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A terrible waste
November 12, 2007 5:00 PM   Subscribe


 
Could that story have been told with more paragraph breaks?
posted by found missing at 5:05 PM on November 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


MySpace Suicide? Not funny.
posted by rednikki at 5:11 PM on November 12, 2007


So to summarize, her friends (or acquaintances, anyway) created a fake account in order to fuck with this girl?

Man, I remember one time in 6th grade when all, or at least a majority all marched arm in arm down the playground chanting something ending in "we all hate the girl named Pat.", they were talking about this plump girl named Patricia (I forget her last name).

It was very blizzard and seemed very spontaneous, although they had obviously planned it for at least a few minutes.

What is it about girls that age that makes them so mean?
posted by delmoi at 5:11 PM on November 12, 2007


DieSpace.
posted by fandango_matt at 5:13 PM on November 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


So to summarize, her friends (or acquaintances, anyway) created a fake account in order to fuck with this girl?

No... her friend's parents created the fake account, ostensibly to see what she was saying about their daughter and others.
posted by Poolio at 5:14 PM on November 12, 2007


What is it about girls that age that makes them so mean?

fixed &c.
posted by dersins at 5:15 PM on November 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


Okay it seems like the account was created by an adult (WTF?) in order to find out what other kids thought of their daughter, and that the account fell into the hands of other teenagers who then used it to fuck with her.

All very strange.
posted by delmoi at 5:15 PM on November 12, 2007


MySpace, ADD, Depression, Obesity, Drama, Suicide. Everybody wins!
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 5:17 PM on November 12, 2007


What the fuck was wrong with those parents?
posted by liquorice at 5:18 PM on November 12, 2007


It's the fact that it was the parents who instigated the account and that the parents and a temporary employee were the ones who maintained it with their daughter's help that makes it so messed up. A neighborhood kid with depression problems, who has been on vacation with you, and you do this kind of thing without even considering the possible harm you are doing? Unfathomable, really, how stupid and uncaring people can be.
posted by gemmy at 5:18 PM on November 12, 2007


"fell into the hands"? The adults gave kids the login and encouraged them. Subhuman garbage.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 5:18 PM on November 12, 2007 [7 favorites]


and that the account fell into the hands of other teenagers who then used it to fuck with her.

Well, I think the parents were encouraging others (including the unnamed single mom down the block) to fuck with her.
posted by Poolio at 5:20 PM on November 12, 2007


It took that many people to drive a single 15-year-old girl to suicide? Amateurs.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 5:21 PM on November 12, 2007 [17 favorites]


And the father of the dead girl now faces vandalism/destruction of property charges, while the parents who started this whole mess get off scot-free.
posted by Poolio at 5:21 PM on November 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


This is a very sad story with some terrible people in it!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:22 PM on November 12, 2007


Sad, insane story.

This is going to be a pretty fucking tasteless thread, though.
posted by Avenger at 5:23 PM on November 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


Is there some important distinction here between the actions of someone who creates an account to chat up 14-year-olds to meet for sex, and the actions of these people? Because if there is, I don't see it.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:25 PM on November 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


Act One: POKIN AROUND

Act Two: THE AFTERMATH IS PAIN
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:26 PM on November 12, 2007


a) Those "adults" are trash.

b) This is sad.
posted by blacklite at 5:27 PM on November 12, 2007


The Greater Internet F***wad theory is all fun and games until somebody loses all sense of human decency.

What kind of parent does something like this? That mother (the one who created the account) should lose custody of her own daughter because she is clearly unfit to raise one.
posted by squasha at 5:28 PM on November 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


c) This thread is going to go really horribly, and I wish that wasn't such an inevitability, but it is, and, you know, I am sure you're all happy that you, too, are an Internet Fuckwad, but it's still really sad that anyone would get together and trick a clearly-vulnerable young girl so badly like that.
posted by blacklite at 5:29 PM on November 12, 2007


...everyone in the subdivision knows of Megan's death, but few know of the other family's involvement.

Internet, do your thing.
posted by bhance at 5:30 PM on November 12, 2007 [25 favorites]


"F***wad"? What the fuck?
posted by cmonkey at 5:31 PM on November 12, 2007


Vicki Dunn, Tina's aunt, last month placed signs in and near the neighborhood on the anniversary of Megan's death. They read: "Justice for Megan Meier," "Call the St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney," and "MySpace Impersonator in Your Neighborhood."

OH NOES
posted by fandango_matt at 5:35 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


I would kill those people; any court in the land would convict me and I would go to jail for the rest of my life, happily, knowing that they were dead.
posted by breezeway at 5:37 PM on November 12, 2007 [8 favorites]


People are awful, and the comfortable veneer of civilized behavior falls away pretty quickly when no one looks out for the weakest among us. William Golding was right.
posted by mosk at 5:37 PM on November 12, 2007 [8 favorites]


That area is suburban hell - the population has something like quadrupled in the past ten years. Think "Weeds" crossed with "C.O.P.S.".
posted by notsnot at 5:37 PM on November 12, 2007


MySpace Impersonators? In my neighborhood?

Megan's Law 2: Electric Boogaloo
posted by fandango_matt at 5:37 PM on November 12, 2007


If/When I ever have kids, and if/when I ever let them use the unbelievably ugly website known as MySpace, one of the first lessons I'll teach them is that no one is the person they claim to be online.

A cute boy likes you? Well, honey, there's a good chance that's a 40-year-old man, or that fucking bitch parent across the street. USE COMMON SENSE, people.
posted by graventy at 5:39 PM on November 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


Nope, still funny.

(This will make an amazing novel in the hands of someone now in high school).
posted by klangklangston at 5:39 PM on November 12, 2007


harsh, dydecker.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 5:41 PM on November 12, 2007


I lost a friend to suicide eight years ago. She, like the girl in this story, was 15. She, like the girl in this story, hanged herself. I still hold myself ever so slightly responsible for her death, as I wonder if she might still be alive if I had been a better friend to her. This story hits me quite hard and close to home-- you never completely get over something like that.

And yet, I read this, and thought it was funny.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:41 PM on November 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


She, like the girl in this story, was 15.

The girl in the story was only 13... due to turn 14 shortly after her suicide.
posted by Poolio at 5:43 PM on November 12, 2007


"(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."

I don't use the word 'hate' often, but I hate these people.
posted by inconsequentialist at 5:44 PM on November 12, 2007 [11 favorites]


Internet, do your thing.
posted by bhance at 5:30 PM on November 12 [+] [!]


No kidding. I can understand the rage felt by the parents of the dead girl, and the adult neighbors are certainly loathsome, awful, meddling creeps who appear completely unwilling to take responsibility for their fuck-up. But man, this story is going to unleash a firestorm, and I doubt anyone is going to end up feeling good about the results.
posted by maryh at 5:45 PM on November 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


She was eaten by wolves. Awful. Just awful.
posted by hojoki at 5:45 PM on November 12, 2007


(This will make an amazing novel in the hands of someone now in high school).

The film adaptation will be made by the love child of Sofia Coppola and Todd Solondz.
posted by felix betachat at 5:46 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is going to be a pretty fucking tasteless thread, though.

Sadly, I think we're already there.

I find this sickening: "...but [the mother of Megan's ex-friend] did not feel 'as guilty' because at the funeral she found out 'Megan had tried to commit suicide before."

Yeah, that's right. It was her fault.

No. The fact is you bullied Megan. You, your daughter and collegue, bullied her, and your actions led directly to a 13 year old taking her life.

.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 5:49 PM on November 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


Just more evidence that the Internet needs to come with a license test before you're allowed to use it.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 5:51 PM on November 12, 2007


notsnot has it quite right... I've told my friends and relatives that moving to St. Charles runs a close second behind removing my testicles with lobster forks blindfolded and with my left hand hand.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 5:52 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


SadFilter.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 5:52 PM on November 12, 2007


I'm amazed that a third grader can be diagnosed with depression. Is that possible?
posted by mattoxic at 5:54 PM on November 12, 2007


felix: You're robbing Miranda July her rightful due.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:54 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow.
You guys are way more callous than I expected.
posted by Tbola at 5:56 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Just more evidence that the Internet a uterus needs to come with a license test before you're allowed to use it.

Fixed that for you.
posted by Poolio at 5:56 PM on November 12, 2007 [5 favorites]


That's fucking sick.

Can we nuke MySpace from orbit now? Please? I've wanted to do it for ages.
posted by cmyk at 6:00 PM on November 12, 2007 [6 favorites]


Not to delve too deep into the devil's advocate position, but I can see how "the neighbors" thought what they were doing was harmless. Oh, yeah, it's naive, self-righteous, duplicitous, etc, but there's another level of tragedy and maybe sympathy if you step out of the Meier's point-of-view. For the sock-puppet they created to tell Megan that she was mean and should be nicer to her friends may have seemed like a tv show puppet telling a kid to clean up after play-time. How it escalated from there is just standard fare internet douche-baggery.

So, I do think the Greater Internet Fuckwad framework is pretty important to the moral of the story.

If we rally up against the neighbors, and the Meiers go and kill them... well, fuck us.

That said, I do think "the neighbors" should pay greatly for what they did (I'm pretty convinced I would have done far worse than smashed their foosball table), particularly since they hid the information (i.e. it's one thing to kill somebody; it's another to cut the body up and throw it into a lake). It had to have sucked to be in their position --again, that's not to be discounted-- but it is what they sowed. In the very fucking least, they should have the decency to move out of the subdivision.
posted by pokermonk at 6:03 PM on November 12, 2007


What is it about girls that age people that makes them so mean?

NOW it's fixed.
posted by solotoro at 6:05 PM on November 12, 2007 [9 favorites]


I doubt anyone is going to end up feeling good about the results.

Then again, if public outrage forcibly removes them from their home at great financial loss, causes great mental anguish, invites retribution, stains their family name, and follows their family and children for all eternity ... hey, works for me. I'd feel pretty good about that.
posted by bhance at 6:05 PM on November 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


Not to delve too deep into the devil's advocate position, but I can see how "the neighbors" thought what they were doing was harmless.

They started off by manipulating Megan – a girl they knew to have self-esteem issues – into believing a good looking boy liked her.

I don't see any way in which a sane person could think what they were doing was harmless.
posted by Poolio at 6:06 PM on November 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


Having actually read that article, I'm really surprised by the tone of these comments.

That was someone's child, and she killed herself because people were vicious to her on the internet.

I'm not sure what compels MeFites to break out the funny in these threads. Is it discomfort?
posted by thehmsbeagle at 6:07 PM on November 12, 2007 [47 favorites]


It's frightening to think how invested people have become in virtual socialization, to the point that you can be lynched online like this. Advancing communication has had the unfortunate side effect of enabling and enhancing the human capacity for cruelty and pettiness; it allows you to wear a very thick hood and carry a very long pitchfork, and your mob is stirred at a moment's notice. But it's still just... you know. Folks. Same as it ever was, and just as tragic.

I'm interested to see how the kids will evolve to handle this tear/splice/wrinkle in the social fabric. I don't have any answers myself, besides internet anonymity, thick skin, and snark. But these are weapons I've armed myself with based on the understanding that my internet identity is an extension rather than an integration of my true identity. The kids today don't necessarily make that distinction.
posted by krippledkonscious at 6:07 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thirded on St. Charles being depressing as hell. I spent 3 months there configuring a IS system for a community mental health center (hey, that was fun!). In my time there, I met a ton of 30-something unhappy, bored losers engaged in bullshit like casual vandalism, bar fights, pyramid schemes, wife swaps and all sorts of counterproductive nonsense. Mean-spirited shit like this (meddling in tormenting an adolescent girl on either their own or their daughter's behalf) coming from that neck of the woods doesn't surprise me at all.
posted by psmealey at 6:09 PM on November 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


What a truly awful story.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 6:12 PM on November 12, 2007


Unfuckingbelievable, and kind of makes me pine for the good ol' days of pitchforks and banishment.

.
posted by dhammond at 6:12 PM on November 12, 2007


A cute boy likes you? Well, honey, there's a good chance that's a 40-year-old man, or that fucking bitch parent across the street. USE COMMON SENSE, people.

I'd go further than that. I'd just show her a picture of a toothless 70-year old man wanking (okay, that would probably fall under someone's definition of child abuse, so let's just say wearing a thong instead) and say "here's what that cute boy really looks like".
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:12 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Can I please fastforward my daughter through her teen years so I can stop finding nightmare inducing evil everywhere?

Teenage girls are evil, horrible bitches enough. How I wish that at least societal pressure forced their mothers to turn into role models or at least voices of reason instead of evil, cougar women wallowing in their daughters' dramas.
posted by Gucky at 6:13 PM on November 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


It took that many people to drive a single 15-year-old girl to suicide? Amateurs.

I laughed really hard at this, but then I read the article and felt really bad. :(
posted by tarheelcoxn at 6:13 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Choose one:

A) Why the fuck would you want to be so involved in your daughter's life that you would cyberspy on her ex-friends? Kids talk crap about each other, that's just life. As an adult, it's your job to teach them how to 1) pick and foster good friendships, and 2) deal with it when friendships go bust. What you don't teach your kids is 3) it's okay to make it reaaaaaallly easy for someone else to fuck with someone, as long as you distance cover your ass with a few degrees of seperation. wtf

B) Yeah, I heard a similar thing happened on Facebook, except instead of driving the girl to suicide, they drove her to the outlet mall and helped her pick out a really cute top from Bebe Sport.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:15 PM on November 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


The worse part is the "adults" who started the mess have already distanced themselves emotionally from what happened.

The nagging feelings of guilt are already being suppressed so they can lead carefree lives as consumers/ herd animals.

They should have dragged out of their house and set afire.
posted by Max Power at 6:16 PM on November 12, 2007


And yet, I read this, and thought it was funny.

Okay... I feel a little better now.
posted by tarheelcoxn at 6:16 PM on November 12, 2007


OK, that's it, shut down the internet right now.
posted by Brocktoon at 6:18 PM on November 12, 2007


Okay... I feel a little better now.

