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> Criminalize online harassment, The tragedy of Megan Meier

Minister Of Information
Group: Members
Posts: 393
Member No.: 581

Posted: Nov 24 2007, 08:48 PM
Quote Post
PCpunch.gif Is all I can say for the neighbour of this girl. PCpunch.gif
I would be so embrassed and ashamed of my daughter's if they ever did this to someone.
It goes to show you the extent of our society and the lenghts they go to hurt others.

Town may criminalize online harassment
The tragedy of Megan Meier will take another twist Wednesday night when officials in her home town vote on whether to make online harassment a local crime.

Meier is the 13-year-old suburban St. Louis girl who met a cute 16-year-old named Josh Evans last year on the social networking site MySpace. They became close, but suddenly he turned on her, calling her names, saying she was "a bad person and everybody hates you." Others joined the harassment — the barrage culminated in Megan's Oct. 16, 2006, suicide, just short of her 14th birthday.

Weeks later, Megan's grieving parents learned that the boy didn't exist — he'd been fabricated by a neighbor, the mother of one of Megan's former friends. The girls had had a falling out, police say, and she wanted to know what Megan was saying about her daughter.

Local police and the FBI investigated, but more than a year later, no criminal charges have been filed. Tonight, the Dardenne Prairie Board of Aldermen will vote on whether to make Internet harassment a crime in its jurisdiction.

But since a local newspaper columnist broke the story of Megan's death last week, the case has grabbed the attention of the blogosphere: The paper didn't identify the neighbor, and police say she committed no crime, but bloggers who see it differently have outed and humiliated the family online.

The St. Charles Journal decided not to identify the neighbor in the absence of criminal charges or a civil complaint — even though her name is in a police report on a related incident. Columnis Steve Pokin said he wanted to protect her daughter. "Kids don't get to choose their parents," he said.

But once the story was posted online, bloggers matched details in his lengthy piece with property records to come up with the name. Thousands of readers soon began posting hateful comments. They posted a map and satellite image of her home on the website, calling the family "psychos who pushed a teenager to SUICIDE."

By the end of the week, bloggers had also posted her name, address, workplace and phone numbers, as well as a photo of her husband, from his employer's website.

The phenomenon is called "Internet shaming," said Daniel Solove, a law professor at George Washington University in Washington, D.C, and author of The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet.

"If people catch people in a transgression … increasingly they're posting their personal information online," he said. "It's bringing back a kind of mob justice, a posse that is very troubling."

Megan's mother, Tina Meier, 37, said Tuesday that a civil suit is still an option, but "obviously we're hoping that the next step is that criminal charges are going to be filed against the family."

She also advised parents to beware of adults pretending to be kids online. "I'm hoping that parents will take an extra step and take a look at their MySpace accounts, their Facebook accounts — it's not just kids. You obviously can have an adult, and it doesn't have to be a sexual predator."

The neighbor's family did not respond to calls from USA TODAY, which also is not publishing their names.

Dardenne Prairie Mayor Pam Fogarty, a mother of five, says she's frustrated that there have been no charges. "It's more than astounding," she said. "It's like, 'Come on, guys — find something that fits.' "

The proposed ordinance would make online harassment a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by a $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail. "I'm angry that what I can put into place isn't enough — and it's not retroactive," she said.

She's also pushing a resolution asking state lawmakers to make online harassment a felony statewide.

County prosecutor Jack Banas said Monday that he'd look into the case, but that he had yet to meet with the Meier family or read the details of reports. He wouldn't say whether he'll bring charges, but noted that no one, including the U.S. Justice Department, found charges warranted.

"They're probably right," Banas said. "I just don't want to say that until I've had a chance to look over all the reports."

In the meantime, Fogarty has asked police to take on extra patrols in the neighborhood where the Meiers and the other family live.

If someone were to hurt the other family, she said, "It's another young person that's going to have to suffer — and that's not what we want to happen."


"Foolish is the man who never reads a newspaper; even more foolish is the man who believes what he reads just because it is in the newspaper."

- August von Schlozer, German historian and journalist of the late 18th century.
PMEmail Poster

Master Of His Domain
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Member No.: 8

Posted: Sep 18 2008, 06:05 PM
Quote Post
As I scrolled down this "You Gotta See it" Section for a post to bump ---

I saw this.... It makes me sad .....

We need more protection from internet predators as well as those who seek us harm mentally by playing mind games online as was the case above.

Please Protect Your Children From Harmful People?? Online

"Ye shall know them by their fruits"
~ Matthew 7:16

"Believe nothing. No matter where you read it, or who said it, even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."
~ Buddha
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