Stalking and Social Engineering: Wheel-of-Slander

Abusive individuals, stalkers and criminals specializing in destroying or selling human beings (e.g., human traffickers, pimps, etc.) all have one primary goal: isolate the target. The wheel-of-slander is one of many methods commonly used to isolate a victim while simultaneously convincing other people that the victim ‘deserves’ whatever horrible crimes the stalker or criminal chooses to perpetrate.

Establishing Trust

This technique does not require establishing a level of trust. It only requires identifying established gossips and their hot-button topics.  A period of observation and casual interaction is usually sufficient.

Initiating the Gossip

The stalker approaches the gossip with ‘news’ about the target, who just happens to be [hot button issue]. The stalker purposely crafts an enticing story, specifically designed to get the gossip emotionally involved in attacking the target. The story leaves out all concrete evidence, details about the stalker and the source(s) for the ‘facts’ provided. Instead, ‘proof’ is provided in common everyday actions and interactions, such as: the way the person walks or speaks, the type of clothes they wear, their physical address or even the color of their eyes/skin/hair.

The less concrete or valid the evidence, the more effective the gossiping campaign. This is because the people who enjoy verbally attacking another person (just for fun) will jump in and elaborate, while individuals who are more naïve will begin to believe that these things truly are concrete proof of [hot button issue]. Sadly, the individuals who see through this game will often remain silent and watch it play out from a distance, out of fear of becoming a target themselves.

Wheel-of-Slander

After the first gossip has been inspired to act, the stalker locates the second gossip with a different hot-button issue and proceeds to create an equally fictitious story about the target. This second gossip proceeds to spread vicious rumors with loose (at best) and completely irrelevant (at worse) indicators of ‘proof’ that the target is [second hot button topic].

Sadly, most people will not consider how highly improbable it is for multiple extreme accusations levied at a single individual to contain any amount of verifiable truth. In fact, the accusations could completely contradict one another, and the crowd-response will usually consist of a poorly defined sense of fear and revulsion that can best be defined as this is a bad and dangerous person – stay away.

Common slanderous accusations used during a Wheel-of-Slander assault in the United States:

  1. Abuser (e.g., Child, Animal, etc.)
  2. Criminal Activity (e.g., They claim to be trustworthy, but they are really [hot button issue] – they just haven’t been caught yet)
  3. Cultural Heritage (e.g., They claim to be X, but they are really Y)
  4. Dating or ‘Interest’: (e.g., They claim to be single or in a relationship, but they are really dating or trying to date [hot button issue])
  5. Drug or Alcohol Addiction (e.g., They deny it, but they are really getting high/drunk in secret – they make sure no one sees them buying or using the stuff.)
  6. Hate Group Association (e.g., They deny it, but they are really a member of [hate group])
  7. Mental Illness (It’s important to note that ‘crazy’ never has to be proven, it only needs to be stated. Most people will believe another person is ‘crazy’ based on rumor alone.)
  8. Physical Illness (stigmatizing)
  9. Political Affiliations or Beliefs
  10. Racial Heritage (e.g., They look [race], but they are really [race])
  11. Secret Religion (e.g., They claim to be X, but they are really Y)
  12. Sexual Identity (e.g., They claim to be X, but they are really Y)
  13. Stalking (e.g., They claim to be dealing with a stalker, but they are really the stalker themselves.)
  14. Witchcraft (It’s important to note that the beliefs behind the Salem Witch Trials perpetuate in the present day – people actually believe witches are real and must be eliminated through lynching.)

(This list could contain hundreds of examples, but you get the idea.)

Exercise: Randomly select four (4) numbers and pull those items off the above list. Put that list together into a single description. Imagine being the victim and trying to address any one of these assaults. How would you make sense of what people are saying and why? Now try to imagine creating a method for addressing the problem. Where do you go? Who do you confront? Who do you sue for slander?

