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Monday, November 10, 2008

Is anyone honest anymore...especially on the internet?

The internet can be a very dangerous place, as an awful set of circumstances from the United States indicates.

Why am I bringing this up for? Because of this incident which I will soon discuss in this blog entry,an incident which happened in the United States, and which lead to
the death by suicide by one user of the internet.Another person has been implicated in the other person's suicide. Here are some of the facts about this incident:


"LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Prosecutors in the trial of a woman accused of a MySpace hoax that allegedly led a 13-year-old girl to kill herself will likely be prohibited from presenting evidence of the suicide, a federal judge said Monday.
Megan Meier, 13, hanged herself in her bedroom after being targeted in a MySpace hoax.

Megan Meier, 13, hanged herself in her bedroom after being targeted in a MySpace hoax.

U.S. District Judge George H. Wu told attorneys he was leaning toward excluding the evidence from the trial of Lori Drew, who is accused of using a fictitious profile on the social networking site to drive Megan Meier, her daughter's former friend, to hang herself.

Drew has pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing computers without authorization.

"I don't necessarily think the suicide is relevant to the crime charged," Wu said, adding he thought details of Meier's death would unfairly prejudice the jury. He said he planned to announce his final decision Friday."
(source:http://www.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/11/10/internet.bullying.trial.ap/index.html)

Why is this judge not being forced by the laws of the United States, to disclose the reasons why he feels that the girl's suicide is not relevant to the crime which this Woman is charged with committing against her?

According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megan_Meier:

"Soon after opening an account on MySpace, Meier received a message from someone claiming to be a 16-year-old boy called "Josh Evans" and Megan and "Josh" soon became online friends, but never met in person or spoke. Meier thought "he" was attractive.[13] Meier began to exchange messages with this person, and was described by family as having had her "spirits lifted".This person claimed to have just moved to the nearby city of O'Fallon, was home schooled, and did not yet have a phone number."

These just-mentioned "facts" about what Lori Drew, send us all a message about some of the "users" of the internet.Anyone who would not be honest about her true gender, and name, is someone who should be avoided. However, how is it possible for honest, and truthful users of the internet to avoid at least some contact with these "other" users who chose to misrepresent their identities (including their own gender), in order to cause serious problems for legitimate users of the internet?
To my way of thinking, this is where laws must be changed in this world. If someone deliberately choses to misrepresent who she is on the internet, then she has to be held accountable, when behaviors which she deliberately choses, and which result
from her misrepresentation, end up causing another user of the internet to be criminally harrassed or injured. According to other news reports about Lori Drew,
she knew exactly what she was doing in regards to her involvement with Megan Meier

"She Even Told Her Hairdresser
Feds: MySpace hoaxer let friends know about plot against late teen

SEPTEMBER 23--The Missouri woman charged with orchestrating a cruel online hoax that led to the suicide of a teenage girl was once so pleased with her prank that she shared details of the ongoing scheme with her hairdresser and other acquaintances, according to prosecutors. During conversations with several individuals, Lori Drew explained how she and others were "playing a joke on" Megan Meier, a 13-year-girl who was a rival of Drew's daughter."

In a court filing yesterday, prosecutors revealed how Drew spoke of the hoax as it was underway, and "denied any untoward purpose and dismissed concerns over her 'prank." An excerpt of the September 22 document can be found below. While Drew appeared proud of her MySpace gambit while it was active, after Meier's suicide she sought to cover her tracks and mask her involvement in the plot. When questioned by FBI agents, Drew said that while she knew of the MySpace hoax, she was not involved in the creation of the phony "Josh Evans" account. Additionally, when agents surreptitiously recorded a conversation between Drew and Meier's mother, Drew "again disclaimed involvement in the scheme." (source:http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2008/0923081drew1.html)


The fact that "Lori Drew knew that the victim was known to be suicidal in the past"
(source:http://jonathanturley.org/2007/11/19/megan-meier-case-a-test-case-for-the-crime-of-internet-annoyance/)" and yet she persisted in her behavior towards Megan, is further evidence of how tragic interacting with other people on the internet can be. Sadly, this kind of harrassment happens too often on the internet. It must be argued that the Internet can also be a wonderful place to meet people (if everyone involved in the interaction is being honest and truthful to each other about themselves. Just look at how many people have become married due to meeting another person of the opposite (or same-sex) as themselves online. It is these positive aspects of the Internet, which should be focused upon by the media, and by users of the internet, otherwise why bother to have an internet at all?


