Character assassination or bloodless murder as it is some times called is a very harmful vice in people’s relationships.
It is a strong menace in a community like ours which has known the most negative shade of human history and where people have failed to live as brothers and sisters for a long time.
Generally speaking, the above vice is practiced mainly in order to soil the character of a targeted person with the objective of spoiling his reputation by exaggerating, manipulating or completely falsifying the facts of the individual so that he or she may appear as a negative element in a given society.
It is therefore a kind of mental dishonesty which unfortunately can have very negative effects on the targeted person by causing him or her to be rejected by his community or family and by his or her members work environment.
Though malicious in nature, the effects of character assassination might be difficult to reverse or rectify just as it is with the literal assassination of a human life.
In some cases, the damage sustained can last a lifetime in our normal situation and for historical figures; it can even last for many centuries after their death as the Bible shows us when it comes to the relationship between Jesus and the group of Pharisees, the scribes and the Herodians!
When the same vice is practiced in negative campaigning, it usually referred to as ‘mudslinging’.
In this case the one doing it aims at winning an advantage in public opinion by referring to negative aspects of an opponent or of his or her policy rather than emphasizing one’s own positive attributes or preferred policies.
In negative campaigning the term covers any rhetoric which refers to an opponent, with an apparent way of ‘compare and contrast’, but with sporadic attacks meant to destroy, to manipulate or falsify the facts of the opponent’s character or policy.
In most cases such a negative malpractice may be very detrimental to the success of the targeted individual or group.
Many people have suffered this kind of vice discussed above. If it happens to you, it might help to remember that it did not spare Jesus who is the Son of God!
The Bible tells us in Mark 8:27-35 that the relationship between Jesus and the Pharisees, the scribes and the Herodians was mainly marked by the practice of character assassination and mudslinging with Jesus as the target.
(Mark 3:6) This group of intellectuals of Jesus’ time had witnessed Jesus’ works with envy and heard his teaching with resentment because they recognized in his radical ways a kind of superiority which threatened their positions and prestige.
In fear and resentment, they did all they could in order to falsify the point of his teaching as well as painting negatively his personal character.
This is the characteristic of character assassination or mudslinging.
Like all kinds of character assassination, this malpractice had a lot of negative influence on the teaching and the person of Jesus; his true identity was shrouded in questions and confusion.
The ordinary people who had started to recognize from his teaching that Jesus was exceptional and in possession of a unique authority, unlike any they had ever experienced, became unsure as to who Jesus really was especially after hearing the Pharisee’s opinion of him. (Mark 1:22, 27).
His reputation spread throughout Galilee, but because he was targeted by the group led by the Pharisees, his character was diminished to a mere mysterious figure like that of Elijah (Malachi 4:15) whom it was thought would herald the messiah. Due to the Pharisees’ continuous mudslinging, the people who had believed John to be messianic, thought that Jesus was perhaps the Baptizer revivified.
Still others, recollecting the promise in Deuteronomy (18:15-18), thought Jesus to be the prophet like Moses.
It is amazing how character assassination or mudslinging can affect even the good hearted people.
In case of Jesus, even his own disciples were confused by the image of their master as conveyed by the Pharisees and his audience.
They were filled with ambivalence since in him they had hoped for a political messiah!
The same negative effect worked on the very relatives of Jesus, who on hearing the rumors about Jesus, started to wonder whether he did not have any mental problem.
They started doubting his true purpose as they had perceived it before.
So they did all they could to save him from himself since they thought that he had gone mad!
One group was not affected by the Pharisees and other groups’ character assassination on Jesus.
These were the demons and evil spirits who truly recognized and hated Jesus. Despite all this, they continued to identify him as Jesus of Nazareth, the Holy One of God, and the Son of the Most High God?” (Mark 1:25, 5:7).
Possibly, character assassination or mudslinging does not affect the devils and bad spirits because it is practised by their likes.