Beta

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

MySpace Verdict a Danger To Depressed Kids

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the don't-need-no-more-reasons dept.

Social Networks 502

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.

cancel ×

502 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Internet crimes, like rape? (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#26135645)

I mean, I was raped on the Internet. My Karma went from Excellent to Terrible due to one post.

But I'd hardly call it a crime. Travesty, maybe...

Re:Internet crimes, like rape? (5, Interesting)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#26135679)

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?

Re:Internet crimes, like rape? (1, Insightful)

UncleWilly (1128141) | more than 5 years ago | (#26135817)

This is one of those life lessons, there are consequences for your actions.

Re:Internet crimes, like rape? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26135899)

Ha, see how you feel after you take home a willing, tipsy girl and she regrets it the next morning.

What should be a simple misunderstanding will become your life wasted in prison and out, if you survive. First comes the sodomy. If you struggle against it then they'll punch your teeth out. Then come the razor necklaces while guards look the other way.

Not everybody gets to live in civillized Europe, you insensitive clod :)

Re:Internet crimes, like rape? (2, Funny)

Immostlyharmless (1311531) | more than 5 years ago | (#26135999)

There is a solution to this, just make sure you film all of your encounters ;).

Re:Internet crimes, like rape? (4, Funny)

MicktheMech (697533) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136317)

There is a solution to this, just make sure you film all of your encounters ;).

So they can charge you with Child Pornography too?

Re:Internet crimes, like rape? (3, Insightful)

Immostlyharmless (1311531) | more than 5 years ago | (#26135855)

So....the lesson here is? Don't fuck the underage daughter of local law inforcement when you are old enough to drink?

Ummmmmm no shit?

Re:Internet crimes, like rape? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26136005)

Grass on the field, play ball! These girls are going to make a stupid mistake eventually (I dont know one who hasnt) why not let them make it earlier in life so they learn their lesson a little earlier? Boo age of consent laws.

Re:Internet crimes, like rape? (2, Informative)

buddyglass (925859) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136093)

One lesson is: gather evidence that would demonstrate the dad was okay with it. If he then tries to go after you for the fact that the girl was underage, you can produce evidence that makes him party to the crime since he knew about it and approved.

That said, I'm guessing the poster's story isn't 100% accurate. In many (most?) states its perfectly legal to sleep with a 17 year old regardless of the age difference. The additional lesson to be had: know the laws in your state. That lesson also applies to laws concerning recording without permission, as described above.

Re:Internet crimes, like rape? (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136159)

Not in liberal, progressive California.

If your "date" is under 18 years of age then you must be within 3 years of age [ageofconsent.com] . 21 - 17 = 4.

Re:Internet crimes, like rape? (2, Informative)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26135877)

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.

So, what are you trying to say here? That a person commits statutory rape, (by your own admission you state this to be true) and is then arrested for it, and suffers consequences for it?

Here's a hint... parental consent to statutory rape does not make it any less illegal.

The charges were probably dropped because the sheriff could have been brought up on child neglect. However, again... by your own statement, THE CRIME HAPPENED.

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.

Re:Internet crimes, like rape? (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136031)

Read this [wikipedia.org] and try again. Even if the CRIME(by the way, you don't have to yell ^_^ ) happened.

My point, basically, (perhaps I should have been more clear) was that things aren't always black or white and the media should not print names until after the verdict is delivered.

Re:Internet crimes, like rape? (1)

genner (694963) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136283)

My point, basically, (perhaps I should have been more clear) was that things aren't always black or white and the media should not print names until after the verdict is delivered.

Exactly, I mean look at what happend to OJ.....the first trial I mean.

Re:Internet crimes, like rape? (1)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136301)

Extenuating circumstances? Seriously? "Her daddy said it was ok" does not qualify as extenuating circumstances!

Re:Internet crimes, like rape? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26136201)

snowgirl, if you're ok with some guy who was previously in a loving relationship with a girl, with the consent of her family, having his life destroyed because the relationship turns sour, then you're not over whatever it was that happened to you.

The guy the GP referred to, does not deserve your misplaced anger and wish for retribution. The guy who assaulted you does.

Best of luck.

Re:Internet crimes, like rape? (5, Interesting)

Spazztastic (814296) | more than 5 years ago | (#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] .

Re:Internet crimes, like rape? (1)

corcoranp (892008) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136233)

So, what are you trying to say here? ...

I think he's trying to illustrate how people use the "letter of the law" as a weapon to hurt other people, as the article is pointing out.

Re:Internet crimes, like rape? (2, Insightful)

evanbd (210358) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136295)

The charges might also have been dropped because offering them their own tent and then prosecuting them for using it could constitute entrapment.

Re:Internet crimes, like rape? (1)

kwabbles (259554) | more than 5 years ago | (#26135819)

I was raped on the Internet. My Karma went from Excellent to Terrible due to one post.

