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Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts - Papers

2006

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Defamation And The Art Of Backfire, Truda Gray, Brian Martin Jan 2006

Defamation And The Art Of Backfire, Truda Gray, Brian Martin

Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts - Papers

Legal discussions of defamation commonly focus on defamation law, with relative neglect of struggles that take place over defamation matters. To understand defamation struggles, we introduce backfire theory: if something is perceived as unjust and information about it is communicated to relevant audiences, it has the potential to backfire against those held responsible. Defamation suits have the potential to backfire when they are seen as oppressive or contrary to free speech. There are several types of actions by plaintiffs that can inhibit this backfire effect, including cover-up, devaluation of the defendant, reinterpretation and intimidation. To illustrate the value of backfire ...