Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 24, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

THE MYSPACE SUICIDE....Have you read the story of Megan Meier? It was a news item so detestable that I didn't want to link to it on Thanksgiving. Obviously there are worse things going on in the world than causing the suicide of one teenage girl, but it's still stomach churning. How can people act this way?

I recommend that you read Jonathan Turley's short op-ed first, which packs a punch and explains the basics. Then read P.J. Huffstutter's longer piece, which fills in the gaps. If you're anything like me, prepare to lose another little shred of faith in your fellow man.

UPDATE: More here.

Kevin Drum 1:21 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (81)

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Comments

Suicide? Murder.

Posted by: jerry on November 24, 2007 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Despicable. There has to be something that the adults who precipitated this travesty can be charged with.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on November 24, 2007 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

That is quite disturbing but I disagree with Turley. I don't think its some sort of slippery slope or ethical transgression for news outlets to avoid identifying the parents who did this. In most cases, the public identification of criminals (and in this case not even criminals apparently... just assholes) is really more about fomenting some sort of revenge/vigilante response in the public than it is about any sort of justice. Its a fucking shame that the parents of the dead girl have no real recourse in the law but I don't think a reasonable recourse is some sort of public shaming ritual that, at best, would just force law enforcement into the position of protecting the asshole parents who started it all in the first place.

Posted by: brent on November 24, 2007 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

It is despicable.

But I find that the majority of people I've talked to want to criminalize cyber-bullying, and this disturbs me. Talk about your slippery slopes.

The right thing for America to do in response is -- nothing. Sometimes, the no-action alternative is the only sensible one.

Posted by: Jim D on November 24, 2007 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

What would motivate a grown adult to consider at 14 year old so threatening that she would pose as another child to spring a cruel and (IMO) sick trap like that?

If I were the Meiers, I'd file a wrongful death suit just to get Lori Drew deposed. Her own words would then be public record as to her own motivations.

What gets me is that the Drews have expressed no remorse, no sorrow, nor anything that would remotely be considered as displaying a conscience.

Ugh.

Posted by: jcricket on November 24, 2007 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

It is entirely appropriate to expose the parents. BTW you aren't a teenage girl with low self esteem. Don't compare yourself.

Posted by: Phil on November 24, 2007 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

I hope I'm wrong and there is a hell so Lori Drew can burn forever.

The Meiers family should sue in civil court and take everything these loathsome, subhuman assholes have now and ever will acquire. That these jackasses contributed to the gene pool is disturbing in and of itself.

And Al - it's pretty simple - if you don't like to be insulted for being a tool, either shut the fuck up or stop being a tool. there is no comparison between an internet troll and an emotionally disturbed teenaged girl.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on November 24, 2007 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

I think the adult neighbor's despicable actions in this case demonstrate that she has a serious problem and that the world would be a better place without her. Further, I think that her neighbors' bad vibing and identification of her is entirely appropriate.

However, it seems to me that anyone, including the 14 year old girl who committed suicide, should understand that it is likely that in the virtual world anything one experiences is not real.

Most folks when faced with rejection, even when accompanied by such virulence as the presented by the sick adult neighbor, would not hang themselves.

This case brings to mind the case, in Texas I think, where a deranged adult killed her daughter's cheerleading competitor.

The world is full of whackos.

Posted by: Chris Brown on November 24, 2007 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, shut up, Al.

I agree with jcricket in that a public, local shaming and shunning is appropriate; but publishing addresses, phone numbers...anyone hear Michelle Malkin hissing in the background?

I've found out that assholes--and this is apparently an asstacular family--will continue down the road they've set out on by maintaining a vigilant victimhood. Mark my words, they'll find a way to make themselves the victims of this whole sorry, despicable mess. Just like Al.

Posted by: joanbeach4 on November 24, 2007 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

dear moderator,

The Chris Brown (aka Al) comment at 2:23 is so offensive ("the world would be a better place without her") that I respectfully request that you delete it.

Thanks

Posted by: jcricket on November 24, 2007 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

sorry moderator,

I just re-read it and stand corrected.

My bad. Apologies.

Posted by: jcricket on November 24, 2007 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Why is it that law enforcement officials only manage to be creative when they're going after lefties?

If the e-mails exist, there's an obvious first step: review the messages to Megan Meier with a fine-toothed comb and see if anything in them can be construed to violate Section 566.151 of the Missouri revised code:

"566.151. 1. A person at least twenty-one years of age or older commits the crime of enticement of a child if that person persuades, solicits, coaxes, entices, or lures whether by words, actions or through communication via the Internet or any electronic communication, any person who is less than fifteen years of age for the purpose of engaging in sexual conduct.

"2. It is not an affirmative defense to a prosecution for a violation of this section that the other person was a peace officer masquerading as a minor.

"3. Enticement of a child or an attempt to commit enticement of a child is a felony for which the authorized term of imprisonment shall be not less than five years and not more than thirty years. No person convicted under this section shall be eligible for parole, probation, conditional release, or suspended imposition or execution of sentence for a period of five calendar years. "

I'm perfectly comfortable asking Curt and Lori Drew to try to convince a jury that the "breakup" wasn't a step in an elaborate scheme to solicit Megan Meier... that they weren't planning to contact her a few days later and offer her a chance to "prove" that she could be a good friend by having sex. How do we know that they wouldn't have set up a meeting where they humiliated her, or kidnapped and tortured her?

And, no, I don't find that farfetched. If adults are willing to make up a false persona to abuse/harass a teenage girl-- which I find appalling-- I'm not going to assume I know where their limits are.