According to the St Charles Journal, Lori Drew's trial has been postponed from July 29 until Tuesday, October 7. Drew pleaded not guilty on June 16th to charges of internet fraud and conspiracy to inflict emotional distress. Drew also consented to a ban on all internet access or possession of devices with internet access as well as agreeing not to apply form a passport. Charges stem from a MySpace hoax that is believed to have led to the suicide of 13-year old Megan Mieir and has brought national attention to the issue of cyberbullying. Drew is currently free on a $20,000 bond.
(source:http://laist.com/2008/07/14/lori_drews_trial_rescheduled.php)

According to the website, http://www.tradingmarkets.com, the trial of Lori Drew has been postponed for a second time:

"Oct 06, 2008 (St. Louis Post-Dispatch - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- NWS | Quote | Chart | News | PowerRating -- The criminal case against Lori Drew, accused of helping to cyber-bully a St. Louis area teen who then killed herself, appears to be headed for a November trial date, court documents filed Monday suggest.

Drew's trial, originally scheduled for Oct. 7, was postponed Sept. 23 after U.S. District Judge George Wu raised new questions about the legal underpinnings of the case.

Drew's lawyer had challenged the law being used by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles -- the first time that the law has been used to address cyber-bullying.

Prosecutors said Drew and others broke the law and violated MySpace's terms of service when they schemed in 2006 to humiliate Megan Meier, 13, a neighbor in Dardenne Prairie, using a fake teenage boy's identity on the social networking site.

Wu asked additional questions about the case at the Sept. 23 hearing.

In documents filed Monday to address Wu's concerns, federal prosecutors in Los Angeles indicated that both sides would soon file documents suggesting a new trial date of Nov. 18.

Drew's lawyer, H. Dean Steward, will also have an opportunity to weigh in before Wu makes his decision." (source:http://www.tradingmarkets.com/.site/news/Stock%20News/1924658/)


Part of an article written by Lauren Collins about this awful situation,which speaks volumes about Lori Drew can be read online. A key statement by Collins about this entire situation is:

"Lori Drew has shown little remorse, contending, through a lawyer, that she is the undeserving victim of an “avalanche of criticism.”

(source: "http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/01/21/080121fa_fact_collins?currentPage=5)

Underserving? Victim? Right Lori, if you say so! <:(

MySpace's involvment in this entire set of circumstances is also going to be a key aspect of this case:

"Unlike Facebook, MySpace does not require its users to identify themselves with a first and a last name, so there is little illusion, even, that a profile possesses any direct correspondence to a flesh-and-blood individual. At thirteen, Megan was technically too young to have an account—users are required to be at least fourteen—but MySpace has not instituted any effective means of enforcing its age restrictions." (source:http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/01/21/080121fa_fact_collins?currentPage=3). We have a situation where someone who was not old enough to have an account at a website, got one, and then later committed suicide, due to what happened at the website she was a member of. Is MySpace forced to take responsibility for what happened in this tragic siuation, or should they be able to get out of their obligations, because Megan Meier was on MySpace, despite being underaged? If Megan Meier was able to access MySpace because no "formal" check regarding her real age had been made by any person at MySpace, then what does this mean from a legal standpoint regarding the death of Megan Meier?

According to this information at the MySpace main page:

"MySpace reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to reject, refuse to post or remove any posting (including private messages) by you, or to deny, restrict, suspend, or terminate your access to all or any part of the MySpace Services at any time, for any or no reason, with or without prior notice or explanation, and without liability. MySpace expressly reserves the right to remove your profile and/or deny, restrict, suspend, or terminate your access to all or any part of the MySpace Services if MySpace determines, in its sole discretion, that you have violated this Agreement or pose a threat to MySpace and/or its Users and/or violating any applicable law."

This last paragraph brings up another disgusting aspect of this case. It is evident that some MySpace users were aware of the abuse that Megan Meier was experiencing online, and even were involved in abusing Megan yet not one of these users was willing to inform MySpace adminstrators that this abuse was occurring, nor have any been charged or prevented from using MySpace according to my investigation using the google search engine.

