July 24, 2015 — In the U.S. and other countries citizens live under the impression that they are free to say whatever they want and about any topic they care to discuss but it’s not all quite that simple. For example, in the USA ‘they’ say you can’t yell “FIRE” in a movie theater and if you do and there is no fire you are in big trouble with the law. Conversely, if there is a fire in a movie theater and you’re the first to see the blaze and instead of yelling “FIRE” you immediately flee the theater you could also be in big trouble with the law for not sounding a warning – especially if there are casualties.
So Here’s The Scoop: What does that have to do with The Land of Time you ask? Well, more than you may think because we are in an era where timeshare owners/members as well as the ‘rank and file’ working within the industry can apparently get in trouble for posting disparaging remarks online about (e.g.) the condition of a TS resort, their vacation experience there or condition of the suites, etc.
As for the employees, they, too, can get in big trouble for posting negative but truthful comments online about (e.g.) a developer, management, working conditions, pay schedules, sexual harassment, being fired w/o cause and/or any other such comments.
From what I’ve been told it seems that reps nowadays in many industries, including Timeshareville, are forced to basically waive, at least in the USA, their Constitutional 1st Amendment right of free speech when they sign a contract detailing their working-relationship with the company because therein is often a non-disparagement clause prohibiting any online comments be they positive or otherwise.
Should, for example, a TS rep post something like, “I worked at Scoop’s Resort for about 18 months and the room manager ran a love line and only flipped the tables to the closers that kissed up to her so I never got any good shots and was starved out of the room,” that TS rep could very well get sued by Scoop’s Resort.
Some people believe the threat of those suits and the non-disparagement clauses are a form of censorship and there is actually a name for these frivolous lawsuits known as “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation” (SLAPP).
And as it has turned out over the past many years, regardless of the ‘industry’, some people say the primary intent by many plaintiffs who file a SLAPP against anyone is NOT to prevail as they often know that should the case run the full gamut to a Jury trial and verdict they – the plaintiff – will likely lose.
The actual sole purpose of such a suit is to simply get the defendants to succumb to the plaintiffs’ intimidation. To instill real fear and to simply exhaust the defendants emotionally, physically and financially in order to silence them so the defendant will remove and/or retract their online comments — even if the statements are factual and documented, you know, truthful! And These SLAPPs are bogging down the court system from sea to shining sea!
It is so bad and there are so many of these SLAPPs going on that on July 10, 2015 C-Span aired a program called “Freedom Of Speech Online”. The program included the Congressional Internet Caucus Committee and the panel discussed this critically important topic for about 1 hour.
So far about 28 U.S. States have passed some legislation that blocks, prevents or at least somewhat hinders plaintiffs from filing SLAPPs. But the ‘law’ is a tricky and often treacherous arena and many times there are ways to get around a specific decree, the meaning of a word or phrase within a statute or the interpretation of a regulation and/or the intent and/or spirit of the law, etc.
Sort of like what a certain Yale Law School Graduate attempted when, under oath, telling a Grand Jury in 1998 after having already been a Law Professor at a University, a State Attorney General, a two term U.S. State Governor and thereafter a two term President of The United States of America when he said: “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is”.
Good Luck Out There
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Contributing sometimes extravagant, bombastic, emotional, pompous or even pretentious writings about the timeshare industry (but always spot on!), Scoop covers an array of industry related subjects each week including inside information, tips, scandals, interviews, forecasts as well as new (good or bad) products and services — and, of course, all the ‘Good’, the ‘Bad’ and the ‘Ugly’.