Schadenfreude loves company.
posted by Poolio at 6:19 PM on November 12, 2007


Can we nuke MySpacethe Internet from orbit now?

Fixed that for you.

And the answer is NO.

If there's an answer, it'd be in having TWO internets, one for the fuckwads who enjoy this shit and a separate one for the people (not all 13-year-old girls) who could be driven to suicide by it. But that's obviously impossible. Besides, I personally have spent parts of my life in both categories...
posted by wendell at 6:19 PM on November 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


In the very fucking least, they should have the decency to move out of the subdivision.

That's the most disturbing part of the story. If it really did all go down as described (and I'm skeptical, but there's not much in the article to suggest it didn't), the fact that the neighbors haven't chased this family out through nonviolent means is rather damning for the community. These situations are traditionally dealt with through isolation, police harrassment, and implied future violence -- but it doesn't sound like much if any of that is happening.

I don't see MySpace or the Internet as a whole as much of the story; with the level of effort the parents put into this, they could have done it a bunch of old-fashioned ways (e.g., letters from a secret admirer).
posted by backupjesus at 6:21 PM on November 12, 2007


I'm not sure what compels MeFites to break out the funny in these threads. Is it discomfort?

Very much so. I can't even begin to get my head around this story.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 6:21 PM on November 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


so they can lead carefree lives as consumers/ herd animals.

Metafilter: RAPIST < MURDERER < DESTROYER OF SOULS < CONSPICUOUS CONSUMER OF GOODS
posted by dhammond at 6:22 PM on November 12, 2007 [14 favorites]


Life is really, really hard for teenagers, and I think exceptionally so for girls. It is sad that the architects of her demise were actually adults, well at least adult in age.
posted by caddis at 6:23 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


What is it about girls that age idiotic assholes that makes them so mean?

-or-

What is it about girls that age that makes them so mean?


Choose your own adventure!!!
posted by edgeways at 6:24 PM on November 12, 2007


I'm not sure what compels MeFites to break out the funny in these threads. Is it discomfort?

Why on earth would the fact that something horrible has happened be a reason to not break out the funny? If anything, it makes more funny necessary.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:24 PM on November 12, 2007 [7 favorites]


Agree with pokermonk. The story is told in a pretty one-sided fashion, including blaming the suicide on a message that no one but the father seems to have seen.

Alternate version:

Megan cruelly breaks off friendship with neighbor girl, with a lot of making fun of her verbally. Neighbor girl is hurt & devastated. Neighbor girl and parents make fun of Megan, but on the internet. Megan, always unstable, offs herself.

What's true? Is this a long, calculated deception to destroy a 13 year old girl or a revenge prank that a 13 year old girl overreacted to? Who knows. The part excerpted from the police report claims Megan knew that Josh was not real.

Megan and the girl down the block, the former friend, once had created a fake MySpace account

This whole thing reflects badly on everyone. They all seem like particularly immature 13 year olds. Megan & her parents are foolish enough to believe that people online are real, especially after the fishy lack of a phone number and the fact that Megan did the same thing herself. Her parents are foolish enough to encourage a 13 year old girl to build internet friendships rather than real friendships -- especially internet friendships with 16 year old guys. The neighbor girl's parents and sundry other adults are childish enough to join in on their children's petty dramas and name-callings. They all have the bad sense to live in suburban hell, according to a couple posters, and that's not good for anyone. Everyone's on MySpace instead of Facebook or something else.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 6:25 PM on November 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


Having actually read that article, I'm really surprised by the tone of these comments.

Uhhh, did you look at the first link?

Metafilter is no exception.
posted by anomie at 6:27 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure what compels MeFites to break out the funny in these threads. Is it discomfort?

Yes.
posted by tarheelcoxn at 6:27 PM on November 12, 2007


"It's frightening to think how invested people have become in virtual socialization, to the point that you can be lynched online like this."

Lynched?

Do you not know any black people?
posted by klangklangston at 6:35 PM on November 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


wow.
just,
wow.


.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 6:37 PM on November 12, 2007


Not to delve too deep into the devil's advocate position, but I can see how "the neighbors" thought what they were doing was harmless.

No. Not harmless. I can totally see these people justifying what they were doing every step of the way as teaching her a "good" lesson about games on the internet and gossip, and as protecting their daughter from her. In their minds, yes, what they were doing was rational adult behavior.

But it wasn't harmless. This is not the way adults solve problems. This is the way that people who never outgrew high school solve problems. Parents, who instead of parenting, take on the role of their child's bigger, meaner advocate.
posted by dhartung at 6:40 PM on November 12, 2007 [5 favorites]


Killing yourself is pretty dumb.

Killing yourself over MySpace? Look, deepest sympathy and apologies to all involved over the loss, but isn't there a special catagory of the Darwin Awards for that? Something like "Fatal Loss of Perspective"? No? Maybe somewhere just below "Suicide Bomber" and just above "Flunked out of University of Texas, jumped from belltower"?

As if I needed further proof that MySpace is crafted of the finest evil on the land. All the cool kids are on Tribes or Facebook, anyway.
posted by loquacious at 6:45 PM on November 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


Then again, if public outrage forcibly removes them from their home at great financial loss, causes great mental anguish, invites retribution, stains their family name, and follows their family and children for all eternity ... hey, works for me. I'd feel pretty good about that.

Well bhance, the Meier's are certainly going to get their vengeance. This story is probably going to be forwarded and linked all over the web. The neighbors won't be anonymous for long. I wonder about the paper that published the story, though. The other mom didn't want to talk to them, fine, but is it really ethical for them to publish such a one sided account of events when it's very clearly going to end up spurring god-knows-what kind of retribution? The reporter isn't just relating a story here, he's advocating on the Meier's behalf for justice, and his appeal is going out to the internet, the bluntest of all blunt instruments. Everything about this is ugly. And like her or not, there's still another 13 year old girl involved here, after all.
posted by maryh at 6:46 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


(sung to the tune of Video Killed The Radio Star by The Buggles)

I read your Meta post six six four sixty five
About a teenage girl who's no longer alive
Because her neighbors wrote a bunch of online jive

Oh-wa-ohh!

They took the credit for internet mockery
They said mean things like LOL U R A BIG FATTY
And now their foosball table's smashed into a heap

Oh-wah-ohh!

I met your children, what did you tell them?

Facebook killed the MySpace star
Facebook killed the MySpace star
posted by fandango_matt at 6:47 PM on November 12, 2007 [6 favorites]


This situation is horrible and tragic, I will agree here. But it seems to me that the girl was already in a very bad place, and if this specific incident didn't occur, something else would have happened down the road to send her over the edge into suicide. If my daughter was so psychologically fragile, I would never allow her to access a website such as Myspace. Under the Myspace terms and conditions, you have to be at least 14 years old to join. I don't even think anyone under the age of 18 should even have an account...so why the hell would the parents of a 13 year old girl allow her to have one?
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:51 PM on November 12, 2007


"Lynched?

Do you not know any black people?"


Please clarify what this is supposed to mean. I don't see how my choice of words correlates with race in the context of this story. As it does not relate to the post, you can email me to avoid copping a squat in the middle of this thread.
posted by krippledkonscious at 6:52 PM on November 12, 2007


Killing yourself over MySpace? Look, deepest sympathy and apologies to all involved over the loss, but isn't there a special catagory of the Darwin Awards for that? Something like "Fatal Loss of Perspective"?
We're talking about a depressed 13 year old girl here. Just how much perspective do you expect her to have? Asshole.
posted by landis at 6:53 PM on November 12, 2007 [21 favorites]


The article gives so much information it's practically begging for someone to assemble the pieces and figure out the name of the assholes involved: it even states the name of the subdivision that they live in.

And that's assuming that someone just doesn't say it in the article comments, which I'm surprised nobody has yet.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:54 PM on November 12, 2007


MetaFilter: Best Worst of the Web.
posted by mwhybark at 6:55 PM on November 12, 2007


The internet makes it easier, but I experienced some pretty petty behavior at the hands of the moms of some girls I knew in high school. Luckily, I thought they were all fucktards to begin with, so it didn't scar me too much (although it's an "awesome" feeling to know the entire neighborhood is talking shit about you).

What all these bored, narcissistic, petty assholes always forget is that there is a child on the other end of their douchery. I hope to hell there's such a thing as incarnation.

and

.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 6:55 PM on November 12, 2007


Oh, and also: MetaTroll! Great work!
posted by mwhybark at 6:56 PM on November 12, 2007


oops...I meant reincarnation...grrrrr.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 6:56 PM on November 12, 2007


Can we nuke MySpace from orbit now? Please? I've wanted to do it for ages.

News corporation has already colonized space.

Oh, and guess which corporation distributes the Alien series?
posted by b1tr0t at 6:59 PM on November 12, 2007


Killing yourself over MySpace? Look, deepest sympathy and apologies to all involved over the loss, but isn't there a special catagory of the Darwin Awards for that? Something like "Fatal Loss of Perspective"? No? Maybe somewhere just below "Suicide Bomber" and just above "Flunked out of University of Texas, jumped from belltower"?

Are there "Internet poster reveals utter lack of compassion or understanding of metal illness awards"? Cuz you're nominated.
posted by srboisvert at 6:59 PM on November 12, 2007 [16 favorites]


MySpace Suicide. Don't do it.
posted by brevator at 7:01 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


The neighbor parents are covering for their jilted little girl who put to practice what she learned before, with her friend, when they were friends.

Also, thanks to delmoi's handy in-thread summary I don't have to read the article! I would like all memory of the last 20 minutes erased, please.

            (\     /)
posted by carsonb at 7:05 PM on November 12, 2007


Having actually read that article, I'm really surprised by the tone of these comments.

I'm not sure what compels MeFites to break out the funny in these threads.


Then you noticed how teeth-gnashingly sensationalized and unselfconsciously trite the article was. AX AND SLEDGEHAMMER? One more depressed child takes their own life... in the blink of an eye!!! This isn't the way I would like this story handled. So I mock. Mr. Pokin, I'ma pokin at YOU, sir!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 7:08 PM on November 12, 2007


I am surprised that a cursory Google search does not turn up the names of the evil fucks who created the fake MySpace account.
posted by LarryC at 7:08 PM on November 12, 2007


Look at the comments on that page. Everyone's preoccupied/obsessed with revenge and justice- while missing the lessons they could be learning from this awful story.

So typically American.
posted by wfc123 at 7:09 PM on November 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


so why the hell would the parents of a 13 year old girl allow her to have one?

It was her 15th birthday that was coming up. Read the article again, more closely this time. Several people have made that mistake in this thread so far.
posted by tarheelcoxn at 7:10 PM on November 12, 2007


Won't somebody please think about the children?
posted by Sphinx at 7:11 PM on November 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


So typically American.

What's typically American is thinking that we corner the market on the best and the worst of human nature, in equal dramatic measure. If you want to know why the comments in that thread are so aggro, see the first link of the FPP.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 7:13 PM on November 12, 2007


the lessons they could be learning from this awful story.
So coy. Do tell; I'm merely American.
posted by breezeway at 7:16 PM on November 12, 2007


tarheelcoxn, from the article: And then on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2006, Megan received a puzzling and disturbing message from Josh...
Megan Taylor Meier died the next day, three weeks before her 14th birthday.

This happened just over a year ago, not a few weeks ago. She was 13.
posted by found dog one eye at 7:16 PM on November 12, 2007


Very sad sad F-Uped story and I have a sinking feeling it's going to get even sadder and more terrible once the national media picks it up, hysteria ensues..and opportunistic douche bag politicians begin to leverage it for self gain...
posted by Skygazer at 7:17 PM on November 12, 2007


It was her 15th birthday that was coming up. Read the article again, more closely this time. Several people have made that mistake in this thread so far.

No, she was 13 and her 14th birthday was coming up.

Here are some pieces of information from the article:

"As for 13-year-old Megan, of Dardenne Prairie, this is how she expressed who she was:"

"And Megan wasn't 14 when she opened her account. To join, you are asked your age but there is no check. The accounts are free."

"As Megan's 14th birthday approached, she pleaded for her mom to give her another chance on MySpace, and Tina relented."
posted by MaryDellamorte at 7:18 PM on November 12, 2007


posted by Skygazer I have a sinking feeling it's going to get even sadder and more terrible once the national media picks it up, hysteria ensues..and opportunistic douche bag politicians begin to leverage it for self gain

No doubt they'll update their MySpace pages with animated angel gifs and "I Was Megan's Friend" icons.
posted by fandango_matt at 7:20 PM on November 12, 2007


found dog one eye, MaryDellamorte, my bad.

*skulks away*
posted by tarheelcoxn at 7:20 PM on November 12, 2007


So typically American.

Because more sweeping generalisations and stereotyping are going to support people learning whatever lessons there are in this big pile of dog shit situation.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 7:23 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


The Meiers went home and tore into the foosball table.

Tina used an ax and Ron a sledgehammer. They put the pieces in Ron's pickup and dumped them in their neighbor's driveway. Tina spray painted "Merry Christmas" on the box.


There's something just so poignantly banal about that, as if it had been lifted straight out of Happiness or American Beauty.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:31 PM on November 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


the matter also was investigated by the FBI, which analyzed the family computer and conducted interviews. Ron said a stumbling block is that the FBI was unable to retrieve the electronic messages from Megan's final day, including that final message that only Ron saw.

If only she had bought a falafel that day. Then all the technological wizardry of Homeland Security would have been brought to bear on the case.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:36 PM on November 12, 2007


"...bullshit like casual vandalism, bar fights, pyramid schemes, wife swaps and all sorts of counterproductive nonsense."

One of these things is not like the others.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:44 PM on November 12, 2007 [9 favorites]


I read this, and thought of this and that.
posted by meehawl at 7:45 PM on November 12, 2007


I had a mother-fuelled bully in junior high school. One day, things came to a head, and we made a date to fight in a park after school. She told me that it should be a fair fight, so we should both clip our nails beforehand.

