It's been a couple of weeks since I posted this.
Yesterday, the New York Times ran a wonderfully written op-ed on helicopter parenting as it ties into the Megan Meier story.
Amidst mounting pressure, the district attorney in sleepy Dardenne Parish, Jack Banas, has taken a fresh look at the case, and is expected to announce next week whether or not charges will be filed against Lori Drew, her part-time employee, etc.
I suspect no charges will be filed. It's sad, but there you have it. MySpace's sloppy data collection and the battle of she said/she said destroys any solid foundation for a criminal case.
Local officials recently criminalized cyberbullying in Dardenne Parish, but the question is - what is the appropriate response to this horrific story?
An undergrad at Harvard wrote a well-argued rebuttal of the recent law passage for her school paper, and it creates quite a bit of food for thought.
I think she's right - the law passed by local alderman creates a nasty slippery-slope. There's no real legal brightline for investigating or even prosecuting those who break the new statute. Moreover, it's not as if the Drews can be charged retroactively with this knee-jerk, vague reaction of a law.
As the Los Angeles Times reported, "Cyber-bullying has become an increasingly creepy reality, where the anonymity of video games, message boards and other online forums offers an outlet for cruel taunts. But it can be difficult to draw the line between constitutionally protected free speech and conduct that is illegal."
What should have happened? And what should happen now?
1) The D.A.'s office should have subpoenaed MySpace (aka Rupert Murdoch's behemoth group) for any stored data from the Josh Evans account. Obviously, the FBI's investigation into this would have given any request from the D.A. credence.
2) Lori Drew should be shunned. However, there is a difference between legal, civil action and vigilantism, and I think too many bloggers are advocating in favor of pranking this family to death. Resorting to similar methods of harrassment doesn't succeed in giving Drew a taste of her own medicine so much as it reduces those seeking vengeance for Megan Meier to the level of Lori Drew - by all accounts a distasteful shrew who sought to be more of a friend to her daughter than a parent.
3) The other issue at hand is that no one other than the group of people with access to the Josh Evans account know who sent which messages to Megan. For example, can we safely assume that Lori or her daughter sent that final, fateful message to Megan on the afternoon of her suicide? No, of course not. That said, Drew was the ringleader - but there seems to be plenty of blame to go around. Other parents and peers of Megan's were involved.
Just some perspective, folks. This woman is immature and contributed to the death of a fragile young woman. But we should be mindful that we don't follow her down the same path.