Second thing to look at are the fraud statutes. It might not be a crime, in Missouri, to create a false identity to solicit a specific person. Or it might be that there needs to be money involved.

Still worth checking.

And, Brent, you have some moral screws loose. The point of publishing the names isn't to shame anyone-- it is to make the community aware of what they've done, so that people can protect themselves.

We had something like this in Ohio. A father beat another father to death at a kids sporting event, because the dead guy's son had (in the assailant's view) played too rough during the game.

We had a big "is it fair to stigmatize the whole family by making their name public because dad was a freak?" debate. Of course it was, because other parents need to make sure that their kids don't get into a competitive situation with that family.

This whole mess started because the Meier girl and the Drew girl had a falling out. If this is what results, every other family in the area has an interest in knowing that, so they can make sure their child doesn't have anything to do with the Drew family, so he or she doesn't wind up as the target of similar abuse.

Because I am very cynical about the human race, I suspect there is even more to this story. I doubt that this happened merely because two girls had a falling out-- I assume the Meiers also did something I'd consider beyond the pale.

But whatever they might have done doesn't justify tormenting a girl who was clearly unstable, and people need to know about that.

You're right-- if "outraged citizens" violate the law in some vigilante revenge effort, the Drews will suffer needlessly. But that doesn't justify giving blanket anonymity for people who harass children.

Posted by: Woody Goode on November 24, 2007 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Lori Drew should spend the rest of her life waiting for Paul Lazzaro to someday ring at her door.

Posted by: Bob G on November 24, 2007 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

It's a truly appalling story, but isn't it a little odd that the newspaper first mentioned it as an editorial, and then as a news item? Traditionally, it's the other way around. First the facts, then the judgments. Newspapers today seem just plain out of sync.

Posted by: Kit Stolz on November 24, 2007 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Remembering back to my own grammar school days - I'll skip the details - I'm incredibly glad that the internet wasn't around. I honestly don't know if I'd have coped with this crap any better than Megan.

I have often felt that it's rather unfortunate that there are more controls over peoples' ability to legally drive a car than over peoples' ability to have children, as there are clearly many, many people who are not suitable for parenting, and bad parenting is far more dangerous than unlicensed driving. However, as I can see no reasonable alternative, I don't know how to undo that particular Gordian knot.

Posted by: Cap'n Phealy on November 24, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

jcricket,

Perhaps if you restrained your jerking knee you would better understand what folks write.

I note, for your edification, that I am one of only a few who comment here who has the gumption to post using a real name, unlike you I hasten to add.

Before you go to be tonight be sure to look under your bed to see if Al (whoever that is) might be there.

The moderators here can certainly assure you that I am not Al, but I understand that lots of folks need a boodgeyman make it through the day.

Posted by: Chris Brown on November 24, 2007 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Bob G. at 2:46 - Amen. (And no semicolons in the comment!)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on November 24, 2007 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Off topic:
Kevin: isn't anyone in the Northern hemisphere interested in the most importnat storey of this week. The fall of John Howard's conservative government in Australia. I'm sure Bush will miss having a fellow traveler in the world stage. Rudd has pledged to withdraw combat (but not security) troops from Iraq, and to immediately sign Kyoto. This should be considered to be an important advance ofr liberalism.

Posted by: bigTom on November 24, 2007 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Two thoughts.

One, isn't this episode like stalking; are there anti-stalking statutes that are available?

Two, I think this can be use to question how the Administration has played with the definition of torture. If it doesn't cause pain equal to organ failure, it's ok? What happened here wasn't deliberate physical cruelty, but was cruel and resulted in a pretty physical ending. And much of what Bush has permitted may likewise have the same end result as the worst possible physical torture.

Posted by: Wapiti on November 24, 2007 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

The Drews are sick people.

I am willing to bet they are Republicans, too. Vulnerable people are just there for their entertainment as they bully and tease them.

Kevin, I know a lot of conservatives and Republicans, both 'religious' and secular. If I ever had any faith is my fellow man, they have disabused me of it.

Since the Drews have been exposed and are being shunned and taunted by their neighbors, I am sure they are considering moving. I wonder how Lori drew is doing in school socially? As a 14 year-old girl in school, I'd bet that she has literally no prospects for a social life with decent people in that town now, and deservedly so. That's going to be a form of teenage social Hell.

The Drews have already had to spend the money on surveillance gear, so what they have done is costing them some financially. We can hope that they can either not be able to sell their home because no buyer can get a mortgage and we can hope that should they move anyway, they will also be unable to get a new mortgage.

Posted by: Rick B on November 24, 2007 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Folks: Don't forget that people aren't all alike. For every creep who could do that to someone, there are people who are very good, overall.

Posted by: !!! on November 24, 2007 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Ya know, Obtuse Histrionic, you are perfectly free to start your own blog and see if anyone wants to read what you write.

I mostly just find humor hidden in the wingnutty goodness. Anyone who calls aWol Bush the "best president ever" and doesn't mean it as satire is a lost cause and not to be taken seriously.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on November 24, 2007 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Uh, TOH, you might want to post the 'why is the moderator being so mean to me' stuff in another thread. It's off topic and tastless here. Maybe you want to email Kevin directly, and he'll dierect you to the rules for posting (they've been posted before, they're probably still around here somewhere...)

Now, as to the Drews, the Meier's should sue the asses off them. Take their house, take their last pair of shoes. No, it wouldn't bring Megan back, but it might teach the Drews the wrongness of their actions, maybe they (or someone else) might think twice about doing this sort of thing again.

Posted by: TomStewart on November 24, 2007 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

(Sigh!) You're right, Kevin. That was very depressing, especially for this father of two teenaged daughters (and uncle to three more).

