Wikipedia talk:Biographies of living persons

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Accusations and accusations as opinions in BLPs[edit]

I am not aware of any policies covering the distinction between verifiability of criticism existence and the veracity of the criticism itself. There is very little difference in an accusation of a wrongdoing and an opinion which makes an accusation of wrongdoing. As of right now, these two statements typically are treated entirely different:

  • X is a bigot.(source calling X a bigot)
  • Y accuses X of being a bigot.(source calling X a bigot)

For the sake of the example let's state that the source in question is from a reputable publisher, but lacks an example or a case. It is just a trivial "X is a bigot" and nothing more. Certainly, most editors would look at first example and remove it as an attack. The second will almost certainly remain because the existence of the opinion is verifiable even if the contentious claim is not. Essentially, signing off that it is okay because the source says X is a bigot. Is it still a BLP issue? If it is not allowable, what policy specifically prohibits it? ChrisGualtieri (talk) 00:18, 30 January 2015 (UTC)

An interesting question. I think that an accusation of a wrongdoing is (nearly) always an opinion. This is especially so where the wrongdoing relates to an internal thought process, such as in this example. Wikipedia's core content policy, WP:NPOV (at WP:YESPOV), requires that opinions not be stated as facts, which the "X is a" form would do. The "Y accuses" positions the accusation as an attributed opinion, and is more clearly compliant.
Additionally, I think it's worth noting that (IMHO) the purpose of the biographies of living persons policy (WP:BLP) is not to protect living persons (although this is a pleasing side effect); but to protect Wikipedia from slandering or libeling living persons (and the consequences thereof). The "Y accuses" form, in conjunction with requiring a supporting reliable source, makes it clear that it is not Wikipedia making the accusation.
Hope this helps in some small way. I am interested in the ongoing discussion, and any other alternate thoughts. - Ryk72 'c.s.n.s.' 01:39, 30 January 2015 (UTC)
@Ryk72: This is the related discussion: WP:BLP/N#Steven Emerson part 2. You can weigh in there. - Cwobeel (talk) 04:17, 30 January 2015 (UTC)
I think ChrisGualtieri is referring to this source and quote: Hammer, Julie; Safi, Amid (2013). The Cambridge Companion to American Islam. Cambridge University Press. p. 8. ISBN 9781107002418. Retrieved 22 January 2015. "Islamophobe[s] Steven Emerson (the discredited "terrorism expert" who falsely identified Muslims as being behind the Oklahoma city bombings committed by Timothy McVeigh)" - Cwobeel (talk) 04:19, 30 January 2015 (UTC)
That source confuses fact and fiction - but you insisted upon putting it in with your "fomenting Islamophobia" spiel which is not even in the source. It was not my example, but if you must interfere it will distract from something that I am also researching - thankfully mostly out of BLP, but my standards are not limited to such. ChrisGualtieri (talk) 04:41, 30 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for the context. I'll have a look & a think. Probably best to keep the details of the specific instance on WP:BLP/N, so I'll reply there if anything useful & specific, and reply with anything more abstract & esoteric here. - Ryk72 'c.s.n.s.' 05:07, 30 January 2015 (UTC)
  • That's a good question, and I think WP:UNDUE gives us some guidance. We should consider whether the accusations had any impact on the person's field of notability, as well as whether they're likely to become part of the enduring legacy of that person. So, for example, something like "During the debate Smith accused Jones of being a 'coward' and 'soft on crime'." should be left out because it's just generic political trash-talk, but "After the watchdog group accused Jones of corruption, he was forced to resign when an audit found several thousand dollars missing from city funds." should be left in (well-sourced of course) as it is impactful on Jones' career. As a general statement, mere accusations are generally pretty weak article material, and especialy so for a BLP. Andrew Lenahan - Starblind 17:04, 30 January 2015 (UTC)