I don't know... that's kind of a Bad Analogy.

someone enlighten me (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26135647)

why is the border of the story red?

Re:someone enlighten me (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#26135825)

You have a subscription and the story wasn't posted yet.

Re:someone enlighten me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26135977)

i don't have a subscription. i don't even have an account

Re:someone enlighten me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26136053)

Me neither!

Slashdot must be taking design cues from MySpace, or something...

Not sure I agree with that last bit. (5, Insightful)

onion2k (203094) | more than 5 years ago | (#26135657)

Leading potential suicides to believe that they can have the sympathy they always wanted, and revenge on those they hate, if they kill themselves.

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. Whatever the outcome of this people will continue to think suicide is their best option - either for their own sake or because they misguidedly believe it'll make someone else feel bad, or even get punished. That isn't some new and exciting insight. It's just been made a little more concrete by this particular case. Using Megan's suicide as a rallying cry of "oh how terrible, everyone will be bumping themselves off for revenge now!" is pretty small minded and it devalues the good that came from Megan's too short life in my opinion. Shame on you.

Re:Not sure I agree with that last bit. (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#26135803)

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.

Re:Not sure I agree with that last bit. (2, Interesting)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26135907)

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...

Re:Not sure I agree with that last bit. (1)

jlowe (907739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136245)

Sorry, but the simple fact that someone IS suicidal indicates that there is something wrong. There is no rational reason for suicide and it goes against the basic idea of self-preservation. So, I would say someone who is suicidal is NOT rational.

Re:Not sure I agree with that last bit. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26135815)

Now if people that are suicidal wear a name tag, so that no one may ever tease them, make fun of them, then ok. Otherwise are we going to throw in jail ever kid that ever teased someone if the follow up reaction was negative.

If lori here was guilty, then US is guity of 9/11 bombings. Sure moronic terrorists did that, but the US actions else where caused their reactions.

We can all either assume people are rational beings and have a choice in what they do, and thus punish them for said act. OR we can all blame someone else for our act in which case rational humans, prison sentences can all be thrown out.
Really I am sure Lori here was screwed up by someone else before. So we cant really punish her.

Re:Not sure I agree with that last bit. (1)

cyber-dragon.net (899244) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136017)

Interesting and poignant analogy

Re:Not sure I agree with that last bit. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Not sure I agree with that last bit. (2, Interesting)

jlowe (907739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136217)

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.

Suicidal people (1)

dspart (1073766) | more than 5 years ago | (#26135987)

A suicidal person on the brink of killing themselves is - indeed as you write, and I paraphrase - not really in a position to make a rational judgement.

However (and I speak from personal experience and 25 years of on-and-off "being there", for which I have professional help), such a person is not necessarily as you suggest.

Sometimes the pain is too much.

Sincerely,

-dspart

Re:Not sure I agree with that last bit. (1)

patcpong (952524) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136067)

You're right when you say that suicidal people aren't entirely rational when they think suicide is their best option to get revenge on someone. However the original essay's point is that the successful conviction of Lori Drew now validates this wayward thinking. Lori Drew was punished by Megan's suicide which just reinforces the thoughts some may have that suicide is an effective method of exacting revenge.

it adds another concrete reason, though (5, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136071)

Suicidal people aren't 100% irrational zombies or something. They seize on things and overemphasize them, downplay contrary evidence, etc., but they do still have thought processes that take into account the external world.

One of the (many) ways of trying to convince people who are in particular suicidal because of a desire to "get back" at someone is that suicide is not a particularly effective way of getting back at people. Providing a very concrete way in which it arguably actually is a good way of getting back at someone is not very helpful from that perspective.

Re:Not sure I agree with that last bit. (1)

rjhubs (929158) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136197)

I have to disagree with you. I am not a psychologist, but there is a lot of research out there that indicates not all suicidal people are the same. This wasn't my original source but it contains what I know: http://www.healthyplace.com/communities/depression/related/suicide_8.asp [healthyplace.com]

Women are 3 times more likely to attempt suicide than men, HOWEVER Men are 4 times more likely to die in a suicide attempt. Is this just because men are better at killing themselves than women? Or perhaps there is a gender difference in the reasoning behind why people choose to attempt suicide.

I am not surprised by your callous view of people with suicidal tendencies as it coincides with the general public's view that these people are just irrational and stupid. I will say that in some ways suicide is the ultimate form of narcissism, that people convince themselves to believe that their problems are tremendously great and in turn don't care about how their actions will affect their loved ones around them.

But there are plenty of suicide support forums on the internet that will argue with your statement that "people will continue to think suicide is their best option"... most suicidal people are just people who feel overwhelmed and don't feel they have any options for support. Sometimes they just need someone to pay them some attention. Which is the theory most psychologists attribute to the male-female suicide statistic I gave earlier.. Women typically attempt suicide as an attempt to garner attention.. and it generally works (would you ignore someone in your family that tried to kill themself?). So while it may be a flawed assumption that getting this attention will solve their problems.. logically it is pretty sound that suicide attempt -> attention. So for you to dispute the authors claim that suicidal people are influenced by incentives.. I believe is caused by a great lack of understanding of suicidal people.