Absolutely, the local media should have released publicly the names of that astonishingly immature couple who would dare to retaliate so cruelly against a teenaged girl for some perceived emotional slights to their own daughter. The Drews are some real fuckin' sick puppies!

If there is truly no legal recourse available for the Meirs family, then society itself should exact its own perfectly permissible form of retribution and punishment. The Drews should be stigmatized and shunned by their neighbors and fellow townspeople.

One can only hope that the Drews' own daughter will eventually come to learn an extremely valuable (albeit very costly) lesson from the extraordinary folly of her terminally stupid parents, about the precious and fragile nature of our human existence and experience on this earth.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on November 24, 2007 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Chris Brown,

I immediately posted an apology and admission of error right after. Be an adult and accept the apology or not. It's up to you.

Posted by: jcricket on November 24, 2007 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Wapiti,

I wouldn't be so sure that this was not deliberately cruel. The adult woman in question posed as a child for several weeks, lulling Megan into a false sense of security. It sounds deliberate to me. And I would consider it cruel that her intent was to turn the small internet community against Megan by posting the information on the bulletin boards once the trap had been sprung, for lack of better words. Not all cruelty is torture, but Lori Drew was, by the everyday definition, cruel.

Her own cruel behavior in this should be her own undoing if there is any kind of justice at all. It's too bad that there are even questions about what can be done.

Posted by: jcricket on November 24, 2007 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe if I had just a semblance of a normal life then I wouldn't feel such a great need to petulantly draw attention to myself on someone else's blog. However, since I am a non-voluntary celibate type, I must find ways to express my frustration and isolation. What other method besides trolling the comments section of a blog I don't agree with would suffice for such an A-type as myself to express my bitterness and hostility?

Posted by: The Objective Historian, err, I mean Loser on November 24, 2007 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

I actually brought this story up in a couple talks I gave to some middle schoolers this week about Internet safety. I discussed it first with the administration, who agreed it was a powerful, tragic story and would be hard to talk about, but necessary so kids understood issues about cyberbullying, engaging their parents, and a variety of other important things. It certainly hit home--I played some CNN video and the kids, who moments before were acting out and squirming, sat rapt. Really good discussion afterward, so hopefully we won't have more stories like this.

Posted by: NTodd on November 24, 2007 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

"I get to know how Galileo felt"

Riight, because having your pompous and irrelevant whining deleted from this blog is EXACTLY THE SAME as being threatened with burning at the stake.

Posted by: Matt on November 24, 2007 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Woody Goode wrote: And, Brent, you have some moral screws loose. The point of publishing the names isn't to shame anyone-- it is to make the community aware of what they've done, so that people can protect themselves.

If I understand your point correctly, its not that I have moral screws loose, its that I am somehow misunderstanding the reasons behind this sort of public outing. Even if true, I am not sure exactly how that would demonstrate a skewed sense of morality.

Of course, I don't believe it is true. I understand that this is a justification that will be offered but I don't think it is what this is primarily about. Most people and their kids I am sure realize they have little to fear from the Drews. They are certainly awful people but their particular brand of awfulness is not one that has a wide range of applicability.

Moreover, if local communities where individuals are behaving badly want to create some sort of public outing as a corrective, that is one thing. I think its problematic but there are a number of scenarios where I think one can make a reasonable argument for publicizing such information. I can even see a reasonable argument for web communities taking a similar tact to dealing with bad actors like the Drews. Again I think its problematic but not unreasonable.

But to say that the media, and particularly national press outlets like CNN and FOX, are doing something wrong for not publishing this information is going too far I think. The press is not, or at least should not be, in the position of deciding which are morally objectionable acts and which of those deserve anonymity. I don't think it takes much imagination to see where that would lead us particularly in the context of Murdoch owned enterprises like FOX News.

Finally, I won't comment on your motivations or your moral compass for making the argument, as you did in my case, but I will say that to suggest that the naming of these people is not at least partially about public shaming is not borne out by the way this has already played out. The title of Turley's article for goodness sake is "How to punish a cyber-bully." The second article by Huffstutter correctly describes the reaction of web communities as "virtual vigilantism." This is not about people protecting themselves, at least not just about that. This is about people exacting punishment that official channels cannot provide. If you want to argue that that is correct and proper that is fine. But to suggest that this just about community policing does not really hold up.

Posted by: brent on November 24, 2007 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

NTodd, I am glad that you came by today - it reminded me that somehow both you and TBogg somehow disappeared from my blogroll when I changed templates. I have rectified that situation just now!

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on November 24, 2007 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, my faith in humanity was more disturbed by the vigilantes posting in the comments section of CNN. Many people seem to be looking for any excuse to get out the rope.

What the women did was vile. But I cannot imagine she intended her action to result in the death of the teenager. I would rank her moral culpability below that of a parent who physically attacked a neighbors' child.

In the absence of a criminal penalty a civil suit seems the appropriate remedy.

Posted by: Adam on November 24, 2007 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Internet harassment and abuse using a false identity is (and was already) a federal felony under 47 USC 223.

Excerpt: "Whoever... utilizes any device or software that can be used to originate telecommunications or other types of communications that are transmitted, in whole or in part, by the Internet... without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person... who receives the communications... shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both."

Why on Earth was this not prosecuted a year ago?

Posted by: P. on November 24, 2007 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

The Objective Historian, err, I mean Loser: "What other method besides trolling the comments section of a blog I don't agree with would suffice for such an A-type as myself to express my bitterness and hostility?"

Well, you could go on MySpace.com, and pose as a teenaged boy named "Josh" ...

