The judge in Fat Megan’s so-called cyber bullying trial has reversed a jury’s verdict and acquitted Lori Drew on computer fraud charges related to the suicide death of Fat Megan. As of the writing of this blog entry the judge’s decision is said to be tentative pending his written decision but I, for one, applaud the judge’s actions as the case against the defendant in this trial was simply a witch hunt spurred on by an angry populace who, not understanding the term suicide, wanted to assign responsibility to Lori Drew for Fat Megan’s death.
The general public first began calling for Lori’s head when it was discovered that before killing herself Fat Megan was distraught over the internet postings of her online boyfriend who turned out to not really be a boy at all but was actually an online persona invented by her former friend and the friend’s mother who is the defendant in this case. To the chagrin of all the torch wielding slack jawed yokels in the world, it soon came to light that it was in fact not against the law for a person to say mean things to other people online so, amid the steaming masses’ demand that Lori Drew be charged with something, a federal prosecutor tried and convicted her with computer fraud for violating Myspace’s terms of service.
Seriously. It is somehow in the public interest to incarcerate this woman for misrepresenting herself to myspace? Portraying Myspace as the victim in this case is perhaps the best example of a victimless crime that the world has ever seen and this also begs the question as to why the billions of other people who have misrepresented themselves to Myspace and other social networking sites have not been prosecuted for their actions. The reason, kids, is because putting people in prison for misrepresenting themselves to social networking sites is not in the public interest. The only reason Lori Drew was singled out for this infraction was because people were upset because of the fact that the action they wanted her to be prosecuted for (saying mean things to Fat Megan) was in fact not against the law.
Saying hurtful things to people, up to and including opinion statements such as “the world would be better off without you” (a message reportedly conveyed to Fat Megan from the fictitious account), is constitutionally protected free speech. Standing up for free speech doesn’t mean only defending words that we find pleasant or happen to agree with, it means standing up to defend all speech that is not libelous, convey threats, or incites violence (“the world would be better off without you” does not fit any of those definitions).
[cue American flag flapping in the background] Thankfully, we live in a society where it is not legal to physically attack people without provocation or to burn them out of their homes but it is legally permissible to exchange ideas. The free exchange of ideas, as unpleasant as that must seem to communists and the clinically prudish, is the cornerstone on which our society is founded. The fact that the media is referring to Lori Drew’s actions as “cyber-bullying” leads me to believe that many people in our society are either unfamiliar with the tenets of basic American freedoms or are too stupid to make a distinction between physical violence and words.
Since American jurisprudence does not allow judges to disregard findings of fact made by juries, the fact that the judge reversed the decision means (I believe) that the ruling is being tossed out due to an issue of law. I feel that the judge’s decision is the right one and I am very curious to see what the issue of law is. I’m thinking that it has something to do with selective prosecution as it pertains to equal protection under the law and the harrowing implication this precedent would set on free speech. At any rate, I’m thankful that this judge had the courage to do what is right instead of what is popular. Americans need to realize that there is no constitutional duty to be inoffensive.