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November 18, 2007

The MySpace Suicide
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 12:52 PM *

Just hitting the mainstream press this week, with the story hitting the top headline on CNN on Saturday the 17th, we have this intensely sad story. There was a nice young lady named Megan Meier, age 13. She was, or thought she was, overweight. She had ADD and was on medication for it. Various other problems, including depression and low self-esteem. She’s in therapy.

Young Megan had a MySpace page. Her parents had the password.

Let’s try this as a timeline.

Summer, 2006
Megan is going to start going to a new school for eighth grade come autumn. She drops one of her old friends, a young lady who lives down the street.

August, 2006
Megan meets a boy named Josh through her MySpace account. He tell her he’s sixteen and that he likes her. His photo shows that he’s pretty cute.

September, 2006
Megan and Josh get on well. Everything’s spiffy. She’s happy.

October 15, 2006
Megan gets message from Josh: “I don’t know if I want to be friends with you anymore because I’ve heard that you are not very nice to your friends.”

The final message he sends is reportedly: “Everybody in O’Fallon knows how you are. You are a bad person and everybody hates you. Have a shitty rest of your life. The world would be a better place without you.”

Megan hangs herself, and, despite bystander CPR, dies in hospital the next day. Four to six minutes without oxygen to your brain will do that for you.

End of November, 2006
Megan’s parents are informed by a third party that “Josh” never existed, but was the creation of the parents of one of Megan’s friends from her previous school, the one she’d dropped that summer. Everyone involved not only lived in the same neighborhood, but on the same street, knew one another, and vacationed and/or carpooled together.

Those parents’ motive appears to have been to get Megan to gossip with “Josh” about their own daughter, to find out what she was up to. Several people allegedly had access to the “Josh” account and contributed. One of those persons was the teenaged daughter of the person who informed Megan’s parents of the state of affairs.

End of November, 2006
The persons who created the fake account had been storing a foosball table in Megan’s parent’s garage. Megan’s parents destroy it and dump the pieces in the others’ driveway. The dumpees call the cops and make a complaint about destruction of property. At this point the authorities get involved. As reported:

The police report - without using the mother’s name - states:

“(She) stated in the months leading up Meier’s daughter’s suicide, she instigated and monitored a ‘my space’ account which was created for the sole purpose of communicating with Meier’s daughter.

“(She) said she, with the help of temporary employee named ——— constructed a profile of ‘good looking’ male on ‘my space’ in order to ‘find out what Megan (Meier’s daughter) was saying on-line’ about her daughter. (She) explained the communication between the fake male profile and Megan was aimed at gaining Megan’s confidence and finding out what Megan felt about her daughter and other people.

“(She) stated she, her daughter and (the temporary employee) all typed, read and monitored the communication between the fake male profile and Megan …..

“According to (her) ‘somehow’ other ‘my space’ users were able to access the fake male profile and Megan found out she had been duped. (She) stated she knew ‘arguments’ had broken out between Megan and others on ‘my space.’ (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.’”

Sometime in 2007
Megan’s parents separate and are divorcing. (This is very common among parents who lose a child, especially to suicide.)

March, 2007
Megan’s father allegedly drives his truck across the other parent’s lawn. He is charged with misdemeanor property damage.

October, 2007
One of Megan’s relatives…

… 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.”

November 12, 2007
The St. Charles Journal (Suburban Journal) reports the story, but does not name the parents down the street.

November 13, 2007
Followup story in the St. Charles Journal:

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,” [Sheriff’s department spokesman Lt. Craig] McGuire says. “I don’t know that anybody can sit down and say, ‘This is why this young girl took her life.’”

The Meiers say 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.

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.

November 14, 2007
Prosecutor To Review MySpace Suicide

ST. CHARLES, MO (KTVI-myFOXstl.com) —

A St. Charles County teen commits suicide after being targeted by an online attack, but those who instigated it face no criminal charges, or could they? The county prosecutor says he never saw the complete case file. He doesn’t want to give anyone false hope, but he says it’s not yet case closed.

“Me personally, I’ve never seen anything on this case,” says St. Charles County Prosecutor Jack Banas. He says from what he’s heard he knows hearts are broken, but he doesn’t believe laws were.

Banas never saw the report but wants to see all the evidence now, but based on what he’s heard he believes what happened was cruel, but not criminal.

“It’s just a system that isn’t regulated much and it’s difficult to regulate it,” Banas says of the internet. “it’s just so easy to just type something out, send it out there and not know what the consequences of that message is going to be.”

“If this can’t be prosecuted criminally, hopefully it’s a message to people out there about what their words can do. Can we police the entire thing? I don’t know.”