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii, in full black humor-mode on November 24, 2007 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

TomStewart 3:18 PM,

I agree that the Meiers' should sue the Drew's ass off. But I seriously doubt that the Drew would get anything from the experience except a feeling that they were being unjustly attacked.

An adult who would aid and abet such an activity is unlikely to have any real moral conscience, and the moral conscience is required for someone to learn the error of their ways.

Posted by: Rick B on November 24, 2007 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Are some on here even testing the boundaries of vigilante justice? Really, if you are saying it's right in some instances and not in others, go shake hands with Michelle Malkin. Gah.

These are horrid people. I'm sure they've already worked the entire thing into some passion play wherein they themselves are the victims, not the poor girl. As I posted before, assholes aren't really good learners.

The people who, imho, should be contacted are the ones who could actually do something about it: the state attorney general (who apparently doesn't know as much as poster P. about his own statutes), the town council, and any attorney who is in a position to help the poor parents sue the Drews' collective asses off. (If it happened last year, the SOL still has a year to run, right?)

But please, try to remember this: Dardenne Plains has around 7,500 residents, each and every one of which should shun and boycott the Drews; but the odds of someone in that community actually carrying out something vigilante-like is proportionate to that small population.

The internets' population is in the millions and millions. The chance of some wacko from that population actually doing something like bringing a noose to Dardenne Plains is way, way bigger.

I just hate the hypocrisy of screaming when Michelle Malkin endangers the lives of people, and then turn around and condone internet shaming when the object is someone despicable.

The law should be equal for both nice people and horrid people, guys. Think how you can punish them without being Villagers with Pitchforks.

Posted by: joanbeach4 on November 24, 2007 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

There are wrongs and cruelties for which there are no legal remedies. The resort by the neighbors, and others, to public shaming is understandable, if troubling.

I don't have children, but if I did I would be printing out the story, reading it together as a family, and having frank discussions about every aspect of it. I would not let the subject rest after one such discussion.

Posted by: James E. Powell on November 24, 2007 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

P: Internet harassment and abuse using a false identity is (and was already) a federal felony under 47 USC 223. ... Why on Earth was this not prosecuted a year ago?

Turley references that:

Although there is a new law passed by the last Congress criminalizing the use of the Internet to "annoy," it is a poorly written statute that is extremely likely to be challenged on constitutional grounds.
That "new law" amended the 1934 telecommunications act, and did little more than add "Internet" (see discussion, e.g., here).

Posted by: has407 on November 24, 2007 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

joanbeach4: The publishing of the names is one thing, the publishing of the other information something else.
There is no reason not to publish the name of someone who is accused of an action that led to the death of a child. There is no need to publish anything else; if the town is a small one (as in this case), everyone will quickly know about it. In a larger area; New York City, for example, the address may be needed simply to differentiate one Lori Drew from another Lori Drew.
Federal and state authorities should be on this case. Statutes cited above concerning Missouri and Federal laws certainly seem to apply. And the Meiers should definitely consider a civil action.
Unfortunately in this age of the internets, there is ample opportunity for idiots (whether Lori Drews or Michelle Malkins) to harass people. It is nearly impossible to stop them, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be held accountable by law enforcement officials and the courts.

Posted by: Doug on November 24, 2007 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

It's very high on the all-time detestable story list. Maybe it's because it's soooooo person-a-person, and sooooo purely mean spirited.

Posted by: sherifffruitfly on November 24, 2007 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

I read about this in the St. Louis paper a couple of weeks ago, and the Drews actually knew Megan well enough to know that she had had bouts of serious depression, was in therapy, and had been (perhaps still was) on medication for it.

They deliberately tortured that child until she killed herself.

Posted by: Winslow on November 24, 2007 at 8:25 PM | PERMALINK

Random question: does anyone know what, exactly, Megan had done to the Drews' girl in order to spark that kind of response? I'm not interested in terms of proportional justice or what have you, I'm just trying to figure out why in God's name the Drews thought this was an appropriate revenge.

Posted by: Anarch on November 24, 2007 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

Anarch - they had been off and on friends for some years, but Meghan had dropped her entirely in the last year or so. They apparently claimed to be concerned about whether she was saying nasty things about their daughter online (she wasn't). Parents trying to manage the friendships of their kids to that level is a pretty big red flag as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by: just sayin on November 24, 2007 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

Anarch: I'm just trying to figure out why in God's name the Drews thought this was an appropriate revenge...

Because Ms. Drew is an ignorant, stupid, malicious person who had no clue as to the potency of the weapon she wielded. That she used the Internet to provide a cloak of anonymity and a false identity, which she used to her advantage to torment a teenager, says it all.

Ms. Drew makes me want to puke. An ignorant, vindictive, vengeful, malicious, malevolent spiteful, nauseating, vile, revolting, nauseating, hideous, foul, abhorrent, sordid and filthy bitch who shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a computer, much less a child.

That said, I am no fan of Internet vigilante'ism, and find it distasteful. However, it will likely take a few episodes such as this to teach assholes such as the Drew's that there is a price to be paid (the law notwithstanding) should you choose to engage in such behavior.

Posted by: has407 on November 24, 2007 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

The piece I can't reconcile is this:

In the weeks that followed, the Drews comforted the Meiers. They said nothing to them about the fake MySpace account.

They prayed at the wake and consoled sobbing community members at Megan's funeral. They invited the Meiers to birthday parties and had Allison over to bake holiday cookies. They asked the Meiers to hide Christmas gifts in their garage, away from their own children's prying eyes.

How could, how did, the Drews do this knowing the Meiers daughter had died, and they'd had a hand it tipping that young woman's equilibrium? On some level, I can make all other behavior by the Drews and the Meiers make some sense - even if a twisted and tormented sense. But, this? It just leaves me gasping.