Re:Not sure I agree with that last bit. (2, Funny)

genner (694963) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136343)

Women are 3 times more likely to attempt suicide than men, HOWEVER Men are 4 times more likely to die in a suicide attempt. Is this just because men are better at killing themselves than women? Or perhaps there is a gender difference in the reasoning behind why people choose to attempt suicide.

Nope men are better at everything.....*ducks*

why is the story's title red? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26135673)

why is the story's title red?

Insurance (3, Insightful)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 5 years ago | (#26135699)

Since I have insurance I have every motivation to leave the keys in the ignition of my car when I go into a supermarket shopping, right?

Re:Insurance (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#26135831)

Since I have insurance I have every motivation to leave the keys in the ignition of my car when I go into a supermarket shopping, right?

I'd check the insurance policy first.
Many require signs of forced entry.
I.E. a sign that you were not negligent.

Also, WTF does that have to do with harassment and suicide?

Re:Insurance (2, Insightful)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136077)

Many people have cars. Many people who aren't reasoning at their fullest ability have cars (the clearest evidence being a morning commute). Most people who have cars have insurance. Since insurance will pay for a stolen car, and leaving the keys in the ignition will get my car stolen(ok maybe not my junker but someone's). Easy money is leaving the keys in the ignition.
And then you say even a moron knows they won't get paid for that. But the article says that using similar reasoning people are going to start KILLING themselves to cause a small fine and/or prison sentance on someone they dislike. Every law is subject to abuse, but really, lets not make a law protecting harrassment victims because someone might make a stupid decision because of it?

Re:Insurance (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136253)

He's making the point that the author's point is rather dumb.

The author is arguing that by making it law that people who push others into suicide can be held accountable, more people will commit suicide.

So, by doing something that hurts themselves, they can gain something.

In the case of the car, by losing the car, he gains the insurance payoff or a new car.

In the case of the suicidal, by killing themselves, they gain vengeance.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I don't think most people on the verge of suicide are contemplating the likelihood of legal repercussions on their enemies. That's a little premeditated for most of the heavily depressed/suicidal people I've known and interacted with.

Here's what boggles me though:

Jack Kevorkian helped terminally ill people who had made a rational decision to end their lives with dignity, was convicted of 2nd degree murder and spent 8 years in jail.

Lori Drew drove a (relatively) healthy young lady to make an irrational decision to end her life, was convicted of a few misdemeanors, and is not imprisoned.

-Rick

It's simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26135705)

Just replace the diodes on his left side.

Whatever you do... (0, Flamebait)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 5 years ago | (#26135723)

Don't blame the parents or doctors for putting the girl on dangerous SSRI and anti-psychotic drugs.

From the third grade Megan had been under the care of a psychiatrist. She had been prescribed Celexa, Concerta and Geodon

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megan_Meier [wikipedia.org]

The FDA and other bodies have found that SSRI medications cause increased suicide and agression in people under the age of 24.
http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/ac/06/briefing/2006-4272b1-01-FDA.pdf [fda.gov]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ssri#Adverse_effects [wikipedia.org]
http://ssristories.com/ [ssristories.com]

Blame someone else, its the [new] American way!

Re:Whatever you do... (4, Insightful)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26135807)

Don't blame the parents or doctors for putting the girl on dangerous SSRI and anti-psychotic drugs.

From the third grade Megan had been under the care of a psychiatrist. She had been prescribed Celexa, Concerta and Geodon

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megan_Meier [wikipedia.org]

The FDA and other bodies have found that SSRI medications cause increased suicide and agression in people under the age of 24.
http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/ac/06/briefing/2006-4272b1-01-FDA.pdf [fda.gov]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ssri#Adverse_effects [wikipedia.org]
http://ssristories.com/ [ssristories.com]

Blame someone else, its the [new] American way!

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

SSRIs can also cause liver damage, but you don't see people suggesting that this risk means they shouldn't be used. It's an ADVISEMENT that the doctors should consider the person's state before prescribing them.

Actually, the presumption on SSRIs here is that people will come out of a deep depression, and begin rationalizing suicide. Not that SSRIs actually cause the suicidal intents on its own.

Re:Whatever you do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26135885)

SSRIs here is that people will come out of a deep depression, and begin rationalizing suicide

Citation please?

Oh, and these drugs arent any better for dealing with depression than alcohol, but I guess in today's world, the classification the government puts the substances in is way more important than their actual effects.

Re:Whatever you do... (0)

faraway (174370) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136013)

SSRIs here is that people will come out of a deep depression, and begin rationalizing suicide

Citation please?

