Rumor Control: The exact opposite of what it should be. As we all know in law enforcement, rumor control means that people are, in an uncontrolled fashion, spreading false and malicious information just as fast as they can flap their lips and gums. It means nothing is controlled and the "rumors" are usually nothing more than falsehoods/innacurate information being repeated for no apparent good reason.
One has to wonder why such can happen. I mean, if it does you no good to talk about someone, then why do it? I think that we, as human beings, have some fault within us that encourages us to spread information - even if it's unconfirmed, and sometimes even if we have reason to believe it's false or innacurate. In my history of nearly 30 years in law enforcement, I've heard some doosies. What still causes me wonder is the fact that, as I look back, I can't fathom a single benefit reaped by any of those who were spouting out the "rumor".
Of course, there may be some legal liability attached. If you talk about someone negatively, most especially if you're spreading false information, and it's insulting to them, defames their character or hurts their business, then you may be held liable in a court of law. Getting someone recognized as liable, however, is a legal challenge that is often simply not worth the trouble. After all, if someone is spouting off falsehoods about you, those who truly know you already know if it's true or false and the "rumor" won't hurt their opinion of you. In fact, your friends will defend your name if they know the rumor to be false.
As I take the time to ponder those I can specifically remember as spreading falsehoods - and seeming to take great delight in doing so - I can't help but think they held some grudge or dislike for the person whose name they are defaming. Even if what they were saying was 100% true, what would drive them to reach out to others and spend a part of their day spreading negative information about someone? What was truly wonderous was when that someone had absolutely no impact in their day or life, nor in the day or life of those hearing the negative information.
In today's world of international instant media coverage we've grown used to seeing, within just minutes, every celebrity screw up. Lindsay Lohan slipped and fell? Oh, that's major news - along with the opinion that maybe she was drunk again? The person reporting that has no clue about Lohan's condition at the time of the slip; they just enjoy spreading that juicy gossip. But why is it juicy and what value is there in gossip? (For the record, I have no knowledge of Lindsay Lohan being drunk, or slipping and/or falling; this was merely an example using a well known name from the celebrity A list and the media's favorite topic in recent months. As far as I know, Lindsay is clean and sober and loving life.)
Sure, in the mainstream media such juicy gossip increases ratings (due to that previously mentioned human fault), but in law enforcement? What possible benefit does any one of us get talking bad about any other of us? Unless you're no longer a cop and merely trying to support your belief that you're better off NOT being part of the brotherhood, why would you want to smear the name of another officer? Even if NEITHER of you is active in LE anymore, what's the point? Are you trying to build a competitive business and he's the competition? Are you trying to increase your value in the industry by displaying an insider's knowledge of some event? Are you trying to rebuild a reputation that's taken a few hits and you do so by destroying the reputation of another?
I am at a complete loss for explaining rumor control. None of us is perfect. We all do things we regret or that we shouldn't have done. If what we do / did is illegal, the courts deal with it. If it was unprofessional, the agency deals with it. If it was personal, then it should be dealt with person to person. In short, the entire LE industry would benefit if rumor control actually became information control and we all stopped spreading malicious information that we're either not supposed to have or weren't personally involved with. And, again, even if you were personally involved, what do you gain by making the negative statements about someone else?
Help me out here... do you see any good that comes from rumor control?
Do you think that spreading rumors, confirmed or otherwise, is professional? unprofessional? moral? immoral? ethical? unethical? childish?
Do you think their should be repercussions for maliciously spreading rumors? how about for spreading what should be controlled information? (how many of us would get in trouble for sharing information from an active criminal investigation / prosecution, yet members of the media do it all the time and it's "news"?)
Have YOU been the target of such malicious rumor control? (feel free to reply anonymously)
Finally, and I add this simply because I know of such a circumstance (two actually): do you think that Court ordered "gag orders" work? I know of two situations where the rumor control got so bad that the necessary paperwork was filed and a judge imposed a "gag order" to stop one person from talking about another. To me, while there is some legal value in this, I view "gag orders" as kind of like restraining orders: they only work if the person affected by the order respects and obeys it. If not, the damage is done before any punishment / punitive action can be taken. Your thoughts?