Posted by: bystander on November 24, 2007 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

Probably because, according the police report:

(She) felt this incident contributed to Megan's suicide, but she did not feel 'as guilty' because at the funeral she found out 'Megan had tried to commit suicide before.'"
And of course because Mrs. Drew is an ignorant vindictive asshole who is able to rationalize and justify her behavior like the ignorant vindictive asshole she is.

Posted by: has407 on November 24, 2007 at 11:31 PM | PERMALINK

I seem to be failing to be caught up in this particular storm of outrage. Teenagers are constantly being mean to each other, making each other cry and feel worthless and rejected and all of that. The vast majority suffer through it without committing suicide.

I assume the Drews weren't trying to get Megan to kill herself -- they were trying to engage in a typical act of teenage meanness to retaliate for her being mean to their daughter (at least in their eyes). And yeah, that's stupid and wrong and they don't seem very likeable, and there's an important line between teenagers being mean to each other and adults pretending to be teenagers and getting involved. But it ain't murder. Not even close.

However, I do not understand what prevents the Meiers from suing the Drews for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Posted by: Tom on November 24, 2007 at 11:54 PM | PERMALINK

My kids are all in their 20's now and have at least one degree apiece, and I was about as much of a Nazi as a Jewish mother can be when they were growing up - monitoring their internet usage, keeping the only computer they had access to in a public area of the house, tracing IP numbers of the people they corresponded with. We were talking about this case after dinner Thursday, and one of our daughters looked at me and said "It used to really piss me off that you read my email and pulled up my chats and stuff. But now I get it."

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on November 25, 2007 at 12:01 AM | PERMALINK

Teenagers are constantly being mean to each other, making each other cry and feel worthless and rejected and all of that. The vast majority suffer through it without committing suicide.

I assume the Drews weren't trying to get Megan to kill herself -- they were trying to engage in a typical act of teenage meanness to retaliate for her being mean to their daughter (at least in their eyes).

So here's the problem Tom, old sock: "they" weren't teenagers. M'Kay? "They" were a teenager's MOM. An ADULT, so-called. Acting like an idiot teenager, yes, to be sure. But not actually, y'know, BEING one. So engaging in "typical teenage meanness" is like, one thing if you're actually, y'know, like, a TEENAGER n' stuff. But rather a different thing if you're, y'know, an ADULT.

N' stuff.

Posted by: DrBB on November 25, 2007 at 12:02 AM | PERMALINK

I don't get why a local newspaper didn't cover this with specificity. In my media market (Chicago) we hear every jot and tittle when somebody goes missing or is murdered (from some papers and news channels more than others), especially on true crime stories with some kind of bizarre angle. This definitely has a bizarre angle, and an instructive one (as many commenters have pointed out).

At the very least, these people should be forced to register as malicious stalkers whose actions led to an underage person's death, and their names should be on some kind of public registery equivalent to the sex offenders' list. Public right to know, and all that.

Posted by: Piehole on November 25, 2007 at 12:15 AM | PERMALINK

For what it's worth, DrBB, I already acknowledged that exact point, albeit with fewer capital letters and apostrophes:

there's an important line between teenagers being mean to each other and adults pretending to be teenagers and getting involved.

Posted by: Tom on November 25, 2007 at 12:17 AM | PERMALINK

At the very least, these people should be forced to register as malicious stalkers whose actions led to an underage person's death, and their names should be on some kind of public registery equivalent to the sex offenders' list. Public right to know, and all that.

Great, yeah, let's ruin the rest of their entire lives because they did this one stupid mean thing. While we're at it, let's put their daughter in foster care and ban them from living within a mile of any school, park, church, or bus stop. And then let's, I dunno, cover them with honey and put fire ants on them or something.

I am so sick of this idea that it's a good idea to punish people by forcing them to be pariahs and outcasts for the rest of their lives. If you think it's a good idea to do this to the Drews, why don't we just make a big list of everybody's DUIs and tax cheating and assault and shoplifting and marijuana possession, and require a big sign to be posted in everyone's front yard listing every offense they've ever committed. But don't stop there -- after all, what the Drews did was not a crime. So, to really cover all bases, you'd have to include on that sign every time anybody inflicted emotional distress on anybody else.

My point, I guess, is that there are a lot of people in the world who have done stupid mean things. Most of the time, no one commits suicide as a result, and the thing blows over. As far as I can see, the Drews are just two more people who did a stupid mean thing and somebody committed suicide as a result and then the whole thing got a lot of publicity. It doesn't make them uniquely bad people -- just ordinarily bad people.

Posted by: Tom on November 25, 2007 at 12:30 AM | PERMALINK

As far as I can see, the Drews are just two more people who did a stupid mean thing and somebody committed suicide as a result and then the whole thing got a lot of publicity. It doesn't make them uniquely bad people -- just ordinarily bad people.

I understand what you are saying here Tom but I don't quite agree. I think the reason that this case is particularly interesting is because of what seems to be the prolonged and elaborate nature of what the Drews did. I mean, it would be one thing if this was just some one-off incident where the parents said or did something cruel anonymously. But in this case, from what I can tell, they created a rather intricate trap for this girl over a series of weeks.

Yes, there are a lot of assholes in the world and we cannot come up with a regulation for all of them. I am not even sure there is something reasonable to be done in this case from a legal standpoint. But think about how much hate and vitriol a grown adult (with children!) would have to carry in his or her heart to develop a sustained psychological attack on a disturbed teenager for weeks? Weeks!

