WE are asking the U.S. Senate to adopt and support The Anti-Defamation Legacy Law Initiative (AdLLaw) (pronounced Ad-Law). The Initiative’s goal is simple. It is meant to bring about legislation which will include the deceased among those who, when defamed, can have the same legal protection by giving their family a statute upon which to base a civil cause of action. We see this law as any other; a possible deterrent for most and a tool for the more serious offenders.
Originally we thought to start with California. The California Courts Judicial Council created a draft Initiative. Although, prepared for California, the language of the document clearly states our intention. A MoveOn.Org petition has been created, hoping to show our political leaders this is something the people wish to see happen. We hope it will make deciding to adopt or support the proposed legislation a bipartisan effort.
There is a long list of decedents who have been egregiously defamed throughout history. Trayvon Martin and Michael Jackson are but the latest victims of defamation. Trayvon’s character is determined by gold teeth caps, a hoodie, his age and ethnicity. His legacy becomes a death made mockery for profit and agenda using a shooting range target and garment created for ridicule, and ratings by way of a death scene photo.
We are all familiar with the level of unfair media attention heaped upon Michael Jackson in the past; there is no need to reiterate it here. Journalists hid behind freedom of speech in an attempt to destroy Michael Jackson for entertainment and profit. Michael Jackson devoted his life to demonstrating love. He encouraged us to change the world. There is no better way to honor Michael than to make positive changes wherever we can. One of the ways we can make an important difference is to work for a law to be passed that makes it illegal to defame the dead.
The freedom of speech is a right that we all enjoy in the United States, and to lose any part of that freedom would be a travesty. However, with freedom comes responsibility. Each of us has a duty to be honest, fair, and balanced in what we say. Journalists, those from whom the masses get their information, should he held to an even higher standard. It is ugly enough to attack someone while they are here, but to continue to promote old lies, innuendo, and hate once they can no longer speak for themselves is reprehensible.
It is because of these men such as Trayvon Martin and Michael Jackson that we decided to turn this into a National effort, finding the longer it is delayed the worse the situation becomes. We believe the AdLLaw Initiative is important. We hold dear our First Amendment rights, but there is nothing in our Constitution about slander being a right or an acceptable example to set for our children.
We were working to have California Civil Code §§ 44-48 revise the definition of who can be defamed to include “a natural person whether living or dead”. An initiative measure was been written by the Judicial Counsel (Initiative: Libel or Slander: Decedents – #1212737).
The proposed statutory written for the Anti-Defamation Legacy Law Advocates by the California Legislative Counsel on July 13, 2012
Diane F. Boyer-Vine, Legislative Counsel
By: Aliza Rachel Kaliski, Deputy Legislative Counsel
The proposed statutory:
SECTION 1. Section 44 of the Civil Code is amended to read:
44. (a) Defamation is effected by either of the following:
(b) (1) Defamation of a person may occur whether that person is living or deceased.
(2) An action for defamation of a deceased person may be brought by any individual who would be entitled to succeed to any portion of the deceased person’s estate that passes under Chapter I (commencing with Section 6400) of Part 2 of Division 6 of the Probate Code, or its successor. A defamation action shall not be brought for defamation of a deceased person occurring more than 70 years after the death of the person.
SEC. 2. This measure may be amended to further its purposes by a statute, passed in each house of the Legislature by rollcall vote entered in the journal, two-thirds of the membership concurring, and signed by the Govemor.
Posted by: The Ant-Defamation Legacy Law Advocates