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MySpace Verdict a Danger To Depressed Kids 502

Posted by kdawson
from the don't-need-no-more-reasons dept.
Slashdot regular Bennett Haselton summarizes his essay this way: "Debate over the Lori Drew verdict has focused overwhelmingly on whether the ruling was technically correct, but there is another serious issue: the perverse incentives that this ruling creates for victims of online harassment." Read on for his essay.

Since a jury convicted Lori Drew of three misdemeanors for harassing Megan Meier on MySpace and causing her to commit suicide, most of the debate has focused on the question of whether proper legal procedure was followed in an attempt to punish someone for their obviously evil actions, when it wasn't clear that an actual crime had been committed. Emily Bazelon has argued that the rule of law is too important to convict someone for a crime for what was essentially a violation of the MySpace Terms of Service. Anne Mitchell has argued that the slippery slope is nowhere near as dangerous as the backlash is making it sound, because the doctrine of prosecuting people for violating a site's TOS is almost certainly only going to be used against people who commit horrific acts in the process, as Lori Drew did.

I'm more inclined toward the rule of law argument, but hang on — both sides seem to be assuming that it was a desirable outcome to punish Lori Drew publicly and severely. Hell yes she deserved it, but there is more at stake here. What about the consequences for kids who are current victims of harassment and who hear about the case and the verdict?

When anti-cyber-bullying laws were proposed in response to the original news of Megan Meier's suicide, I argued that the laws would be a terrible idea, especially if the criminal provisions of the law were conditional on the bullying victim harming themselves — because then you've created told victims of harassment: You can have your tormentors publicly vilified and even arrested, but only if you make it look like you tried to injure or kill yourself (and at which you might succeed in the process, intentionally or not).

What would be true of a cyber-bulling law is also true for the pseudo-caselaw created by the verdict. Surely there are other Megan Meiers out there who should not be led to believe that they can ruin their harasser's lives by committing suicide.

Now you might argue that by my reasoning, existing harassment laws which are contingent on the victim showing signs of emotional distress, could lead to the same problem — victims either consciously faking distress, or trying to fake distress so convincingly that they actually harm themselves, or subconsciously absorbing the fact that they can only get justice if they actually show harm. I had actually assumed that existing harassment laws governed only the conduct of the harasser, and did not depend on how the victim felt, but I was wrong — here in Washington State for example, RCW 10.14 states that harassing conduct is conduct that

"shall be such as would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress,
and shall actually cause substantial emotional distress to the petitioner." [emphasis added]

Reading that literally means that no matter how bad the harassment is, you still have to feel distressed in order to have them prosecuted, and the more distressed you "act," the more likely you are to succeed! But hang on — in order for that law to create incentives for victims of harassment to fake distress in order to have their personal enemies prosecuted, they would have to actually know that the law says that. I doubt that most people walking around Washington know the exact wording of the harassment law. More likely, they already realize that if they were to ever try and have someone prosecuted for harassment who didn't actually deserve it, a little tears and shaking would probably influence the judge, whether or not their feelings had any technical relevance under the law. And even if they were to exaggerate the effects of the harassment, all they would have to do would be to claim that they threw up or lost sleep from anxiety — they wouldn't have to show evidence of trying to harm or kill themselves.

On the other hand, everybody has heard about the Lori Drew and Megan Meier case, and it seems likely that the fact that Megan killed herself did contribute to the conviction. (At one point Judge George H. Wu had said that he would probably exclude evidence from the trial that Megan Meier had committed suicide as a result of the harassment, but later changed his mind and did allow it to be mentioned, saying "It's impossible to get a jury that doesn't know.") If Megan Meier had merely lost sleep, or suffered from panic attacks, or cut herself as a result of the harassment she endured from Lori Drew, would Drew have been convicted? Or even arrested?

These perverse incentives — "rewarding" Megan Meier for her suicide by vicariously exacting her revenge on Lori Drew — have been present ever since the wall-to-wall coverage of the case first started. Many news outlets have a policy of not publishing the names of suicide victims, not only to protect the privacy of grieving families but to avoid "rewarding" suicides by giving them the attention they may have wanted. The Associated Press Statement of News Values and Principles does not list any policy against printing the names of suicides. Maybe they should. (They do have a policy against printing the names of sexual assault victims, for example.) But it's a slippery journalistic slope to go down once you start deciding not to publish certain elements of a story, even for what seem to be compelling reasons. For example, take the policy of not publishing the names of alleged rape victims. If the rationale is that the AP doesn't want to cause unfair embarrassment to the alleged victims in case their story is true, why wouldn't the AP also avoid publishing the name of the defendant, to avoid causing them vastly greater unfair embarrassment in case the victim's story is false? So any decision to leave someone's name out of a story can lead to sticky "but-then-what-about" scenarios.

