The Megan Meier suicide is going to make for a helluva made-for-TV movie, no doubt. You know the story. Girl meets boy online. Boy belittles her online. Girl commits suicide. Boy turns out to be the creation of a neighbor girl's mother.
Now all the well-meaning dolts in America are trying to come up with a new law (sorry, Megan's Law is all ready taken) to outlaw being cruel on the Internet. Assistant Broward County State Attorney Stacey Honowitz, who yaps so much she's gotten to be a regular cable TV chattering head, got on CNN last week and talked about how the Internet is a horrible thing and all it does is hurt people and we need ways to put these people in jail. This is her exact quote:
Well, everyone thinks it's so fabulous, this superhighway. And I can tell you, in doing the work that I do, I see nothing but problems with the Internet. I see it with soliciting kids for sex, soliciting kids for things that are absolutely disgusting. Something like this takes place and it's not regulated enough.
Nothing but problems, eh? Way to give a measured take on the situation, Stacey. It's good that a Browardite is contributing such intelligence to the national debate.
Sun-Sentinel columnist Ralph de la Cruz has also jumped on the issue in his blog. Well, of course he has, since he's "Papi" and he crusades for our most valuable resource, our children. He laments the fact that the mother hasn't been charged with a crime.
Well, turns out prosecutors believe there's no statute that will allow them to prosecute anyone.
The one good thing is that the small town near St. Louis where the Meier family lives has passed a law making Internet harassment a crime.
Our legislators seriously need to become not only more e-literate, but e-proactive.
Poor Papi, he confused. Think about it. People have been mean for a long time -- hell, centuries even. Before the Internets were invented. People say things that are ugly, horrible, and sometimes suicide-inducing. But in a free country, it can't be illegal. The right to be mean, even nasty, is part of the freedom of speech. You can't help but to feel sympathy for Megan and her family and scorn for the idiot mother who played the prank (one Lori Drew). But it's one of the casualties of freedom and a knee-jerk reaction to throw people in jail for such things would be a foul crime indeed.