singer Cliff Richard, one wonders about the lyrics of 'Bachelor Boy' in this context.

AJ

REP
Updated:

@PotomacBob


testifying to is that he, personally, is not a homosexual.


That is a very strange statement since we were discussing the general topic and not a specific case.

You may also want to keep in mind that for some people, they would rather perjure themselves than to be thought of as a homosexual. Granted that type of claim would have more weight in court than strictly an opinion.

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