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The law of defamation is haunted by ancient common law principles, such as the distinction between libel per se and libel per quad, that contribute nothing to our current jurisprudence beyond providing opportunities for misunderstanding and perplexity. Unfortunately, more contemporary doctrines have further complicated the field by sowing fresh confusions. This article explores two such doctrines-the principle that a defamation claim cannot rest upon an opinion and the principle that a defamation claim can rest upon unstated implications- and suggests that there are troublesome contradictions both within them and between them. In short, this article respectfully proposes that these two areas of defamation law are unsettlingly messy if taken separately and, to an even greater extent, if taken together.


2011, Published in Communications Lawyer 28, no. 3, Fall (2011), by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or downloaded or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association