November 16, 2007
Local laws considered to stop online hoax that led to suicide…
DARDENNE PRAIRIE, Mo. (AP) - It’s too late for a 13-year old girl who committed suicide, but officials in Dardenne Prairie, Missouri, are trying to enact a local law to prevent Internet harassment.

The teen’s mother calls the hoax “absolutely vile,” and says police couldn’t fit the case to any existing laws. So, local authorities are trying to create an ordinance that would protect children.

What the law might be, I’m at a loss to say: Don’t pretend to be something you’re not online? Don’t be a jerk? I wonder if the advocates of a new law have considered what might happen if a law is written and someone who doesn’t like them decides to use it against them.

The Meiers have requested that no one attempt extra-legal retribution against the parents who created the false MySpace account.

Here’s what I can say :

  • There are no secrets. Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t want want to hear read on the Six O’clock News with your name attached.
  • Don’t play games with other people’s heads.
  • What happens online is real.
  • Reach out to others when they’re hurting or when you are.
  • Never commit suicide if you can do something else (e.g. move to Lubbock and get a job in a hardware store).

Is this the first or only time this sort of thing, all the way to suicide, has happened? I’ll bet you anything the answer is “no.” Suppose “Josh” were real—would Megan be any less dead? Again, no. Are there all kinds of fake people hanging out online? You betcha.

Many years ago my elder daughter used to go to IRC chat rooms under one name or another, and just sit there, for half-an-hour or forty-five minutes, not saying anything (while she was physically off doing something else). Then, as her first comment after all that time, she’d send “I wonder who’s the FBI man?” and watch how fast the room would clear out. Folks would scatter. It amused her.

If you happen to be a nice young lady, assume any cute boy you’re chatting with is actually a forty-year-old perv sitting around in his underwear. And if you’re a forty-year-old perv sitting around in his underwear, assume that any nice young lady you’re chatting with is actually a cigar-smoking cop who’s taking very thorough notes. It’s the only way stay out of trouble.


Sources:

November 12, 2007
‘My Space’ hoax ends with suicide of Dardenne Prairie teen
(Suburban Journals: Steve Pokin)

November 12, 2007
MySpace Cruel Prank Leads To Teen’s Suicide
(Death by 1000 Papercuts)
Reprints the St. Charles Journal story complete, with some additional commentary.

November 12, 2007
MySpace Cruel Prank Leads to Teen’s Suicide
(Blogger News Network)
Subtitles: A Cruel Prank in Suburban St. Louis
Offenders Not Charged With Any Crime
Nightmare in Suburbia
MySpace Members Now One Less

November 13, 2007
POKIN AROUND: A real person, a real death
(St. Charles Journal: Steve Pokin)

November 13, 2007
Readers respond in force to story on suicide, MySpace hoax
(St. Charles Journal: Steve Pokin)

November 14, 2007
Girl Commits Suicide Over Internet Prank by ADULTS—Who is Responsible?
(Orlando Sentinel)

November 14, 2007
MySpace Suicide Reaction: Outrage! Outrage! Outrage!
(Death by 1000 Papercuts)

November 15, 2007
The Inside Story of One Tragic MySpace Suicide
(Yahoo Tech: Christopher Null)

November 15, 2007
MySpace Suicide: Megan Meier’s Story May Prevent Others
(Death by 1000 Papercuts)

November 15, 2007
MySpace Suicide: Megan Meier’s Story May Prevent Others Like It
(Blogger News Network)
(Subtitle: Do Teens Know How Many Fake Characters Inhabit the Internet?

November 16, 2007
Megan Meier MySpace Suicide: Cruel Hoaxers Outed, Let The Lesser Outrage Begin
The names of the parents down the street are discovered and released. St. Charles Journal had not printed the names since no charges had been filed.

November 16, 2007
Web Hoax - Suicide Or Homicide
(Blue Crab Boulevard)

November 16, 2007
Local laws considered to stop online hoax that led to suicide…
(AP: KXMB)

November 16, 2007
Teen Commits Suicide Following Cruel Internet Hoax by Neighborhood Family
(Breitbart.tv)
Discusses attempts to save Megan’s life. Bystander CPR by ex-lifeguard neighbor.

November 16, 2007
Megan Meier MySpace Suicide: Cruel Hoaxers Outed, Let The Lesser Outrage Begin
(Blogger News Network)

November 17, 2007
MySpace Suicide: The Megan Meier Story Video
(Death by 1000 Papercuts)
A fan video.

November 17, 2007
Megan Meier MySpace Cruel Hoax: No Justice For Megan
(Death by 1000 Papercuts)

Comments on The MySpace Suicide:
#1 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 01:04 PM:

I heard about this a few days ago over at Dan Savage's blog. As the people in the comments said there, adults gleefully joining in the bullying of children and teens has always been happening, and it's always been disgusting. Reminds me of what we hear about British boarding schools.

It's a very important point that what happens online is real.

