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The well known case of a Missouri mother who was accused of causing a teenage girl to suicide has led to additional calls for cyberbullying laws

A mother accused of driving a 13-year-old neighborhood girl to suicide was acquitted of three misdemeanor counts during a high-profile case that has attracted international media attention.

Lori Drew is accused of creating a MySpace account and posing as a fictitious teenage boy "Josh Evans," then sending flirtatious MySpace messages to 13-year-old Megan Meier, a neighborhood girl her daughter reportedly had a run-in with earlier.  Still posing as the teenage boy, Drew dumped Megan and left a message saying the world wouldn't miss her.

Lori Drew, who was found guilty in November 2008, faced up to three years in prison stemming from the three misdemeanor charges under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.  The case was closely scrutinized by legal experts who noted it was the first time someone was charged under the act related to crimes committed through social networking web sites.

All of this talk about this specific case has caused an outcry among supporters who think the country should have stricter cyberbullying laws.  The state of Missouri, due to the Drew case, created a cyberbullying law now criminalizing online harassment carried out via PC or other electronic devices.

“This decision is disappointing, but is a direct example of why we need laws to address new crimes like cyberbullying,” Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif) said in a statement regarding the Drew case.  Sanchez was one of the lawmakers who recently proposed the Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act, which would essentially criminalize online cyberbullying.

Even though I think there should be some type of law to help protect people, especially children and teenagers, from cyberbullying, it's something that would need to be closely watched.  It's possible any legislation related to cyberbullying would be too broad, which could potentially accuse innocent people of being online cyber bullies.

Are you in favor of a law that would aim to reduce cyberbullying?

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Not another law
By mdogs444 on 7/8/2009 8:20:02 AM , Rating: 5
Are you in favor of a law that would aim to reduce cyberbullying?

As much as I hate this lady for doing what she did, I cannot imagine expanding government and creating even more laws. If anything, she should be charged with some sort of false impersonation, assault, and brought forward with several civil suits for emotional distress of the family.

However, lets be real here, parents today are depending on the government to raise their kids for them. And the sad part is, people in the government who buy into this "nanny state" crap are all for it. What has this world gotten to when you can't even spank your own children out of fear that you'll be charged with child abuse? There are people out there who think children have their own rights to do as they please in the home, and that the parents have no say in making them go to certain kinds of schools, making them go to church, or a range of other things.

The problem here is not that need another law or not, the problem is that we have too many laws as is, and they are prohibiting parents from doing the job they are supposed to do - monitoring and raising their children, while having the right to make any decision they feel is beneficial to raising that child.

RE: Not another law
By FITCamaro on 7/8/2009 10:23:05 AM , Rating: 4
Agreed. The day it becomes illegal to make fun of someone is the day liberty is truly dead. And if its ever illegal to spank your kids I guess I'll be going to jail when I become a parent.

RE: Not another law
By clovell on 7/8/2009 10:56:08 AM , Rating: 2
While I agree with you FIT, I also think what this woman did was reprehensible.

No, we don't need more laws; but, what we do need is for b!tches like this to catch a good old fashioned beatdown.

People have become too reliant on government - go cash a Hamilton in for a roll of quarters and take care of your own problems. Maybe then, c@&%$ like this will think twice before acting like this.

RE: Not another law
By FITCamaro on 7/8/2009 11:10:40 AM , Rating: 4
There's no doubt that what the lady did was deplorable. But it isn't the government's job to make such activity legal or illegal. In my mind, the woman legally did nothing wrong. Morally yes, but not legally.

In my mind you shouldn't kill yourself just because someone picked on your or made you feel bad. And if the girl's parents had been doing their job, she wouldn't have been meeting strangers on MySpace and "dating" them anyway.

RE: Not another law
By clovell on 7/8/2009 11:16:40 AM , Rating: 2
So... you want me to spot you a ten for the parents?

RE: Not another law
By Moishe on 7/8/2009 12:57:26 PM , Rating: 1
If the girl was my sister I think the lady would have some reason to be concerned, or at least be paying for a set of new tires and a paint job.

RE: Not another law
By TheSpaniard on 7/9/2009 12:53:50 PM , Rating: 3
you know... there is probably no place that woman can hide.

there are only two things I fear in life:

1. A scorned woman

2. A dad who thinks you harmed his little girl

RE: Not another law
By GaryJohnson on 7/12/2009 9:12:48 PM , Rating: 2
Morally yes, but not legally.

