Will Online Harassment Law Be Used Against Those Harassing Lori Drew?

from the irony-alert dept

The story of the Missouri girl who committed suicide after being insulted by a fake child created by some neighbors keeps getting odder. As you may recall, the police decided (reasonably) that Lori Drew, the woman who participated in setting up and using the fake profile, was found not to have committed a crime. However, the town where they live recently passed a new law against online harassment, which seemed like a kneejerk reaction more than anything else. Still, the law was clearly directed at actions like those of Drew, Drew's daughter and another friend. However, in something of a twist, it now appears that this new law may actually be used against the hordes of folks now attacking Drew and her family online. Remember that a bunch of online vigilantes have taken it upon themselves to harass Drew for her participation in the hoax that resulted in the suicide -- even setting up a fake blog supposedly written by Drew trying to justify the actions. Drew insists she has nothing to do with the blog and it's part of the harassment campaign against her. While it does seem somewhat ironic that a law that was put in place basically because of Drew's actions may now be used to protect her, the lengths that these vigilantes are going to shows yet another example of just how far online mobs can go when they decide they want justice.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2007 @ 2:03pm

    Then they should just take there actions offline.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2007 @ 2:12pm

    Or their actions, whichever works better.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Wow, Dec 10th, 2007 @ 2:13pm

    Spell Checker 1, Mike 0

    For the HORDE!
    :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2007 @ 2:13pm

    "As you may recall, the police decided (reasonably) that Lori Drew,..."

    The fact that tecdirt confirms this act as reasonable makes it much more reassuring - you can' trust all those professionals who spend years studying law, blogger expertise is much preferable.

    Also a clear recognition that a law is a "kneejerk" law and not a proper one and that is ironically protects those who techdirt recognises as underserving enhances things immensely. There is no irony in the fact that online mobs are criticised by those other experts of the online - the bloggers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Dec 10th, 2007 @ 2:22pm

    Re:

    You write this as if "blogging" was my career and I have no background or experience in any other field. Besides, from the beginning, this has been an opinion site. You are free to disagree with our opinions, but to mock us for having an opinion (without giving a reason for why) doesn't do much to support your position. Alternatively, if you click on the links, you see the reasoning behind each of those opinions.

    Again, you are free to disagree, but just because someone "blogs" it doesn't mean they somehow are defined as "bloggers" or that they have no basis for their opinion. If that were the case, I could equally mock you for being an Anonymous Coward commenter. After all, who trusts them?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    TheDock22, Dec 10th, 2007 @ 2:25pm

    I have followed this case...

    It is such a shame that no laws existed to send this horrible woman and her children to jail. What mother goes to this far just because a girl said something mean about her daughter. Teenagers are emotional wrecks and you have to take what they say with a grain of salt.

    It is horrible this girl had so little self-esteem as to take her own life over a cruel joke. I hope the mob keeps harassing this horrible family for at least a few years.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Jon, Dec 10th, 2007 @ 2:29pm

    Libel

    So someone set up a blog pretending to be this woman? Depending on what they said, libel could be involved (no new law needed).

    It's still not illegal to be a jerk, this town excepted.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Not a Coward, Dec 10th, 2007 @ 2:32pm

    What this case does bring to life is the shame factor being lobbed on these folks which is good. This country needs more people to be shamed for their behavior.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Dec 10th, 2007 @ 2:54pm

    Shame?

    To feel shame would require some basic level of aptitude which Lori Drew hasn't. Most believe what they do is their right or someone else's fault, they are the victims. They will never feel ashamed for their own actions since they are not responsible.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Paul, Dec 10th, 2007 @ 3:30pm

    "You write this as if "blogging" was my career and I have no background or experience in any other field."

    Do tell, what is your background in education, what holes do you have punched in your card?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2007 @ 3:34pm

    It's a good test of this law. Protecting young teenage girls from the vile actions of adult neighbors is pretty easy to drum up support for. Protecting the same vile adult neighbor from harassment won't be as popular. But the law should apply consistently to all, even when it's protecting scumbags.



    It's like free speech. Protecting speech that you agree with is easy; the test is protecting vile and hateful speech.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Criminology Grad Student, Dec 10th, 2007 @ 4:02pm

    Re: Online Harassment of Lori Drew

    It IS reasonable that the police did not charge Lori Drew because AT THE TIME there was no law in place that made her actions a crime. The principle here is "nullum crimen sine legge, nullum poena sine legge", which is loosely translated from Latin as "if there is no crime, there can be no punishment." This is one of the keystones of Western society's criminal justice system, and is something that even my first-year criminology students learn. Whether it is moral or not is up for the rest of society to decide.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Alfred E. Neuman, Dec 10th, 2007 @ 5:00pm

    Lacking Parenting Skills

    Sounds like this Mom (Drew) is not a very good one.