Like I said above, I certainly oppose the whole public shaming bit but I also think, if Turley's take on this incident is accurate, that these people surely do represent a pretty special level of assholedness.

Posted by: brent on November 25, 2007 at 12:47 AM | PERMALINK

"I am so sick of this idea that it's a good idea to punish people by forcing them to be pariahs and outcasts for the rest of their lives. If you think it's a good idea to do this to the Drews, why don't we just make a big list of everybody's DUIs and tax cheating and assault and shoplifting and marijuana possession"

Actually, Tom, you can make the same point about sex offenders. Either you keep them locked up longer than currently permitted, or you let them serve their time and then go about their lives. But the current mania for the twilight world of registration and public listing of whereabouts is equally disgusting.

That said, what the Drews did cannot be called simply some piece of bad judgment. Apparently they knew of the girl's history of mental instability and preyed on her in a manner precisely aimed at exacerbating that tendency. This is NOT like marijuana possession, this is of a sickness far beyond any example you gave. And although I agree with you in general, this case should not be trivialized.

Posted by: jprichva on November 25, 2007 at 12:51 AM | PERMALINK

What gets me is that the Drews have expressed no remorse, no sorrow, nor anything that would remotely be considered as displaying a conscience.

Apparently one of the reasons this even became known was that the Drews took out a restraining order against the Meiers because when Lori Drew told the Meiers what she had done, the Meiers destroyed a foosball table that they had been storing for the Drews.

There's some major lack of self-awareness for you: how on earth do you think you could tell your supposedly close friends that you drove their troubled child to suicide and think they would shrug it off?

Posted by: Mnemosyne on November 25, 2007 at 1:12 AM | PERMALINK

Tom, you may not realize it, but your comments are skirting awfully close to, "So the girl died -- what's the big deal?"

Believe it or not, most of us think that death is a big deal, and that a kid committing suicide when adults who know her and are close friends with her parents consipire against her is a really big deal. Strange but true.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on November 25, 2007 at 1:14 AM | PERMALINK

Mnemosyne, the L.A. Times article contradicts the notion that Lori Drew outed herself to the Meiers:

"the Meiers said they learned the truth from a neighbor who had figured out that Lori Drew had devised the online relationship with Megan. In a fit of rage, they hacked up one of the gifts they were storing -- a Foosball table -- with an ax and sledgehammer. Tina and Ronald dumped the pieces onto the Drews' driveway....When the Drews complained to the authorities about the loss of their Foosball table, the story became public."

Posted by: clarifier on November 25, 2007 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

Why has no one noticed this obvious possibility:

The Drews are not so bad, their daughter is the one who really did it, and her parents are protecting her.

That would make a lot more sense than anything else.

If my daughter had done something like that and I found out about it, I would probably try to take the blame too, owing to the ambiguities of the legal situation.

How would I know my daughter might not end up in reform school or in prison for a thoughtless, immature trick?

If it were somehow traced to my home, I and/or my spouse would probably try to take the blame, and I think many parents would do likewise.

I'm not saying I'm certain that's what happened, but it is certainly possible.

Posted by: moron on November 25, 2007 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

This case is so sad - an adult exploits a vulnerable teenager to the point they take their own life. How vicious and utterly shameful! As a parent of two teenagers, I know how fragile their egos can be at age 13. The least thing you say to them can devastate them for weeeks. This woman really needs to be tried for murder or at least, manslaughter.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on November 25, 2007 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

moron (sorry, it's the name you used), the mother is not actually taking the blame entirely upon herself. She's saying she sat there with her daughter doing it (and by the way, they embroiled other kids, and a "temporary employee" - whatever that means - in the deception; and used language that she herself called "sexual for a thirteen-year-old"). Ugh, it's just too depraved for words: a sick fantasy carried out over six weeks by a parent, enlisting her own and other children in the sustained torment of a depressed child. Or maybe it's the child who enlisted the mother - either way I want to vomit. I don't know if this is cause or effect, but somehow I can't help thinking that this makes sense in a nation that enthusiastically endorses torture.

Posted by: rabbit on November 25, 2007 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

Moron makes an interesting point. the fact that the parents are taking the blame for their daughter, albiet poorly, explains a lot of things (like the attempts to continue the relationship and the involvement of the police. what if the parents didn't konw anything until later on?) still, if they want to take the blame, I think that, as a matter of record, their names shouldn't be confidential, especially since they run a business. I want to know if my dollars are contributing to people who could do this.

Posted by: northzax on November 25, 2007 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

That the Drews extended the relationship further by asking the Meiers to store items for them, but then filing a restraining order when the predictable happened (a destroyed foosball table; see, the MEIERS are the unbalanced ones, out of control) says a ton in my assessment. There is obviously some serious amorality here, to all appearances bordering on the functional sociopathology usually identified with corporate pillaging. As has been observed, such behavior is eerily reminiscent of the last seven years politically. Although the Meiers probably just want this thing to go away, I have to say that somebody needs to prosecute the shit out of the Drews. Sociopaths know and recognize one thing and one thing only: self interest. They will only respond to behavioral constraints; otherwise, as pointed out above, they will use any means necessary to find vindication and wrap themselves in victimhood (seen already in the restraining order), as they used any means necessary to destroy the Meier girl. And as an aside, knowing that the deed was perpetrated by the mom (coaching her daughter, for christ's sake) only clarifies the venality of the deed as she most certainly was aware of the immense destructive potential of relational aggression. They knew about Meghan's previous suicide attempts? I've worked with suicidals, and this was murder by any other name. She knew EXACTLY what she was doing, folks. Like the current crop of soulless, heartless raptors occupying the White House and most of the Republican party there appears to be no human connection here, and once engaged in, such behavior as the Drews' takes on a life of its own and needs to be dealt with as the primal, animalistic entity it is. The more I look at it, the clearer it is that the Drews' behavior is depraved in every sense of the word, as malicious as any cold blooded murder can be. This needs to be prosecuted, and right away.

