The Instagram Accident
The case of a young medical student who posted a picture on her instagram, capturing it “ be careful b*tches caz we can kill your babies #oneday”, can be viewed as a good example of not only defamation but also potential threat to the society.
The Lebanese court recognizes those as Kadeh and Tahkeer (Dabbous, 2007, p.41), both of which can end up in a legal punishment. Tahkeer can relate to a content that carries any offensive, insulting language (Dabbous, 2007, p.41) which in the given case represent in the “b*tches” addressed to the mothers of the children, or in fact any female individual that might encounter with that instargam post. The Kadeh, which can appear in a form of “any verbal insult” (Dabbous, 2007, p.41) , in this case being the potential threat to the children that the nurse might of worked with.
Even though the instragram caption can be directly addressed as offensive, it is important to try to understand the opposing side, that being a young medical student who posted a picture on her 14000+ following instagram page. It is important to keep in mind the fact that the page was private, according to A Separate State of Mind, however the lines of private and public become very blurry on social media. An account that has a following as big as fourteen thousand can hardly be considered private. Moreover, when posting any kind of content on a page with such great following, it is important to be aware of the numbers of people seeing this content. In a given case, if a girl’s page was indeed private with only family and friends following, the chances that such a post would affect her future would decrees. Even though it might seem that the punishment for such a caption was too harsh — the student got expelled from the university, looking on it from a legal perspective, the punishment for such public threat could have been way greater than just a university suspension. As mentioned before, the Lebanese court recognizes defamation and abusive language as a criminal offense, therefore such a post could result in a fine or even jail time (an extreme case). Lebanon is not a free speech oriented coutry , and even truth would not be a justification to any kind of defamation (Dabbous, 2007, p.41). In a given case, the caption did not even represent any hidden agenda; such as political or religious, the caption was simply offensive. The post itself did not carry a greater purpose; it was not targeting any sensitive topic, which could have been carrying a message. Although we can think of captions that can be viewed as offensive but carry a greater purpose, such as expressing opinion on a sensitive matter or raising awareness of things labeled as “taboo”, such post did not include any of the listed above elements and can be seen as purely defamatory and threatening. We can compare the given case with other known cases of defamation and libel such as Gino’s blog and the article in which he used and offensive expression towards a media channel. In such a case we can see how two libels are c ontradictory to each other because in the case of Gino, the libel was an expression of a personal opinion, which was based on Gino’s prior experience with Cube 7. In the case of a nursing student, who threatened to potentially harm her future patients, the libel took more of an aggressive and logically non-based approach. Since USJ is a private university, it is very understandable why it has taken such a harsh decision, which probably affected a girl’s life on a big scale. Such instagram caption portrayed a medical student in not just a bad light, but probably having some issues on a personal level. Since the girl was perusing a career in medicine which requires a lot of physical, mental health, and healthy communication with patients, the university has probably assumed that one who makes such harsh statements on instargam cannot possibly pursue a career in a field such as medicine.
Dabbous, D. (2007). ,ACRLI 2007 Country Report: Media in Lebanon, ARCLI, Beirut, p. 41–44
A Separate State of Mind. (2016). Slut Shaming & Public Crucifixion: How Lebanon Handled A Nursing Student’s Instagram Caption. Retrieved march 20, 2016, from http://stateofmind13.com