    And ... I thought that harassment was a criminal offense. Just because it occurred online changes nothing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Just Anonymous, Dec 10th, 2007 @ 5:12pm

    Re: I have followed this case...

    Even with this new set of evidence with Drew's alleged blog being a hoax, I still don't think she should be held responsible for anything.

    She never told the girl to kill herself. This just goes with natural selection. The smart and strong survive, while the stupid who think that hanging themselves will solve anything end up not passing on their genes to the next generation for the good of the species.

    Was it cruel? Yes.
    Was it a crime? No.
    Am I a cynic? You bet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Just askin, Dec 10th, 2007 @ 5:33pm

    Re: Re: I have followed this case...

    Lori .... is that you ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    ehrichweiss, Dec 10th, 2007 @ 6:56pm

    Re: Re: I have followed this case...

    Was it a crime? YES, actually harassment is a crime and that's what this was. It could also be looked at as a fraudulent transaction revolving around the creation of false identities intended to appear as real harassment. It wouldn't be a crime that would remotely do any justice to Megan's death but there were crimes committed.

    That being said, I hope the Drews live in fear for their safety for many years to come, especially the safety of their precious little girl. I would honestly laugh if I were to hear that the Drews had a home invasion and every member was gang raped repeatedly, then tortured and slowly killed like the pigs they are. Because sometimes justice works much better WITHOUT the law impeding it. Or "Here it's not justice, it's JUST US"

    It's not just 13 year old girls that are susceptible to suicide due to peer pressure. If you do a little digging(and only a little is needed) you will find a variety of ages, sexes and lifestyles of people who will commit suicide or murder/suicide when their world is pulled out from under them.

    Here's a list:

    Budd Dwyer, Comedian Phil Hartman's wife(and himself), Christine Chubbuck, a few of those priests accused of molestation, Daniel Jones, the list goes on and on and on

    Some of these people were very powerful and very smart and then suddenly they had nothing else to live for. Unfortunately for Megan, this wasn't even something she did, as it was in Dwyer's case, it was a hoax intended to emotionally harm. If I find your deepest fear, create a small community to welcome you as the best friends you've ever had and put you on a pedestal then when the community plays on your fear and turns on you, you will suddenly find yourself in despair. This is why so many feared excommunication from the Church; to be ostracized was to take away not simply a friend or two but their entire support network.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Just Me, Dec 10th, 2007 @ 7:17pm

    What?

    "I would honestly laugh if I were to hear that the Drews had a home invasion and every member was gang raped repeatedly, then tortured and slowly killed like the pigs they are."

    That is exactly the sort of mentality that scares the crap out of me.
    I know people to tend to exaggerate online but to find humour or solace in the unnecessary pain and suffering of another human being is absolutely disgusting and should be abhorred by every decent person on this planet.

    Rape and torture are NEVER acceptable and NEVER FUNNY!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Grady, Dec 10th, 2007 @ 11:49pm

    Honestly people.

    This has been blown way out of proportion. It was a case of online bullying. Granted, it came from an adult, but none-the-less a bully. What Drew did was wrong, but no worse than what these people are doing to her. It is sad that the girl took her life because she was "dumped" by a fictional boy, but it wasn't Drew who made the decision, it was Megan. If anything, the blame should be placed on Megan's parents. Who would let their child become that unstable?

    Think this through. Was what Drew did any worse that what the kids do on the playground during recess? Should we start getting mobs together and attacking high school bullies? Or how about the jerk at the bar?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    Lisa Westveld (profile), Dec 11th, 2007 @ 1:54am

    About that harassment case...

    I do wonder if Lori Drew didn't break another law in this case. It seems that the fake Josh and Megan had some very intimate chats. Would these chats include some sexual suggestions? Chats about lovemaking and similar stuff? Because if that is the case, Lori might be arrested for the sexual grooming of an underage person. She would then become a registered sex offender and end up in jail for a time, I assume.
    Am just suggesting this in case no one else thought of this. Don't want to encourage people to keep harassing Lori either. It's just that for those who do demand some kind of additional justice, this could be one possible -legal- solution. But bullying a bully? Bad idea...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    known coward, Dec 11th, 2007 @ 6:02am

    There is a mob here for a reason. The DA "quite unreasonably" found that a crime was not commnitted. Clearly the people of the town believe differently.

    If the state fails in its contract with the people to pursue justice, the people will do it on their own.

    Ms. Drew, contrary to the beliefs of the operators of this site, deserves serious jail time for her actions in the death of the little girl. Adults are not allowed to bully children either in person or on line. If the state will institute justice, the people will. And it will be in the only form a mob can exact justice (someone most likely the deserved Ms Drew) is going to get hurt. THe state by not trying Ms. Drew is harming both the sense of justice we all have, and putting Ms. Drews life in danger.

