The flip side of libel suits: a problem of definition

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By Zachary Porcu

By Zachary Porcu

The fastest way to get sued by Tom Cruise is, apparently, to claim that he’s gay.

Recently, a porn star claimed he and Cruise had been lovers.

But when Cruise retaliated with a $10 million libel suit, more than a little controversy suddenly sprung up around the action.

Critics called into question whether it was politically correct to sue for libel when a claim of homosexuality is asserted.

And apparently this is not the sort of thing that happens just to high-profile celebrities like Cruise:

Last December Joseph Farah, editor-in-chief of the conservative Web site World Net Daily, sued Wikipedia for listing him as “an Evangelical Christian American journalist and noted homosexual.”

Regardless that the allegation was a practical joke, Wikipedia should not allow users to give out misinformation. That seems pretty clear.

But is $10 million necessary? Probably not. A public retraction should suffice. Newspapers do it, and so can anyone else who prints false information.

While the practical solution seems simple enough, the issue of political correctness remains.

To clarify, the idea is that if being accused of homosexuality can be considered “libel,” then the implication is that homosexuality is something slanderous, on the same level, presumably, as something like pedophilia.

With this chain of reasoning in mind, most critics seem to be taking lawsuits of this nature as another manifestation of so-called “homophobia.”

Gabriel Arana, on, recently wrapped up an article on the subject with, “Gay rights groups should let the stars know that the real stain isn’t being labeled gay. It’s being called homophobic.”

Matthew Heller, from says, “Whatever the state of the law may be in New York, should courts still be accommodating anti-gay prejudice in defamation cases rather than rise above it?”

Now, these journalists and many others, seem to be implying that homosexuality is like any of society’s age-old prejudices, and that society needs to “grow” and accept it, like it has accepted racial equality and women’s rights.

However, these situations are by no means analogous, for at least one important reason: religion. The major monotheistic religions all definite homosexuality as a sin, and this will cause significant trouble for the issue at hand.

With Christianity at about two billion worldwide followers, and Islam coming in at a close second, we certainly aren’t dealing with a minority of the world’s population when it comes to a definition of homosexuality.

In fact, with a world population of about 6.75 billion, that makes more than half of all people either Christian or Muslim.

The relevant implications here are simple.

When you ask someone to accept a person of a certain race, you are asking him to go against irrational prejudice, a prejudice which is probably more arbitrary and meaningless than anything else.

But when you ask someone to accept homosexuality as valid, on the other hand, you are basically asking for that person to believe something contrary to his or her religion, and that is very different.

Regarding his Wikipedia fiasco, Joseph Farah wrote on World Net Daily,”It took hours of making corrections that were quickly replaced intentionally with the undocumented and undocumentable lies designed to hurt and humiliate.”

This is hardly a surprise, and this is the sort of reacion one would expect from people of the aforementioned religions.

Yes, people need to stop suing for outrageous sums. Yes, misinformation needs to be corrected. But no, the American people do not need to “mature” and accept homosexuality as a valid lifestyle, at least, not the ones who are religious. How can we ask them, in good conscience, to play pick-and-choose with their religion?

If we’re going to have a country that supports freedom of religion, then it looks like we’re going to have to accept the fact that some people (in all actuality, probably most people) will find accusations of homosexuality to be offensive, and, more than likely, view such claims as a defamation of character.

Should they sue for millions of dollars? I should hope not. But to tell half the world’s population that their religion is wrong is at least as big an error.

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