twistpeach@LiveJournal recently published a 100% awesome journal entry, which went viral, about her experience with a creeper at Arisia 2014 and what she did about it. There is so much good in what she did, and what she wrote about it, that if you have anything to do with SFF Fandom, and probably even if you don’t, you should go read it right now if you haven’t already.
However, I feel I must take issue with one thing she wrote in a follow-up journal entry:
3) There was much discussion of libel and slander in the discussion of the deleting, which honestly made me laugh. I support anyone who doesn’t want to host a discussion of my blog on their blog. But the idea that someone who DOES wish to host this discussion might be in legal trouble for slander is ludicrous. First of all, I don’t have to prove that my version of events happened (even though I have ample evidence and witnesses to do so). Slander and libel require that the story be demonstrably false. And the blog alone includes confirmation from the Arisia con chair of my report.
I have two concerns with spreading this kind of information to people who might have experiences similar to twistpeach’s and need to decide after the fact what to do about it. First of all, “Slander and libel require that the story be demonstrably false,” is hardly a universally true statement. Second, whether or not you actually committed slander or libel, you can still be sued, and it can cost you a great deal of time, money, and stress extricating yourself from such a lawsuit.
Before I go into more detail about these concerns, there is one thing I want to be absolutely, 100% clear about. I think that outing creepers like twistpeach’s did is absolutely, positively the right thing to do. I am in awe of her for doing it, and I think if more people with similar experiences reacted similarly and outed the perpetrators, there would be fewer of them and less social acceptance of their actions.