One of the reasons I was bullied was because I was a guileless, idealistic dork who couldn't tell when people were lying or wished me ill. But when she showed up with sharpened talons, something snapped. I had been ready for a face-saving slapfight, but upon realizing that I'd been tricked, I threw real punches and twisted her arm behind her back, hard. She cried and screamed that she was sorry, that her mom had told her to say that.

She never messed with me again, but she kept up the bullying. As time went on, all of her victims grew up, and she stayed a bully, until the only kids she had to torment were special-ed students. A few years after high school, she started a fight at a party and got shot, point-blank, in the head.

Maybe I'm a little sorry in hindsight that after that afternoon in the park, I snubbed every effort she made to be friends with me. Her continual, increasingly pathetic bullying made her an untouchable, but I had very little sympathy for her.

I'm not sorry that her mom's still alive. I hope she lives to be 100 so she has plenty of time to think about what she turned her daughter into, and the ultimate result of her shitty parenting.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 7:48 PM on November 12, 2007 [32 favorites]


From the article:

It does not appear that there will be criminal charges filed in connection with Megan's death.

"We did not have a charge to fit it," McGuire says.'"


As of March 2007, 30 states have enacted harassment, intimidation and bullying legislation. Iowa enacted anti-harassment and anti-bullying legislation during the 2007 legislative session. During the 2005-2006 legislative sessions, eleven states - Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia enacted new policies.

Isn't St. Charles in Missouri?
Charge the parents who created the website with bullying causing death.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 7:56 PM on November 12, 2007


"Please clarify what this is supposed to mean. I don't see how my choice of words correlates with race in the context of this story. As it does not relate to the post, you can email me to avoid copping a squat in the middle of this thread."

You went for sanctimony, invoking a lynching (which has a fairly heavy racial weight to carry) when it was totally hyperbolic.

I'll take your answer to be "No, I don't know any black people, and don't understand why comparing a couple of adults provoking a girl's suicide to a gang execution—and further alluding to the Ku Klux Klan—would be retarded."

For future reference, whether this is a lolocaust or not, it has nothing to do with Hitler either.
posted by klangklangston at 7:58 PM on November 12, 2007


I'm not sure what compels MeFites to break out the funny in these threads. Is it discomfort?

Maybe for some. For others, well, they probably just think what happened is funny.

Pretty much everyone laughs at suffering of some sort or another, and everyone has a limit, a degree of suffering beyond which they'll find no humor. And everyone thinks that people who draw the line elsewhere are either hypersensitive or monstrous.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:00 PM on November 12, 2007 [10 favorites]


I can't read anymore of that. I'm about sick.
posted by nola at 8:00 PM on November 12, 2007


Are there "Internet poster reveals utter lack of compassion or understanding of metal illness awards"? Cuz you're nominated.

And I - in turn - nominate you, srboisvert.

A person depressed enough to be on the verge of suicide would not be doing things like planning a birthday party, going dress shopping, or probably even messaging a hottie on myspace. Hell, they'd be hard pressed to get out of bed, let alone do anything requiring serious motivation, like eating meals or leaving the house.

And ADD, challenging as it might be, is hardly the sort of condition that would lead somebody to kill themself over dashed romantic hopes & a threat of public humiliation on myspace.

I'd say that loquacious is closer to the money.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:02 PM on November 12, 2007


I think were all forgetting the real victim here - the foosball table.
posted by mattoxic at 8:04 PM on November 12, 2007 [8 favorites]


The reactions of the commenters are almost as compelling as the story itself:
"I am outraged by the actions of the adults who created the false my space account. I am outraged that you as a journalist have chosen to be their continence when they obviously do not have one. There is no legal president in the case so unfortunately no legal action will be taken, however social action can be taken. They need to be identified and become accountable for their actions. Isn't that a message we want to send to children is that people are accountable for what they do, say, and write. I beg you to update this article with the adults information."

"I feel terrible for the Meier family. I also have a 13 year old daughter that struggles with the same issues little Megan did. It brings tears to my eyes knowing these sweet little teenage girls have to deal with so much drama. My daughter beggs me every single day to let her have her MySpace back and due to past monitoring of her conversations and the horrible things being said to one another, my daughter will never ever have a MySpace again. I agree that MySpace should no longer exist. My thoughts and prayers go out to Ron and Tina."

"Ron, disgraceful work by you. You should be ashamed of yourself for not naming the culprits. Nothing in journalistic ethics suggests you keep them anonymous. Therefore, you are a coward journalist if you protect these cowards. And the girl who you are trying to protect was complicit in this crime. Why protect killers? Pathetic Ron. Pathetic. I dare you to respond and explain yourself."

"It's too bad you didn't name the parents involved in this. They should be identified, so people know what kind of people they are."
posted by scalefree at 8:04 PM on November 12, 2007


Please reference An Hero and Mitchell Henderson.
posted by brownpau at 8:06 PM on November 12, 2007


You went for sanctimony, invoking a lynching (which has a fairly heavy racial weight to carry) when it was totally hyperbolic.

While lynching, more often than not, has racial connotations in this country, but in its strictest sense, it's simply "mob justice." I don't think it's necessarily out of line to use the term in this context given some of revenge fantasies bandied about in this thread (and especially in the comments of the article).

Calling someone out for this use of the term is kind of silly, particularly when couched with assumptions about how "white" they are.
posted by dhammond at 8:07 PM on November 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


Reading this story, I couldn't help but to notice how self-reflective it is, along with the dozens of other Myspace scare stories in the past few years.

The sick adults who harassed this girl were operating on an extremely stupid idea of what takes place on the internet, an idea propagated by the media's treatment of the internet.

And isn't that a common theme? Adults treat the internet like it's something to be afraid of and, ergo, make it something to be afraid of. Kids get the internet; they treat it as an extension of everyday life. The parents who are afraid of the internet and the sickos they're afraid of are two sides of the same coin.
posted by roll truck roll at 8:11 PM on November 12, 2007 [8 favorites]


Lynching has racial connotations because the term was coined to describe mob violence when a big group of white people do it to one, or a few, black people. And unless that's what you're talking about, the word should be retired.

Vigilante justice is a perfectly workable phrase, and the phenomenon is ripe for a neologism, but no matter what happens here, ain't nobody getting lynched.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 8:18 PM on November 12, 2007


Jesus Christ.

It's amazing how much the Internet can facilitate - and amplify - petty high school dramas into bizarre passion plays. It's so easy to cull opinions, keep secrets, and manipulate others. LiveJournal is almost ideally designed for such uses. The funniest part is when supposedly grown adults indulge in such things...I have to admit a guilty pleasure for tracking down such behavior and reading it back to front.

But this, this is sick and strange. I wonder what the fake profile-creating single mother in question looks like, and how hard she can be punched in the face.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:18 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's frightening to think how invested people have become in virtual socialization, to the point that you can be lynched online like this

yeah yeah, trouble right here in River City and all that, but this has dick to do with Myspace. The same scenario could just as easily have happened from good old-fashioned word-of-mouth gossip, and I'm sure it has 1000s of times.

Also, it's a little known fact that the concepts of "revenge" and "justice" did not exist until they were invented by James Madison, who was enraged by saucy remarks made to him in June, 1790 by the town blacksmith of Dunstable, Massachusetts. This is what makes them so typically American.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:19 PM on November 12, 2007


What a crazy, crazy story. This part jumped out at me:

"We did not have a charge to fit it," McGuire says. "I don't know that anybody can sit down and say, 'This is why this young girl took her life.'"

As I read the story, I couldn't think of anything aside from "wow, there isn't a law on the books remotely related to anything that happened here" and part of me wondered what judges would be ruling on in 20 years time from now.
posted by mathowie at 8:21 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Origins of Lynch.
posted by the other side at 8:24 PM on November 12, 2007


"You went for sanctimony, invoking a lynching (which has a fairly heavy racial weight to carry) when it was totally hyperbolic.

I'll take your answer to be "No, I don't know any black people, and don't understand why comparing a couple of adults provoking a girl's suicide to a gang execution—and further alluding to the Ku Klux Klan—would be retarded.""

I figured you were going to do that - suggest that only blacks get lynched. I wanted to save the thread from a racial derail, but so be it.

Don't speak for a race that is not your own, don't tell me who I know, and stop dropping hate group names all because a word sent you into some kind of tizzy. Where I'm from, there were lynchings of a particular race but they were not black people. Repeat: Where I am from. But again, race is not the issue here, it's something that you brought up for no apparent reason other than trying to be equally sanctimonious on a separate issue. I'm sure all the black people you know are happy you're here to defend them from me.

The issue I was referring to was the lynch mob mentality, in which a social network was leveraged to direct an attack against someone, which in this case ended in death. Coincidentally, death by hanging. Maybe this particular story wasn't the best example of this kind of mob mentality, but this type of harassment and bullying are becoming increasingly common amongst the MySpace crowd.
posted by krippledkonscious at 8:25 PM on November 12, 2007 [12 favorites]


this type of harassment and bullying are becoming increasingly common amongst the MySpace crowd.

Source for this beyond your own hunch?
posted by meehawl at 8:27 PM on November 12, 2007


Vigilante justice is a perfectly workable phrase, and the phenomenon is ripe for a neologism, but no matter what happens here, ain't nobody getting lynched.

Good points, and I agree that "lynching" wasn't really what came to mind when I think of how people are responding to the story. That being said, it seems like krippledkonscious' intent of the usage was benign and not inflammatory, not really meriting a "holy shit, how can you be so insensitive?!" response.
posted by dhammond at 8:28 PM on November 12, 2007


Killing yourself over MySpace? Look, deepest sympathy and apologies to all involved over the loss, but isn't there a special catagory of the Darwin Awards for that? Something like "Fatal Loss of Perspective"?

"Fatal Loss of Perspective" pretty much sums up any depression-fueled suicide.

Because, yeah, it's generally acknowledge that's one of the things depression does, distorting your perspective.
posted by namespan at 8:30 PM on November 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


Also, it's a little known fact that the concepts of "revenge" and "justice" did not exist until they were invented by James Madison, who was enraged by saucy remarks made to him in June, 1790 by the town blacksmith of Dunstable, Massachusetts. This is what makes them so typically American.

john hodgman's back!
posted by dhammond at 8:38 PM on November 12, 2007


As I read the story, I couldn't think of anything aside from "wow, there isn't a law on the books remotely related to anything that happened here"

"As of March 2007, 30 states have enacted harassment, intimidation and bullying legislation."

Couldn't these laws apply?
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 8:40 PM on November 12, 2007


This is terrible, and it is clear that it was facilitated by internet anonymity. But, lest we forget, parents behaved badly long before there was an internet.
posted by googly at 8:41 PM on November 12, 2007


freshwater_pr0n Lynching has racial connotations because the term was coined to describe mob violence when a big group of white people do it to one, or a few, black people. And unless that's what you're talking about, the word should be retired.

You are simply utterly wrong, it was coined during the American Revolution era (although it is unclear who exactly it was coined on behalf, no one doubts it was coined in reference to the internal loyalist-patriot conflict in America).

It was not coined in the manner you describe. You seem to be swept up in the current hysteria regarding all things noose related in the wake of Jena 6. Either way, lynching is a perfectly cromulent word in this context (well, perhaps slightly hyperbolic).
posted by Jezztek at 8:41 PM on November 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


"Source for this beyond your own hunch?"

Not a hunch, but unfortunately, no statistics either. You can try one of these things if you want to start the research. But note that I didn't say "irreversible tide of death and destruction that will inevitably cause teenage genocide." I just said "increasingly common."

Most of my family is in the Dept of Ed, and the counselors are having a hell of a time coming to grips with MySpace cyber-bullying. The meeker kids avoid school, while the ones who try to fight back end up carrying knives and guns to class. Recently, the police were investigating whether they could prosecute some 7th grade bullies because in their MySpace tirade, some words smacked of anti-semitism. No dice. The problem is, it's the wild west out there (Oh no - I'm gonna offend the pioneers!) and the educators and administration are still coming to grips with this new harassment. They keep the school networks locked down and send out parental advisories, but yeah. Keeping kids from talking...

And I'll be the first to retract my use of the word "lynch" if people are truly offended by it. My racism-ometer is pretty sensitive, but I can recalibrate as necessary.

And I'm not white.
posted by krippledkonscious at 8:45 PM on November 12, 2007




How hard she can be punched in the face.

That's firmly on the "hilarious" side of the line for me.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:56 PM on November 12, 2007


Those parents are far too childish to be raising their own child. Think what you want about whether they should face charges, but people that immature have no business influencing children at this point.
They didn't actually murder anyone, but they're like that mom that killed her daughter's cheer rival, or the parents who beat and/or kill other kids or parents over their kids' sports. Ridiculous.
I'm just glad all we had was email and AOL chat when I was in middle school. I can think of situations among the "mean" girls that probably would have played out a lot worse had they been amplified by the ease of the MySpace gossip-mill.
posted by fructose at 9:00 PM on November 12, 2007


I think what the asshole parents did falls into the grey area between what's "wrong" and what's "illegal," two things that we have apparently as a society forgotten that aren't the same.

Ultimately, I'm not sure that what they did ought to be illegal. Telling someone to kill themselves isn't actually killing them; there's a fundamental difference between saying the words "[I think you should] go kill yourself," and actually doing the deed. And the reactive laws that almost inevitably will be created as a result of this will probably be of poor quality and have many unintended consequences.

Attempting to make everything that is wrong illegal, will result in us drowning in laws, and the simplifying assumptions required to write laws -- fitting everything into black and white -- will make a lot of conduct that's not wrong, illegal as well. (Which itself creates a problem, because it makes the law diverge from what's actually wrong, which was the goal in the first place; i.e., when you try too hard you end up defeating yourself.)