Perhaps the story should not have been covered at all, or anywhere near as much as it was. (I realize I may be contributing to the problem here, but my penance is that I'm calling for less coverage in the future, and I would never be writing about this if the mainstream media hadn't covered it so extensively.) What about all the other people who committed suicide during the same year, also as a result of vicious harassment, but with the only difference being that their suicides did not involve the Internet? Don't they deserve the same justice, and don't their tormentors deserve the same vilification?

Defenders of Internet civil liberties have for years been disgusted with the fact that crimes involving the Internet — from simple identity theft to rape and murder — have always gotten disproportionately more attention than the same or similar crimes committed without the aid of a computer. In the Megan Meier case, the effect of the coverage is even worse: Leading potential suicides to believe that they can have the sympathy they always wanted, and revenge on those they hate, if they kill themselves.

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MySpace Verdict a Danger To Depressed Kids

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  • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @02:55PM (#26135679) Homepage Journal

    If the rationale is that the AP doesn't want to cause unfair embarrassment to the alleged victims in case their story is true, why wouldn't the AP also avoid publishing the name of the defendant, to avoid causing them vastly greater unfair embarrassment in case the victim's story is false?

    Excellent quote. You jest, but take into account this true story: my buddy who was 21 at the time was in a sexual relationship with a 17 year old whose father(who was a Sheriff) allowed it, even inviting my buddy to go on camping trips with them and allowing them their own tent.

    After an abortion, the relationship turned sour, and my buddy was arrested shortly afterward for statutory rape. Only his name and the crime he was being charged with appeared in the paper. Bad news given the conservative, small-town lynch-mob environment. Though the charges were dropped after he posted bail, his rep was ruined all because of a petty revenge stunt with connections to law enforcement. The media are ruthless and they value sensation above all else.

    Bennett's essay is great all-around as encroaching laws provide greater opportunity for enchroachment and abuse(the DMCA comes to mind), and it's frightening that emotionally unstable teens(aren't all teens emotionally unstable?) will have greater latitude in becoming weapons. It's kind of analagous to suicide bombing - give 'em an incentive, and they'll do it. And in today's absurd world, why wouldn't a depressed or terminally ill person offer their revenge service for hire?

  • I have to agree (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:00PM (#26135749) Homepage Journal

    What if Drew had a son who agreed to seduce Megan, and who then told her to kill herself? The onlly difference would have been that if it was in person, there would be no evidence - but there would have been no crime, either.

    If so, my friend's Annie's boyfriend is guilty of the same thing. Annie is on Zoloft for clinical depression, and one night when she was in a bad way and talking suicide, he told her everyone would be better off if she did. I wound up taking her to the hospital, where she was admitted to the nut ward.

    Contemptable, but is it legal? Lots of contemptable things are legal. BTW that crazy Annie's back with her boyfriend. I hope she gives him the clap.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:12PM (#26135889)

    This isn't about myspace, or terms of service, or teenage suicide. This is about guilt. Even when it's "only" online, we're still talking to other people. We're communicating. And communications form the basis of relationships and through relationships we can effect changes to a person's mood, behavior, life circumstances, and more. The issue is trust, and how some people abuse trust. And all of our criminal codes come down to this. I'll say it again, it's about trust. So people feel naturally betrayed and angry when trust is violated (even accidentally).

    But the law is not about trust. The law is about balancing personal freedoms (which includes the right to mistrust and also to betray trust) with society's so-called "best interests", which is mostly about avoiding and minimizing harm. Anyone can throw up a terms of service, and you can't tell me most of you wouldn't wipe your bottoms with the lot of them. I also think I'd find very few people here that would say that talking is a crime; Even when the matter under discussion is about illegal things (like drugs, or underage sex) -- or things we find morally objectionable. Speech in and of itself is not a crime; Actions are criminal.

    Yes, she manipulated the hell out of someone who was vulnerable. But how is that different than commercials on TV, selling us crap we don't need? How is it different than the mormons coming over every sunday to try and convert you? It's not, except for intent. And we all want to punish her, not for violating some TOS crap, but because she violated the trust relationship between a child and adult. "It's all for the children" and we rush in stupidly, blindly, reflexively, to protect them. And that is what happened here. The very thing the justice system is supposed to prevent: Linking emotive thinking to punishment.

