The Sceptic Blog

Random thoughts of a random chappy

Publish and damn – Trial by Jewish Chronicle

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1.  One might hope for high standards of journalism from the Jewish Chronicle, or at least basic observance of the Jewish laws of permitted and non-permitted speech.

2. In this week’s issue the Jewish Chronicle reports that a man has been charged with a very serious sexual offence.  The man is named and enough details given of the case to be likely to cause him to be stigmatised by many who read the article.  He is accused by a boy, whose name is not given for legal reasons.

3. For all the Jewish Chronicle can possibly know, this charge may be a complete fabrication.  Stranger things have happened.  The man may be acquitted when tried, or the charge may even be dropped before that.  Yet the stain of the accusation in the eyes of the prejudiced will follow him to the grave: thanks to the Jewish Chronicle.

4.  In Jewish law, there is no excuse for the publication of what is presently an unsubstantiated accusation – to do so is mere loshon horoh – culpable gossip.

5.  Of course, there are occasions when the public or a section of it requires to be warned about a danger even in the absence of a conviction: but this would not be the way to secure that end, which requires to be achieved with care, sensitivity and judgment.

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Written by Daniel Greenberg

June 14, 2008 at 10:19 pm

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