I found other facts about the behavior of Lori Drew and Megan Meier in this report:

"A Los Angeles federal grand jury has indicted a woman for her alleged role in a MySpace online hoax played on a 13-year-old girl who later committed suicide.

Lori Drew of St Louis, Missouri was indicted on Thursday on one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorisation to obtain information to inflict emotional distress.

Each of the four counts carries a maximum possible penalty of five years in prison.

Drew allegedly helped create a fake MySpace account to contact neighbour Megan Meier who thought she was chatting with a 16-year-old boy named Josh Evans.

At the time of the incident, the Drews and the Meiers lived four doors apart in Waterford Crystal Drive, in the town of Dardenne Prairie. The Drew's teenage daughter and Megan were friends.

The online relationship between "Josh" and Megan bloomed for several weeks before the tone suddenly changed.

On October 15, 2006, Josh sent Megan a message saying, 'I don't want to be friends with you anymore because you're not nice to your friends'.

That post triggered a flood of hate posts from other users.

"All of Josh's friends and all of Megan's friends were calling Megan a whore, a fat ass. Calling her all kinds of god awful names," Megan's mother,Tina, told the ABC network in an interview last year.

Meier hanged herself on the evening of October 16, 2006 after receiving cruel messages, including the last message sent from Josh which read: "the world would be a better place without you, and have a s**t rest of your life."

After that, Josh's profile vanished from MySpace.

It wasn't until several weeks after Megan's death that the Meiers discovered Drew's involvement in the fake MySpace profile.

Drew, who was 48 at the time of the incident, has denied creating the account and sending messages to Megan.

She claimed through her lawyers that she did not instigate the Josh Evans profile, nor did she use the fake profile to communicate with Megan. While she knew about the ruse, the lawyer said, she was apparently unaware that the Josh profile had been used to attack her neighbour's daughter.

She claims the profile was the work of her teenage daughter and a teenage employee called Ashley Grills.

Last month, Grills, now 19, went on national TV saying that while she was responsible for setting up the fake Josh profile, Lori Drew and her daughter were also involved in the cruel hoax.

Grills also said she wrote the message to Megan about the world being a better place without her. The message was supposed to end the online relationship with "Josh" because Grills felt the joke had gone too far.

"I was trying to get her angry so she would leave him alone and I could get rid of the whole MySpace," Grills said.

Authorities in Missouri investigated Megan's death but failed to charge Drew after they were unable to find a law that she had broken.

The charges being laid by federal prosecutors allege that Drew defrauded MySpace by helping set up a bogus profile,

US Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien said this was the first time the federal statute on accessing protected computers has been used in a social-networking case. It has been used in the past to address hacking.

"This was a tragedy that did not have to happen," O'Brien said.

Both the girl and MySpace are named as victims in the case, he said.

Drew will be arraigned in St. Louis and then moved to Los Angeles for trial."
(source:http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2008/05/16/1210765091402.html)

What is really troubling to me and others about this entire circumstance is revealed in these "truths" about Lori Drew's behavior during her interaction with Megan Meier:

"Lori Drew had told a neighbourhood girl about the hoax, and the girl's mother, who asked for anonymity, said that "Lori laughed about it", adding that she would "mess with Megan". Soon after Josh insulted and turned on Megan, she killed herself."
(source:http://www.smh.com.au/news/web/how-lori-drew-became-americas-most-reviled-mother/2007/11/30/1196394672124.html)

The final word (for now) on Lori Drew comes from the owner of the "People You'll see in Hell" website, who states:

"Also interesting is that Lori Drew mentioned to the officers that the communication had turned sexual.

If that’s the case, did Lori Drew - a woman in her 40’s - admit on a police report to manipulating a 13-year-old girl into a sexual conversation?

If so, Lori Drew could be considered as something of a sexual predator, as she used the anonymity of the internet to lure Megan Meier into what could be viewed as a sexual relationship. After all, many, many people have been arrested for grooming children for a sexual encounter." (source:http://pysih.com/2007/11/19/lori-drew/)

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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed



Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia



A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed



Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein



The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi



The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller



Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns



Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama



Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -



Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being



The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.