  • by snowgirl (978879) * on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:13PM (#26135907) Journal

    Suicidal people, by the very nature of being suicidal, aren't really in a position to make rational judgements regarding what may or may not happen should they top themselves. Suicidal people have, since time began, justified wilfully idiotic acts with spurious reasoning that only makes sense in their own heads.

    That's the "Crazy people are all crazy" argument which fails to note that it isn't back or white, some people are more delusional than others. This ruling has just made it easier for the more rational people to end up in the same way as the less rational.

    Fine... present to me a reasonable judicial due process to evaluate whether the person is really crazy, or more rationally crazy.

    There isn't a way. So, treat them both the same... after all, the outcome is still the same...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:17PM (#26135957)

    sm7404, here, posting AC to avoid the Karma hit.

    Look. We're talking about children here. Most adults would brush off what is called cyber bullying. But a large proportion of the teenage population doesn't yet have the maturity to deal with these things. As an adult, I don't really care if people say mean things about me, and by and large people don't. But high school is a place where you are forced to go with a lot of people who often don't like each other and who spend their time inventing new and cruel ways to torture each other. Often it works because most teenagers care deeply about what the community thinks of them.

    For example: http://www.paulgraham.com/nerds.html [paulgraham.com]

    Laws against adult bullying are a lot more lax because adult bullies have a lot less opportunity to actually have an effect. Children are a lot more vulnerable to this sort of behaviour, both because of their age and the fact that they are pretty much stuck in school and not allowed out. If you hate your co-workers, you can always try to find a new job. In many societies you can't change schools that easily, if at all. Children are also more likely to engage in sociopathic behaviour towards their peers.

    Yes. Having a thick skin is the price of living in a free society... but for adults, not for children.

  • by Hahnsoo (976162) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:31PM (#26136171)
    If you pretend that you are being cursed by a witch, the whole village will break out their pitchtorches and burning forks to burn the witch. Get the mob to side with you, and you win, regardless of whether or not the so-called witch was actually guilty of witchcraft.

    That's the basic principle in this essay. I'm not saying that I agree with all of the finer points of the essay, but it makes a good argument overall. So far in my short lifespan, I have heard several cases involving harassment which were attempts by the harasser to cover up what they were doing by claiming the victim was the harasser.
  • by Spazztastic (814296) <spazztastic AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:32PM (#26136205)

    Let this be a lesson to anyone... just because someone is looking the other way when seeing you do something doesn't mean that it wasn't illegal or criminal in the first place.

    What if a crime didn't happen in the first place but the charges were made and brought to the public? See: Duke Lacrosse Team Scandal [wikipedia.org].

  • by jlowe (907739) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:33PM (#26136217) Homepage
    I don't know why you think you would take a hit, because you make valid points. I think the fact that this issue involved an adult harassing a child makes it a problem. I don't believe she would have knowingly done this if she knew suicide would be the outcome. But the point remains that adults are not supposed to treat children like that. And I don't see how anyone can say that Lori's actions did not contribute to the suicide. I also agree with you about the different types of people. I work in a school system and it fascinates me. It is one of the only settings in life where you spend a large portion of your time with a group of people that you are placed with and have no control over where they come from, who they are, or how they act.
  • by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms.infamous@net> on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @04:01PM (#26136631) Homepage

    Blaming SSRIs is so stupid. What are they supposed to do? Let her live out her life in misery?

    Gee, way to limit the options. "Leave her alone and she lives her life in misery; treat her with these ineffective drugs, and their side effects include an increased risk of suicide. If only there were other treatment options available [wikipedia.org]..."

    Of course, psychotherapists don't have the money and pull that Big Pharma does.

  • by unlametheweak (1102159) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @04:03PM (#26136677)

    The girl was unable to provide the necessary consent, and it was thus *shock* a crime. He shouldn't be shocked at being arrested for it, and no one should. However, he should feel lucky that he didn't get sent to jail for it.

    Terms like "unable to provide the necessary consent" and "shouldn't be shocked at being arrested for it" are used, in this case, in a legal sense. Most (normal, non-neurotic) people in social situations don't think of legalese when casually interacting with other people, nor do most people feel the need to consult a law book or a lawyer in such situations. Unfortunately though they probably should, because every year more and more laws are being created.

