Calumny, plural calumnies (from Middle French calomnie, from Latin calumnia "slander"), is a misrepresentation intended to harm another's reputation; a deliberately deceitful communication that belittles somebody or something; a false and slanderous statement.
The point of calumny is, at the very least, to lower the opinion one person has of another person.
You can engage in detraction without intending to do damage to the person you are discussing, but calumny is by definition malicious. Calumny, or a calumny, is ipso facto an untrue statement, more precisely a lie, knowingly made about someone in order to reduce other people's respect and admiration for that person. This includes calumniating art, the making of mocking images, cartoons, pictures, sculpture, skits, plays and films which falsely represent others as worthy of contempt.
Calumny is also [improperly] a synonym for calumniate (verb transitive, or verb intransitive, from Latin calumniatus, past participle of calumniari "to slander", from calumnia "slander") the making of false and defamatory statements about someone in order to cause harm, the act of intentionally making a statement about someone that is not true and is intended to damage the reputation of that person. A notorious example of calumniation is the kind of "whisper campaigns" of high school students designed by the "in crowd" to exclude, ridicule, bully, humiliate, ostracize and intimidate other students, as a form of social bonding among themselves (elitism) and (socially vicious) entertainment.
In jurisprudence calumny is a false accusation of an offense, or a malicious misrepresentation of someone's words or actions designed to injure the reputation of someone or something: a false and malicious statement:
- "A bitter struggle marked by calumny and litigation."
- "The speech was considered a calumny of the administration."
- "A change in the law would prevent the press from publishing calumnies."
- "He denounced his opponent for his defamatory insinuations and calumny."
In the Catholic Church calumny, detraction and slander are sins against justice and mercy and the goodness of God. When they result in serious, permanent and irreparable damage to others, they constitute a mortal sin which deprives the calumniator, detractor, and slanderer of all sanctifying grace, placing the guilty sinner in danger of eternal damnation to hell, if they do not repent and seek to actively repair as much as humanly possible all of the damage they have cruelly caused, and do everything within their power to restore the dignity and honor of the particular individual or group or community they have harmed.
[an] aspersion (plural [making] aspersions), calumniation, character assassination, defamation (of character), depreciation, derogation, disparagement, evil-speaking, hatchet job, libel, malicious gossip, misrepresentation of character, obloquy, scandalmongering, slander, traducement
- For example the notorious play and film The Deputy (1966-2007) which has been demonstrably debunked as Soviet propaganda to falsely defame Pope Pius XII as complicit in the Holocaust of the Jews in World War II. DVD documentary: A Hand of Peace: Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust copyright 2008, Salt + Light Television Productions, 2009 Ignatius Press www.ignatius.com 1-800-651-1531.
- Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) Part Three, Section Two, Article 8, sections III-VI, numbers 2475-2513 (scborromeo.org)