Thu 27 Nov, 2008
A Verdict has been reached in a case of somewhat sensationalized proportions. One Lori Drew, of Dardenne Prairie, Missouri, was convicted of certain misdemeanors relating to her persecution of a neighbor’s daughter via the well-known “MySpace” aethernet locale.
The prosecution attempted to make a case for several felony counts: one of conspiracy, and three of unauthorized access in her creation of a false face used to manipulate the emotions of one Megan Meier, who was driven to suicide as a result. The jury was given the option, which they took, of finding Mrs. Drew guilty of misdemeanor fraud rather than of a felony; each count of fraud may invoke a fine of $100,000 and prison for a year.
This particular case is said to be a landmark, as it is the first time in which an aetheric “poison pen” communication of any sort has been prosecuted criminally. The jury’s verdict will be appealed, of course; the defense counsel has said as much in his interviews with several publications (amongst them Wired and MSNBC).
The appeals shall likely be watched closely as well, as there are likely to be many similar suits in the days and weeks to come hoping to take advantage of a precedent in order to assuage their fragile feelings with the soothing embrace of a lawsuit. The real lesson which ought to have been learned–that is to say, that parents ought pay some mind to what their children are doing–will doubtless be lost in the flurry of litigation, as is usual with this manner of thing.
It is perhaps worth noting that Mrs. Drew did not show remorse during her trial, which her counsel explained as being the result of “defenses” against “assault on the internet and in real life.”
Perhaps now that it has been shown that one can manage a conviction against those who comport themselves unpleasantly upon the aether, Mrs. Drew will find solace in prosecuting her persecutors in the same manner in which she has been prosecuted.
But then, truth is usually a fairly effective defense for libel.