That's somewhat circular. All laws at some level are derived from someone or some groups sense of morality.

RE: Not another law
By Moishe on 7/8/2009 12:52:15 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not a vigilante at heart, but I think that what you say has some basic merit. There was a time when you didn't pull crap like this because a family member would come beat your a$$. Today that kind of stuff is so highly frowned upon that it rarely happens.

I think that western culture (in general) has been molded into a bunch of limp wristed pansies. Violence is not always the answer, but it (or the threat of it) can really be a good thing sometimes.

RE: Not another law
By Mojo the Monkey on 7/8/2009 1:30:34 PM , Rating: 3
This is what civil suits are for, where the proceedings are between the individuals, and not between the state and the individual.

RE: Not another law
By Moishe on 7/8/2009 2:05:29 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, and I think that it "sorta" works. The more steps there are between a crime and justice (red-tape) the less likely that justice will be pursued, much less served. Mediators remove the 'heat', which can be a great thing, but they also dull the punishment which provides disincentive to commit additional crimes.

Basically, the law is not and never will be perfect, and IMO there will always be a need for person to person dealing.

For instance I'd rather be approached by a regular person about something that I've done to offend than to have the cops immediately called. Western culture is a bit too afraid of conflict (myself included), and we tend to avoid personal contact, which actually provides great things like positive peer pressure and fear of what others may do.

RE: Not another law
By Moishe on 7/8/2009 12:47:49 PM , Rating: 2
I agree completely. We don't need laws to legislate common sense and common decency. Those things cannot be faked. All the laws do it create more bureaucracy and BS to wade through.

We have laws that can be used but that are not enforced. Adding another one to the books won't help anything. We all lose a little more freedom and nobody is actually helped.

The computer use of minors needs to be closely monitored by their guardians and kids should be taught to be highly skeptical of the identity or (and the things portrayed by) people online. That and kids need to be taught some basic character and be allowed/encouraged to grow up earlier. As it is, we end up with a lot of "adults" who are still very much overly sensitive babies. These kinds of adults are far more likely to pull a stupid childish prank like this lady did.

RE: Not another law
By clovell on 7/8/2009 12:49:49 PM , Rating: 2
All salient points, mdogs, but I thought the main problem with this particular case is this psycho-b!tch who liked to screw with kids.

Also, the laws in place weren't keeping the girl's parents from sh!t - their own inattentiveness allowed this. More laws won't cure that.

RE: Not another law
By Boze on 7/8/2009 1:45:40 PM , Rating: 2
We can't even protect our own federal networks from cyberbullying, yet we want to provide protection for the 300 million people who live in America, such that no one hurts their feelings?

I'm sorry, but this Megan girl had severe emotional and mental problems from the start, some or all of which might have been exacerbated by what Lori Drew and her daughter and her daughter's friends did to her. You cannot blame society-at-large for the mental and emotional problems of a 13 year old girl.

Just look at all the physiological and psychological changes going on with a girl that age. Add to it the additional stress of her parents' divorce, the allegations that her parents were constantly fighting, the emotional upheaval of a 'boy' she liked breaking up with her and then being cruel, and what you end up with is a suicide that isn't too hard to imagine.

Young people at that age have no real concept of what true hardship is. They have no life experience by which to judge the events currently unfolding in their life. They aren't able to take their situation and compare it to say, a 13 year old girl in Iraq. To adults, a boy breaking up with you and being mean really isn't more than a temporary concern when compared against the constant threat of deadly violence. Unfortuantely, to a very likely emotionally unstable 13 year old girl who grew up in the safest nation in the world, it is quite literally the end of her world.

In my mind, the real problem here is that her parents were so preoccupied with themselves that they failed to recognize what was going on with their daughter. And unfortunately, she's the one that paid the price. This entire situation could have been avoided by way of better parenting.

RE: Not another law
By Master Kenobi on 7/13/2009 3:39:44 AM , Rating: 2
Hey now, your making too much sense and actively pushing for parents to be *gasp* responsible? No no, we can't have that.

I agree 100%, but lets face it, this girls parents do not want to be responsible for what she did, they want someone to blame.