Some people go through the hell of being lied about and attacked and think "Dude that sucked, I'm never going to be that big of an ass" and some people think "Dude that sucked... And now it's my turn."

#2 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 01:21 PM:

What makes me sick about this story is that it was the parents who did this. Grown adults. They wanted to check up on what Megan was saying about their daughter, thinking that Megan was talking smack about her on the internet. (It's my understanding that it wasn't a question of keeping tabs on their own daughter; it was that Megan and the other girl had had a falling-out, and they were angry at Megan.)

I think the only laws that could possibly be applicable don't need to be new internet-specific laws. How about harassment?

Never commit suicide if you can do something else (e.g. move to Lubbock and get a job in a hardware store).

Megan was thirteen. Thirteen year olds don't have a lot of autonomy. They don't see a lot of options. Especially not thirteen year olds with depression. At thirteen, you're pretty much trapped in your social circle and in your school, and there aren't many ways out.

The only reason I'm here typing this is that, once I laid out all the sleeping pills on my dresser when I was thirteen, I found that I was too afraid to start swallowing them. If, at that moment, someone I thought was my friend had told me that the world would be a better place without me -- well, I might have overcome that fear.

I have a lot of sympathy for the people who want to see these parents punished for something. It would probably make a bad law, yes. I don't know if you can really send someone to jail for simply being lower than dirt, for treating another human being cruelly even if you don't physically harm them. But I want them to lose sleep. I want them to know that they hurt someone who was vulnerable, and I want them to feel guilty for it.

I guess this is why we don't, or shouldn't, codify revenge into law.

#3 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 01:33 PM:

There's this saying we used to have in the Fleet: "Payback is a motherfucker."

Others here may talk about karma, or the law of three-fold return.

Believe me, I really, really know about depression. And I do know, down deep, how attractive suicide can look. I'm just laying out, as a general principle, don't do it. A lot of people you don't even know, including the EMTs, will have a lousy day because of it.

For me, suicide calls are some of the hardest.

#4 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 01:36 PM:

I think it's murder, the same crime Nancy Grace committed against Melinda Duckett.

#5 ::: Betty ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 01:37 PM:

I just spent a couple of days untangling a legion of sockpuppets who were harassing a couple of my friends. (sordid story here, if you care) I can only conclude that there are some people who really think that anything they do is reasonable and proportionate, or possibly, that since everything online isn't 'real', it couldn't possibly be unreasonable or disproportionate.

#6 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 01:48 PM:

Caroline,

Thank you for not swallowing the pills. I was nineteen when I found the reality of cutting my wrists to be substantially less comforting than the abstract idea. No amount of catastrophic depression has brought me back to that point, not after the beautiful sunrise that next day.

One of the many reasons that adults should not get too involved in the lives of their children (or their chidren's friends) is that adults can rarely remember the way that teenaged life feels. Not just the ways that a teen is effectively unable to change her life completely*, but also the essential loneliness of the age.

I wonder if the mother should be evaluated to see if she is fit to have care of her own daughter? There is certainly a case to make that the reckless endagerment of the emotional health (and life) of another teenaged girl is a sign that she is not.

I must also say that I admire and respect the parents of the dead girl, who seem much more interested in prevention than revenge in the courts. The relatively trivial damage to property is, in my book, completely understandable and well restrained. I am sorry their marriage did not survive.

-----
* My confessor at college called it "white suicide"

#7 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 01:49 PM:

#6: Reminds me of what we hear about British boarding schools.

From someone who spent a year as a day student at a British boarding school: American schools are far more violent.

#8 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 01:56 PM:

I agree with Earl Cooley. I want those two parents in prison for, at least, willfully negligent manslaughter. I want anyone who had access to the account's logs - and didn't say anything about it - to be imprisoned for conspiracy to commit.

Failing that, at the least, I want their children permanently taken away from them - forbidden to ever know anything about them, who they grow up to be, who they marry, etc. - and I want those parents under an injunction to never interact with anyone under the age of twenty, ever again. Because they clearly are incapable of interacting with minors in a responsible fashion.

#9 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 01:56 PM:

Jon Meltzer @7:

Huh?

#10 ::: Farah ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 02:01 PM:

In the UK they could be convicted under the harrassment and stalking laws, which were passed in part to try and tackle this kind of thing. They have mostly proved quite successful (in that unlike some other laws, they don't seem to have led to malicious prosecution, and they do seem to have headed off some rather nasty situations).

#11 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 02:02 PM:

As Caroline said, the fact that the parents were accomplices makes the case particularly vile.

I wish I could say that, when I was a child, I never did anything as cruel as what was done to poor Megan. But I'm sorry to say that I did. When I was a child and pre-teen, I participated in the bullying of mentally disabled and weaker kids. It is the nature of children to be cruel. But adults are supposed to know better.