What we have forgotten as a society is that there are methods of dealing with undesirable behavior that don't involve a courtroom; their punishments are social or other types of extralegal sanctions.

So, to wit, what I think needs to happen in this case is not a flurry of ham-handed "think of the children" lawmaking, but a severe, long-lasting, and intensely public shaming. Let the family responsible face scorn and ridicule themselves, for the rest of their natural lives, and be held up as an example of what abject cruelty and the lack of any decency at all will get you. Let the press and the public, and perhaps (if they have any) their guilt, destroy them. What they did wasn't illegal, and should not be, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be punished for it.

This is not a job for the courts, the police, the FBI, or the legislature.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:01 PM on November 12, 2007 [20 favorites]


It takes a village, indeed. On the other hand, there's always the possibility of a civil suit, though the article implies that one is not in the works. Assuming the article is fairly close to the facts at hand, the proponderance of guilt seems rather overwhelming.
posted by dhammond at 9:06 PM on November 12, 2007


UbuRovias: A person depressed enough to be on the verge of suicide would not be doing things like planning a birthday party, going dress shopping, or probably even messaging a hottie on myspace. Hell, they'd be hard pressed to get out of bed, let alone do anything requiring serious motivation, like eating meals or leaving the house.

And ADD, challenging as it might be, is hardly the sort of condition that would lead somebody to kill themself over dashed romantic hopes & a threat of public humiliation on myspace.


you have some pretty outmoded and closed-minded stereotypes to overcome. their is no "uniform" profile for a depressed person, or for a suicidal person.

your suggestion that she was not depressed because she engaged in certain activities is just ridiculous. your characterization of her pain as "dashed romatic hopes" and "threats of public humiliation" reflect your own lack of empathy. it's not just insensitive -- it's downright stupid.

certainly, it's true that depression can (indeed often) manifest as you described. but, to suggest that this young girl wasn't suffering, simply because she doesn't fall neatly into categories of your own creation: wrong. and, pathetic.

honestly, i suspect that there was more going on than just depression and ADD. adolescent psychiatry is so imprecise: between the vastly fluctuating hormones and such, as well as adolescents' general lack of self-awareness (and lack of ability to communicate meaningfully about it), it can be very difficult to arrive at a helpful diagnosis.

comments like yours do nothing but promulgate stereotypes. not helpful.
posted by CitizenD at 9:06 PM on November 12, 2007 [13 favorites]


I won't poke fun, but I don't really see the big deal. According the this (first google hit for "teenage suicide stats"), 30,000+ teens kill themselves per year. (I realize that source is kinda sketchy, but the number doesn't sound that off to me.) Apparently it's the 11th leading cause of death for teens.

This story, like all the others about teen suicide, is pretty sad. And the fact that the other parents joined in/encouraged the torture is bizarre and terrible as well. But the talk of this reaching front page national news? I think not.
posted by patr1ck at 9:08 PM on November 12, 2007


Is this not grounds for a civil lawsuit?
posted by Brian B. at 9:16 PM on November 12, 2007


So, to wit, what I think needs to happen in this case is not a flurry of ham-handed "think of the children" lawmaking, but a severe, long-lasting, and intensely public shaming.

So the solution to bullying is more bullying?
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 9:18 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


previously (sorta).

Worth noting that the tone of that prior MeFi discussion vacillates much as in this thread -- sadness and black humor, compassion and dismissal. we haven't come any closer to figuring out how, exactly, to cope with a story like this, the semi-visible, semi-public death of a real person. 4 years later, with all the changes of the internet in reality and in popular perception, this feels about the same. perhaps it all just boils down to the breadth here in the blue.

as for me, I snark, almost by reflex, after all these days of reading and wry smiles. but tonight, I pause and feel some shame for that.

Aquinas said man laughs because his soul has grasped something. What we are grasping for here, I do not know.

.
posted by theoddball at 9:19 PM on November 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


"While lynching, more often than not, has racial connotations in this country, but in its strictest sense, it's simply "mob justice." I don't think it's necessarily out of line to use the term in this context given some of revenge fantasies bandied about in this thread (and especially in the comments of the article)."

Except that wasn't the context it was used in: "It's frightening to think how invested people have become in virtual socialization, to the point that you can be lynched online like this."

That, combined with the next sentence's reference to hoods led me to assume that, like I remarked, he was using ham-fisted analogy.

"The issue I was referring to was the lynch mob mentality, in which a social network was leveraged to direct an attack against someone, which in this case ended in death. Coincidentally, death by hanging. Maybe this particular story wasn't the best example of this kind of mob mentality, but this type of harassment and bullying are becoming increasingly common amongst the MySpace crowd."

Maybe this particular story has nothing to fucking do with lynching, and is at best only tangentially related to any idea of mob justice. Further, the only "attacks" here were emotional, which is a pretty far cry from, you know, hanging someone. Or is this a lynching too?
posted by klangklangston at 9:23 PM on November 12, 2007


No. Not harmless. I can totally see these people justifying what they were doing every step of the way as teaching her a "good" lesson about games on the internet and gossip, and as protecting their daughter from her. In their minds, yes, what they were doing was rational adult behavior.

But it wasn't harmless. This is not the way adults solve problems. This is the way that people who never outgrew high school solve problems. Parents, who instead of parenting, take on the role of their child's bigger, meaner advocate.


Dhartung, this is perfectly stated. 'Teaching someone a lesson', and punishment in general, are just ways we talk about and justify the taking of revenge. Sometimes even the aggressor hides his true motivation from himself and is convinced that it is done for good, either the common or the other party's. I wouldn't be shocked if that was the case here as well. But that just makes them a little more human it certainly doesn't justify them. Those who set out to teach someone a lesson are convinced of their own righteousness. They never stop to consider if their means is the most effective way of helping the other person learn. Why should they? After all their motive justifies the action they are passionate about. And indulging in the passion is the real goal.

I think stories like this do make people feel a little uncomfortable. It can't help but to point out how blind we are to the effects of many of our actions. Obviously the harassers in this story are grossly over the line and few people can directly relate but their choice to ignore the reality of someone else's feelings is common. Simone Weil writes that within every person lies the hope that good will come to them. Pretending not to see that is easy. But as to why people snark and laugh? It's just a sense of humor with a different trigger. The person's mood is too large of a factor to make drawing a conclusion more than speculation.

Tragic story in a few different ways. I wish there was something for it.
posted by BigSky at 9:23 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


The lynchings of Leo Frank, Joseph Smith, and thirteen hundred-odd non-blacks don't remove racial overtones from the word "lynch" (at least to an American). For one thing, white men weren't systematically tortured by lynch mobs prior to hanging the way black men were.

Anti-Mormon Lynch mobs drove the Latter-day Saints to Utah and anti-Mexican lynch mobs formed the basis for the LAPD, but in America, "lynching" refers to white mobs killing black men without trial.

So it's a loaded word, to say the least. Of course there are those who would say that since victims include non-blacks, lynch see no color. Unlike "holocaust," however, the word "lynch" has been tied to its present racially charged meaning since mobs first went looking for black men to hang. And usually folks who try to untie "lynch" from racism are in the business of untying racism from white people altogether, the crowd that says, "Wait, whites were lynched, so how come the blacks get all the press?" as if the horror of black slavery, the oppression of Jim Crow, and the enduring challenge of American racism were something we all share.

That's not to say it's use here was of that ilk; jumping down someone's throat for using "lynch" as a general word to mean retributive vigilante justice is a bit hot-headed, and calling that person out for a supposed lack of black acquaintances is dumb.
posted by breezeway at 9:24 PM on November 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


Also, it's a little known fact that the concepts of "revenge" and "justice" did not exist until they were invented by James Madison, who was enraged by saucy remarks made to him in June, 1790 by the town blacksmith of Dunstable, Massachusetts. This is what makes them so typically American.

Yeah, and revenge & justice didn't figure in Hamlet, did they?

Typical American.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:28 PM on November 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


are your kids doing MYSPACE?!? be on lookout for the SIGNS OF ADDICTION!
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 9:28 PM on November 12, 2007


Insanity 2.0
posted by Skygazer at 9:32 PM on November 12, 2007


comments like yours do nothing but promulgate stereotypes. not helpful.

CitizenD, I'll try to stick a bit closer to the DSM-IV definition next time, but I feel it *is* important to distinguish between adverse circumstances or some kind of existential crisis & actual mental illness.

In doing so, I'm basically rehashing what my (ex) psychiatrist* asked me one time (paraphrasing) "are you sure you're actually depressed, or are you just going through an ongoing sadness over a sucky lifestyle or something?"

Plenty of people kill themselves in situations that have nothing to do with depression, but in which suicide just seem to be the best way out of a shitty situation. I repeat the suggestion that shopping for birthday dresses, organising a party etc are quite counter-indicative of depression.

* probably the country's leading expert on mood disorders, and an international authority too. i kid you not. no idea what strings were pulled for me to have become his patient...
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:42 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Is this not grounds for a civil lawsuit?

The parents of the dead girl have decided not to go that route:

The Meiers do not plan to file a civil lawsuit. Here's what they want: They want the law changed, state or federal, so that what happened to Megan - at the hands of an adult - is a crime.

And the folks in the article comments sniping at the journalist for not naming the bullies sort of have a point, but it's easily addressed - police reports are public documents. How many smashed-foosball-table-on-lawn incidents can there be? I don't blame the newspaper at all for not wanting to be directly responsible for the vigilante crowd's reaction. Let 'em take their asses down to the police station themselves if they want to get mob justice.
posted by mediareport at 9:47 PM on November 12, 2007


(that's this guy, executive director of this place (amongst other things). disclaimer: he might totally reject my interpretation)
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:51 PM on November 12, 2007


The garish web design is nature's way of saying "STAY AWAY!"
posted by cowbellemoo at 9:58 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm honestly surprised the father didn't go kill the other parent. Sadly, thats what I would have expected in this story. Its good he kept his wits about him.

And also, .
posted by SirOmega at 9:59 PM on November 12, 2007


in America, "lynching" refers to white mobs killing black men without trial.

No, it doesn't.

"The roughest sort of people found refuge there [Texas] in the early days, and sometimes the only way the good settlers could deal with them was to resort to "folk justice", otherwise known as Lynch Law."

p. 5, Ten Texas Feuds, C.L. Sonnichsen

But what I suspect you mean is that when liberals talk about lynching they are exclusively thinking of white mob attacks on blacks. The word might just have a larger use, even in America. There's a pretty good link up thread on the origins of the word.

Frontier towns don't spring up with a functioning criminal justice system. So there's been a good bit of scholarly work done on the subject outside of the terrorism of the black population after the Civil War. For instance, Sonnichsen, a well regarded scholar, in the above quotation, references a few different books including one from 1905 titled Lynch Law. Enjoy!
posted by BigSky at 9:59 PM on November 12, 2007


The old lady getting punched in the face isn't funny if you read up on the backstory.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:59 PM on November 12, 2007


UbuRoivas: I'll try to stick a bit closer to the DSM-IV definition next time, but I feel it *is* important to distinguish between adverse circumstances or some kind of existential crisis & actual mental illness.

this is my point, exactly. you can't know for certain whether this young girl's experience was just some "existential crisis" or actual mental illness.* so, to suggest that the shopping/partying/flirting/whatever belies her actual state of mind is not very insightful.

for example, perhaps she was actually an undiagnosed sufferer of bipolar 2. these activities (shopping, etc) could represent spikes in her mood (the "manic" phase). does that lessen the devastating affect of the depression? not one bit.

it's also entirely possible that these activities (shopping, etc.) were strategies specifically suggested by her therapist for attempting to address her depression. (unsuccessful strategies, of course, in this case)

your comment just rubbed me the wrong way. it's not the end of the world. but, as a person who has been battling mental illness for decades, i'm super-sensitive to over-generalized characterizations of the mentally ill.

*and besides, who's to say that these 2 are mutually exclusive? in my experience, existential crises and acutal mental illness are often co-morbid
posted by CitizenD at 10:03 PM on November 12, 2007 [5 favorites]


I repeat the suggestion that shopping for birthday dresses, organising a party etc are quite counter-indicative of depression.

The thing is, though, she was 13 years old. Shopping and organizing a party are very unlikely to be things she would have just independently done. It wouldn't surprise me at all if the mother was actively encouraging these types of activities as a way to keep her mood elevated and encourage positive social interaction.

On preview: CitizenD said it better.
posted by the other side at 10:18 PM on November 12, 2007


CitizenD: fair enough & i agree entirely.

i think i just react in exactly the opposite way to you: i hate hearing people described as mentally ill when they may not be. there's nowhere near enough info here, but the fact that she had been (diagnosed as) depressed in the past, or was on medication or whatever doesn't necessarly mean that she was depressed at the time, that's all. zillions of teenagers probably kill themselves without people having to mental illness as the explanation.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:26 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Maybe this particular story has nothing to fucking do with lynching, and is at best only tangentially related to any idea of mob justice. Further, the only "attacks" here were emotional, which is a pretty far cry from, you know, hanging someone. Or is this a lynching too?"

Point taken - the issue is tangential at best and should be dropped from this discussion. My original reference to "hoods" was honestly not intended as a reference to the KKK, but I can see how it would be interpreted as such and apologize for that. I was suggesting that the mob here is emboldened by anonymity, and their virtual "pitchfork" serves to further distance themselves from the damage they can cause. And of course, this harm is meant to be emotional, though the consequences can in turn become physical. Leaps of logic, perhaps, but such is metaphor.

I also apologize for any apparent anger emanating from this side, klang. When you experience racism firsthand, it's a very quick jump to indignation when you are accused of same. But I guess we're now both on record as Racism: NO, MySpace: WOE.
posted by krippledkonscious at 10:33 PM on November 12, 2007


UbuRoivas: agreed, as well. isn't it nice when mefidisputes are handled respectfully?

and thanks for that link to Black Dog. i'll be checking that out tomorrow, when my brain works better.

peace to you.
posted by CitizenD at 10:39 PM on November 12, 2007


Killing yourself is pretty dumb.