I feel like I'm taking crazy pills
By smackababy on 7/9/2009 9:06:42 AM , Rating: 2
Am I the only person who thinks this girl obviously had serious mental issues? For someone to take their own life, it isn't just a in the heat of the moment decision. Something else must have been eating away at her for years, and this incident was merely the last straw.

The only people at fault here are the friends and family of this poor girl. She must have had a problem and it was never noticed. She was forced to create an escape from her problems with this relationship.

The woman who did this, in my opinion, did nothing wrong. If I was to date a girl for awhile pretending to be someone I was not, then all of the sudden break if off and state no one would miss her, not legal action would be taken against me if she killed herself.

If any law is passed outlawing things of this sort, I can, with most certainty, say it will turn into another Megan's Law. Prosecutors will make a name for themselves charging 14 year olds with felonies for saying things about people on AOL. What happens when the punishment far outweighs the damage done by the crime?

RE: I feel like I'm taking crazy pills
By clovell on 7/9/2009 11:02:30 AM , Rating: 2
I guess you are. This was a kid - a teenage girl. They typically are more moody and likely to be depressed and committ suicide than most other people.

The person at fault here is primarily the grown woman (adult) who went out of her way to make a kid's life miserable. Even if the girl hadn't committed suicide, I'd still want this b!tch's tires slashed. That's one thing you just don't do - adults don't pick on kids. Now, her parents obviously screwed up, too, but I personally weigh malice as a bigger crime than neglect.

As for escaping a problem via a relationship, how about we take a poll to see who has never done that in their life? I mean, come on.

The concept that we have to pretend the woman did nothing wrong in order to justify our disdain for new legislation is flawed.

RE: I feel like I'm taking crazy pills
By smackababy on 7/9/2009 1:09:44 PM , Rating: 2
The adult did nothing wrong except for deception. Is it a crime now to lie to people? The entire case should have been a civil matter from the start.

As for the escaping, sure many do it everyday, but they don't kill themselves over it ending. Pretending nothing wrong happened isn't what I am suggesting. I am suggesting we lay the blame were it belongs: with the girls mental state. Such problems are usually easily fixed when treated.

But, maybe I am wrong and we should let legislation continue to be the cause of the decline in parenting. What do I know, after all?

RE: I feel like I'm taking crazy pills
By clovell on 7/9/2009 2:39:23 PM , Rating: 2
Have you read any of my other comments? Let's get this out of the way.

#1 - Legislation doesn't a decline in parenting. Laziness does.
#2 - We don't need new laws. We just need crazy b!tches like this to get their ass beat.

And last,

#3 - This woman skirted the law here, but she sure as sh!t did do something wrong. She maliciously manipulated the child's mental state through deception. Adults need to act like adults and quit picking on kids - which is a point of mine you never addressed.

Do you seriously think that's okay for her to do? If so, I'd advise you to stay away from my kids.

By smackababy on 7/9/2009 3:52:34 PM , Rating: 2
I never said she did no wrong. I said she did nothing illegal. Laws are trying to be made and pushed through based purely on the emotion people feel. This woman didn't skirt the law, she did nothing to break it. Adults do need to act like adults, including parents of children. If there is something you don't like or want around your children, excerise your right as a parent and disallow it. Do not go making legislation about it.

Advocating violence against someone is completely ignorant as well. She doesn't "need her ass beat," she needs psychological help. You cannot place the death on her hands. She did nothing to kill this girl. It may have been the "straw that broke the camel's back," but we can't wish violence nor outlaw farmers, can we?

Any legislation made here will be a direct freedom of speech issue. The government has no place saying what I can and cannot say.

Lets see them enforce this law
By oTAL on 7/8/2009 10:06:33 AM , Rating: 3
You know what? I think this article sucks, and to make matters worse the author is quite ugly.

There! Now try and arrest me.

RE: Lets see them enforce this law
By oTAL on 7/8/2009 10:09:17 AM , Rating: 2
Sidenote: Nothing against you Michael. I'm sure you're very likely an attractive guy and the girls are all over you. ;)

RE: Lets see them enforce this law
By Moishe on 7/8/2009 12:56:12 PM , Rating: 2
If he goes and commits suicide I'll just tell the cops that you were elsewhere. :)

They Just Don't Get it
By arsmitty86 on 7/8/2009 2:55:11 PM , Rating: 3
Some One At congress really needs to read this:

The Hacker Manifesto

+++The Mentor+++
Written January 8, 1986

Another one got caught today, it's all over the papers. "Teenager Arrested in Computer Crime Scandal", "Hacker Arrested after Bank Tampering"...