#12 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 02:04 PM:

I saw this sickening story a day or so ago. It hurts to think about somebody that callous. Would that karma worked like in the movies and comic books (and that it spared me somehow for my sins).

I've tried to be careful to the point of paranoia online, though probably not careful enough. Just the thought of those unexploded copies of my apazines out there is enough to keep me watching my step.

#13 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 02:12 PM:

I want to ask the parents who created "Josh" -- "What were you THINKING?" What a wretched, awful event. The fact that it involved an online persona is essentially trivial; some variation of the event could easily have been designed without involving MySpace. Social manipulation, bullying, teasing, teenage nastiness have all been around a long time. But the moral cluelessness, and the narcissism of the parents who created the Josh persona is stunning. Where did this mother and her friends get the idea that it is okay to play around with other people's heads?

One wonders what sort of damage these people have done to their own kids.

#14 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 02:13 PM:

I want to ask the parents who created "Josh" -- "What were you THINKING?" What a wretched, awful event. The fact that it involved an online persona is essentially trivial; some variation of the event could easily have been designed without involving MySpace. Social manipulation, bullying, teasing, teenage nastiness have all been around a long time. But the moral cluelessness, and the narcissism of the parents who created the Josh persona is stunning. Where did this mother and her friends get the idea that it is okay to play around with other people's heads?

One wonders what sort of damage these people have done to their own kids.

#15 ::: paul ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 02:13 PM:

Is there no law against inciting someone to commit a crime? Add to the betrayal of trust that comes with creating a false persona with the specific intention of messing with someone's -- a minor's -- head. I realize there is no real expectation of trust on the interwebs, any more than there is one of privacy, but these people are in so many ways worse than the most genocidal monsters I can recall. They knew their victim. They encouraged others to torment her. They knew that this wasn't something they could admit, let alone be proud of.

I'm glad they have been outed. And I hope three-fold payback is not too long in coming.

The fact that they called the cops about the busted foosball table is pretty rich: were they that caught up in their own morality that they felt property crime outweighed killing that girl?

#16 ::: Writerious ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 02:17 PM:

The sad thing is, elementary school teachers see this kind of parental escalation of girl fights all the time, though not generally on this scale. Usually it goes something like this:

Megan and Brittany have a tiff at school over some perceived slight. Megan gets all her friends to gang up on Brittany. Brittany is in tears.

Brittany goes home and tells her mother all about it. The story may or may not be embellished, but Brittany is, of course, entirely innocent of any wrongdoing.

In the meantime, Megan goes home and tells her mother the story. In this version, she is innocent of any wrongdoing, and Brittany is an evil witch who deserves what she got.

Brittany's mother calls Megan's mother and demands that Megan apologize to Brittany. Megan's mother is incensed. Why should her innocent daughter apologize to that awful child who started it all? The phone conversation ends in a screaming match.

Both mothers, unable to let go of their own fifth-grade girl fight mentality, encourage their daughters to snub one another, and coach them on mean things to do to each other. They both call the school and insist that their daughters be removed from the classroom they are in because, "I don't want my daughter exposed to THAT child!"

The outcome varies. Sometimes everyone makes up. Sometimes the girls make up, and their mothers carry on the battle. Sometimes the battle continues for years. It's all very sad. You just want to smack them all and yell, "Grow up!"

#17 ::: Per CJ ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 02:18 PM:

Something I personally find incredible is that the parents behind the hoax had it in them to file property destruction charges after the event. Not that I'd have perpetrated such a hoax, but if I had and something like this had happened, I'd felt the general impulse to hide in a cave for the rest of my life.

#19 ::: paul ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 02:21 PM:

@11: I don't think it's in the nature of children to be cruel so much as to test limits, which often manifests itself the same way. There's a lot more to it -- the dominant culture, how much supervision they have, how the participants were raised -- that can affect the outcome. It doesn't have to be Lord of the Flies. There are cases of children helping their peers and even smaller kids, as I see everyday. But the culture drives that.

I've been in schools where the pecking order outweighs compassion and empathy. They bring that with them, either from home or their earlier educational experience.

#20 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 02:24 PM:

"Intent to deceive" seems to be a key element of what the scum did. This wasn't some other young teen adopting a non-attributable identity to avoid potential stalkers. It wasn't toleplaying a character in game-space. This was a deliberate deception of a specific individual.

How is this different from the 40-year-old perv? Under-age sex is bad, but it isn't the same as being dead.

#21 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 02:28 PM:

abi @#9: Sorry for the confusion & typo. I should have typed #1 (Madeline F.) as my referred-to comment, not #6. Ouch.

#22 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 02:32 PM:

At the very least, it sounds like a wrongful death lawsuit would seem to be in order.

