Thursday, November 20, 2008

Myspace Hoax trial should be dismissed

Bad case, bad law

LOS ANGELES (Nov. 19) - A Missouri woman, her teenage daughter and an employee used an elaborate Internet ruse to terrorize a 13-year-old neighbor girl who later committed suicide, a federal prosecutor said Wednesday.
U.S. Attorney Thomas O'Brien told jurors during his opening statement that Lori Drew helped create a false identity on the social networking site MySpace. Posing online as a teenage boy, Drew befriended Megan Meier, he said.

The fact that the government passed a law banning "cyberbullying" after this case shows that the case should be dismissed. The charges are based on a crime that doesn't exist. I'm sure that the government can make a solid criminal case against almost any American if we pursued them as a person first, rather than suspicion of a particular crime.

I of course am against doing cruel things online or in person. I want Americans to raise the level of civil discourse and what is considered entertainment.

But this falls into the same category as other touchy issues like abortion where it is not about being pro-abortion or being pro-bullying. It is about being pro-freedom.

If the "victim" didn't kill themselves, what would be the crime? How can it be justified that what someone types on a computer be a part of the legal reasoning of another person's thinking?

Everyday we say and do things that we shouldn't, and 99.9% of the time people don't take it seriously or to an extreme. Are there magic words that could lead to criminal charges?

For example: It is alleged that the offenders in this case said, "the world would be better off without you." What if that is a true statement?

What if they said, "You should .... yourself". That is inappropriate and wrong, but it shouldn't be criminal.

What should be criminal is if someone not only encourages someone to kill themselves, but actually says things so much or in a way that turn their speech into actions that are a part of the actual act.

For example here is a case I would support:

Two people are chatting online in whatever context. They both believe they are serious and being honest. (If one or both think they are joking or "playing roles" it is not criminal)

One person communicates suicidal tendencies. The other person, while understanding that this person really is depressed and/or suicidal precedes to encourage them to take steps towards killing themselves. Including, giving them ideas of how to do it, and helping them overcome fears.

If something similar to the above can be proven, I'm for this type of criminal action. I'm sure you can tell it would be hard to prove the above.

My understanding is that the people on trial in this case were playing a hoax. My understanding is that they didn't intend anything bad to happen and never did anything in real life.

We have to have boundaries to ensure freedom. Within those boundaries we need to promote personal and civic responsibility to do the right thing. Otherwise the rules will begin to consume us and we won't be the great country we are today.

Craig Farmer
making the word "liberal" safe again!

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