  • by jahudabudy (714731) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @04:40PM (#26137155)
    There is no rational reason for suicide

    Debilitating pain associated with a terminal condition and self-sacrifice for the benefit of loved ones strike me as perfectly rational reasons to commit suicide. Depending on circumstances, of course.
  • by Cowmonaut (989226) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @04:42PM (#26137183)

    Then the author gets off on some soapbox about people being accused of crimes, and how their information shouldn't be published... you know, we should just arrest them all Gestapo style, and when their wife/family asks what happened to them, "sorry, we're not allowed to discuss that in order to protect the accused from social embarrassment."

    Seriously, do you not think before you speak? The author said not to PUBLISH the information PUBLICLY. You still tell the families of those involved, but beyond that no one needs to know. Lets use the current case with Lori Drew as an example. The Judge presiding the case himself wanted to EXCLUDE the suicide information, but because *every* person they got for the Jury had heard about the case they couldn't. So now we have a problem with people's rights to a FAIR trial being taken away thanks to mainstream media having to have sensationalist stories.

    I mean really, not counting the "MySpace Verdict", how does Megan's death affect you? Fact is it doesn't. It sucks to hear that she offed her self, but it doesn't really affect you unless you knew her. So why was it getting national spot light? Is it really national news that a young girl committed suicide? It is hard to talk about it without being extremely callous, but people have been committing suicide quite often for quite a long time so this isn't unheard of.

    The side affects to the "MySpace Verdict" of Lori Drew's case definitely deserve national attention though. Her right to a fair trial was denied and now I could potentially face criminal charges on a number of websites (MySpace included) without doing anything "wrong" or "evil".

    Another thing that has gone unmentioned: where in the verdict does it say the person has to be "evil" to be found guilty of violating the Terms of Service of a website? Who has any say in how this tool will be used in the future?

  • by sckeener (137243) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @05:20PM (#26137677)

    and it's well established that a parent cannot consent their child to....

    Then who is qualified to judge when a child is ready to do anything? I know what you are trying to say and I agree there should be some base lines, but the person that should be able to help their child determine when they are ready to do something should be their parent....not their peer pressuring boy/girl friend or the state...which ultimately means the parent has some say, thus some consent.

    Marriage laws [cornell.edu] already differ by state about age and parental consent. And there was already one case where a judge ruled in Texas that because of parental consent a common law marriage occurred and thus no statutory rape happened.

  • by jythie (914043) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @05:23PM (#26137747)

    Pity we don't know the region that this took place in. Most areas have romeo and juliet laws that cover cases like this (like the california example above).. this does not always stop law enforcement form doing an initial arrest then dropping the charges.

    A plausible situation here is that he was covered, the father deciced to pull his 'big scary' weight to arrest the guy, knew the charges were not legally supported, had to release him, but still got to charge him in the court of public opinion.

    A corrupt cop looking to hurt someone doesn't need them to actually violate a law. They only need to convince the public that what they did was close enough.

  • by Jherek Carnelian (831679) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @05:48PM (#26138071)

    I can agree to that. A suspects name should be confidential until convicted. So many lives are ruined over false accusations or mistaken identity.

    If suspects are arrested and tried in secret, that makes it really, really easy to become a police state where people can be "disappeared." Public knowledge of arrest is essential for habeas corpus.

    The problem is not the public disclosure of suspects' identities. The problem is the lesser exposure if and when a suspect is exonerated. Rather than risk habeas corpus, I would prefer the much smaller imposition on freedom of expression of requiring local newspapers to publish - in large print and simple language on a weekly or monthly basis - a full list of arrests, charges made, charges dropped and trial results.

  • by Celarnor (835542) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @06:25PM (#26138501)
    Your position is based on a faulty presumption; it simply doesn't work.

    No one is saying that someone who is actually raped suffers less than someone publicly identified as their rapist.

    People are saying that someone who falsely accuses rape (which happens very, very frequently) doesn't suffer as much as the victim, who has done nothing legally wrong and just wants to go back to their life.

    Unfortunately, they cannot.

    As an undergraduate at RIT, I have a friend who was in a relationship with a woman. As relationships sometimes do in college, it died away after they had sex a few times; my friend had decided that he wanted something more than just sex, and since she didn't want to be in that kind of relationship, she left him.