#23 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 02:38 PM:

FWIW, Poynter has a discussion about the local paper's refusal to identify the offenders by name.

#24 ::: Jennifer Pelland ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 02:39 PM:

This is yet another story that makes me so glad that the internet didn't exist when I was a teenager. I'm not sure I could have survived it any better than poor Megan did. I so want to see those parents pay. One can only hope their daughter is more mature than they are.

#25 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 02:43 PM:

I wonder if MySpace has grounds to file legal actions against the people who created the malicious/false profile?

#26 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 02:57 PM:

#20 How is this different from the 40-year-old perv?

It isn't.

Had Megan or her mother asked me, when Josh first showed up, I'd have said, "It's probably a forty-year-old perv sitting around in his underwear," and I'd have been darned close to right.

The forty-year-old pervs who get caught are the ones who send photos of naked eight-year-olds to their new cyber-chums, or who discover when they go down to the bus station to meet twelve-year-old Cindy that "Cindy" is thirty, has five-o'clock shadow, and is holding an arrest warrant. The rest of 'em? Scot free.

#27 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 03:01 PM:

You know, I can't even get to the property damage complaint.

They asked the Meiers to store their foosball table?

Geez, it's not enough that they actively covered up that they triggered the death of a disturbed kid, they asked her parents for favors?

#28 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 03:05 PM:

It strikes me that stalking laws, sexual harassment laws, and perhaps child abuse laws apply. If "josh's" messages had a sexual content, well, perhaps we've found a use for child-porn laws after all. It seems to me appropriate for the prosecutor to subpoena the relevant logs and archives and depose everyone involved, as fast as possible. I suspect examination of the logs would show some very nasty stuff; it's possible that the harassers deliberated incited the suicide and are therefore accessories.

#29 ::: Pixelfish ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 03:38 PM:

Eeeesh....this brings back memories about being teased unmercifully in school. I escaped in sixth grade with a school transfer. If the internet had existed then, and people had spread the rumours to my new school, I'm not sure how I would have survived.

I don't blame the internet though, not in this case. I blame the screwed up adults who should have known better.

...

Writerious @ 16: That's not just "girl" fights. I've seen that escalation in other situations too. I hope you weren't trying to attach that to gender.

#30 ::: Janni ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 03:51 PM:

Never commit suicide if you can do something else (e.g. move to Lubbock and get a job in a hardware store).

The thing that makes being a kid or teen so tough, IMHO, is the knowledge that you cannot do this. It's also one of the things that makes being a teen so different from being an adult. Your world is your world, and in most cases you're stuck with it.

If you're lucky you understand that you can wait until you can get out--that that day will come. But time passes slow when you're 13, and finding the resources to do that sort of waiting--when an adult could and maybe would just take off under such circumstances--is tough.

The fact that most teens make it anyway tells me that teens are way, way stronger than most adults remember.

#31 ::: Emmelisa ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 03:53 PM:

You know, I wish I had a dime for every time in my childhood that my father said to me, "When are you going to learn to think before you do something like that?" In addition to (eventually) teaching me to consider the possible consequences of my actions before acting, he left me with the sense that one of the big differences between children and adults is that adults do think before they do something, do take into account what the outcome might be, and even consider how that might impact on other people.

It's scary to think that there are people out there, who have to be close to my own age, who not only don't think about the consequences of their actions, but who genuinely don't care.

And it's even scarier to realize that they're raising kids themselves.

#32 ::: Debbie Notkin ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 04:02 PM:

I read this story early last week, and have been unable to get over being horrified.

One aspect that I find worth noting is that Megan Meier fat, always a factor to look for in cases of bullying and harassment of girls and women. ("She was heavy and for years had tried to lose weight. ... She had shed 20 pounds, getting down to 175. She was 5 foot 5½ inches tall.")

#33 ::: Giacomo ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 04:03 PM:

It's sad. When I grew up in the 90s, the internet was a better place. Mainly because "mainstream" adults weren't around.

Nowadays, incidents like these will be only be used to justify new attacks on online anonymity and privacy. Sad.

#34 ::: Jen ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 04:25 PM:

I'd think the mother could be charged under Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED) at least, even with the causation problems. It certainly meets the outrage threshold. Or isn't it recognized in that state?

#35 ::: Dave Hutchinson ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 04:25 PM:

I'm speechless. What a disgusting thing to do to somebody.

#36 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 04:34 PM:

Abi @ 6... adults can rarely remember the way that teenaged life feels

...or even what it's like to be a kid. That's probably why my 6-year-old nephew likes me so much. As for what happened when you were 19, I'm glad you didn't go thru with it. The world would be a sadder place without you around.

#37 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 04:37 PM:

Throughout America there should be gigantic billboards that say: "Instead of killing yourself, you should try using drugs."

