If Online Harassment Is Harassment… Why Does It Need A Special Law?
from the questions-without-answers dept
There was a tragic story a few weeks ago that I’m sure many of you read about. It involved a teenager who committed suicide after a “boy” she had become friendly with over MySpace stopped talking to her and said he had heard bad things about her. It later came out that the “boy” never existed — and was actually a former friend in the neighborhood and the friend’s mother effectively toying with the girl. There wasn’t much to say about the tragedy, though I was wondering how long it would take for people to start blaming online communities or MySpace for such things. That hasn’t happened yet, but the town where this happened has now passed a law banning online harassment, with the mayor saying: “After all, harassment is harassment, regardless of the mechanism or tool.” That may be true — but if it is, why isn’t anyone asking why there needs to be a separate law for online harassment, if it’s already considered harassment? Yes, the situation is tragic, but why the focus on online harassment rather than harassment in general?