Friday, May 16, 2008

Going back to Day 14. Readers...I need you!

Today's comment challenge task is to catch up on a task (or tasks?) you've missed. One task really appealed to me: turn your blog over to your readers and let them post through comments. Sounded so easy....until I tried to think of the question I wanted to use to spark the comments. 

The first question that came to my mind was asked on this blog
Another question I thought about was asked on this blog. 

My question relates to yesterday's news regarding the issue of Internet Safety. Here's a kwout from CNN.

What do you think of this landmark case? Do you think that they will be able to get a conviction? Do you think the fact that the mother was indicted will make other people think twice before using the Internet to harass and bully others? Do you believe, as some say, that what Lori Drew did was within her first amendment right to freedom of speech and cannot be considered a crime? What are your thoughts? I am very interested to hear from you.


Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia Ora Andrea.

Thanks for this discussion topic. You’re right; this could be a landmark case. It depends on whether Lori Drew is found guilty as charged or not.

This in no way detracts from the tragic passing of poor Megan Meier. There are always emotive factors in a case like this and almost by necessity there is a feeling of urgency to bring about closure for the sake of family and friends of the victim.

But I have issue with this case and it is to do with looking for the truth and how that is done.

What if Drew is truly innocent? If this is so, a guilty verdict may do nothing to answer the question about why Megan died, while causing the prosecution of someone who should be free.

Unfortunately all justice systems ascribe to principles that they sometimes do not fulfill. Within a society such as exists in and around St. Louis, Missouri, it must be very difficult for any crime release report about an impending trial not to cause people to jump to conclusions. For this reason it is usually difficult for a jury to be assembled of people who do not know significant details about a case. There is much information already widely spread about over the Internet about this case.

It is often easy to find evidence to support a theory or allegation. Johann W Goethe was purported to have said that if you go looking for evidence to support what you believe, you would find it.

The alleged deeds of the accused are on trial. Entrained within the quest for facts about those deeds is the possible ignorance of the people who look for evidence to prosecute in a case where much of the data must necessarily be of a digital nature.

I had the opportunity to observe a fairly recent investigation of information found on a colleague’s computer. The people who found and used the digital information as evidence to prosecute simply did not understand the mechanisms at play. Confirmation of the misunderstanding about the nature of the material and how it arose was relatively simple to find. But without truly expert advice and opinion (which was also confirmed) conclusions would have been made that were entirely incorrect.

My hope is that the justice system in place in Missouri, through the case against Drew, will put to rest the issue at hand beyond reasonable doubt. It may not necessarily bring closure to the Megan Meier case.

Ka kite ano

Anonymous said...

Lori Drew is officially charged with accessing protected computers without authorization. As I understand it (and I could be very wrong), she is not on trial for the hurtful speech that was aimed at young Megan. I think prosecutors are trying to avoid a freedom of speech defence.

In my opinion, the actions that Lori Drew has been accused of committing are unethical and immoral. I am not sure that the words aimed at Megan were criminal, at least under our certain system of laws. I wonder, at what point does cruelty become criminal?

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

@Kam - The terms ethical, moral and criminal are indefinite in their conceptual nature and the instances of their use are often up for debate.

It is odd that even ‘criminal’ as a term can come under scrutiny, for however criminal an action may appear to be, the decision whether the action is a crime is still decided by a court or magisterial authority. That some action is deemed to be criminal, without the subsequent judgement of a court or magistrate, is simply a matter for conjecture based on ones previous knowledge of law and possibly coloured by opinion of what is moral.

Prosecution does not necessarily imply criminal prosecution. The decisions of the court are not necessarily made on whether an action is criminal, as in the case of court action against a debtor. And though ‘crime’ implies morality, the principle of reciprocity does not always apply. Moral issues become criminal issues only when the law has some leverage in subsequent court action where the issue is deemed to be criminal.

Case law is an evolving practice. Comparative analysis of previous cases is used to bring about a court decision over the particular and seemingly unprecedented circumstances of an action. It is rare that an otherwise non-criminal action that may have initiated dispute over a moral principle is deemed criminal through the action of a court. When this does occur, however, the case becomes a landmark for it sets a precedent for future legal considerations in crime.

Cruelty has been defined as a crime, such as in the physical harming or hurting of a creature. You are right to question where the crime-line lies with action that amounts to cruelty where no physical harm or hurt is apparent. Perhaps this is an instance where an action may be deemed criminal through the unprecedented action of a court

Ka kite
from Middle-earth