    The next morning, he was walking back from the bookstore; public safety showed up with three officers and a police car. They said his name, and he responded with a groan (he was the RA, and there had been some drinking the last week that he had to break up) and a "what's up". He was taken to a room and asked where he was on a given date (incidentally, he had been at the hospital on that date for an injury that had happened during robotics club). He was then told that he was being accused of rape.

    Before he was even *charged* with the act, he had to start defending himself to the college immediately. A student conduct hearing was scheduled, he had to move off campus immediately (as in, that night; he had to come back to his room under police and campus safety escort and get a small number of his belongings to take to a hotel which he had to pay for for 4 weeks until the hearing), and he was removed from his job, all classes and student activities, and his position as the RA pending the hearing.

    Mind you, this is all BEFORE he has been charged.

    The police verified that he was, in fact, at the hospital at the time (two days before they broke up); she quickly changed her story 7 or 8 times as this went on, to the point where the police told her not only that this wouldn't fly in court and that it was pretty obvious that she was lying. At his request, they filed their recommendation that the school that they find in the same fashion.

    They didn't; they decided that "no conclusion could be found". He was kicked out of school. If you search for his name on Google (he has a rather unique name), the first thing you see is a bit in his home town paper saying that he was under arrest for rape.

    If you think that his suffering was less than the suffering of the woman who put him through that, please, tell me how.
  • by fishexe (168879) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @06:26PM (#26138513) Homepage

    Any pain caused by this being pointed out, publicly, is less than that caused by the act itself. But being publicly identified as a victim gives you sympathy. Being publicly identified as a perp makes him hated -- in a small enough town, might even drive him out.

    Being publicly identified as a rape victim rarely brings sympathy. Talk to some rape victims about it some time and you'll find that for most it brings further embarrassment, questioning glances, people talking behind their backs about whether they "were asking for it" or are "sluts". Especially in a small town. In many cases the first thing the police ask is what she was wearing. As if it's just assumed it was her fault. And "in a small enough town," the perp might get high-fives from his buddies and a slap on the wrist from the law. I say these things not as someone who has been raped, but someone who has talked to many rape victims and listened to their stories.

    I'm not saying the post you're responding to is right, just that you need to check your assumptions if you're going to appeal to "logic".

  • by Rycross (836649) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @06:41PM (#26138725)

    No, McGrew's point was that the woman falsely accused the team. The comment about her probably being a prostitute was an aside, probably to point out that the woman wasn't as squeeky clean of a woman as people like to imagine. Maybe it was irrelevant, but you're glossing over the main point that McGrew was clarifying: accusations of rape carry huge amounts of weight in public, and often cause very extreme consequences even if the accused is proven innocent.

    Snowgirl basically sidestepped the point of the cautionary tale. The point was that the father saw no problem with this relationship. The father decided after the fact to explicitly use a relationship he previously approved of to "get back" at the person. This is a demonstration of how accusations of rape can carry serious consequences.

    In this case the person did commit "statutory rape," but the point is reality of the situation is benign. A 17 year old sleeping with a 21 year old is not a big deal, and is, in many states, perfectly legal. But the public opinion turned this into something far more severe, and undeserved. Snowgirl ignored this point. Furthermore, I would submit that having a fairly normal sexual relationship is not deserving of such social stigma, and simply pointing out, in capital letters, that he commited a crime does not excuse the stigma.

    As far as accusations of not being over the rape, its innapropriate, but not [slashdot.org] as [slashdot.org] unprovoked [slashdot.org] as you're suggesting. Comments like that tend to piss people off, myself included.

  • by Rycross (836649) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @06:52PM (#26138877)

    The fact that he committed a crime doesn't necessarily correlate with whether a stigma is deserved, nor does it necessarily correlate with what type of crime the public thinks you committed. A relationship between a 17 and 21 year old is perfectly normal in a huge portion of the world. When accused of statutory rape, most people imagine a pedophile having sex with children. The two are worlds are part in severity. Furthermore, in the example, the father initially approved and then later filed charges as a way of getting back at the man. Its a perfect example of using the law to crucify a person in the court of public opinion. The fact that he broke the law doesn't change the fact that the social stigma was undeserved.

    He deserves to be thought of as an idiot for not using protection, not as a child rapist.

  • by Chosen Reject (842143) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @06:55PM (#26138921)
    I think that's too much. All those things are already a matter of public record so anyone that wants to see it can. There are a lot of arrests and charges that never make it to the headlines so whether the people involved there are innocent or guilty the majority if people will never hear about them.