Posted by: Conrad's Ghost on November 25, 2007 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry moron. That is not a plausible scenario. For sure, there is a lot we do not know about this case. But from most of what we do know, there is not doubt that the Drew mother was involved in the original deception. No question. I would love to believe in a more reasonable and less depressing scenario myself but alas, here we are.

Posted by: brent on November 25, 2007 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

From "Danny Vice":

"Every aspect of this case follows the same procedural requirement used to convict a Child Predator. A child was manipulated by an adult. A child was engaged in sexually explicit conversation (as acknowledged by Lori Drew herself). An adult imposed her will on a child by misleading her, using a profile designed to sexually or intimately attract the 13 year old Megan.

Lori then utilized the power she had gained over this child to cause significant distress and endangerment to that child. She even stipulated to many of these activities in the police report she filed shortly after Megan's death.

We can go on and on here, but the parallels between this case and many other child predator cases that are successfully prosecuted bear striking similarities.

Child Predator laws do not require much more than simply proving that an adult has engaged a minor in sexually explicit conversation. Lori Drew has already stipulated that her conversations with Megan were sometimes sexual for a child Megan's age."

'Nuff said.

Posted by: Conrad's Ghost on November 25, 2007 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

This all reminds me of that case years ago when that teenage boy walked in on his friend raping a young girl and didn't report or do anything about it. The reaction then was much like the reaction now. The rapist was caught and convicted but there was nothing they could really do to his friend and worse, he seemed to have no remorse or even an inkling of guilt for basically ignoring his friend's horrible crime against what was a 6 or 7 year old child. I am sure a lot of you remember that story.

People can really be unbelievably shitty.

I mention this to say that I think this transgression by the Drews, is along the lines of that one. It requires a special lack of empathy to go after a kid this way. Its a kind of mean spiritedness and depravity that even the hardest of hardened criminals will see as incredibly fucked up.

Posted by: brent on November 25, 2007 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

rabbit,
thanks for the link to the St. Charles Journal. Excellent story by Steve Pokin. From that article:

Megan and the girl down the block, the former friend, once had created a fake MySpace account, using the photo of a good-looking girl as a way to talk to boys online, Tina says.

Geez, maybe I missed something, but in all of the stories I've read online I didn't see this mentioned. This introduces a whole new twist to the story, IMO. It brings up bigger sociological and philosophical issues regarding MySpace-how widespread is this deception, etc. I think the Meiers should be suing MySpace™.

Somehow, I can see an interesting book forthcoming from a social psychologist similar to Kramer's Listening to Prozac, but with the Internet and especially social networking sites as the topic.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on November 25, 2007 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

One aspect of this case that is not being looked at is who were the other people on MySpace who ganged up on Megan on her last day and sent her messages about what a terrible person she was.

Yes, the so-called friend’s mother was the instigator of this sick manipulation. But, who were the ones who joined in. Teenagers can join a wolf pack and attack a vulnerable person, because they don’t want to be attacked themselves. NTodd (Posted on November 24, 2007 at 3:59 PM), I would be interested in what the students in your class discussion had to say about this part of the story.

It is group bullying like this that leads vulnerable kids to bring guns to school and attack others. The difference here is that because fake names were used on the internet Megan couldn’t find real people to attack, so she attacked herself. I think that there are a lot of people who should feel guilty about what happened and they are hoping that no one finds out who they are.

Posted by: emmarose on November 25, 2007 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Certainly sick, but let us not overreact and enact Draconian laws as we seem to do with everything nowadays. I'm so sick of PC overreaction.

Posted by: Luther on November 25, 2007 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

What a bunch of sick, fucking assholes. The punishment should be to publish their names and expose them. But to make a crime out of being a fucking sick asshole would include a good 23.6% of humanity.

Parents need to be involved. Not easy, but what is?

Posted by: erict on November 25, 2007 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

I can't see what the purpose of publishing the family's identifying info would be, other than to expose them to vigilante activity, including violence.

What they--or was it just the mother?--did was awful, though the result was almost certainly more awful than what they intended.

That there will be no appropriate punishment for them, only remorse, does not justify vigilantism.

Come on, folks, aren't we supposed to believe in the law, even when it does not produce a result that we find satisfying?

Posted by: Nancy Irving on November 25, 2007 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

But Nancy there is no law that can meet justice in this case, at least according to the AG involved with the case.

I have to agree with Conrad's Ghost, this is MURDER, first degree murder in my opinion. This should NOT be limited to a civil lawsuit and I think the Meirs have acted with superhuman restraint, even taking in account the destroyed foosball table.
I do not have any children, but if I did and this happened to my daughter and the courts said there was no legal recourse, frankly, the Drews would both be dead.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on November 25, 2007 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

To the extent that no one has brought it up, it appears to me that it's a good case for intentional infliction of emotional distress, which carries the possibility of punitive damages.

I am not going to weep for the Drews. I am sure that they didn't mean for their antics to get so out of hand, but that's why normal and caring people refrain from engaging in such antics in teh first place. You can't know where they will end up, and you might end up being your own worst enemy. If they have to move or change jobs or phone numbers, so what.

Posted by: Barbara on November 26, 2007 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK
Great, yeah, let's ruin the rest of their entire lives because they did this one stupid mean thing.

Deliberately psychologically abusing a child leading to death, and abusing other children by enlisting them in the abuse of the first, is not merely "one stupid mean thing".