Killing yourself over MySpace? Look, deepest sympathy and apologies to all involved over the loss, but isn't there a special catagory of the Darwin Awards for that? Something like "Fatal Loss of Perspective"? No? Maybe somewhere just below "Suicide Bomber" and just above "Flunked out of University of Texas, jumped from belltower"?


She was 13. Deepest sympathy and apologies, but you're a 1st class asshole.
posted by Kwine at 11:00 PM on November 12, 2007 [7 favorites]


The Fuckwad-Theory anonymity that enabled the adults in this case to participate in such evil is the same anonymity that allows people to advocate for and support war in distant lands, oppression, and myriad other human cruelties. It's the antithesis of compassion.

I'm not trying to say anything about the political opinions of those adults, but rather that the capacity that allowed them to do this is universal. Everyone is prey to it and must fend against it.
posted by XMLicious at 11:14 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


I repeat the suggestion that shopping for birthday dresses, organising a party etc are quite counter-indicative of depression.


She was a thirteen year old kid for Christ's sake. I'd suggest to you that taking your kid shopping for a new dress and organizing a birthday party would be precisely the way that a parent would try and deal with a depressed thirteen year old kid.

FWIW, I've got no idea whether this kid was depressed or not. She certainly doesn't sound like the happiest kid in the world. However, your arguments as to why she couldn't have been depressed hold no water whatsoever.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:41 AM on November 13, 2007 [4 favorites]


Ick. A point numerous other people have also made before me. That'll teach me to finish the thread before commenting.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:44 AM on November 13, 2007


One of these things is not like the others.

Well, obviously. It is, however, on the same continuum of thoughtlessness.
posted by psmealey at 3:31 AM on November 13, 2007


First, I will say...

.

Things like this should never, never happen.

Then I will say I spent most of my childhood being tormented horribly, from my first name, to an early interest in girls (I am male, FWIW), to an above average intelligence, to having to start wearing bifocals at age 7, to being a klutz and completely incompetent at anything physically martial.

At the best of times, I don't think you could count me especially stable, child or titular adult.

However, during my childhood, suicide never even came to mind.

Damn it, if I was going to be a dork, I would be the King of the Dorks, Protector of the Nerd Kingdom, and Lord High Geek of the Land.

I really do think we coddle children a little too much. Instead of teaching them self-reliance when bullied, we call in counselors, and principles, and campaign for anti-bullying laws.

Call me old fashioned (not many too), but I believe some adversity in life helps build some strength and character in someone. I can really understand why parents love to allow their children to avoid all unpleasantness, to coin a phrase, but I think that leaves us with broken people that are mostly or completely unprepared to face the harsh realities of modern life.

Plus bullies bully to cause pain, and fear, and suffering for a variety of reasons. More than once, I ended up getting hit (often more than once), or straight armed into a locker face first, or bent over with a arm bent behind my back. Once I released that showing them my pain, or begging for surcease, was what they craved, I gritted my teeth through it, or faced them eye to eye (something that has led many friends through my life to believe I have a death wish). I never ran for an authority figure to make it stop.

What happened? They eventually stopped. For some of them, I was no longer easy, fun prey. For others, my resistance became a focus for their respect.

I know I have said this before, and I will say it again, also. Why are we blaming MySpace? Why aren't we looking for a real root cause? Do you think this girl's parents are stopping to think what they might have done? Of course not. There's the Internet and mean people to blame!

Just so you wondered, guess who wielded the power of life and death when finals came around?
posted by Samizdata at 4:19 AM on November 13, 2007 [4 favorites]


Ummm, make that (not many too) (not many do), please.
posted by Samizdata at 4:20 AM on November 13, 2007


And, ummm, I released I realized.

I don't proof well when emotionally invested.

That is all.

(I hope.)
posted by Samizdata at 4:22 AM on November 13, 2007


Oh crap.

Principals.

Knew I spoke too soon.
posted by Samizdata at 4:22 AM on November 13, 2007


is it really ethical for them to publish such a one sided account of events when it's very clearly going to end up spurring god-knows-what kind of retribution?

To be fair to the reporter, he:

a.) Didn't name the other family concerned, and
b.) Did offer them the chance to tell their side of the story -- an opportunity that they chose not to take. It would have been nice to have heard them take that opportunity to express a little remorse, or some sympathy for the loss of their child -- a child who apparently was once a close family friend. They'd been advised, presumably by their lawyers, that they'd be better off saying nothing. Well, I guess we'll see if that's a strategy that works out for them.

The reporter isn't just relating a story here, he's advocating on the Meier's behalf for justice

I don't see any basis for such a claim. He's reporting the Meier's account of the story, providing back up accounts where possible, such as the Sheriff's rebuttal of the evil Mom's account. I think it's simply that the story itself is so egregious that it's hard not to believe that a terrible wrong was done to this child by another adult. That said, there's never going to be anything resembling 'justice' in a story like this, because that would have to begin with the forces that made evil mom into a moron in the first place.

If there is any kind of a message in this story then, for me, that message is 'Some parents are as immature as children. Please try harder.'
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:29 AM on November 13, 2007


journalism: being your continence when you obviously do not have one.
posted by quonsar at 4:36 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


It brings tears to my eyes knowing these sweet little teenage girls have to deal with so much drama. My daughter beggs me every single day to let her have her MySpace back and due to past monitoring of her conversations and the horrible things being said to one another, my daughter will never ever have a MySpace again. I agree that MySpace should no longer exist.

"it brings tears to my eyes knowing these sweet little teenage girls have to deal with so much drama. my daughter begs me every single day to let her have her junior high school back and due to past monitoring of her conversations and the horrible things being said to one another, my daughter will never ever attend a junior high school again. i agree that junior high school should no longer exist."
posted by quonsar at 4:39 AM on November 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


Do you think this girl's parents are stopping to think what they might have done? Of course not. There's the Internet and mean people to blame!

While I don't know, I would imagine that the parents are thinking every single possible thought about how if they had only done things differently, their daughter might still be alive.

Samizdata - you are nothing but a bully yourself, but rather than use the physical force you describe being used against you, you aim to make people feel small and impotent by describing in self-aggrandising detail just how better at handling a situation you are than others, and by then attempting to belittle their pain because you survived. F***wad.
posted by benzo8 at 4:41 AM on November 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure what compels MeFites to break out the funny in these threads. Is it discomfort?

The formula for comedy: pain + distance = funny
posted by davelog at 4:48 AM on November 13, 2007


benzo8:

Never said I handled anything better than anyone else, actually. And I never belittled anyone's pain either.

First off, I expressed a moment of silence, and a conviction that these things should never happen.

I do know, from personal experience with my parents, at least, that they spent years looking for some diagnosis that would show my inability to be a perfect little boy wasn't their fault. Perhaps that shaped my world view a bit.

In this case, it seemed to me to be all about "MySpace MySpace MySpace. Oh, and other bad parents." rather than trying to look a little deeper.

I'm sorry you feel I am a self-aggrandising f***wad, frankly.

I was of the impression that this was a forum for expressing opinions about the topic at hand, and I thought a rather well bullied childhood might have qualified me to speak from some experience.

I, of course, could be mistaken. Could I trouble you to explain why such a virulent response? Or should I just have snarked away, with a witty riposte and on to the next post?
posted by Samizdata at 4:53 AM on November 13, 2007


However, during my childhood, suicide never even came to mind.
Damn it, if I was going to be a dork, I would be the King of the Dorks, Protector of the Nerd Kingdom, and Lord High Geek of the Land.


Count yourself lucky that you had the mental, emotional and psychic resources to be able to resist this kind of bullying, samizdata. But those qualities are like looks and brains. They aren't handed out equally. You might have got less than your fair share in some areas, but you obviously got far more than your fair share in others.

What happened? They eventually stopped. For some of them, I was no longer easy, fun prey. For others, my resistance became a focus for their respect.

You were very fortunate. That sounds less like bullying to me, and more like a bit of rough housing and minor physical violence. Your bullies weren't very smart and were easily discouraged. Had things been different, you might have been subjected to bullies who were a bit smarter or were fortunate enough to identify your most vulnerable spot. And then they'd exploit that vulnerability on a daily basis. Because it's a real vulnerability, rather than something that you've got the resources to be able to deal with, your life would then become a living hell with no obvious or apparent route of escape. Many children find themselves in that situation, and their lives are made so miserable that suicide looks like the only respite that's available to them.

I really do think we coddle children a little too much. Instead of teaching them self-reliance when bullied, we call in counselors, and principles, and campaign for anti-bullying laws.

I think that we coddle children too much as well. However, providing the expectation of a safe space in which a child can be educated does not count as coddling, in my view. On the contrary, it's simply about the adults who run that place doing their job properly in providing a safe environment, an environment in which children feel free to talk honestly and openly to the adults responsible for their care about what's going on in their lives.

I also think that trying to find solutions to difficult policy problems by viewing them through the lens of our limited personal experience is a pretty dumb thing to do, because it's pretty obvious that not everyone's experience is going to be the same as our own, and while there are obviously going to be kids who overexaggerate things and cry wolf, when it comes to the issue of kids and bullying, all too often, it's the exact opposite that's the problem. Children are driven to the end of their tether, and feeling that there isn't anyone that they can talk to, isn't anyone who will understand, isn't anyone who will help them, end up taking their life as a desperate solution to a desperate problem.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:02 AM on November 13, 2007 [8 favorites]


Count yourself lucky that you had the mental, emotional and psychic resources to be able to resist this kind of bullying, samizdata. But those qualities are like looks and brains. They aren't handed out equally. You might have got less than your fair share in some areas, but you obviously got far more than your fair share in others.

I guess I never felt I had a choice but to deal with it. As I mentioned, there never seemed an alternative. I would consider my solution more borne of frustration and desperation than any particular degree of internal fortitude.

You were very fortunate. That sounds less like bullying to me, and more like a bit of rough housing and minor physical violence. Your bullies weren't very smart and were easily discouraged. Had things been different, you might have been subjected to bullies who were a bit smarter or were fortunate enough to identify your most vulnerable spot. And then they'd exploit that vulnerability on a daily basis. Because it's a real vulnerability, rather than something that you've got the resources to be able to deal with, your life would then become a living hell with no obvious or apparent route of escape. Many children find themselves in that situation, and their lives are made so miserable that suicide looks like the only respite that's available to them.


Not sure about that either. I spent a good bit of time crying in private. I guess I don't know why I would never think of ending things in the way we are mentioning. I guess it was just a mental blind spot.

I also think that trying to find solutions to difficult policy problems by viewing them through the lens of our limited personal experience is a pretty dumb thing to do, because it's pretty obvious that not everyone's experience is going to be the same as our own, and while there are obviously going to be kids who overexaggerate things and cry wolf, when it comes to the issue of kids and bullying, all too often, it's the exact opposite that's the problem. Children are driven to the end of their tether, and feeling that there isn't anyone that they can talk to, isn't anyone who will understand, isn't anyone who will help them, end up taking their life as a desperate solution to a desperate problem.

I can agree with you there, but when we worry about offering failing grades damaging children's self esteem and such, we strip them of the ability to cope and hand them a conviction that everything will turn out all right no matter what and without their involvement.

I didn't exactly think I was proposing policy decisions as much as just elucidating my own experiences and bemoaning what I see as the obligatory hobgoblin, rather than looking hard and fast and painfully as to why something really happened.

I certainly agree that children need someone safe to talk to. But I feel that those talks should deal more with how to handle a problem and less about just making the problem go away, as it seems to be.

I suppose I am saying that it seems today that we divest many children of their responsibility in creating themselves by providing a cocoon of detachment. A cocoon can protect, but it can also smother.

I understand a parent's need to protect their children. But I also feel that a child must experience a variety of aspects of life. Maybe I'm just weird that way from my own past, but I think that had I been in a completely non confrontational environment, I would have been even more ill prepared for adult life than I was. I would have never really understood causality and consequence. I just wish there was a happier way to reach a balance.
posted by Samizdata at 5:36 AM on November 13, 2007


SHADOWY CYBERSPACE
posted by triv at 5:53 AM on November 13, 2007


.

That poor little girl. And why yes, I DO put the blame squarely on the adults involved. Not MySpace, but the aDOLTS who not only did a crappy job of parenting, but joined in tormenting a child, themselves. What part of "Pick on someone your own size!" didn't they understand?

If the alleged grown-ups had been doing their jobs as parents, role models and mentors, this probably wouldn't have happened, at least on the scale that it did. Sure, even "good," well-brought-up kids will tease one another, but when it comes to this kind of vicious bullying, someone has taught the kids how to do that.

Kids learn from their parents, and when the parents aren't doing their jobs (or are bullies themselves, as many posters here have attested) that's when you get bad-seed kids.

Blaming MySpace is all too easy compared to taking a good, hard look at what one has done wrong wrt one's kids.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 5:54 AM on November 13, 2007


Never said I handled anything better than anyone else, actually.

"However, during my childhood, suicide never even came to mind."

As a response to an article about a girl bullied to suicide, you don't feel this is saying "I was bullied and handled it better because I didn't consider suicide"?

And if your presumptuous comment about the parents not even thinking to blame themselves is not "belittling people's pain" then your experiences have robbed you of empathy, along with perspective.

More than this though, I want to ask you to clarify something that you've now alluded to both in the message I initially responded to, and in your response to PeterMcDermott. Please correct me if I'm misunderstanding this:

"Why are we blaming MySpace? Why aren't we looking for a real root cause?" and "...bemoaning what I see as the obligatory hobgoblin, rather than looking hard and fast and painfully as to why something really happened." Your whole initial post reads like a "if people were stronger and stood up to bullies, they [the bullies] would eventually fade out of existence". Is this really what you believe?

Are you truly saying that the "root cause" of incidents like this is because some (most?) people cannot shrug off bullying like you were able to or to rise above it? Are you really putting the blame on the victim, rather than the perpetrator?