    If we're going to enforce rules on freedom of expression in this regard, then what ought to happen is media outlets should spend as much time/space/articles/etc on the exoneration as on the arrest. In the Duke LaCross example, that means for every 500 word article with bold front-paged headlines like "Duke Players charged with sexual assault", there should be at least one 500 word article with bold front-paged headlines like "Duke Players innocent; Crystal Gail Mangum and DA Mike Nifong are lying whores".

    There are two advantages of it being this way:
    1. Those that are already relatively private remain relatively private.
    2. Media outlets can still choose what to report on, namely, they don't have to report on arrests and charges at all, but if they choose to do so, they must report on all exonerations and dropped charges for the same an equal share.
  • by Celarnor (835542) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @07:25PM (#26139285)
    Actually, we tried to get the student-run newspaper to run a story about it. They decided that to do that would be in bad taste. The most interesting reaction, though, was when some of us called the local paper; we figured this would be "Wow, holy shit" news, but the reporter we ended up talking with answered "That's not really newsworthy, that happens all the time." I had one of those moments where one of the foundations of your philosophy gets blown apart and your entire way of thinking just stops and tries to rebuild itself.

    He considered legal action against the school, but he was told by counsel that he couldn't do anything about it, and that even if the court did find in his favor, he would have to reapply, and they would probably just screen him out during application.

    He has coped with it EXTREMELY well; despite being very intelligent, he hasn't been able to get into any other 'reputable' schools, so he had to attend a state university.

    For more information, at the end of the quarter, he was going to go intern at IBM. He was sent an e-mail by HR about two weeks after this all started and was told that it would be against policy to accept interns with a criminal record, so he lost his co-op for that quarter, which was something he was really looking forward to at the time. Now, every time he applies to an internship, it gets brought up quietly, he always tells his story, and he never gets accepted (although he always gets selected quickly for an interview).

    If "secret courts" where there's no press is the only way to solve these kinds of problems for people who are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, then I'm all for it. If they're found guilty, great; publish it all over the place. Until then, there's no need to ruin people's lives like this whenever some vindictive woman gets mad because she lost her boytoy.
  • by BeanThere (28381) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @07:25PM (#26139287)

    Listen to yourself ... there's so much anger and bitterness showing in your post, you might want to reconsider your position that you are somehow that morally superior to those that felt suicidal, as those beatings probably affected you more than you think ... "all it ever did", I don't think so. I'm not even sure it's normal to feel that strongly about something that really has nothing to do with you if things are as you purport them to be - those suicidal people did nothing to you. It sounds more to me as though positing your status as being higher than those "weak losers" (in your mind) helps you see yourself as stronger or better (an imagined position you're clearly fighting hard to maintain, suggesting maybe it is in doubt in your mind) --- in fact, what you are ultimately doing is very much akin to bullying those 'losers'. It's all about maintaining a position in the social status hierarchy; your not being suicidal doesn't make you 'better than' those people. You're holding a lot of anger and bitterness down and it's very obvious from every other sentence; your attacking people you perceive as weak (who might be a lot stronger than you in fact, you DON'T know what else they go through) is probably doing harm to the people around you.

  • by TOGSolid (1412915) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @07:42PM (#26139483)

    The problem results in Political Correctness.

    Should people be allowed to be asshats? Sure why not? But they should expect to be punched in the nose every once in a while when they are.

    Should people grow a spine? Sure, why not? We really shouldn't cater to the whiny sniveling lot either. They should learn to punch people in the nose.

    The world was much more polite when people actually could punch someone without fear of being sued into oblivion.

    [rant]This is probably one of the more fundamental things wrong with society at the moment. People are being conditioned to be victims rather than to stand up for themselves and get shit done. This holds especially true in school where you have bullies messing with other kids in plain sight of adults and having no reprocussions, but the minute the victim decides to just beat the crap out of the bully, all of a sudden he/she is the one in trouble. And so kids get taught to just be victims from an early age, to whine and cry, feel sorry for themselves, and even just go tattle to anyone about everything.
    It's the Barney generation mentality where everyone is supposed to be all soft and squishy. Parents aren't using a stern hand with their kids anymore and often are absent in their child's lives. What else is the child to do without someone to teach them that it is ok to put the bully in their place? Even then, these days I'm pretty sure that if a parent taught a child that and the kid did knock a bully out, the teachers would jump the parent's shit and maybe even call child services on them even though it's quite clearly the fault of the teacher for not paying attention.[/rant]