Oh, and these drugs arent any better for dealing with depression than alcohol, but I guess in today's world, the classification the government puts the substances in is way more important than their actual effects.

Uh. Alcohol will prevent you from functioning in society. Getting a job, getting along with peers, etc.

SSRI's will enable to you continue functioning in reality and society.

Re:Whatever you do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26136297)

I guess that depends on your definition of function. You can build up a tolerance to alcohol (just like everything else) and keep doing what your doing. Just like the SSRI's, it effects different people differently, like alcohol, some people are a lot better at getting along with everyone with something in them, be it booze or pills. My point is that we have to stop giving people certain drugs and claim its fixing them, well other people self-medicate and are "killing" themselves, (where these drugs actually led to someone actually killing themselves)

Re:Whatever you do... (2, Insightful)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26135931)

SSRIs by themselves are not dangerous, or have not been conclusively shown to be at least. Many of those who had suicide ideation were also on other drugs, just like Megan. Many of them were on seven or more psychoactive drugs at once, and many also had suicide ideation before being put on the drugs (that probably being one of the reasons for going on anti-depression drugs in the first place). I've read some of the surveys where they attempted to correct for past suicide ideation, and they asked if the patient had suicide ideation in the past 30 days. Anything before that was irrelevant, including multiple attempts.

The apparent correlation between SSRIs and suicide, once again, does not mean causation.

Re:Whatever you do... (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136081)

Don't blame the parents or doctors for putting the girl on dangerous SSRI and anti-psychotic drugs.

Is that you, Tom Cruise?

Re:Whatever you do... (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136231)

Stop being glib.

Re:Whatever you do... (0, Offtopic)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136313)

(frantically looking up "glib"...) Hmm, can't find anything that means "funny" under "glib". Ahh, here it is: "agile, spry", archaic ...dammit!

Identity theft. (3, Insightful)

Samschnooks (1415697) | more than 5 years ago | (#26135735)

Defenders of Internet civil liberties have for years been disgusted with the fact that crimes involving the Internet â" from simple identity theft ... have always gotten disproportionately more attention than the same or similar crimes committed without the aid of a computer.

I am a big civil libertarian and I have to disagree with them on this one. Then again, I don't see how civil liberties are directly affected when things are publicized other than the over-reaction by policy makers and the hysterical members of the public who enable them.

When internet identity theft scams are publicized, it puts its cause into the public's mind; such as phishing schemes. I don't know of anyone who trusts emails from their bank or eBay anymore asking to "verify personal information" or anything like that. Phishing schemes have become much less successful because of the publicity.

We don't need new laws to handle the Internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26135743)

when a crime is committed, it is just that: a crime

it doesn't matter if it occurs in the brick and mortar world, or in cyberspace

once you get your head around that, you're well on your way to understanding how to deal with Internet crime

prosecute people for the crime they commit, no matter where it occurs. Theft is theft, harassment is harassment, fraud is fraud.

Victim's pain is less than a false allegation? WTF (1, Troll)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26135745)

I don't agree with most of this. Harassment is and should be a crime. People don't typically go "omg, if I just do XY, then I could get back at this person!" Even if that WERE the intentions of the person, doesn't it speak to the level of harassment that someone is willing to harm themselves in order to get justice for it?

The whole, sexual assault victim to suicide victim bs is totally out of line... the interest in the suicide situation is that they don't want to make suicide sound glamorous so people don't do it.

Seriously, what kind of ASSHOLE CHAUVINISTIC PIG would say that the person alleged of sexual assault should it not be true would be WORSE off than the victim were it true?

Seriously, have you been sexually assaulted? I have. You feel like shit, and it took me more than a week to even TRUST any man. I had to take a whole week off of work to just sit there and compose myself.

Yeah, those rape allegations certainly cause people to sit in their showers trying to get themselves clean...

Re:Victim's pain is less than a false allegation? (1)

PriceIke (751512) | more than 5 years ago | (#26135839)

> You feel like shit, and it took me more than a week to even TRUST any man Wow, you mean a whole week? I've known adult women who, being sexually assaulted as children, still refuse to trust men.

Re:Victim's pain is less than a false allegation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26135895)

"Yeah, those rape allegations certainly cause people to sit in their showers trying to get themselves clean."

Actually, yes.

Re:Victim's pain is less than a false allegation? (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26135943)

I've known adult women who, being sexually assaulted as children, still refuse to trust men.

More specifically, it was a week before I trusted them even enough to be in the same room as a guy without someone there to watch them.

Also, childhood scars are bound to be much deeper... I suppose in that way, I'm fortunate. :(

Re:Victim's pain is less than a false allegation? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26135909)

Yeah, those rape allegations certainly cause people to sit in their showers trying to get themselves clean...

No, it takes them the rest of their lives to remove the stigma, that a moment's pique on the part of the person making the accusation, caused.

Are they worse off? Physically? no Emotionally? Not in the same way, but almost as bad. Reputation? Permanently damaged - because a lot of people will believe it was true regardless...

