Summary: We should be salt, not vinegar or acid.
Lashon Hara is any derogatory or damaging statement against an individual. In Hilchot Deot 7:5, Maimonides supplies a litmus test for determining whether something is or isn't Lashon Hara:
Anything which, if it would be publicized, would cause the subject physical or monetary damage, or would cause him anguish or fear, is Lashon Hara. Deuteronomy 24:9, "Zachor et asher asa H' Elokeicha l'Miriam"
It's Lashon Hara EVEN IF:
a listener pressures the speaker to tell
names are left out
it's about the speaker's family
the speaker includes himself in the derogatory description - http://torah.org/learning/halashon/review1.html
Colossians 4:6 Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
August was named for Caesar Augustus and while in some ways he was not an august person in his actions he did have a dignity and majesty about him as our word august means. I suspect that if someone in his court or entourage would not have acted dignified or stately that person would have lost his head. After all, he/she represented Caesar and he/she better present a good image.
How much more so should we who represent the King of Kings and Lord of Lords carry ourselves in a dignified way and most importantly in our speech, especially when referring to others? We are to let our speech be gracious even when the person(s) do not seem to deserve it. That is fitting as grace is never deserved. It is given. Knowing we are in desperate need of daily grace ourselves we should be very prone to extend it to others.
It is to be seasoned with salt. Salt can add a savory flavor to a meal that without the salt might be bland or even undesirable. The right amount matters as too much will make a person gag and not enough does not produce the desired result. Yes, salt heals wounds, but it also burns and sufficient salt can melt ice. We need to practice so that when we give an answer to every man about our faith or even our heritage or other beliefs we might create a thirst in them without overpowering them or throwing it in their eyes. There may be wounds to be healed, but still the right amount does make a difference.
Graceful words should be used to redeem and restore a person who may be way out of line and even hateful. As our Jewish friends teach about LaShon Hara, even if it is true, some things need not be said in public. Matt 18 should be applied if the issue needs addressed. Go to them in private and seek restoration of the person.
Tit_2:8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
As we go about sharing our faith, history and even political viewpoints, we should strive to be august and use speech that gives no room for our enemy to use it against us. Let them debate the issues not skirt the issues by having our speech and demeanor to attack and focus on thus swaying other people's emotions. Remember, gallant Lee spoke well of a man who slandered him. Lee should be our example, not his critic. Maranatha!