“The wicked are always surprised to find that the good can be clever.”
-Luc de Clapiers
Consent activism frequently involves making statements about bad actors. Perhaps you’ve decided you need to publicly call out a predator in your community, or you need to let a venue owner know that one of their instructors has a history of consent violations. Or perhaps you just want to warn your community about someone who harmed you.
Statements are a powerful tool for change, but they involve considerable legal risk. The time to think about that risk is when you’re writing a statement, not when someone is threatening to sue you for a statement you’ve already made.
Even private text messages have a way of finding their way into the wrong hands: keep defamation risk in mind every time you make a derogatory statement about another person.
The three elements of a defamation case are falsehood, fault, and harm. It may not be possible to make an effective statement about someone without harming them, but you should ensure every statement you make is proof against falsehood and fault. In particular:
You’ll notice a recurring theme throughout this chapter: reducing your legal risk goes hand in hand with being scrupulously ethical.