Re:Victim's pain is less than a false allegation? (1, Troll)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136167)

Emotionally? Not in the same way, but almost as bad.

Of course... they totally need to receive therapy and counseling for it.

Here's a hint to guys in general... STOP RAPING WOMEN, and no one will take it credibly when you're accused of it.

Re:Victim's pain is less than a false allegation? (2, Informative)

gpw213 (691600) | more than 5 years ago | (#26135981)

Seriously, what kind of ASSHOLE CHAUVINISTIC PIG would say that the person alleged of sexual assault should it not be true would be WORSE off than the victim were it true?

Read it again. He didn't say that at all. He said that the embarrassment of being publicly identified as a victim of sexual assault is less than the embarrassment of being publicly accused of being the assaulter. He was comparing the results of publication, not of the crime itself.

Re:Victim's pain is less than a false allegation? (0, Troll)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136087)

Seriously, what kind of ASSHOLE CHAUVINISTIC PIG would say that the person alleged of sexual assault should it not be true would be WORSE off than the victim were it true?

Read it again. He didn't say that at all. He said that the embarrassment of being publicly identified as a victim of sexual assault is less than the embarrassment of being publicly accused of being the assaulter. He was comparing the results of publication, not of the crime itself.

I stand by my position, and refuse to alter it. I don't care what he was talking about, to me it says that my pain is less than something else.

BTW, when arresting someone we're REQUIRED to identify their name and crime, it's called DUE PROCESS.

Re:Victim's pain is less than a false allegation? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26136011)

I would not have said "less than a false allegation" but I think you understate the magnitude of what happens to someone who is accused of such a crime. Many people accused of sexual assaults lose their jobs (as they are unable to attend their workplace), and most will spend months suspended from their job while the police and prosecutors decide whether to proceed. In addition they will normally be publicly named (and have the allegation against them permanently recorded in newspapers etc), and there are many people out there who will then choose to believe the worst about them for the rest of their lives.

In many cases there is simply not enough evidence to either successfully prosecute one party for sexual assault or the other for making false reports. However only one person in that situation ever gets publicly named, only one person is likely to have lost their job and have their neighbors refuse to speak to them etc. Believe it or not, that sort of thing can cause a loss of trust as well...

Re:Victim's pain is less than a false allegation? (0, Flamebait)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136131)

I would not have said "less than a false allegation" but I think you understate the magnitude of what happens to someone who is accused of such a crime. Many people accused of sexual assaults lose their jobs (as they are unable to attend their workplace), and most will spend months suspended from their job while the police and prosecutors decide whether to proceed. In addition they will normally be publicly named (and have the allegation against them permanently recorded in newspapers etc), and there are many people out there who will then choose to believe the worst about them for the rest of their lives.

In many cases there is simply not enough evidence to either successfully prosecute one party for sexual assault or the other for making false reports. However only one person in that situation ever gets publicly named, only one person is likely to have lost their job and have their neighbors refuse to speak to them etc. Believe it or not, that sort of thing can cause a loss of trust as well...

Many people accused of sexual assaults don't even get anything at all. The police go over talk to them, decide that there isn't enough evidence, and they blow it off.

Fame and infamy don't last as long as you presume.

And honestly? DAMN RIGHT they should have that happen. Speaking as a victim. After all, nothing happened to my rapist. A little anxiety in his life wouldn't be too much to ask for, just so that he would accept what he did to me.

Re:Victim's pain is less than a false allegation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26136083)

I believe he was saying that the damage from the press coverage, not from the actual incident, is a problem for the alleged offender, damaging reputations and employment prospects if nothing else. If the incident is only alleged, the press coverage damage is the main object of the false allegation and should perhaps be discouraged.

Re:Victim's pain is less than a false allegation? (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136289)

I believe he was saying that the damage from the press coverage, not from the actual incident, is a problem for the alleged offender, damaging reputations and employment prospects if nothing else. If the incident is only alleged, the press coverage damage is the main object of the false allegation and should perhaps be discouraged.

So, should we not report on alleged murders? Who doesn't think that OJ didn't do it, even if a jury said so?

He has to live with the embarrassment of being called a murderer on every comedy show in the world anytime he comes back into the news.

Due process requires that alleged criminals have their crimes PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE. That way there are no secret courts, and no secret punishments.

Imagine the pain and suffering to a victim of sexual assault, in the event of "secret courts"... he's found guilty, but no one knows about it. So what if it's published after the fact... it's two or three years old by that time usually.

Re:Victim's pain is less than a false allegation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26136109)

Seriously, what kind of ASSHOLE CHAUVINISTIC PIG would say that the person alleged of sexual assault should it not be true would be WORSE off than the victim were it true?