If not, what "root cause"(s) are you referring to?
posted by benzo8 at 6:09 AM on November 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


Such a badly written article about an event that could have been prevented by a little bit of common sense.
posted by triv at 6:31 AM on November 13, 2007


What I can't wrap my head around here is anything, anything that could remotely justify the way the mom (of the bullying kids) acted. I mean, under what possible circumstance, and via what personal upbringing, could you have decided that tormenting a little girl was the best recourse? What excuse could possibly have been offered for this to have been the solution?

It's horrible that a 13-year-old was tormented into killing herself. It's even scarier that the person who did it to her was a grown-up who is clearly less mature than she ever was. I agree with the others who said this woman should not be allowed to be anyone' parent.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:45 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Count yourself lucky that you had the mental, emotional and psychic resources to be able to resist this kind of bullying, samizdata. But those qualities are like looks and brains. They aren't handed out equally. You might have got less than your fair share in some areas, but you obviously got far more than your fair share in others.

Exactly. Children don't all have the same level of sensitivity.

My Judo teacher had an anecdote about two guys who were going to randori (spar). One had a slender build and had taken up Judo later in life than most, the other had been physically active his entire life, worked as a plumber and was an all around bigger guy with particularly strong forearms and hands. When someone told the plumber to keep his advantage in mind, i.e. not go full speed once his opponent was off balance, the plumber replied, "I have to go all out, I'm taking the same risk he is.". It's amazing what we can presume about the capabilities of others when it is to our advantage to do so.

Samizdata, I also think that facing some hard times in childhood helps to make one strong but there are limits to the level of adversity that can be faced with profit. Giving thanks to your detractors and enemies for teaching you how to make it, as some are wont to do, should also be accompanied with thanks to God or Fate or Chance for granting you opponents within your capabilities. To go to a grotesque extreme if adversity was good for you, abused children should have the highest rates of success. If that was the case the whole notion of abuse would have to be scrapped.

I won't argue that we coddle children too much. We do. And still, there are certain social dynamics that can develop which are just flat out bad for anyone, let alone children. And letting them work it out between themselves is a poor response.

However, during my childhood, suicide never even came to mind.

Damn it, if I was going to be a dork, I would be the King of the Dorks, Protector of the Nerd Kingdom, and Lord High Geek of the Land.


It's great you had such strong positive self regard, and that you took your own side. If you replace that with self disgust and deep self hatred, thoughts of suicide might just show up.

Just so you wondered, guess who wielded the power of life and death when finals came around?

If it was you, then your bullies could have been a lot more committed.

Do you think this girl's parents are stopping to think what they might have done? Of course not.

Please.

I apologize if this discounts your past. This is a subject that's easy to get emotionally invested in. I have no doubt that your own experience was bad.

-----

Sure, even "good," well-brought-up kids will tease one another, but when it comes to this kind of vicious bullying, someone has taught the kids how to do that.

I don't believe this for a minute. The motivation to do something 'because you can' will take you as far as anyone cares to go in learning all the tricks of the mean, the malcontents, the instigators. And I'm not saying this to move the blame away from the parents.
posted by BigSky at 6:50 AM on November 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


I can agree with you there, but when we worry about offering failing grades damaging children's self esteem and such, we strip them of the ability to cope and hand them a conviction that everything will turn out all right no matter what and without their involvement.

Completely agree, Samizdata.

I didn't exactly think I was proposing policy decisions

"Instead of teaching them self-reliance when bullied, we call in counselors, and principles, and campaign for anti-bullying laws."

A call for a smaller legal and institutional response, in favour of a greater emphasis on personal self-reliance is definitely a policy proposal. And while, in general, I agree with your arguments about the American tendency for parents to overprotect their children, and the need for them to encourage greater self-reliance, etc. I think that one of the reasons that that tendency has emerged is because of a fear that their children *aren't* safe outside of the home, or in the company of other kids.

One of the reasons that kids are able to develop the kind of self reliance that you're talking about is because they find a safe place in which they can overcome the challenges that confront them, precisely as you did. When you've got an environment that fosters the exact opposite atmosphere, where people feel unsafe, scared and disempowered, it actually erodes self-reliance and encourages dependence. There are two places where children are obligated to be on a daily basis -- at home, and at school. And unless both of those places provide a safe and secure environment for a child to begin to test themselves and their limits, the chances are that they'll never develop the sort of skills that you're talking about. All too often, it's the lack of this kind of environment as a child that turns some children into the kind of parents that produced the fake MySpace account -- because their own childhood experience was so bad that they want to protect their own child by dimininshing another that they feel is a threat, or because they didn't develop the kind of emotional maturity that a secure childhood and adolescence bestows on you.

So yeah, give children as much freedom as they need or can handle. Let them develop and respond to challenging social interactions on their own and in their own way. But when shit gets to be too much, then the two places that they're obligated to be on a daily basis, the home and the school, have to be a sanctuary where they feel safe and protected, and not a place where they feel miserable, persecuted and under siege.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:04 AM on November 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


BigSky, to return to an old derail (my apologies, everyone), a hundred-year old book on lynch law does not prove that people today don't understand "lynch" to mean white mobs attacking blacks, nor does the work of your esteemed Texas scholar and folklorist: as I wrote above, I have no issue with the idea that thousands of non-blacks were killed this way, and I understand that lynching allowed mob rule to suffice where there was no rule at all.

But the idea that these frontier attempts at keeping peace, or any lynching of non-blacks, is what comes to mind when Americans today hear the word "lynch" is ludicrous. It's not a symptom of liberalism to connect lynching with racism and Jim Crow. It's an acknowledgement that only against blacks was lynching in widespread use not as an arm of the law where no law could reach, but as a bludgeon to terrify entire communities of innocent blacks.

I mentioned upthread how usually when folks truck out all the poor whites who were lynched, it's part of an attempt to deny how horrible slavery and Jim Crow was by claiming an equal share of a word which by now symbolizes the large evil of small minds. Popping off on "liberals" makes it even easier to read your words as such. If that isn't the case, good for you.

When we talk about lynching in America, we have to specify when we aren't talking about white-on-black violence, even if we're professors, or apologists, or well-meaning folklorists, because if we don't point out that the victim was white, it is assumed they are black. That's what I mean when I say it's a loaded word, to say the least.
posted by breezeway at 7:30 AM on November 13, 2007


.
posted by LMGM at 7:38 AM on November 13, 2007


When we talk about lynching in America, we have to specify when we aren't talking about white-on-black violence, even if we're professors, or apologists, or well-meaning folklorists, because if we don't point out that the victim was white, it is assumed they are black.

This must be a relatively recent phenomenon then, because during the 40's, 50's and 60's in the cowboy films that played such a large part in the construction of the ideology of what it means to be an American, the portrayal of mob justice was a fairly regular feature. It might have been for rustling cattle, or simply because a well liked citizen had been shot and the townspeople were dubious about the likelihood that the shooter would get his just deserts, or simply because the local cattle baron wanted somebody out of the way.

In none of these 'necktie parties' do I recall the victim being black, yet the events were almost always described as a lynching.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:53 AM on November 13, 2007


"But I guess we're now both on record as Racism: NO, MySpace: WOE."

This made me smile.
posted by klangklangston at 7:55 AM on November 13, 2007


It's not a symptom of liberalism to connect lynching with racism and Jim Crow.

It is a symptom of liberalism to restrict the usage of the word to the campaign of terror waged against black in the 19th and 20th century.

I mentioned upthread how usually when folks truck out all the poor whites who were lynched, it's part of an attempt to deny how horrible slavery and Jim Crow was by claiming an equal share of a word which by now symbolizes the large evil of small minds.

Come on. You might believe this, I certainly don't. Wanting to increase the scope of the subject and to speak, for example, about the KKK as an enforcer of 'community morals', does not entail disparaging the misery of black life under Jim Crow. It's your claim to what the word symbolizes, similar to some Jews with the word 'holocaust', that creates the offense. The whole notion of a word as symbol is off. Most words have multiple usages and to make claims about what a particular use of the word recognizes or acknowledges leads to a needless injection of politics in language. When those claims about the word become widely accepted, that one usage becomes privileged and the language shrinks.

For some words this is a lost battle. But in my experience, in the U.S., 'lynch' still has the use of denoting mob justice.
posted by BigSky at 8:16 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


the cowboy films that played such a large part in the construction of the ideology of what it means to be an American

During the 40's, 50's, and 60's? Cowboy movies?

I'm not exploring American perceptions of lynching throughout history, or where the word originated; I'm on about current understanding of the word, as it relates to use on this and other websites and in common parlance. I must be right, too, if you have to go back almost forty years to dredge up counterexamples.

Do you think it's a coincidence that they stopped lynching whites in Hollywood movies as the Civil Rights movement advanced its cause? They stopped putting Stepin Fetchits and Zip Coons in movies during that time frame, too. Does this mean a shiftless, blubbering servant in a greasy tuxedo and a tar-black, razor-wielding criminal also play a large part in the construction of the ideology of what it means to be an American (today)?

Meant, maybe, but not means.

On preview, I've gone to great lengths to point out that I'm not talking about my personal views or a historical survey; I'm talking about what the word means now. We use it carefully because of what it means to the vast majority of Americans. Use it as carelessly as you like. If you wonder why people seem put off or angry when you do, you might consider updating your convictions.

Once upon a time, "awesome" meant "frightening.". Most Americans today think otherwise, no matter what history or contrariness might tell you. Use it the old way, and you'll confuse most people as to your intentions. Same goes for "lynch."
posted by breezeway at 8:38 AM on November 13, 2007


Yet another confirmation on my theory that people suck.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 8:42 AM on November 13, 2007


Thirded on St. Charles being depressing as hell...

Feh. I live here. It's way better than Florida. My gripe about it would be that it's a bit too white and whitebread. One of those places where the median income is "more than yours."
posted by Foosnark at 8:55 AM on November 13, 2007


Since the death is chiefly a tragedy for the parents, who are culpable, what's really to feel sorry/outraged about? The girl wanted out of the wheel; she got out. Considering her environment and nature, perhaps that was for the best.

Note for thehmsbeagle: Smug much? Someone needs to tie you down and force you to watch a bunch of M*A*S*H reruns.

Note for klangklangston: "Lynch" is color-neutral terminology in most of the US--a linguistic reflection of cultural healing. Embrace it: It's a good thing.
posted by diorist at 10:53 AM on November 13, 2007


This is so sick.
posted by agregoli at 11:09 AM on November 13, 2007


I had some cynical Welcome-to-the-Dollhouse thoughts about pack behavior and hierarchies (in both the Jr. High and MeFi demographics). I'll settle for BigSky's comment: It's amazing what we can presume about the capabilities of others when it is to our advantage to do so.

That said, if the DA's office hasn't done anything it's because they're trigger shy. Criminal codes are so overwritten that you can, as they say, "indict a ham sandwich."

In Texas:

COUNT I: Murder (1st Degree, 5-99 years or life);

COUNT II: Manslaughter (2nd Degree, 2-20 years);

COUNT III: Criminally Negligent Homicide (State Jail, 180 days to 2 years).

Manslaughter requires recklessness, i.e., aware but consciously disregards a substantial or unjustifiable risk, and Negligent Homicide only requires that the perpetrators ought to have been aware of a substantial or unjustifiable risk. Murder would be obtainable, but more difficult; it requires an intent to cause serious bodily injury (i.e., emotional suffering) with an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death (i.e., using fake account to torment a depressed, unstable young girl).

The article said the parents knew of the young girl’s depression/ADD/self-loathing. They then intentionally used her issues against her to torment her. A rational jury could reasonably find that the parents knew (manslaughter) or should have known (negligent homicide) that the results of their actions could likely result in an already depressed, unstable young girl taking her life.
posted by Taargus Taargus at 11:11 AM on November 13, 2007


"As of March 2007, 30 states have enacted harassment, intimidation and bullying legislation."

Couldn't these laws apply?


I'm no lawyer, but I doubt people can be held legally accountable for things they did before those actions were made illegal. Can somebody with more expertise confirm or deny?
posted by vytae at 11:31 AM on November 13, 2007


I will happily admit to occasionally becoming an internet fuckwad myself. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing, handled properly. I'm careful to only do so in environments which are explicitly unsafe spaces, ones where fuckwadery is the norm, like on 4chan. In such an environment, there is a reasonable expectation that everyone involved is there with full knowledge of what sort of horrible shit may happen, and is prepared to deal with that and have thick skins. Being a fuckwad on the internet doesn't mean that you have to let all your ethics go out the window.

Something entirely separate from this happened here. The anonymity was one-sided and there was no audience. The involvement of parents skews the power dynamic rather strongly. This isn't an instance of the internet fuckwad theory, this is normal human cruelty, which happened to take place online.
posted by Arturus at 12:58 PM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm no lawyer, but I doubt people can be held legally accountable for things they did before those actions were made illegal. Can somebody with more expertise confirm or deny?

They enacted retrospective laws against tewwowists. Pretty much everybody locked up in Guantanamo Bay had done things that weren't "illegal" at the time.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:51 PM on November 13, 2007


My habeas is rusty, but I'd tentatively say no, depending on if the change in law constitutes a more severe retroactive punishment. Good discussion of Ex Post Facto in this recent Supreme Court case, Carmell v. Texas.
posted by Taargus Taargus at 2:57 PM on November 13, 2007


Do you think it's a coincidence that they stopped lynching whites in Hollywood movies as the Civil Rights movement advanced its cause?

i think it might have something to do with the fact that westerns stopped being so popular at that time
posted by pyramid termite at 3:39 PM on November 13, 2007


That poor kid. If only her mother would have taken the time to listen to her hysterical daughter instead of yelling at her to log off, perhaps all kinds of god-awful feelings might have been averted.

And yes, the bullying family should be publicly shamed for the rest of their lives. I bet fat people in their neighborhood are more stigmatized than they are.

