Have you received the email directing you to the YouTube clip that claims Oprah is anti-Christ?

If so, you have been exposed to a digital put-down; an example of the newest form of internet bullying. This modern outlet for malice has sparked efforts to criminalize or at the very least, censor internet character assassination.

Some of the more extreme cases, mostly involving minors, seem ridiculous on the surface. The victims could easily defend themselves simply by choosing not to read the posted material. It ?s only words. No sticks, no stones.

Upon consideration, though, we have been advised to be careful of sullying another ?s good name. Reputation has proven value. Consider brand equity, in the marketing industry. Brand equity, or the reputation of a product and recognition of a brand, has an actual dollar value. Similarly, honor, or a good name ? has been a prized personal quality throughout history. Maybe we shouldn ?t be so dismissive of the tangible damage a school-age child can suffer when peers undertake to humiliate him verbally, even if it takes place online rather than in the schoolyard.

These attempts devalue the victim ?s personal brand ? by undermining his or her reputation. Maybe we shouldn ?t be so surprised when it makes the victims ? lives unbearable.

Oprah is accustomed to media attacks and probably will not suffer in the same way as a child who is being tormented by cruel internet posts.

I am more interested in the mentality of those of us who read and forward these derogatory posts. I don ?t think Oprah ?s public life threatens me, as an LDS woman. In fact (although it is beside the point), I think she generates a great deal of positive energy with her philanthropy. I haven ?t observed anything in her philosophy that I find dangerous. Maybe our values don ?t match exactly, but variety is the basis of positive evolution. The strongest ideals will survive; the more sources of ideas, the better the odds of a successful outcome.

Far more important, what sort of person does it make me, if I view a damaging video clip, then forward it for the express purpose of harming another person ?s reputation? What if I just think it ?s fun to share a laugh at somebody else ?s expense? Bullying, gossip, lies, deliberate cruelty, or negative, destructive criticism harm their objects and can cause terrible anguish and long-term damage. Far worse is the harm the bully does to her own spirit.

But there ?s good news. That ?s the part we can control. It only takes a moment. Don ?t forward the cyber-slam. Respond to the sender with something generous and positive. Aw, I think Oprah ?s a pretty good kid overall. I ?m not going to forward this one. ?