Sorry to knock you off of your self-righteous soapbox, but read that article again before you fly off the handle. The author was pointing out that in the event of the allegation being false, the printing of names would be far more detrimental to the person falsely accused than to the "fake victim". Not, unfortunately for your crusade, that being accused of rape is worse than being raped.

Re:Victim's pain is less than a false allegation? (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136235)

Seriously, what kind of ASSHOLE CHAUVINISTIC PIG would say that the person alleged of sexual assault should it not be true would be WORSE off than the victim were it true?

Sorry to knock you off of your self-righteous soapbox, but read that article again before you fly off the handle. The author was pointing out that in the event of the allegation being false, the printing of names would be far more detrimental to the person falsely accused than to the "fake victim". Not, unfortunately for your crusade, that being accused of rape is worse than being raped.

No, you read it again:

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?

Re:Victim's pain is less than a false allegation? (1, Insightful)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136333)

A whole week? You poor thing. Ever been falsely convicted of a felony? How long do you think it takes to get over that?

Re:Victim's pain is less than a false allegation? (2, Insightful)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136335)

So, because you're a woman, and you've been hurt, it's ok to destroy an innocent man's life?

All men are pigs right?

I'm not making light of sexual assault, my best friend was raped and it didn't take her a week to recover, it took her years. About two before she was comfortable hugging close male friends, and another year after that before she could handle dating. Her first boyfriend after that had a tough time, because she had several panic attacks that would be triggered by seemingly benign events, but went back to the rape.

However, her reputation was not harmed in any way, and since she has healed she can live a normal, and very happy life. A man charged with rape, brought to trial, and then aquitted has no such hope if his name and crime are not protected before a conviction. His reputation is permanently ruined, there will be jobs he cannot get, relationships he cannot have, communities he cannot join, all because he was accused of something he did not do. This is multiplied ten-fold in high-profile cases or small town cases.

You seem to think the only person who can possibly be severly damaged is the female, apparently men's lives don't matter, innocent or no.

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

I have to agree (4, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#26135749)

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.

Re:I have to agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26135923)

I hope she gives him the clap.

I hope she does it before you do!

Re:I have to agree (4, Informative)

sabs (255763) | more than 5 years ago | (#26135937)

Actually, inciting someone to commit suicide is a crime if they actually succeed, or even if they don't apperently.

From the New York state legal code.
"A person who willfully, in any manner, advises, encourages, abets or assists another person in taking the latter's life, is guilty of manslaughter in the first degree." Section 2305 adds that incitement is a felony ever if the would-be suicide survives.

Re:I have to agree (3, Insightful)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136035)

If a guy did this to Megan, and given how large the media circus was, he'd be branded a sexual predator regardless of age and be ostracized from society for the rest of his life.

Re:I have to agree (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136051)

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.

As far as I understand this, it wasn't a temporary thing, but an on going form of harassment. Plus, the boy in your case has a reasonable explanation for his interest in the girl. In the case of Megan though, the person was created out of thin air specifically for the purpose of harming the other person.

BTW, if Lori were to have a son and had told him to intentionally do these cruel things, she certainly would be responsible for the harassment, and the results thereof.

This isn't a case of a girl talking with a real boy, and having the world just be cruel like it normally is. This is a case of a girl expecting that the world is just naturally cruel, but in fact, it was just a specific person being cruel.

"Life sucks" is a valid sentiment only when the suffering cannot be responsibility of someone else. But if someone went out of their way, and documented that it is their responsibility? Well then, that person deserves to be convicted as much on being an idiot as being intentionally cruel and harmful to another person.

Guess what. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26135757)

Life isn't fair. And the internet isn't life. So therefore the internet REALLY isn't fair.

Brought to you by the letters F and U.

We cannot tame the world nor should we (1, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#26135789)

At every turn, it seems, people would like to cushion, candy-coat or otherwise render harmless the world we live in. It would be easier to "air condition the planet" than it would be to make everything in the world "safe." The fact is, no matter what is done, some people can handle it and others will not be able to handle it. There will always be people with emotional problems -- it can't be eliminated without extreme and unpleasant measures. [read: extermination] So if we shouldn't go to one extreme [extermination of unfit people] to solve the problem and we can't reasonably go to the other [make the world out of marshmallows so no one gets hurt], then it stands to reason that we have to accept that some problems cannot be "solved." They have to be managed and accepted. Regrettable and tragic things will happen. It is okay to feel sad about it or take some sort of lesson from it -- whatever enables you to deal with it. But there is no escaping it. All of life is suffering.

Re:We cannot tame the world nor should we (1, Troll)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#26135841)

All of life is suffering.

That's not true. Not only can I call you an idiot in this post and gain great satisfaction from it, but I could theoretically write a bot to reply to all your posts with the same message. Not only would my satisfaction increased considerably, but the necessary effort to feed my satisfaction would drop to a marginal amount of zero per post.

The internet provides a seemingly infinite amount of pleasure!

