: There is a difference between those things.
: People have every right to say things that are racist, insulting, sexist, or even simply stupid.
: People do NOT have the right to slander which is actionable. For example: Opra has every right to say she will never eat another burger. She has the right to say that she is afraid of getting mad cow disease from eating a Texas grown burger. She does NOT have the right to say that such a problem actually exists unless she can demonstrate that it does.
If there exists reasonable doubt and it could affect the wider public, then it is part of the public domain. It's called investigative journalism. Howard Lyman is in fact very informed on this subject, and testified in the McLibel trial as well.
Such a problem certainly does exist in the UK, where the spread of New Variant Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease (nv-CJD) is as yet unknown in scope. There could be thousands of cases incubating quite happily right now.
It's entirely possible, no, probable that the disease has spread over the Atlantic - after all, the meat industry methods in America are much the same as those here, and carriers can only be found out too late (due to the extremely long incubation time of the disease).
Now, would you not agree that it was better that the public be informed clearly and accurately of the risks? Or do you feel that protecting the profits of the meat industry takes precedence over a) the people who could catch it as a result of not being informed and b) "free speech".
The attitude of the American meat industry was paranoid in the extreme and patronizing to the general public. As such, I'm very glad they got knocked for six.
: I didn't see the show, but my understanding is that she made no such claim. So what she did was stupid and rude. But not slanderous.
It wasn't stupid or rude. What she was saying was actually her public duty as someone who possessed information that could be of use to her audience. Personally, even if she's not my favourite person, what she did was the Right Thing. The fact that the beef industry reacted so savagely shows how sensitive they are to criticism.
Perhaps if they were prepared to make public their own standards of care and animal welfare they might be able to face the world with a slightly less furtive face?