Bibliophile the BibleGuru wrote:
Q2. What is the criteria that differentiates between Free Speech and slander?
Well, first you have to differentiate between "Libel" and "Slander" - both of which concepts, under US law, are contained within the tort of malicious or recklessly negligent, false and injurious statement. Should the alleged offense be written, it is termed "Libel"; "Slander" strictly is the act of spoken false and injurious statement. In either event, both the qualifiers of "false" and "injurious" must coexist simultaneously with the attribute either of maliciousness or reckless negligence - conscious, premeditated, voluntary injurious intent or wanton disregard of due diligence and accepted practice - for there to be actionable cause.
Specifically exempted would be commentary clearly intended as satire, lampoon, or parody, particularly concerning persons or entities of significant cultural stature, "Public Figures", such as politicians, celebrities, and/or major commercial entities, and likewise specifically exempted would be any such publication or utterance of allegations in fact legitimately determined and demonstrated to be not false. Included among the prerequisites for action in either case, it must be proven that, along with malicious intent or reckless negligence, one or more of the following conditions be met:
1) The injured party be alleged, absent confession, proof or evidence, to have committed a crime punishable under law by imprisonment and/or forfeiture
2) The injured party be alleged, absent confession, proof or evidence, to have or be the bearer of some dread disease
3) The injured party be alleged, absent confession, proof or evidence, of grave moral turpitude, such as but not limited to wanton promiscuity, rape or other coercion with sexual intent, paedophilia, or homosexuality
4) The injured party be alleged, absent confession, proof or evidence, of incompetence or intentional malfeasance in the practice of trade, profession, or other business
In general, the injured party must be a living individual or existing entity, not that person's or entity's heirs, assigns, or successors, and be proven to have suffered or been exposed to actual harm or injury attributable directly to the alleged slander or libel. Apart from the foregoing, there exist tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of pages of nitpicky details relevant to specific jurisdictions and/or specific instances, but that's pretty much the Cliffs Notes version.