Your doctor may not prescribe the one that will work for you first, but eventually there will likely be some relief.

#38 ::: Katherine Mankiller ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 04:45 PM:

This is so *(#@%@%ed up. The thing that boggles my mind is that it was PARENTS who did this. Can you imagine being their daughter, the friend who was dumped? "Oh, it's okay, honey, don't cry that Megan doesn't want to be your friend any more. We tormented her until she killed herself."

#39 ::: Katherine Mankiller ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 04:50 PM:

Jennifer @24,

I know what you mean, but this sort of thing was going on when I was in school, too. It's just that it was kids pretending to be the bullied kid's friend instead of parents.

#40 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 04:52 PM:

It is my understanding that the Drew daughter was a willing participant, as was at least one of the Drew employees.

#41 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 05:00 PM:

As well as the daughter of the lady across the street, the one who eventually told the Meiers what happened.

All of these folks knew each other. The one-word description is "sordid."

So, how do we defend ourselves and our kids from the anonymous assholes who are trying to rent space in our heads?

(This is part of why I, as a moderator, have no problem with finding and posting the IP addresses of sockpuppets, and why Miss Teresa's certificate gives all moderators everywhere permission to ban "vexatious persons.")

#42 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 05:06 PM:

What strikes me as almost odd is that I don't know of sockpuppets driving anyone to suicide in fandom. My general rule for the internet is, "it happens in fandom & techgeekery first", and we've certainly seen the early adopters of sockpuppetry, flaming, cyber-stalking, cyber-impersonation, cyber-seduction, and all kinds of emotional scamming, including quite a few faked suicides and other faked deaths.

I'm actually surprised that fandom didn't get here first, too -- I wonder if it's a sign of how much more stable & connected non-hospitalized adults are, compared to 13-y.o.s?

#43 ::: Katherine Mankiller ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 05:11 PM:

I wish I didn't stand corrected. Geeze.

#44 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 05:12 PM:

So, how do we defend ourselves and our kids from the anonymous assholes who are trying to rent space in our heads?

This is why I finally had to go cold turkey on Conservapedia and Rationalwiki. One of the CP sysops isn't just a right-wing loon, he's a manipulative game player who's also active, under several different names, in the anti-CP activities. As far as I can tell, his only goal anywhere is to cause drama and pain, and I couldn't figure out how to convince others that he wasn't on anyone's side but his own.

#45 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 05:17 PM:

There's known tech: "Who vouches for you?"

That is, "Who do I know face-to-face and trust who knows you face-to-face and trusts you?"

#46 ::: Katherine Mankiller ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 05:19 PM:

How do we defend ourselves?

Dude, I don't know. I just wish I could pull kids in Megan's place aside and tell them, "Anyone who talks to you that way is a f***ing piece of s***."

Seriously, kids. Rule of thumb. Anyone being deliberately cruel to you is by definition not someone worthy of an opinion of you.

#47 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 05:20 PM:

Dr Science #42: there was a certain serial joiner of British fandoms (plural, but she had a bigger-than-average notch for SF fandom in her belt), who died a few years ago, and who I think came close. Her MO was to join some subtype of fandom (SF fandom; paganism; BDSM; others, I believe), acquire a coterie of newbies, manufacture persecutors, and leave in high dudgeon, taking her coterie with her -- and either she fucked them up, or she selected them for predisposition to fucked-up-ness, I'm not sure which, but they were spectacularly fucked-up.

I suspect, although I cannot prove, that sock puppetry of some kind was going on in there.

I'm going to shut up now. (Unless anyone who was involved can (a) recognize the person and (b) wants to correct me on any misapprehensions.)

#48 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 05:26 PM:

The internet also helps kids. I've seen forums where youngsters in bad situations got to talking about things, usually because the forum's ostensible subject was related to some aspect of the bad situation. These weren't especially homey or brilliant forums, but the people in them were quick to figure out that the kids were in a bad place, and offer them help, comfort, and practical suggestions.

(It's a funny thing. Sometimes it's easier to talk about what's happening if the ostensible subject is something else entirely.)

I'm disturbed by several aspects of this story -- for instance, that so many people were in on the creation of "Josh," but not one of them stopped to think that maybe it wasn't such a good idea.

It's creepy to think of so much time and effort being focused on one thirteen-year-old girl. If the perps had been more experienced sockpuppet-wranglers, they could have had an entire cast of characters headtripping the kid.

You wouldn't have to be a thirteen-year-old girl with self-esteem problems to be taken in by that kind of targeted microtheater. If three different people you know from online venues all sent you e-mail giving you essentially the same feedback, could you ignore it? Would you first stop to wonder whether they're really three different people?

(Come to think of it, I saw that tried just a couple of weeks ago. The person they targeted is sane and confident, and the personae used were brand-new nonce accounts, but it was still a nasty attack.)