Re:We cannot tame the world nor should we (1)

ScooterBill (599835) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136143)

There is a bit of hypocrisy in this story. I've read many comments that say "I can do whatever I want online but you can't do anything to me". Would you hop into a car with a stranger? Would you give out personal information to someone you just met at a bar (no matter how charming the person is)?

The beauty of the internet is it's freedom but like in nature, the wild jungle is host to predators and prey. You can't have a "safe" internet and a "free" internet. You need to be careful in the virtual world too.

Cheers

Well said (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26135823)

It is a difficult situation. Someone coming out and saying that Lori Drew should not be credited for the death of Megan Meier usually gets vilified. But the truth is, as you say, what of the countless others who have committed suicide after being bullied? What of the other people in their lives that should have seen that they were depressed and try to help?

Re:Well said (1)

mauriatm (531406) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136293)

It is a difficult situation. Someone coming out and saying that Lori Drew should not be credited for the death of Megan Meier usually gets vilified. But the truth is, as you say, what of the countless others who have committed suicide after being bullied? What of the other people in their lives that should have seen that they were depressed and try to help?

The bullies and the others who could/should have helped also share in the blame.

Oh, the guilt, it fills you. (4, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Oh, the guilt, it fills you. (1)

xaositects (786749) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136075)

oi! sadly my mod points are quite depleted.

Re:Oh, the guilt, it fills you. (1)

minvaren (854254) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136111)

How is it different than the mormons coming over every sunday to try and convert you? It's not, except for intent.

Someone died?

Re:Oh, the guilt, it fills you. (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136177)

Actually, I think the TOS served it's intended purpose--it effectively shifted liability from MySpace to the parent. Also, since there apparently is no way to convict this moron mom other than the computer fraud angle, they nailed her for that. Kind of like nabbing mobsters for mail fraud.

Re:Oh, the guilt, it fills you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26136347)

You answered you're own question,

"It's not, except for intent". You know you're on crack when you claim something isn't different then proceed to explain how it is. The issue isn't trust it's malicious intent to harm. The means of harm don't matter. Killing someone with a bat, gun, bus is on purpose is all the same. The weapon was different in this case but the intent was the same and so was the result.

Assholes and Law (4, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136001)

... punish someone for their obviously evil actions, when it wasn't clear that an actual crime had been committed.

This is what I call an "ASSHOLE LAW", where someone obviously evil to most people, but clearly within the confines of what is "legal".

In the old days ... people like this would get their asses kicked, and the law would look away. The assholes would end up being isolated away from the rest of the community.

Bad cases make worse laws. This case is just another example of ASSHOLE justice, which is really bad for defining what is legal or not legal.

Assholes always skirt around the edges of what is legal, which is my definition of what an asshole is. Assholes ruin it for everyone else.

Next Asshole on the list ... Blago.

I can explain it much more briefly and generally (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136039)

Mis-assignment of responsibility, undermines the idea of responsibility.

Nothing but a witch hunt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26136057)

Increasing litigation to cover these cases opens the door for reverse persecution exactly as outlined in the article. So do we then write more laws to counteract false accusations and apparent suicides??? Where does that cycle stop. It's callous, but there are going to be victims and there are going to be predators - it just depends which side we land on. Don't get me wrong Drew deserved what she got but I agree with the article, over exposure is going to turn this into a cycle. I think the question becomes how do I keep my daughter from living and (hopefully not) dying on myspace??

How it's done in communities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26136069)

When a teenager in a community commits suicide, it is rarely publicized - mostly it gets around the high schools through rumors. The reason is because people worry about "copycats" - kids who kill themselves to gain some sort of notoriety in their deaths, especially if they lack attention in their lives.

So I think that's the bigger problem with this case - Megan's suicide was so heavily reported, that it might push some kids over the edge.

We need law, not opinions. (1)

gillbates (106458) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136129)

The problem with any law in which criminality is dependent upon the feelings of the victims is that it allows for arbitrary and capricious prosecution. Unlike most criminal laws, which criminalize specific acts (such as robbery, for example), this law allows any exchange of opinions between two people to be turned into a criminal matter should one person feel slighted.

You might think this is extreme, but when a Canadian printer refused to print a flyer because of his moral objections to the content, he was brought before the human rights commission, and fined. How long before:

  • Boy likes girl. Girl doesn't like boy.
  • Boy writes love note on girl's MySpace wall.
  • Girl, embarrassed, rejects boy in a humiliating manner.
  • Boy attempts suicide.
  • Girl charged with a federal felony.

This law is a godsend for any geek who wants to get back at that girl who won't have anything to do with him. Or anyone with a vindictive mindset, for that matter.

The legitimacy of the law is suspect when based upon the mere *feelings* of the victim, rather than the actual actions of the perpetrator, are sufficient to induce criminality.