    Anyhoo, with this case, is what Lori did wrong? Yep, but was it illegal? Nope.
    Megan's parents were clearly at fault for every aspect of this. They failed at the very basics of parenting. They weren't involved with their daughter's life, they didn't keep an eye on her behavior, they didn't monitor what she was doing on the internet, etc. etc. They're just playing victim, blaming their own inadequacies as parents on someone else. Yes Lori is an evil bitch, but if the parents had just paid attention they would have noticed what was going on and caught it. It's not like it's hard to tell when someone you know is going through a depressive swing. Especially when it's your own damn daughter. It could have then been resolved on a personal level (i.e. knocking Lori out), and that would have been that.
    But no, Megan was clearly a sad little victim, her parents are just so downtrodden by their loss, and Lori is an evil tyrant laying down fire and brimstone who needs to be caged away. Never mind the fact that if it wasn't for this happening, Megan's parents probably barely even knew she existed. They should be the ones in jail.

  • by Fallen Seraph (808728) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @08:15PM (#26139863)
    I'm sorry, but I really do have to disagree with you on several points.

    First of all, why is it that this is suddenly a crime when it's done online, but if you're being harassed at school, no one cares? I spent 4 years being picked on every fucking day for no reason. I'd get hit, I had my glasses and possessions broken or thrown into the water, etc. When I went to the cops, do you know what they said? "Maybe you should see a counselor or take up karate" Really? It's not like I'd taken karate for 5 years already, and was trying to avoid fighting on principle. School officials did nothing. The authorities did nothing. And when my parents went to talk to their parents, they found them to be even bigger assholes than their kids. And when I did fight back, _I_ was the one who was punished, or sent to detention. And it kept going until one day, 3 of them decided to pick on me outside of school on the way home from the bus. My expensive new glasses got broken, I snapped, and left all 3 of them crying on the floor. And then it stopped.

    There are thousands of kids who live through that every day, who can't fight back the way I was able to, and no one does anything. At best, if you're lucky, they'll send them to the school counselor, who will then proceed to do absolutely nothing. So please enlighten me as to why this is perfectly ok, even though there are a multitude of suicides and self-abuse cases over similar situations, but "cyber-bullying" is somehow so much worse.


    As for the rape story, first of all, you seem to be equivocating statutory rape with assault/rape. This is not the case. A very close friend of mine was assaulted and raped when going home one evening and she's still trying to get over it more than 8 years later. To somehow claim that this act is the same as statutory rape is completely absurd. Why do I feel this way, you might ask. The reason being that statutory rape depends on what the state believes the victim's ability to understand the situation and make a valid decision. The problem is that each state can decide this. Why is this a problem? Because, for example, when I was a senior in high school I began seeing a freshman (an age difference of 3 years). The age of consent in New York State is 17. The age of consent in New Jersey, which was a 5 minute drive away, is 16. How, I wonder, does she magically gain maturity and the ability to make a rational decision if we drive a few miles, and then mysteriously lose it when we go home?

    Don't get me wrong, I didn't sleep with her until she was of age (which had less to do with the law and more to do with when she was comfortable with it), but that doesn't mean that the law is any less idiotic in that situation. Yes, the GP's friend is an idiot, and he did in fact commit a crime, but the way in which it played out just goes to show how stupid the law is. In another state, likely just a few miles away, it would've been perfectly legal! At least in NY, we make an effort to make some distinction (it's only a misdemeanor if the perp is under 21, and the victim is over 15), and the severity of the charges increases the younger the victim is, but other states have no such provisions, and make little distinction between a 50 year old man who slept with a 10 year old, and an 18 year old boy who slept with his 17 year old girlfriend. And lest we forget that the latter case goes into the sex offender database as well, making it difficult to find work, a house, etc. I know one guy who married the girl who was the "victim" and later couldn't find a job because he was a registered sex offender.

    I'm beginning to stray off-topic, but my main point is that equivocating assault/rape to statutory rape, regardless of the circumstances, is an injustice to both victims of rape/assault, and both parties involved in a statutory rape case. Just because they both have the word "rape" in the name does not make them the same thing.

    As for the main point of the article, the most sensible solution is to keep both perpetrator and victim's names private, because both are entitled to due process. Too often, society judges us to be guilty regardless of what a court of law has to say, and the media rarely prints retractions on accusations they make.

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken

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