If you're deemed ugly on the outside, it's perfectly acceptable to be harassed and hounded and discriminated against. But with each passing day, ugly on the inside is becoming more and more the accepted, even excused, status quo.

Human beings make me sick.

.
posted by perilous at 4:23 PM on November 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


I've been putting a lot of thought into this since reading about it yesterday.

My immediate emotional reaction was a resounding "release their names, internet justice!"

Upon reflection, though, I have some other thoughts on the issue.

First, this is not the fault of the technology.

There are sick people out there and they will find ways to do the sick things they want to do (or are compelled to do). The MySpace faking adults here might have taken advantage of the technology to harm this child, but that is because they are nasty people.

I say this because it would be very easy to blame the Internet for this and use it as a rallying cry to revamp laws related to the Internet to limit anonymity. Adults have demonstrated a remarkable amount of ingenuity when it comes to discovering ways of abusing children. Creating new laws might create a veneer of safety, but crazy people will still be out there actively looking for ways of working within the new laws to abuse children.

Second, removing the suicide from the equation, this is still a remarkably shitty thing for adults to do to a child. It would be a remarkably shitting thing for one adult to do to one child, but the fact that at least two took part and invited a child to take part as well is very alarming.

Hey, when it was tweens doing it to tweens, it was a remarkably shitty thing to do and their parents were right to stop them. Adults should know better. Teenagers should know better.

Harassment is harassment regardless of what tool is being used to do the harassing. Manipulating the emotions of a 13 year old to "teach them a lesson" is sort of bullshit. This is true whether you use the Interweb or good old fashioned lying to their face.

Third, it isn't enough to monitor your kids use of time online. You also have to teach your kid many things about the reality (or lack of reality) about life online.

For example, if you believe that there is no line between online and offline life, it is much harder to separate anonymous flaming from an actual personal attack. Teaching kids that sometimes people behave differently online than in real life - and that almost nobody is what they seem to be online - is absolutely essential for helping your child understand the Internet.

The parents of the unfortunate youngster in this story sound like they did an excellent job of holding her responsible for how she participated online in some ways, but not such a great job in other ways. For example - and I am not in any way blaming the mom for her daughter's death here - it would probably have been a good idea to unplug the computer (or disable web browsing) when the mom left for work. If you care enough to monitor your child's internet use when you are around, it is probably a good idea to prevent them from surfing when you're not around. When you feel your child is ready to handle online life, then let them surf when you aren't home.

Parental involvement is always going to be a more effective way of protecting your child from assholes - and from becoming an asshole - than passing new laws.

In my opinion, the laws just force the assholes to become more creative about inflicting their assholism on us all. Involved parents can stop asshattery before it has time to take root.

Anyhow, the adults that created the fake MySpace page deserve public scorn and shame for their behavior. Ideally, they deserve some sort of extensive public mocking as well. Not sure they deserve legal action or vigilante style behavior, though. Somebody needs to make it crystal clear to them (and their child) that this sort of behavior is reprehensible.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:24 PM on November 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


Okay, remind me to be afraid of the internet. Or more to the point, what people can do with the internet. While searching around to find more details of this story, I saw that some people have started to list possible names of the unnamed adults who created the fake MySpace page. But what was surprising was how they came up with their short list of possible individuals: looking at public records to list the names of people who owned the houses in the same block as the Meiers.

I didn't even realize that such information was available online. Admittedly, I have googled myself several times, but each day I grow more incredulous about the information I can find about myself and my friends.
posted by anitanita at 10:33 PM on November 13, 2007


Negligent homicide, manslaughter, murder? Are you fucking kidding me? I think a few of you are overestimating the criminal aspect of this MySpace e-tragedy. Here are some news articles to help put things in perspective:

*Negligent Homicide

*Manslaughter

*Murder

tragedy ≠ villainy
posted by ryanrs at 11:32 PM on November 13, 2007


I wish to soften or retract my "fatal loss of perspective" snark, for it is indeed erroneous and over-reaching.

I do understand the pain of being bullied, of depression, and even of ideations all too well. I beg you to pardon my obtuse and needlessly dark irreverence - I do feel for the family.
posted by loquacious at 4:56 AM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


But with each passing day, ugly on the inside is becoming more and more the accepted, even excused, status quo.

I actually wish this were true, because if it's a trend (rather than a constant), then there might be a way to stem or reverse it. But, experience tells me that things were only ever thus. The tools, media and platforms available to deliver this kind of petty meanness may be different and more highly evolved than they were in the past, but I don't think the underlying behavior is any worse (or better) than it was 10, 20, 50 or 150 years ago.
posted by psmealey at 6:47 AM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


I wish to soften or retract my "fatal loss of perspective" snark, for it is indeed erroneous and over-reaching.

I reject your retraction. The snark was hella funny, but I just happen to love insensitive dark humour.

(not antierroneousoverreachist)
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:09 PM on November 14, 2007


Most Americans today think otherwise, no matter what history or contrariness might tell you. Use it the old way, and you'll confuse most people as to your intentions. Same goes for "lynch."

So it's a bit like the word 'niggardly' then? You've got a bunch of people who apparently know nothing about its dictionary definition, know nothing about it's long historical use both inside and outside the USA, and don't even know how it was commonly used in popular culture as recently as their parents generation, but they insist that their narrow, and incorrect interpretation is the one that should prevail because that's what they believe is politically correct.

Gotcha.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:53 PM on November 14, 2007


And thus the English language is ruined, chink by chink.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:01 PM on November 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


I don't know if that's a fair analogy, PeterMcD. People who get offended by the use of the word "niggardly" call themselves out as fools. Lynching is a word with various historical and fictional associations, but all of them are varying degrees of bad.
posted by psmealey at 6:44 PM on November 14, 2007


It's not like the word "niggardly," which has an unfortunate sound but a meaning and history well enough removed from race that interpreting it as a slur is a mistake. But you know that.

The "bunch of people" you refer to, who know nothing about so many things, didn't have the political or social power to address these issues during their parents' generation and before.

But this doesn't matter; go on treating "lynch" like any other word, or dumping spadefuls of dirt on the English language's casket, or whatever you like. When someone gets offended, cling to whatever keeps you squeaky clean, and lecture them about all the history you share, or don't say anything and just get mad about how uppity they are for taking away precious words like "lynch" from common parlance.

You don't have to agree to understand, and if you don't understand why folks would get bent out of shape over this, you're either not reading well, not paying attention, or willfully ignoring what's going on around you. That's your choice.

You could even act surprised, like you never had any idea someone could be offended by cavalier use of a term that has such a specific and horrible meaning to so many people. It wouldn't be real surprise, but the people who'd get really offended by it are probably in the minority anyway, so you needn't worry.
posted by breezeway at 6:44 PM on November 14, 2007


I apologize, Peter McDermott; I have a headache tonight, and what I wrote was rude and excessive. People have a much wider variety of motivations, understandings, and backgrounds with regard to this topic than either of us give them credit for, and it does nobody any good for me to insinuate insensitivity or worse on your part. For what it's worth, I believe the language has evolved to a point where it's best to be cautious in approaching sensitive words like these, but I belabored my point and treated you with hostility born more of my throbbing noggin than anything else. I'm sorry for implying racism on your part; it was a low blow and not my finest moment.

I hope any ill-will you bear me is in response to the methods, and not the content, of my argument. Self-criticism like this is all well and good, but it doesn't erase the insult, and if it stings too much to let pass, I understand.

Again, I'm sorry.
posted by breezeway at 8:49 PM on November 14, 2007


breezeway,

We probably don't agree on too much, but I think you're pretty classy.

I've also got to say that 'uppity' is one of my favorite words. It's a shame the connotations are so heavy around it that there are precious few occasions for use. Yeah, even I keep that sort of thing in mind from time to time.
posted by BigSky at 9:27 PM on November 14, 2007


We probably don't agree on too much...

Well, we both like pecan pie and sweet tea, right?
posted by breezeway at 9:55 PM on November 14, 2007


It's a shame the connotations are so heavy around it that there are precious few occasions for use.

Now, I'm as PC and bleeding-heart liberal as the next MeFite, but here's a case where the restriction on the use of language is well out of hand. "Uppity" and its improper connotations, in my experience, only occurs in conjunction of the use of the n-word following immediately thereafter. I suspect that the discomfort surrounding the use of the word "uppity" by itself, devoid of any racial context, is imagined. (Then again, in an earlier conversation in the Blue, I learned that the use of the world "articulate" when applied to Barack Obama, was a racist slur. This was news to me, so I think I'm definitely behind the times.).

George Carlin said in a recent interview, with some disappointment, that in his day, the people that were must zealous about restricting language were conservative Republican bastards. Nowadays, most of the restrictions come from the left. Not good in either case. Not that I think people should be using the n-word in casual conversation, but when you start designating other words "off limits" where does it end?

Orwell is laughing at us.
posted by psmealey at 4:18 AM on November 15, 2007


Well, we both like pecan pie and sweet tea, right?

Damn straight.

I suspect that the discomfort surrounding the use of the word "uppity" by itself, devoid of any racial context, is imagined.

Perhaps. I tend to push the boundaries a little in this area, but my unease could well be groundless. There's never been an incident where someone expressed umbrage at its use. While it obviously has racial associations, there are other factors as well. The word presupposes an overt and understood division by social class. Few would argue that America is a classless society but class divisions are not overt. For the most part we have an egalitarian view of ourselves in relation to others. It's hard to imagine a company wide meeting where some outspoken blue collar worker was called uppity for commenting on an issue outside of his domain, and it not being found offensive. Even for clueless children it seems a bit much. Most often, it's used in an over the top way. And hyperbolic speech is easy to misinterpret, especially by those looking to take offense.

And in case you haven't already seen it, the leading edge.
posted by BigSky at 7:42 AM on November 15, 2007


Hee hee hee.
posted by breezeway at 9:57 AM on November 15, 2007


I hate the people responsible for that because, even if it was only for one nanosecond, they put me in the Bill O'Reilly camp.
posted by psmealey at 10:18 AM on November 15, 2007


A related FPP (with some new links regarding this story) -- that may, or may not, survive here on "the Blue."
posted by ericb at 10:04 PM on November 15, 2007


Sacre Bleu writes: A vicious, hoax MySpace account drives a 13-year-old girl to commit suicide. The adults responsible knew their victim was vulnerable, but the police say no laws were broken. The newspaper won’t even name the hoaxers. That’s when Internet vigilantes step in, using online research tools to finger the doers. A Nick Denton Inc. blogger even makes calls to nail down facts, proving the paradigm shift is complete. (Or, that the seventh seal has been broken.) What’s next, now that the digital frontier has become the new Wild West?
posted by meehawl at 10:43 PM on November 15, 2007


Almost posted in the now deleted thread but saved it to post it here.

I've taken the last several months off from Mefi (I was getting too fat from all the snark) and missed this. What a crappy thing for anyone to do.

Did this need to be a double? I don't know, I don't think so but I wouldn't have seen it otherwise and, since the entire universe revolves around me, it kind of balances out the double.

People suck online almost as much as they suck in real life only its harder to bust them in the chops for it.
posted by fenriq at 10:47 PM on November 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


I am currently worried by the fact that the address in question seems to be a commercial endorsement of some rather cheesy glass ornaments. Are towns pitching their street names to advertisers now?
posted by meehawl at 10:56 PM on November 15, 2007


I am outraged that you as a journalist have chosen to be their continence when they obviously do not have one.

blah blah "depend on journalists" blah blah old people on bicycles

(Seriously though, this is fucked up and sad. Of course, some kids are already fucked up and sad to begin with. But knowingly pushing them over the edge? Absolutely inexcusable.)
posted by Reggie Digest at 12:53 AM on November 16, 2007


ATONE!!!

i think the people "responsible" have already paid a high enough price. but i'm not a big vengeance supporter.

no matter how you change the free speech laws, it will always be possible and legal to get someone to kill him/herself. unfortunate, but rare, i would think.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:17 AM on November 16, 2007


One thing that is fucked up and sad is that the idiot Denton blogger will end up heaping additional trouble on Meirs, who STATED in the original article that they did NOT want to name the (admittedly asshole lowlife etc.) parents who created the fake account BECAUSE of fear that they would be blamed for the 'torches and pitchforks' of the millions of sad children/adults who identified with the poor girl who committed suicide.

So
(1) Mega shame on the family that created the fake account, for knowingly pushing the girl over the edge [Any attys out there know why there isn't a case for intentional infliction of emotional distress? I know you can do it from the angle of impact to a family... are they out of luck because they didn't witness the girl actually hang herself and/or didn't witness the girl reading the soul-crushing mySpace emails?]
(2) Massive megashame on Denton blogger, who seems to think its okay to put this family's justice in the hands of a million psychos who're just looking for a reason to do something stupid.
posted by madpercolator at 8:58 AM on November 16, 2007


You've got a bunch of people who apparently know nothing about its dictionary definition, know nothing about it's long historical use both inside and outside the USA, and don't even know how it was commonly used in popular culture as recently as their parents generation, but they insist that their narrow, and incorrect interpretation is the one that should prevail because that's what they believe is politically correct.

Gotcha.


Oddly, there are a lot of people who act as though they have a profound attachment to the use of the word "niggardly." But much more common, I think, are the people who use it as an implicit bait for the ignorant. Baiting ignorant minorities with a word that sounds like "nigger" is as reprehensible as calling them nigger outright.

Gotcha.
posted by jayder at 6:41 PM on November 16, 2007


I don't understand why people still use the word "niggardly" when there's perfectly cromulent synonyms like jewy and scottish.
posted by Reggie Digest at 9:45 PM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


The Associated Press has picked up the story: Mom: Girl killed herself over online hoax -- "Teen distraught at end of MySpace relationship; neighbor family created ID."
posted by ericb at 7:52 AM on November 17, 2007


St. Charles Journal (which published the first report):
"This newspaper has received an incredible response to Sunday's story on the death of Megan Meier, a 13-year-old who lived in Dardenne Prairie and committed suicide last year.

