They have committed false report; moreover, they have spoken untruths; secondarily, they are slanders; sixth and lastly, they have belied a lady; thirdly, they have verified unjust things; and to conclude, they are lying knaves.
-- Dogberry in William Shakespeare Much Ado About Nothing
And thus he bore without abuse
The grand old name of gentleman,
Defamed by every charlatan,
And soil'd with all ignoble use.
-- From Lord Alfred Tennyson In Memoriam A.H.H.
Good name in man or woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls;
Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something nothing;
'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And Makes me poor indeed.
-- Iago in William Shakespeare Othello
A good name is more desirable than great riches;
to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
-- Proverbs 22:1 (NIV)
More than a quarter of a century ago, William L. Prosser, the country's foremost authority on the law of torts until his death, published the fourth edition of his hornbook. (A hornbook explains the fundamental principles in a given field such as law. 1) In Law of Torts, he noted from the outset:
It must be confessed at the beginning that there is a great deal of the law of defamation that makes no sense. It contains anomalies and absurdities for which no legal writer