Damn kids. They're all alike.

But did you, in your three-piece psychology and 1950's technobrain, ever take a look behind the eyes of the hacker? Did you ever wonder what made him tick, what forces shaped him, what may have molded him?

I am a hacker, enter my world...

Mine is a world that begins with school... I'm smarter than most of the other kids, this crap they teach us bores me...

Damn underachiever. They're all alike.

I'm in junior high or high school. I've listened to teachers explain for the fifteenth time how to reduce a fraction. I understand it. "No, Ms. Smith, I didn't show my work. I did it in my head..."

Damn kid. Probably copied it. They're all alike.

I made a discovery today. I found a computer. Wait a second, this is cool. It does what I want it to. If it makes a mistake, it's because I screwed it up. Not because it doesn't like me... Or feels threatened by me.. Or thinks I'm a smart ass.. Or doesn't like teaching and shouldn't be here...

Damn kid. All he does is play games. They're all alike.

And then it happened... a door opened to a world... rushing through the phone line like heroin through an addict's veins, an electronic pulse is sent out, a refuge from the day-to-day incompetencies is sought... a board is found. "This is it... this is where I belong..." I know everyone here... even if I've never met them, never talked to them, may never hear from them again... I know you all...

Damn kid. Tying up the phone line again. They're all alike...

You bet your ass we're all alike... we've been spoon-fed baby food at school when we hungered for steak... the bits of meat that you did let slip through were pre-chewed and tasteless. We've been dominated by sadists, or ignored by the apathetic. The few that had something to teach found us willing pupils, but those few are like drops of water in the desert.

This is our world now... the world of the electron and the switch, the beauty of the baud. We make use of a service already existing without paying for what could be dirt-cheap if it wasn't run by profiteering gluttons, and you call us criminals. We explore... and you call us criminals. We seek after knowledge... and you call us criminals. We exist without skin color, without nationality, without religious bias... and you call us criminals. You build atomic bombs, you wage wars, you murder, cheat, and lie to us and try to make us believe it's for our own good, yet we're the criminals.

Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is that of curiosity. My crime is that of judging people by what they say and think, not what they look like. My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive me for.

I am a hacker, and this is my manifesto. You may stop this individual, but you can't stop us all... after all, we're all alike.

RE: They Just Don't Get it
By arsmitty86 on 7/8/2009 2:58:40 PM , Rating: 2
Oh and I know the above is not COMPLETELY relevant since she wasn't a "hacker", but I sincerely believe that except in cases of actual damage caused by malicious actions the government has NO PLACE regulating the net at all.

RE: They Just Don't Get it
By SerafinaEva on 7/8/2009 3:15:56 PM , Rating: 2
Is that really how hackers feel?

By SerafinaEva on 7/8/2009 3:09:53 PM , Rating: 2
If they were to have a anti-bullying law on the internet, they would have to have one for real life as well. Bullying does not only exist on the internet.

Who knows what would of happened if this girl was not bullied online, she might of been bullied in real life and have lead to the same conclusion. People who too quick to find a scape goat for the problems of their child these days. "On no, my child is perfect, my child would never do something like that" It's because of the internet!"

Just like video games, those kids from Colombine were already messed up to begin with, they did not need video games to make them go and shoot people. They would have done so either way. Video games did not cause them to become the messed up way they are, they always were that way. But their parents wanted a scape goat, so their child doesn't look like messed up kids, they wanted to blame it on video games, that the games made them that way. I play voilent video games all the time, and the thought of going near a gun, scares me.

People are too quick to blame other things these days. On the forums they're are bullying all the time, and on games like WoW. But those people never go and kill themselves, because they are sane. They know reality from virtual reality. It is clear that the girl in the case was not stable and any kind of bullying, even from reality might have lead her to the same conclusion.

Because if they consider what the older lady did bullying, they might have to consider every case of trolling on forums and other things bullying too, which is too insurmountable to imagine.

"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher

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