Spotting Manipulation

Gossip is never factual. People who regularly participate in gossip do so for the thrill of destroying another human being. Therefore, gossips are inherently unethical and untrustworthy individuals. It is important to learn to recognize when this behavior is occurring and call it out for what it is.

Facts are verifiable. Human beings are creatures of habit, and most people say and do things that are logical – or, at least, follow a well-defined pattern. This makes fact-finding reasonably easy – as long as the person researching the facts is sincerely looking for FACTS instead of ‘proof’ for what they’ve already decided to be true.

  • Always question gossip.
  • Always question inflammatory statements.
  • Always question ‘facts’ provided without clear or verifiable proof.

Business Law: Libel, Slander and Defamation

Quote

“Libel and slander are types of defamatory statements. Libel is a written defamatory statement, and slander is a spoken or oral defamatory statement…slander is an oral defamatory statement, so those statements can be made anywhere and to anyone — as long as it’s to a third party, meaning someone other than the person who is allegedly being defamed. If you tell your best friend something defamatory about person X, person X could sue you for defamation if he/she could prove that he/she was damaged as a result of your statement.”

Libel vs. Slander: Different Types of Defamation, NOLO.com, by David Berg

“”Defamation” is a catch-all term for any statement that hurts someone’s reputation. Written defamation is called “libel,” and spoken defamation is called “slander.” Defamation is not a crime, but it is a “tort” (a civil wrong, rather than a criminal wrong). A person who has been defamed can sue the person who did the defaming.”

Defamation Law Made Simple: Learn the basics of slander and libel — the rules about who can say what without getting into legal hot water, NOLO.com, by Emily Doskow

“Collectively known as defamation, libel and slander are civil wrongs that harm a reputation; decrease respect, regard, or confidence; or induce disparaging, hostile, or disagreeable opinions or feelings against an individual or entity. The injury to one’s good name or reputation is affected through written or spoken words or visual images. The laws governing these torts are identical…To prove that the material was defamatory, the plaintiff must show that at least one other person who saw or heard it understood it as having defamatory meaning. It is necessary to show not that all who heard or read the statement understood it to be defamatory, but only that one person other than the plaintiff did so. Therefore, even if the defendant contends that the communication was a joke, if one person other than the plaintiff took it seriously, the communication is considered defamatory.”

Libel and Slander, The Free Dictionary

“The general harm caused by defamation is identified as being ridiculed, shamed, hated, scorned, belittled or held in contempt by others, and lowers him/her in esteem of a reasonably prudent person, due to the communication of the false statement. This tort can result in a lawsuit for damages.”

“Malice – if intentional malice can be shown/proven, than the act usually qualifies as defamation for damage to one’s reputation. However, even without this, if it is obvious that the statement would do harm and that it is untrue, one can still pursue this tort if he/she can demonstrate actual/tangible harm, such as loss of business (called special damages).”

Defamation Law – Guide to Libel and Slander Law, HG.Org

“Defamation law, for as long as it has been in existence in the United States, has had to walk a fine line between the right to freedom of speech and the right of a person to avoid defamation. On one hand, people should be free to talk about their experiences in a truthful manner without fear of a lawsuit if they say something mean, but true, about someone else. On the other hand, people have a right to not have false statements made that will damage their reputation. Discourse is essential to a free society, and the more open and honest the discourse, the better for society.”

Defamation, Libel and Slander, Defamation Law: The Basics, FindLaw.com

“defamation: n. the act of making untrue statements about another which damages his/her reputation. If the defamatory statement is printed or broadcast over the media it is libel and, if only oral, it is slander…Some statements such as an accusation of having committed a crime, having a feared disease or being unable to perform one’s occupation are called libel per se or slander per se and can more easily lead to large money awards in court and even punitive damage recovery by the person harmed.”

Defamation on Law.com

“Defamation—also calumny, vilification, and traducement—is the communication of a false statement that harms the reputation of an individual person, business, product, group, government, religion, or nation.”

Defamation on Wikipedia