Character assassination

From Academic Kids

Character assassination refers to the act of individuals or groups who intentionally attempt to influence the portrayal or reputation of a particular person, whether living or a historical personage, in such a way as to cause others to develop an extremely negative, unethical or unappealing perception of him/her. By its nature, it involves deliberate exaggeration or manipulation of facts to present an untrue picture of the targeted person. For living individuals, this can cause the target to be rejected by his or her community, family, or members of his/her living or work environment. Such acts are typically very difficult to reverse or rectify, therefore the process is correctly likened to a literal assassination of a human life. The damage sustained can be life-long, or for historical personages, last for many centuries after their death.

Humans, by nature, work and live in groups and have criteria for acceptance and rejection. It is a mechanism for justice, and a way to enforce standards of behavior in group members. The threat of rejection is the means of enforcement.

Humans, by nature, also have the ability to rationalize and 'toe the line'. One definition of power is being able to get a person's community to think the way one wants it to think. The threat of force (loss of job, for example) is very powerful in getting people to see things one's way.

Character assassination is the predatory use of this power to cause a person to be rejected from his/her community. It is characterized by; a moral rationalization of the community to reject the person based on character (or rumors of incorrect behavior), not allowing the accused a voice in the discussions (or even to hear the charges, if possible), and the abuse of power to further this goal.

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