I've got no problem with online pseudonymity. I don't like anonymity, though I acknowledge that sometimes it's appropriate. (I nevertheless think anonymity is 75% of Wikipedia's problems.) What does trouble me is the use of anonymity for malicious purposes like stalking, harassment, or fraud. We're all vulnerable. Sometimes I think the only thing that saves us is that most con artists are neither imaginative nor enterprising.

IMO, only a small fraction of the netizenry abuses anonymity. Kathryn Cramer's line is that the number of people misbehaving on the internet is much smaller than everyone assumes. I think she's right.

Still, it would be nice to have a carefully and parsimoniously written law prohibiting the use of false identities for harassment, fraud, or other malicious purposes. And if we ever get one, I have a list.

Onward.

"What the neighbors thought they were doing" is an interesting question. Inventing a sockpuppet in hopes of finding out what the target is saying about her ex-friend is the kind of thing people do when they think they're defending themselves. It's contemptible and crazy to aim it at such a vulnerable target; but it's still a defensive strategy.

I think the family that ran the hoax was displacing their own issues on the kid who died -- identifying her as their daughter's problem, instead of whatever the real problems were. It's like parents who blame their child's suicide on the satanic influence of rock music, or dysfunctional families that have a designated family member who's supposedly to blame for all their problems.

I also suspect they're the kind of people who think in terms of retribution and malicious mischief. Why should they be trying to monitor what the kid's saying on the internet, unless they're assuming it's injurious to them? And why should they assume that, unless they think it's what anyone would do?

I don't think there's a just punishment for what they did. But if they don't think that what they did was wrong, I don't see how they have much cause to complain if their real names are attached to the story, and stay attached to it for the rest of their lives.

#49 ::: Jess A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 05:42 PM:

There is just so much awfulness in this story, but for some reason, this quote jumps out at me. Regarding the Anonymous Mother:

(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.’

So she felt a little guilty, but not "as guilty" after she heard some gossip at the funeral? Somehow hearing some piece of information that lead her to believe Megan was troubled before absolves her of guilt in this situation? The whole thought of justifying this behavior to yourself in this way is ... well, like the rest of this situation, it's sickening.

Whether or not this group of people has any criminal action taken against them, they do deserve to be outed to their community. It boggles my mind that you can, as an adult, engage in this kind of bullying of a child, and there are no consequences, legal or social, to be had. (Short of a broken foosball table and a lawn-job.)

#50 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 05:46 PM:

Jim @45
That is, "Who do I know face-to-face and trust who knows you face-to-face and trusts you?"

Interesting question. For pretty much everyone on this website, my answer is* "no one". I can name one person that I know Teresa has met‡, but that's all. And yet here we are.

But this is adulthood. Childhood is different. When I was 14, I met a boy from another school at Star Trek movies, and he asked me out. My mother insisted on him coming to the house and sitting down for a face to face interview before I could go to the local pizza parlour with him.†

-----
* Or was, till I met some people when I was in California at Easter
‡ She mentioned the name once on the blog
† OK, OK, he turned out to be weird in many ways, but none of them were harmful beyond the usual slings and arrows of adolescent dating

#51 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 05:50 PM:

Caroline 2:The only reason I'm here typing this is that, once I laid out all the sleeping pills on my dresser when I was thirteen, I found that I was too afraid to start swallowing them. If, at that moment, someone I thought was my friend had told me that the world would be a better place without me -- well, I might have overcome that fear.

Me too. Not the sleeping pills, so much, but I contemplated various methods.

Scott 8: Hear, hear.

Jennifer 24: I feel certain that I would NOT have survived to adulthood had the internet existed when I was a child.

julia 27: My understanding is that they were storing the foosball table prior to this event, even prior to the falling-out between the daughters.

Emmelisa 31: It's scary to think that there are people out there, who have to be close to my own age, who not only don't think about the consequences of their actions, but who genuinely don't care.

I used to know someone on MySpace who not only participated in such behavior, but who wrote lengthy essays advocating it. I was the target of several of his organized campaigns of cyberbullying, and it was hard—for me, with my strong support network and adult coping skills! I'm certain, but cannot prove, that he caused more than one suicide.

This scumbag had his profile deleted over and over and over. He just saved the profile code and put it back up in minutes. MySpace doesn't track IP addresses or anything.

I hesitate to call him an adult. Let's just say he could drink legally in the US, though cocaine was his drug of choice.

He's the only person on my list of "when they die, the world will be, ipso facto, a better place" who isn't a public figure. Though I think I may add Lori Drew.

Teresa 48: The internet also helps kids. I've seen forums where youngsters in bad situations got to talking about things, usually because the forum's ostensible subject was related to some aspect of the bad situation. These weren't especially homey or brilliant forums, but the people in them were quick to figure out that the kids were in a bad place, and offer them help, comfort, and practical suggestions.

