WEB POSTED 6-8-2000

Is there a connection between slander and a ‘depraved mind?’

Today, two suspects, in the cruel bombing murder of four young Black girls, on Sunday, September 15, 1963, in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, in Birmingham, Alabama, were indicted and turned themselves in today to face charges of “intentional murder” and “universal malice.”

I am sure by now that this aspect of this case will be “old news” by the time this article appears, Allah willing, in this issue of The Final Call. It will have reached another stage or stages by that time. The details are available for anyone interested in this important case. There are certain aspects of this case, however, that directly involve my purpose for this article.

There are two sets of counts charged against these suspects. One set is called “intentional murder.” The other set is called “universal malice.”

The charge of “universal malice” was charged to these suspects, because the bomb was placed where it could have killed any number of people. By making such a charge against these suspects, those prosecuting this case are saying that those who bombed the church and committed murder, did so from a depraved heart.

This can be seen in the meaning of the charge they made against these men, under the term “universal malice.”

“Universal malice,” according to Black’s Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, “… is that depravity of the human heart which determines to take life upon slight or insufficient provocation, without knowing or caring who may be the victim.”

Twenty others were physically injured in that heinous crime. A much larger number of relatives and friends were, of course, injured in the non-physical sense. Black people in general, of course were affected, in various ways, as was the country, as a whole, and the world generally.

We’ll look at the word “intentional” later, especially as it relates to the word “motive.” Meantime, let’s probe, just a little, what state of mind of condition of heart, of the bombers, that this word “depravity” describes.

The term “depravity,” according to Webster’s Dictionary comes from a Latin word, which basically means, in English “crookedness.” Briefly, it refers to “a depraved condition; corruption; wickedness.”

The word “depravity” does not appear in the Sixth Edition of Black’s Law Dictionary. However, there are related words that do. The words “deprave,” “depraved,” and “depraved mind” are defined.

“Deprave” means “to defame; to corrupt morally; vilify; exhibit contempt for. Corrupt, perverted or immoral state of mind.”

“Depraved” is defined “As an adjective means marked by debasement, corruption, perversion or deterioration.”

Finally, according to this same dictionary, the term “depraved mind” is defined as “An inherent deficiency of moral sense and rectitude, equivalent to statutory phrase ‘depravity of heart’ defined as highest grade of malice. A corrupt, perverted, or immoral state of mind.”

It further states “Such state of mind is equitable with malice in commonly understood sense of ill will, hatred, spite or evil intent.” 

The definition of “malice” is “The intentional doing of a wrongful act without just cause or excuse, with an intent to inflict an injury or under circumstances that the law will imply an evil intent. A condition of mind, which prompts a person to do a wrongful act willfully, that is, on purpose, to the injury of another without justification or excuse. A conscious violation of the law (or the promptings of the mind to commit it) which operates to the prejudice of another person. A condition of the mind showing a heart regardless of social duty and fatally bent on mischief. Malice in law is not necessarily personal hate or ill will, but it is that state of mind which is reckless of law and of the legal rights of the citizen.”

It continues that “In murder, [my note: it is] that condition of mind which prompts one to take the life of another without just cause, legal justification, or provocation. A willful or corrupt intention of the mind. It includes not only anger, hatred and revenge, but also every other unlawful and unjustifiable motive.”

Now, there are times when slander and libel are close to murder. Consider this from this same reference work.

Two paragraphs later, and still under the general heading of “malice,” Black’s Law Dictionary continues: “In libel and slander … ‘malice’ involves an evil intent or motive arising from spite or ill will; personal hatred or ill will; or culpable recklessness or a willful and wanton disregard of the rights and interests of the person defamed. In a libel case it consists in intentionally publishing, without justifiable cause any written printed matter which is injurious to the character of another.”

After citing a few cases, which help define this term, we read, “Malicious may be defined, insofar as defamation is concerned, as acting in bad faith and with knowledge of falsity of statements.”

It continues; “In the context of a libel suit brought by a public figure, it consists in publishing the false defamation knowing it to be false with a reckless disregard of whether it is true or false.”

After citing more cases the reader is referred to look further under the headings of Libel and Slander.

I won’t get into all of that except to mention the following. Now under “Particular malice” it reads: “Malice directed against a particular individual. Ill will; a grudge; a desire to be revenged on a particular person.”

Under “Premeditated Malice” it reads “An intention to kill unlawfully, deliberately formed in the mind as a result of a determination meditated upon and fixed” before the act.”

Then under “Special Malicious we read “Particular or person malice; that is hatred, ill will, or a vindictive disposition against a particular individual.”

Finally, under the heading of “Libel” we find that it is “A method of defamation expressed by print, writing, pictures or signs. In its most general sense any publication that is injurious to the reputation to another.”

Further, is a “A maliciously written or printed publication which tends to blacken a person’s reputation or to expose him to public hatred, contempt, or ridicule, or to injure him in his business or reputation.” (My note: Why blacken?)

Am I suggesting that there is a deep connection between the state of the minds and the condition of the hearts of those who bombed that church, back in 1963, and the minds and hearts of those responsible for the CBS program, titled: “60 Minutes,” which aired worldwide on May 14, 2000, during which the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan was vilified?


More next issue, Allah willing.
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