    Sorry Mike, I am with the Mob here. The woman deserves serious jail time, and the states obligation is to provide it.




    Sometimes the mob is right.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    known coward, Dec 11th, 2007 @ 6:04am

    edited for correction

    edited for correction There is a mob here for a reason. The DA "quite unreasonably" found that a crime was not commnitted. Clearly the people of the town believe differently. If the state fails in its contract with the people to pursue justice, the people will do it on their own. Ms. Drew, contrary to the beliefs of the operators of this site, deserves serious jail time for her actions in the death of the little girl. Adults are not allowed to bully children either in person or on line. If the state will NOT institute justice, the people will. And it will be in the only form a mob can exact justice (someone most likely the deserved Ms Drew) is going to get hurt. THe state by not trying Ms. Drew is harming both the sense of justice we all have, and putting Ms. Drews life in danger. Sorry Mike, I am with the Mob here. The woman deserves serious jail time, and the states obligation is to provide it. Sometimes the mob is right.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Dani, Dec 11th, 2007 @ 6:43am

    Re:

    I think you're right. I highly doubt Mrs. Drew intended for Megan to kill herself. Should an adult have had the maturity to not resort to online bulllying? Of course. That was slightly juvenile. However, I think it is nearly every parent's wish to protect their children, even from something like bullying. Mrs. Drew should not be punished.

    If the law was made after Mrs. Drew's case, then there is nothing to debate over. It doesn't matter if it would have "gotten her in trouble". The fact is, it is doing its job by protecting her. End of story.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Dani, Dec 11th, 2007 @ 6:49am

    Re:

    I was under the impression that she (Mrs. Drew) herself did not do any bullying, that others did it perhaps for her. Should she still be held accountable? And if you believe she should be held accountable--do you remember Virginia Tech? How the shooter killed everyone in an effort to get to his (ex)girlfriend? Should she be held accountable for his death?

    I realize the situations are not the exact same, but it is the same idea. If you commit suicide, it isn't right to blame it on someone else. Many teenagers commit suicide every year, sometimes for things as little as being dumped. Should the dumper be punished because the dumpee's mind was that unstable? Are you going to put everyone of those people in jail?

    I think the main reason this has gotten so out of hand is because it was an adult being the bully. Had it been a child, it probably wouldn't have the same reaction.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    TheDock22, Dec 11th, 2007 @ 7:43am

    Re: Re:


    I think the main reason this has gotten so out of hand is because it was an adult being the bully. Had it been a child, it probably wouldn't have the same reaction.


    That is the point. Children bullying children is different, but the minute an adult steps in a becomes the bully it should be criminal. Beside, Megan was emotional upset, Lori KNEW she was emotionally upset and what does she say? "The world would be better off without you." She is an evil woman and is responsible for that child's death.

    There is question as to whom actually did the talking with Megan. Lori claims it was her girls after about the fourth time she talked to Megan, but the chats looked very similar throughout the entire ordeal. I believe Lori is lying and is completely responsible for her actions.

    Now do I want to wish Lori and her family physical harm? No, or course not, but a couple years of verbal and online harassment might bring about the justice that state obviously dropped the ball on. If Lori had been verbally harassing Megan (face-to-face) and the same thing happened, Lori would be in jail.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    r. decline, Dec 11th, 2007 @ 10:53am

    harass away

    if your parenting skills suggest to you that it is a good idea and needed to get online and pretend to be a 16 year old boy and to pull some friends and coworkers into doing it with you and then cower away or claim you didn't send "mean messages" when a death results from it....well then you should be able to handle some harassment yourself and deserve it

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Fighter, Dec 13th, 2007 @ 5:49am

