‘Oh, That Girl? She be hoe. I eat am.’ by Amanda Edinam Ahiadormey

Not that it is only males that are guilty of this crime, but many times, you may have heard one boy tell the rest of his pack ‘Oh, that girl? I clear am’, or ‘Oh, she be hoe. More boys eat’.

These days, it is not uncommon to find one person say this to another even on social media. The idea is to make the other person look less credible, or unchaste, and to create some impression that they either cannot keep it in their pants or cannot close their legs.

And though this seems to be a growing trend, not everything that is done on Twitter stays on Twitter.

Before you open your mouth to say something like that against another person, you might want to know that you just may be liable under defamation. Whether it is saying that the person is gay, or accusing a particular young lady of being everybody’s go-to, just pause for a moment before you get into trouble.

Defamation is a tort that seeks to protect people from having their reputation destroyed or exposing them to hatred, ridicule or contempt.

Defamation includes saying or publishing words that tend to lower a person in the estimation of ‘right-thinking’ society members. No doubt, saying that a person has been slept with by many people or is in the habit of indiscriminate sex is bound to lead to the person being viewed in a different eye. Before you type that thing or say it, just know that you will be fulfilling the first element of defamation. Except in the case where it is an abusive word or false personal attack blurted out in the heat of an argument. You may be spared there, however, presuming you did not, let us see what other elements constitute defamation.

The second element is that whatever words are being called defamatory should be easily understood by the average man as meant to have the effect of lowering a person in estimation.

Further, whatever words are being called defamatory must have some reference to the plaintiff. Just in case you were hoping to say, ‘but who said I was talking about him’, remember that if the plaintiff or claimant can prove that the words you spoke were directed at him, you are slowly getting into hot water. You do not have to mention the person’s name. Once they can prove that when you said ‘I eat am’ you were talking about them and no other, they have a valid claim. It does not matter if you did not intend to refer to the claimant. What essentially matters is what the people think of the words.

Finally, the statement must be published, that is, known to some other person other than the one being spoken of or written about. Once you did not say it to them or send it to them, but knowingly involved a third party, you are liable.

Here’s the even more interesting part.

Every repetition of that defamatory statement is a new publication that gives the claimant a cause of action. Imagine your tweet being retweeted by over a hundred people because you found it okay to speak that way about one famous person.

Once the claimant can prove that they suffered damage as a result of the slander, you are liable. Should they be insulted, or heckled, or disrespected because of your tweet, a shovel of dust was just dug out for your grave. If they lost business customers, or friends, or got disowned by their family, sorry for you.

So the next time you decide out of the blue to go disgrace that person on Twitter, probably because you feel you can tweet anything from your iPhone or get some joy from seeing that blue writing that reads ‘Twitter for iPhone’, or to tell your boys or girls this about a person to ‘increase your street credit’, you might want to think again.