I have slandered someone’s good name on the Internet. “I’m so sorry, Dr.___!” “I’m so sorry, Thay!”
I was so pissed-off at this fucking doctor that I convinced myself I had a right to name him (instead of “this doctor”) when I bitched about my medical care on the Internet. “Hey, other people need to be protected from him – right?!”
In the same blog post, I compared this “lousy doctor” with my “wonderful” primary physician. It was only when one of my Facebook friends (and – really, I would say – a “real friend”, who I don’t see often) left a Comment on my post in which she attacked my beloved doc that I realized the impact of what I had just done.
“If I am so angry about what she just said about my doctor, then why would not some of this doctor’s patients be really hurt and angry to hear what I said about him?”
Included in the Buddhist teaching of non-violence is a point about “violent speech”: slandering someone, injuring their good name. Good Buddhist that I have tried (sometimes) to be, this principle has always set a little uneasy with me – even while I can sense that it probably is right. “What about freedom of speech?… What about spontaneity?…What about consumer protection?…Sometimes saying someone is a bad apple is the only thing with integrity.”
Right…and if you buy those arguments as an excuse for doing damage to someone’s reputation, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.