    Lori Drew is a Predator - Period

    We are really sick of the horrible and disgusting way the law has dealt with this and how now they & the media are DEFENDING poor poor Lori Drew. The story and her attorney's statements keep trying to rewrite history. Something we talk about on our site as the internet addicted & personality disordered do all the time. You know, bending the time-space continuum to play victim! Frankly, all one needs to do is go back to The Smoking Gun and re-read Lori Drew's initial statements to police. It's all there - but we guess Jack Banas and company can't read well. Or are willfully ignoring the facts. Danny Vice hit it on the head. MO Law officials want this to go away before the next election cycle. It shows, EOPC has said time & again, the major failings of the law when it comes to internet predation. The victims from our site will tell you, law enforcement does NOTHING or says "there's nothing we can do." For example, Nikki Catsouras' family probably got the same bum's rush from law enforcement in Orange County - particularly now that the Cal. Highway Patrol said in its press release it's "not responsible." Heck yes it is! A sociopath can fool anyone. Any time. And behind a keyboard, they feel invincible and totally anonymous about carrying out their sickness at the expense of others. Here's just three of our stories of how this can happen to anyone: We have a number of victims on our site - looking for help or justice with their online predator or sociopath. 1. Victim JT. One of the many wives of Nathan Thomas - Thomas is a serial bigamist and sex addict who meets his victims online (inocuous sites like single parents). Once he's convinced them he's ok, profiles and grooms them - he regales them with FALSE stories of being with the CIA and covert missions in Iraq. All lies. JT finally found out what he was via our site (another of his victims outed him a couple years ago) and the detectives in Vancouver are now telling her SHE has to do all the legwork to charge him with bigamy and fraud and sue him for annulment of their marriage. JT is a single mom now, struggling to make ends meet and can't find a lawyer to take her case or anyone to help her because she's too broke. Thomas knew this and has even called to threaten her not to take action. She's pressing forward but its almost impossible. Media attention could bring her nightmare to an end. She is getting counseling for PTSD. Thomas - On the Run 2. TM. This single, disabled mom was preyed on by a man she knew from college - 30 years ago. He is married, well known in his community, was the former publisher of a well known children's magazine and former marketing director of a famous entertainment company. He had a seemingly spotless reputation. Once he restarted their relationship, knowing she was severely depressed and being badly abused by her ex-husband - he seduced her into an online affair, knowing she wouldn't question his agenda. He sent a homemade porn video to one of her friends - who sent it to the FBI - FBI did NOTHING (we have a copy) He also got her to give up the names of her female friends, under the guise of "we are friends" & he wanted to get to know her other friends. This predator tried to start actual physical affairs with at least 2 of them. Once TM found out about him from other women he threaten her children. TM went to NYPD. After some investigation, it was found this man was not only up to his neck in online porn & phone sex activities but , he was a long-time client of former NYC Midtown Madame, Julie Moya. Information turned over on him was used partly to arrest Moya and shut down her Julie NYC brothel. (do a search on "Julie Moya" - you will find it.) The man was NEVER CHARGED by police with the many counts of soliciting they KNEW aboutand is walking around free as a bird - still working for a family publisher in Midtown. He has blamed her for every negative thing that's happened to him since (probably all done by other victims of his!) and has run an & offline smear campaign on this disabled, single mom - knowing she has no money to fight him. (we got some of the posts on his hate site taken down because they violated our copyright 0 we don't know if she did anything or was even able to) She was hospitalized for the trauma after it all and is still in counseling. By the way, he is also a political blogger using a false name and new online nickname as well. TM's story Update on TM's story and her cyberpath's abuse of FREE SPEECH 3. RM - was involved with a man she knew from her church during a separation from her husband. Had no reason not to trust him. Found out later he was an online predator. Caught a serious STD from him and is still being treated for medical issues, on her own dime. After confronting him and coming clean to her husband she then exposed him. - the man sued her for "ruining his reputation" and blamed her for his "band" disbanding. She had no money to fight him and his unscrupulous lawyer. This man also had her husband thrown in jail and despite settling with her - is continuing to harass her via the legal system. We have heard from 3 other women this man has preyed on this way - including a possible illegitimate child. Now that he's sued "RM" - all his other victims are scared to come forward. RM's Story This is one of the reasons we run our site. To help people like Megan's family and these women find some degree of justice. To know they were emotionally raped, blamed by the media and public, manipulated by a predator and traumatized is hard. All of them deal with varying degrees of PTSD. This deplorable lack of response by law enforcement & officials just empowers others to go out to use and abuse via the internet. All the laws in the world don't mean a thing when law enforcement refuses to enforce them. Now let's see what happens to MHIC. Let's see if it goes beyond the "uh... we're investigating" phase. Complaints have been made to federal & state as well as ISPs and guess what? There they sit, hiding behind "free speech." MHIC falls squarely into the pervue Communications Decency Act of 1996. So does Lori Drew's behavior. So does the behavior of California Highway Patrol and death scene ghouls towards Nikki Catsouras' family. Law enforcement's response in Missouri? Unacceptable. Law enforcement's law of response to all these things? Deplorable. Media's cover up and "sympathy for the devil"? Typical.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Steve, Dec 14th, 2007 @ 12:50pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Personally I'd like to see the Drew's DIE IN A FIRE!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Ryan Thompson, May 16th, 2008 @ 12:18am

    Drew in trouble

    I think its interesting how some of the news outlets were refusing to print Lori Drew's name, even though she'd already confessed and tried to shrug it off as unimportant, despite Meier's suicide. Now that she's under inditement, they HAVE to print it. Hahaha.. fuckers

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This