It may not quite legally be murder, but it is morally not more than a hair away from it at best. It is not inappropriate that there should be social consequences.

Posted by: cmdicely on November 26, 2007 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

The Drews post comments at Political Animal. Their posted by names are Pat and Steve.

Posted by: Brojo on November 26, 2007 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

The media is now attacking bloggers who are calling for Justice for Megan!

http://clearblogs.com/theexposer/84756

Posted by: The Exposer on November 30, 2007 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

The naming of Lori Drew has sparked quite a debate indeed. Some major news outlets have chosen to name the perpetrator(s) behind this story such as the New York Times. Some have chosen not to. The mainstream media however has concluded that the blogging community should shoulder the responsibility of first naming the perpetrator behind this story.

The first question I have in this debate is simple. What is new here? Since before the French Revolution, the media has been used to 'out' individuals who's actions seem to bear public relevancy in some way.

Although Lori Drew has not yet been charged in the case of Megan Meier, the media has never required formal charges to be made before running a story. In the case of some journalist like Dan Rather, some media outlets run with stories before even confirming that they're true.

In this particular case, media outlets that have chosen to withhold Lori Drew's identity have done so in consideration of other Drew family members.

I'm wondering if by doing this, the media plans to always withhold the names of interesting persons who outrage the community, if those persons have children. This would certainly be quite a ground-breaking event

Right at this moment, there is a story of a cop who is under investigation in the strange death of one wife and the disappearance of another. The cop in the story has a family, yet the media huddles outside his home relentlessly.

I could go back and list thousands of stories where the media wasted no time in delivering the names and occupations of individuals that were later cleared of any wrong-doing. I've never heard of another instance where the media apologized for naming names.

Don Henley's 'Dirty Laundry' certainly applies well to conduct of most major news outlets.

Lori Drew is a primary subject of the story, she is not a rape victim, and is not a minor. Identifying her breaks no new ground, nor does it deviate from what news outlets do on a daily basis.

I also remind readers that her name and her role in the Megan Meier tragedy were documented as public record. A public record that Lori filed on her own accord. This is a critically important fact in this debate.

News outlets, bloggers and the general public were handed Lori's name and Lori's own self admissions when she herself filed that police report and sought to elevate the entire situation into the public domain.

Had Lori Drew simply acknowledged what she did was wrong, and apologized - the police report that identified her may have never been filed, and the entire situation may have well been kept at the lowest profile.

Will we see the media write about this? Not likely.

Danny Vice
http://weeklyvice.blogspot.com

Posted by: Danny Vice on December 2, 2007 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

The reason it is wrong to take justice into ones own hands is because it is the job of the police and courts to get justice. Although when both the police and courts fail to act they also forfeit all rights to stop others from acting.

Basically the police no longer have any grounds to stop the public from taking justice into their own hands against the Drews. The Meirs have given the police a whole year to get justice and police basically told them to f-off.

So now the Meirs have full legal and logical right to take the law into their own hands. (natural law legal not worthless words on paper legal)

Posted by: Jeff on December 4, 2007 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

Cyber-Bullying, a growing problem in today's world
http://ezinearticles.com/?Tips-to-Help-Prevent-Your-Kids-From-Cyber-Bullying&id=851331

Posted by: Cole Everett on December 4, 2007 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

Here is the lesson. Dont let your kids online. There is nothing of value whatsoever for a kid online. If they must have access to information for school, restrict them to Wikipedia. The WORLD WIDE web is Porno, Hate Speach and Bad Influences not just at your fingertips, but in Email, Popups, Plugins, Misstyped URLs, and unwanted Ads. We all know it. Why would you allow a kid unreigned access to anything online, especially myspace.com? Are you aware that there is so much porno on myspace that Playbay has announced a Myspace Girls layout? Search Myspace Porno on Google.

Posted by: Jim Holden on December 4, 2007 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Any adult(s) who harass(es) a CHILD for any reason whatsoever, whether it's one they know personally or not is sick, demented, and should be punished.

The poor girl KILLED herself. If it was your dead kid in her/his room, and you learned it was from someone bullying her on the internet, you'd hardly say, "Well, it was just one mean mistake."

Those of you that insist that this should be just considered an unfortunate accident/a mistake made my someone...well, guilty conscience much? I wouldn't doubt it.

Posted by: Susan on December 4, 2007 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK


While the Megan Meier case seems outrageous and unique, it isnt unique. Hundreds of cases of egregious and heinous acts go on every day with the same excuses out of our lawmakers.

One such other case....The case of Nikki Catsouras, is a classic example of disgusting, hateful activity against innocent victims, while our lawmakers excuse themselves from enacting laws to prevent this.

The excuse lawmakers use to let themselves off the hook stem from the growth of the Internet and how fast it's changing. This is a sham.

Chat rooms, message boards, instant messengers and email have been in existence for far over a decade now. While the software used to transmit messages changes slightly, the basic essence of using the Internet to send a message is largely the same. Is a decade or two long enough to establish some basic decency laws in regards to Internet usage?

Ive posted the Nikki Catsouras story along with many details about the Megan Meier case so the inactivity out of our lawmakers towards these types of cases can be clearly seen.

Those who are interested in learning about cases like Megans and Nikkis case are encouraged to drop by and comment on them if you like. I have a couple of polls set up as well. Danny Vice would like to hear your point of view.

Public awareness of the problem and discussions about possible solutions are the best way to pressure elected officials into action instead of excuse making.

I invite you to come by and share your opinion.

Danny Vice
http://weeklyvice.blogspot.com

Posted by: Danny Vice on December 9, 2007 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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