by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jul 2nd 2008 3:51pm
Laws passed as an emotional reaction to a tragic situation are almost always bad laws. The state of Missouri has signed into law a bill to make online harassment a felony. This is in response, of course, to the infamous "Lori Drew/Megan Meier" case that has received so much attention. Of course, when you look at the facts of the case, it's not even clear if this law would have mattered. Drew didn't set up the MySpace account to harass Meier, but to find out what she was saying about her daughter. The "harassing" messages were actually sent by another teen, and weren't meant as harassment either, but as an (extremely misguided) attempt to get Meier to stop contacting the "fake" person. It's certainly understandable that people feel that something should be done, since a young girl ended up killing herself, but rushing into laws won't necessarily fix the situation at all. Also, it needs to be asked: if the same set of facts existed, but the boy who made Meier angry was real instead of fake -- would he also have been guilty under this law? If so, a lot of angry messages between kids having silly school spats are going to be court material.
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