Many of you expressed appreciation to me and to the Journal for running the story.

Some of you have asked your children to read the story and have requested/demanded to look at their MySpace pages.Of course, there has been outrage over the fact that Josh Evans - a 16-year-old who never existed - was created not by a teen, but by an adult. That anger is reflected in the comments posted on the Journal's Web sites.

...In Sunday's story the Journal did not name the woman because the newspaper did not want to identify her daughter. It was a decision I supported.

A few of you took us to task for not naming this woman.

I understand the loss the Meiers feel. But I told Tina in our very first conversation that even though we might have the legal right to publish a name, it doesn't necessarily mean we will. [more]"
posted by ericb at 7:57 AM on November 17, 2007


St. Charles County prosecutor reviewing Meier case
"Jack Banas, St. Charles County prosecuting attorney, said Thursday he is reviewing the circumstances surrounding the death of Megan Meier, a 13-year-old girl who committed suicide last year after being the victim of a MySpace hoax.

...Banas said he wanted to get a clearer picture of all that's happened between the families. Ron Meier had been scheduled to appear in court Thursday.

Lt. Craig McGuire, a spokesman for the Sheriff's Department, said last week that the investigator who looked into the MySpace hoax and how it might have played into Megan's death concluded that charges should not be filed.

'We did not have a charge to fit it,' McGuire said. 'I don't know that anybody can sit down and say, "This is why this young girl took her life."'

McGuire said last week that the investigator spoke to an assistant prosecutor in Banas' office and that the assistant prosecutor confirmed that charges should not be filed.

But Banas said Thursday, as he did last week, that he doesn't know who the investigator talked to in his office and he has no record that his office was even contacted."
posted by ericb at 8:01 AM on November 17, 2007


Chicago Tribune: Net hoax turns deadly, turns town against neighbors:
"A bizarre and cruel Internet hoax that ended with the suicide of a 13-year-old girl has bitterly divided a western St. Louis suburb, provoked a firestorm in the blogosphere and raised troubling questions about how to police traffic on popular social networking sites such as MySpace.com.

The death of Megan Meier in Dardenne Prairie, Mo., went beyond the growing phenomenon of cyber-bullying because the alleged instigators of the hoax were not only adults, but parents of a classmate of Megan's, who lived just down the street from her.

No charges have been filed. A local newspaper's decision not to publish the names of the parents involved has fanned a furious public response.

'People are just totally shocked. ... They can't believe that an adult would have done this,' said Pam Fogarty, mayor of the town of 7,000 people.

'The scary part is that when you look at the blogs and listen to the phone calls we're getting, it's very quickly becoming a mob mentality,' said Fogarty, who has arranged for additional police patrols in the neighborhood.

...The involvement of adults in the Meier case breaks new ground, said Parry Aftab, an Internet attorney and executive director of Wiredsafety.org, a cyber safety organization.

'When adults act like children there are criminal consequences,' Aftab said. 'The Internet should not be used as a weapon.'

...The Journal added to the controversy by declining to identify the parents involved in the hoax, out of concern for the couple's daughter who had been a classmate and friend of Megan's.

'I've been a reporter for 34 years and this is beyond anything I've experienced,' said Steve Pokin, who wrote the article and has been fielding e-mails and phone calls from people criticizing the paper for not identifying the adults.

Pokin said he doesn't always agree with his editors, but said they made the right call in not publishing the identity of the parents."
posted by ericb at 8:07 AM on November 17, 2007


It's on CNN.
posted by bhance at 11:05 AM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Please watch the CNN interview with the parents. Just broke my heart. Whew. Have tissue available.
posted by ericb at 11:26 AM on November 17, 2007


Fox News | St. Louis coverage.
posted by ericb at 11:30 AM on November 17, 2007


Fox News | St. Louis interview with the Meier parents.
posted by ericb at 11:32 AM on November 17, 2007


Desperate Fight To Save Internet Suicide Victim
"There is a part of Megan Meier’s story you have not yet heard. Megan is the teenager from St. Charles County who committed suicide after being the target of an internet prank. You know about her death, but not about the intense efforts to save her. The night she took her life, one young man tried desperately to save it. He is a neighbor. FOX 2's Teresa Woodard reports on the heroic efforts to keep Megan alive."
posted by ericb at 11:36 AM on November 17, 2007


At least one poster in this thread has pointed out that Missouri has an anti-bullying law and asked why these parents aren't being charged under it. I don't know about Missouri's law specifically, but most if not all anti-bullying statutes only cover student-on-student bullying in school, and most anti-bullying laws are outline how schools are required to deal with bullying rather than criminalizing bullying behavior. So it's really doubtful Missouri's anti-bullying law could be used in this case.
posted by apollonia6 at 1:04 PM on November 17, 2007


Guilaini makes a statement connecting this to 911 in...

4....3.....2...
posted by Skygazer at 4:09 PM on November 17, 2007


GOP Spin machine revving up...can you hear the whirring? Good bye privacy laws....good-bye FISA laws...hello...complete corporate fascism.

Actually I'm curious as to how Fux News will spin this considering they have the parent Co. as MySpace.
posted by Skygazer at 4:15 PM on November 17, 2007


But with each passing day, ugly on the inside is becoming more and more the accepted, even excused, status quo.

I actually wish this were true, because if it's a trend (rather than a constant), then there might be a way to stem or reverse it. But, experience tells me that things were only ever thus. The tools, media and platforms available to deliver this kind of petty meanness may be different and more highly evolved than they were in the past, but I don't think the underlying behavior is any worse (or better) than it was 10, 20, 50 or 150 years ago.
posted by psmealey at 6:47 AM on November 14


Sadly, you do have a point, and I recognize it. It still rankles, though. Columbine was a breathtaking tragedy, but real, serious, deadly school violence has always happened - albeit perhaps not necessarily on the same scale as it does now. It's happened before, just like everything else under the sun, but it just seems more real when it happens in one's own personal segment of the human timeline. And that's mostly because as a society we have an astoundingly short memory span. That's why we continually repeat the same mistakes over and over and never learn a fucking thing.

I am absolutely delighted that this has hit national headlines. Though I dont believe it will happen, I hope that the people who were responsible for this suffer for it for the rest of their lives. But either they will move, or people will forget, and life will go on.

Except, of course, for Megan.

Another poster remarked that the people responsible for this have been punished enough. Well, I beg to differ. I dont think people like that, who make comments in the media about not feeling so bad once they found out that Megan had already been suicidal in the past, can ever be punished enough.
posted by perilous at 5:25 PM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I hope that the people who were responsible for this suffer for it for the rest of their lives. But either they will move, or people will forget, and life will go on.

Except, of course, for Megan.

Another poster remarked that the people responsible for this have been punished enough. Well, I beg to differ. I dont think people like that, who make comments in the media about not feeling so bad once they found out that Megan had already been suicidal in the past, can ever be punished enough.


I think, despite whatever their public comments, unless they have some mental disease or defect, that they will suffer, suffer enough though...... I am generally not for mob justice, but once the name gets out, well, if they don't move it will be bad, really, really bad. They, of course, will be sued like OJ, to the extent that it does any good. The thing is, revenge just buys you nothing. It is merely one more hole in your soul to go with the cavern representing your enormous loss. God bless this girl's family, but no act of revenge against the bad family will ever bring her back. It sucks, but moving on is the best thing, and the best for your soul. Easy to say, hard to do, it works in the end though.
posted by caddis at 6:13 PM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Aldermen in nearby Dardenne Prairie have proposed a new ordinance related to child endangerment and Internet harassment for consideration on Wednesday.

"Is this enough?" said Mayor Pam Fogarty.

"No, not by any stretch of the imagination, but it's something, and you have to start somewhere.''

posted by zarah at 6:17 AM on November 18, 2007


ABC News: Parental Cyber Bullying Leads To Teen's Suicide.
posted by ericb at 8:34 AM on November 18, 2007


but once the name gets out...

Done. Megan Meier MySpace Suicide: Cruel Hoaxers Outed.
"'People are just totally shocked. ... They can't believe that an adult would have done this,' said Pam Fogarty, mayor of the town of 7,000 people.

'The scary part is that when you look at the blogs and listen to the phone calls we're getting, it's very quickly becoming a mob mentality,' said Fogarty, who has arranged for additional police patrols in the neighborhood."*
posted by ericb at 8:41 AM on November 18, 2007


Hoaxers Outed.
posted by ericb at 8:44 AM on November 18, 2007


I'm also at a loss as to why the paper didn't name Curt Drew and Lori Drew of O’Fallon, MO.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 11:38 AM on November 18, 2007


I'm also at a loss as to why the paper didn't name Curt Drew and Lori Drew of O’Fallon, MO.

I mean, if I were interested in Drew Advantage, or the St. Charles County Hometown Family Savings, I'd want to know beforehand that its (apparent) owners, Lori Drew and Curt Drew, were, essentially, responsible for murdering a little girl.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 11:42 AM on November 18, 2007




Companies who use the services of these "People"

(I'm done now.)
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 11:51 AM on November 18, 2007


Much as what they did sickens me, the mob mentality in "punishing" them is sickening as well. Reading some of the comments on site JKF posted seriously makes me despair for humanity.
posted by gemmy at 12:52 PM on November 18, 2007


I have nothing but compassion for the Meiers & I'm frustrated too at the apparent lack of activity by law enforcement, but I agree that the bloodthirstiness of the crowd is showing a flipside of the GIFW theory that's starting to creep me out. More violence is not the answer here, especially not at the hands of vigilantes.
posted by scalefree at 1:06 PM on November 18, 2007




Jesus, that's creepy. We're really not all that far from torches and pitchforks are we?

I wonder how many of these people would have lifted a finger to stop any of this from going on while it was going on, or if this is merely a cheap way to posture as avenging paragons of justice and virtue?
posted by psmealey at 1:47 PM on November 18, 2007


The police report in which Lori Drew "explaind [sic] what she did to contribute to the Meier's daughter's suicide."
posted by ericb at 1:51 PM on November 18, 2007


From the police report:
"[Lori] Drew 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.'

Drew explained the neighborhood had recently found out her involvement in Megan's suicide and her neighborhood have become hostile toward her and her family."
posted by ericb at 1:56 PM on November 18, 2007


I have nothing but compassion for the Meiers & I'm frustrated too at the apparent lack of activity by law enforcement...

Let's remember that Megan's suicide happened last year -- Oct. 16, 2006.

Since then her parents have tried to find some sort of justice, but have come up empty-handed. They chose not to 'fan the flames' of "the mob" back then.

The story has just this past week -- one year later -- come to light. The Meiers themselves have sought to move beyond their grief and apparently are not behind the "mob" movement.

I think there are many who are frustrated by the turn of events and sympathize/empathize with the Meiers. Many feel that something "just a'int right," one-year after the tragic death of Megan.
posted by ericb at 2:04 PM on November 18, 2007


Check out the bizarre flame war between Audra and Karen in the comments to the Wired article ericb links to above - a bizarre derail about Doctor Who fanfic, of all things.

Oh, and this nasty blog, Megan Had It Coming, was also linked there. Lovely.
posted by Locative at 2:18 PM on November 18, 2007


Another interesting comment at Wired:
"You are conflating mob justice with conscience of the community. The Drews cannot have a place in decent society anymore, they have lost their reputation. Even if they truly wish to reform they can never reclaim the good will and trust they abused.

You see, everyone knows how they are.

Who advocated mob action, violence or disruption of the community? No one I know. I want the Meiers to start a civil action so a court can stamp the Drews with guilt in the name of the community.

The rest of us need to shun the adult Drews, until they acknowlege the enormity of their action, drop all request to be forgiven, but work to atone and to mitigate any further action that could harm the Meiers. The rest of the Drew family will share in the disgrace, but may have a chance to form a new start in adulthood.

Why should their reputation be unscathed? Why should they enjoy the reputatiom they formerly enjoyed. Please, tell me what have they done but think of themselves?"
posted by ericb at 2:21 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


NBC Nightly News: When grownups become cyber bullies.
posted by ericb at 8:16 PM on November 18, 2007


NBC's Today Show: Parents of MySpace hoax victim seek justice.
posted by ericb at 1:44 PM on November 19, 2007


We are witnessing a mass outbreak of Internettoughguyitis. It's cathartic for many. After a week or two of rage, many will resume trawling ebay for crap or thanking each other for the add yet feel ever so slightly refreshed.
posted by meehawl at 8:58 AM on November 20, 2007


Followup: the town of Dardenne Prairie has passed a law making online harassment illegal. Wow.
posted by notsnot at 8:06 PM on November 21, 2007


Good. That will solve everything.
posted by psmealey at 8:24 AM on November 22, 2007


NY Times coverage.
posted by Locative at 11:21 PM on November 27, 2007


Slate article that includes the text of the Dardenne Prairie resolution making cyberstalking a misdemeanor.
posted by Kattullus at 9:46 PM on November 29, 2007


The Sydney Morning Herald is running the story now.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:06 PM on December 2, 2007


Claims to be Lori Drew.
posted by meehawl at 8:50 PM on December 4, 2007


Encyclopedia Dramatica's Megan Meier entry. (NSFW)
posted by Locative at 3:29 AM on December 5, 2007


Net vigilantes target MySpace mum
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:38 PM on December 6, 2007




ABC picked it up too.
posted by patr1ck at 9:36 AM on December 7, 2007


ABC's 20/20 will be having a segment on this story as part of this evening's Crime in the Internet Age program.
posted by ericb at 1:50 PM on December 7, 2007




It makes sense that the Drew family should be protected from Internet harassment. The law ought to protect both the good and the bad.

It also makes sense that the community should ostracize her. She does not deserve any respect, nor does she deserve the support of society. If she wants to cry about it, let her cry alone.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:15 AM on December 9, 2007


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