Blackmail is a term used when someone gives threats to a person whose secrets he/she knows along with the fact that they want to hide those secrets. While blackmailing the blackmailer asks for some sort of valuable good in order to keep his/her silence and if that particular amount of goods is given to the blackmailer the secret remains safe. However, the thing to be kept in mind here is that there is no way of being sure if the blackmailer will come back or not (Block, 2010).
Since, the blackmailer wants something of interest in order to keep his silence, if he is not given what he has asked for, it is very much possible that he would start telling the secrets and nothing can really be done about that as, all he would be doing is making use of freedom of expression. Therefore, in case of rejecting the blackmail offer one should be ready to face the consequences of their actions (Block, 2001).
Blackmail can't only be when a person tries to threaten to expose someone's secrets it can also be used to help someone get dirt on a competitor or opposition in return for some kind of favor of course. However, it might seem like the blackmailer is just asking for some kind of goods such as money to keep the information with him (instead of disclosing it) or that otherwise he would just make use of his right to speak and there is nothing illegal in it but the truth of the matter is that blackmailing is illegal and it is considered a crime and of course for the right reasons as well. As, no one has the right to go on threatening people, if they have some information about some illegal activity committed by a person they need to let the authorities know about it rather than thinking of what they can get out of it (Block, 2001).
If blackmailing is looked at in such a way that it is the offer or a threat which is made if the blackmailer doesn't get his demands fulfilled such as: if a person is threatening to expose some information that is embarrassing to someone or if he is saying that he won't seduce one's fiance if he gets the money then, if these two acts are separately looked upon we reach the decision that neither telling information nor the seduction is criminal act when they are committed separately then how come they become illegal when they are combined together (Block, 2001)?
It is very important to know and understand that blackmailing is an act which is very much different than extortion although it does look like they are similar. However, it has to be kept in mind that when money is being asked for to refrain from doing something legal it is a different issue whereas, when an extortionist asks a person for some money otherwise he will put their office building on fire is a completely different issue as, he is threatening them to commit an illegal act if he isn't paid to do otherwise (Block, 2001).
Various forms of Blackmail
Secrets can be exposed by two main methods: blackmailing and gossip. However, the main difference between the two is that in blackmailing the person can be kept quite if paid the amount that he wants whereas, in case of gossip, it will spread anyway and without any kind of warning. Therefore, when it comes to keeping the secrets safe blackmailer is a better option than the gossiper as, he will be able to keep the secrets safe for a price which can't be said for the person spreading the gossips (Block, 2010).
The reason why the person spreading the gossip is considered to be a lot more dangerous than the one who is blackmailing is because in case of the gossiper you have everything to lose while with the blackmailer if a person feels that the price being asked for is less than the secret, it is a wise option to go with what the blackmailer wants because although the person will be choosing lesser of the two evils but at least the secrets will be safe (Block, 2010).
There is another scenario in which the person being blackmailed might have to deny the demands of the blackmailer; this kind of scenario takes place when the price for silence that is being asked by the blackmailer is a lot more than the secret is worth. In case of a situation like this the person spreading gossips and the blackmailer are equally dangerous as, they will both be spreading the information that will hurt or humiliate others. However, in this case the information spread by the blackmailer can prove to be a lot worse than the one spread by the gossiper as, people at times tend to dismiss what is said by the gossiper (Block, 2010).
Blackmail is not always in the form of 'money for silence' but this is the most common type of blackmail. At times people can make other demands as well so, basically blackmailing is all about the threats delivered to people. Also, blackmailing in itself isn't really illegal i.e. until and unless some particular demands aren't met. Therefore, it is difficult to take legal actions against blackmailing without proper proof and certainty that the actions being done are illegal (Block, 2010).
It has always been very important how people perceive various actions, for example, there are a lot of actions that are done by the public which can qualify as blackmailing but they are appreciated by the people as, they are seen as the acts of great courage and are given a lot of respectability. The labor unions strikes or boycotts are a perfect example of public blackmailing as, the union members refuse to work until and unless their demands are met and if the contractors hire other people to work for them then these strikers assert. This kind of behavior is a perfect example of an act which in itself isn't illegal and it will be carried out if some particular demands aren't agreed upon (Block, 2010).
Ten different cases have been described by Fletcher (as cited in Block, 2001) in his paper in order to be examples of blackmailing that can be used to help understand various theories. In these examples D. And V are the two assumed individuals (Block, 2001).
1. Tort case: D's car has been hit by V's car and D. has threatened V that if V won't pay for the damage D. will sue him.
2. Late employee: D. is V's employer and V has been threatened by him that V will be fired if he doesn't come to work on time.
3. Crime case: D. has not been paid and so D. has threatened V to report the probable crime committed by him to the local newspaper.
4. Hush money: V is a huge celebrity and D. has threatened him to tell the media a damaging truth about V such as, drug use, unless V pays him the "hush money."
5. Baseball case: D. has a baseball which has an autograph by Babe Ruth and he offers to sell it to V for $6,000 as, he knows that V has a kid whose is very ill and having that autograph ball will make him happy.
6. Political embarrassment: D. is a black activist and has anti-white views where as V is a black political candidate and is uncomfortable about his association with D. D threatens V to pay him a particular amount of money otherwise D. will tell the media about V's support of D's anti-white ideas which will affect V's political career.
7. Dinner kiss: D. is threatening V that he won't kiss V if they won't go out for dinner.
8. Paid silence: V is a black political candidate and D. is against white people therefore, V goes to D. And pays him $20,000 to keep his silence until the elections are over.
9. Tattoo case: D. threatens to get his complete body tattooed until and unless he isn't pay a specific sum of money.
10. Lascivious employer: V has been threatened by her employer D. To sleep with him or V will get fired.
The threats involved in blackmail
When talking about the threats that are included in the whole blackmailing activity it has been observed that the threats are feared and misunderstood a lot more than the concept of blackmailing itself. Although initially everyone believes that giving threats is a very immoral thing to do however, it is mainly the concept of aggression that makes one do what the other person is saying, for example, if a bus driver is charging a lot more on a deserted road the passenger would probably agree to paying the bus driver to avoid his aggressive behavior (Block, 2010).
Therefore, there is only one major difference between…