Dr. Firpo W. Carr

Anti-Defamation law proposed

“A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth.” (Ecclesiastes 7:1, New International Version) Indeed, if you have lived long enough to make a “good name” for yourself, “the day of death [is] better than the day of birth.” Your good name permeates the trail you followed in life like “fine perfume.” On the other hand, no infant, after suffering the tragedy of death, has had time to make such a ‘fine smelling’ good name for itself.

In varying degrees, and on different levels, many see Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Tupac Shakur, and Biggie Smalls as having made good names for themselves. Foibles, idiosyncrasies, and eccentricities aside, what if after a lifetime of having made a good name for yourself, detractors campaign to befoul it after your passing? “The dead themselves do not praise Jah,” says Scripture, “nor do any going down into silence.” (Psalms 115:17, New World Translation) Since, ‘dead men don’t tell tales,’ is there any recourse? There is, according to a group calling themselves CadeLaw Advocates.

Defending the Dead: Advocates of the California Anti-Defamation Legacy Law (CadeLaw) have been campaigning for laws that would prohibit anyone from defaming the character of the deceased. In other words, these advocates believe that laws against libel, slander, defamation, and other aspects of character assassination should be equally applicable to you when you’re dead.

At first glance they appear to be a loose-net group of women that one may be tempted to dismiss as amateurish; emotional fans who are out of touch with reality, and who are still mourning the death of their idol. A closer look, though, reveals the richness of their substance.

CadeLaw Advocates: How did this group come about? “A year ago several of us came together through an Amazon Michael Jackson community. It seemed that each of us had embarked on the same journey on June 25, 2009. In trying to understand what we were experiencing, we all found ourselves at the same thread on the Michael Jackson Community. We shared our sorrow, anger, confusion, frustration, tears, discoveries, and joys. As time went on we truly became a family and we were very comfortable with one another. We all consider one another to be sisters, and we are a very close group.

“The emotional pain and sorrow began to evolve into something deeper. We wanted to find a way to make a difference. Many of us became involved in writing letters and posting comments where we saw a need. We placed an ad in the newspapers in Gary, (Indiana,) and the surrounding area on Michael’s birthday to honor him and to let it be known that there are people who care about seeing his legacy go forward without the tinge [sic] suspicion.

“Those efforts prompted some of us to want to become even more involved. After a Skype call where all who wanted to work on this project came together, MJ shared her idea to take some form of legal action to stop the spread of untrue and hateful information about Michael. Discussions over that idea lead to another conference call with Karen, Barb, MJ, and Vanessa. There the idea was formed to try to have a law passed in California that would make it illegal to defame a person who had passed on.

Michael Jackson was unfairly portrayed by a biased media throughout most of his life. Every aspect of his life was a source of amusement to the media, and they happily distorted facts and spread rumor and gossip in order to make a profit. It was a terrible way to treat Michael. No one in the history of our country has ever been so vilified in the media.

“Journalists, entertainers, public figures; it seems everyone felt very comfortable with treating Michael’s life like it was a comic strip. That is heartbreaking to us because we see what a wonderful man he was. Not just for his legendary accomplishments in entertainment and the arts, but for the contributions he made to the world through his message of love. He lived a most remarkable life and managed to remain humble, loving, kind, generous, and respectful.

“That is why we have come to this point where we say enough is enough. To have defamed him while he was living was an egregious misuse of the freedom of speech and the power of words. However, to continue to do so after he is no longer here is reprehensible.”

More to come.