Re:We need law, not opinions. (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136355)

Or:
  • Boy writes love note on girl's MySpace wall.
  • Girl makes a complaint to the police and has the boy arrested for harassment

That is, the article author mentions that WA State law where a person merely has to claim to feel harassed to have a case, it sounds like. I hope a Judge/Jury would see that a guy posting a love-note on a MySpace page, once, in an attempt to win her affections doesn't cross the border into true harassment; pathetic and desperate, perhaps, but not harassment.

Just like the Crucible/Salem Witch Trials (5, Interesting)

Hahnsoo (976162) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Guess what (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136179)

The biggest danger to depressed kids is the depressed kids themselves. Personally, I think Lori Drew's conduct calls for a civil, not criminal case against her. Misdemeanor convictions against her help in that case. The last thing you want when you are suing somebody for half their earnings for the rest of their life is for them to be spending several years in jail, earning nothing. And of course, violation of terms of service is a contractual breach, which is entirely a civil matter, and has no business whatsoever being discussing in criminal court. If anything, the Lori Drew case help at-risk kids by making it clear that you shouldn't believe anything people claim online, especially if you've never met them in real life. Anybody can create an online account, and any 2-bit script kiddie can forge an originating email address. Kids _should_ assume that anybody who takes an inordinate interest in them online means to do them harm, even though 99% of them do not. Yeah, it sucks to live in a world that works that way just like it sucks that I can't be trusted around little girls (or boys) due to the fact that I'm an adult male, but that is the world we live in -- get used to it.

MySpace Verdict a Danger To Depressed Kids (1)

Normal Dan (1053064) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136221)

So are sharp corners.

I get harassed and bullied (1)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136223)

because I am a Christian or that I am mentally or physically ill. It is really hard to hide either of the two but mostly my mental illness causes a writing style that has cyberbullies pick on me.

I've attempted suicide a few times as a result of the cyberbullying esp when they find my home number and harass me at 3am my time using anonymous calls like 012-345-6789 as the Caller ID spoofed. Try to ignore them and they call Anonymous with no number and we cannot tell if it is my wife's family members in Thailand calling for an emergency or the harassers calling again, so we had to get our number changed. Police reports got filed, but they hardly ever catch the person doing the bullying and harassment.

Yes I live in Missouri.

of Overly-broad laws (2, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136225)

This verdict is just another sad example of making an overly-broad law under the guise that it will never be abused, and will only be used when "necessary". Laws are not meant to be used this way, and the old standby comes immediately into play, "that which can be abused, will be abused." Laws open to interpretation will be misinterpreted, or interpreted in a manner that would horrify those that created and supported the overly-broad law.

Say NO to catch-all laws every chance you get. If they can't define the law in such a way that it cannot be abused/misinterpreted, it's not a good law, I don't care what you're trying to prevent. Find an airtight way to word it or don't put it on the books.

You assume Megan knew 'Kyle' was an alias (4, Insightful)

The Amazing Fish Boy (863897) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136243)

The thrust of the argument here seems to be that the MySpace Verdict creates incentive for bullied kids to "get back" at bullies by harming themselves, thus subjecting the bullies to the force of the law. But, as I understand it, the MySpace Verdict only says that you can't break a website's Terms of Service in order to harass someone. In other words, had the 'Kyle' alias been real, there wouldn't have been a case. Now, for your argument to work the bullied kid would have to know that the bully wasn't real because otherwise there would have been no case.

I'd like to suggest that:
  1. Such cases are far less plausible than people being bullied by real people, at least insofar as it escalates up to the point of, "Well I'll show them, I'll just kill myself!"
  2. It would be difficult to prove the case against the bully, because presumably if the bullied kid knew they weren't real, it would be more difficult to argue that the bully was the cause of death. The bullied kid would have to hide their knowledge, which would take a pretty devious kid.

I'm not saying it's a good verdict; it's not. I'm just saying your particular concern about creating incentive for bullied kids to harm themselves seems a little exaggerated when you consider that they would have to know the bully was violating the terms of service before harming themselves in order to bring punishment on the bully.

Preaching to the choir (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#26136275)

It seems like you've put a lot of thought into this article. Unfortunately the thought that politicians and their electors put into such issues is trivial and ideological. I would imagine that the likelihood of any thoughtful and logical consideration towards laws and behaviours would be as likely as a politician or judge is to read this article; statistically unlikely.

Best regards,

UTW

My 2 cents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26136305)

Harassment/bullying via computer should be a crime. As should falsely accusing someone of harassment.

Look at this case this way: if I know someone that is clinically depressed and on medication and I physically hand them a gun, tell them the world's better without them and they kill themselves, should I not be guilty of a crime? The computer's out of the equation, but the same act occurs.

Was this prosecution a stretch of the Myspace TOS? Possibly. But in no way should she have gotten off scot-free...no matter how much she claims she technically did nothing wrong.

A reasonable person and a suicidal person (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26136337)

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

A reasonable person and a suicidal person can hardly be the same person.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?
or Connect with...

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>