I can personally vouch for the fact that this is true. I have helped kids in forums like that. But...you know the fucktard I was talking about above? He would come into (say) a support group for overweight people, pick one, and tell hir that s/he was always going to be fat, and that she should probably kill hirself, because it would only get worse as s/he grew older.

He also targeted groups that were generally supportive of one another, and have his minions go in and attack people at their most vulnerable, making it impossible for anyone to share anything that was bothering them.

He seemed to get around blocks and bans pretty effectively.

Fortunately for the world, he's a cokehead, so we can hope he ODs and chokes on his own vomit (a fitting end for a person (using the word loosely) like that).

I don't think there's a just punishment for what they did.

I don't know, I kinda liked Scott's solution at #8.

#52 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 05:53 PM:

Interesting question. For pretty much everyone on this website, my answer is* "no one".

In that case, abi, you'd be perfectly justified in assuming that every single person here is a forty-year-old perv sitting around in his underwear.

#53 ::: Jess A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 05:53 PM:

There is just so much awfulness in this story, but for some reason, this quote jumps out at me. Regarding the Anonymous Mother:

(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.’

So she felt a little guilty, but not "as guilty" after she heard some gossip at the funeral? Somehow hearing some piece of information that lead her to believe Megan was troubled before absolves her of guilt in this situation? The whole thought of justifying this behavior to yourself in this way is ... well, like the rest of this situation, it's sickening.

Whether or not this group of people has any criminal action taken against them, they do deserve to be outed to their community. It boggles my mind that you can, as an adult, engage in this kind of bullying of a child, and there are no consequences, legal or social, to be had. (Short of a broken foosball table and a lawn-job.)

#54 ::: Jess A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 05:53 PM:

There is just so much awfulness in this story, but for some reason, this quote jumps out at me. Regarding the Anonymous Mother:

(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.’

So she felt a little guilty, but not "as guilty" after she heard some gossip at the funeral? Somehow hearing some piece of information that lead her to believe Megan was troubled before absolves her of guilt in this situation? The whole thought of justifying this behavior to yourself in this way is ... well, like the rest of this situation, it's sickening.

Whether or not this group of people has any criminal action taken against them, they do deserve to be outed to their community. It boggles my mind that you can, as an adult, engage in this kind of bullying of a child, and there are no consequences, legal or social, to be had. (Short of a broken foosball table and a lawn-job.)

#55 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 05:54 PM:

TNH @48:
I think the family that ran the hoax was displacing their own issues on the kid who died -- identifying her as their daughter's problem, instead of whatever the real problems were.

I saw it a little differently. I think they, for some reason, tied their own images of success to their daughter's social status. This started as a little monitoring project: how are we doing?

Then, if there was a little rivalry between the girls, they may very well have entered into it. They played, and they played to win.

I hardly need state what this says about their view that people are there to be used, or their own self-worth as adults.

#56 ::: Jess A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 05:55 PM:

Gah. Not sure how my comment got posted three times, but I do apologize.

#57 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 05:56 PM:

The Girl-Across-the-Street's Story:


The single mother, for this story, requested that her name not be used. She said her daughter, who had carpooled with the family that was involved in creating the phony MySpace account, had the password to the Josh Evans account and had sent one message - the one Megan received (and later retrieved off the hard drive) the night before she took her life.


"She had been encouraged to join in the joke," the single mother said.


The single mother said her daughter feels the guilt of not saying something sooner and for writing that message. Her daughter didn't speak out sooner because she'd known the other family for years and thought that what they were doing must be OK because, after all, they were trusted adults.


On the night the ambulance came for Megan, the single mother said, before it left the Meiers' house her daughter received a call. It was the woman behind the creation of the Josh Evans account. She had called to tell the girl that something had happened to Megan and advised the girl not to mention the MySpace account.

#58 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 05:58 PM:

Jess 49: It boggles my mind that you can, as an adult, engage in this kind of bullying of a child, and there are no consequences, legal or social, to be had.

Well, their should be social consequences, and you can help. The "Anonymous Mother"'s name is Lori Drew. Spread it around.

And she and her husband Curt live at:

269 Waterford Crystal Drive
Dardenne Prairie, MO 63368
(636) 272-2670
And have a business:
Drew Advantage
2977 Highway K Ste 200, O Fallon, MO 63368-7862
Phone: (636) 272-2670
I see no reason anyone who might do business with them shouldn't be told what kind of people they are, do you? Especially since they used one of their employees to help out.

#59 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 05:59 PM:

Jim @52
you'd be perfectly justified in assuming that every single person here is a forty-year-old perv sitting around in his underwear.

Really? Well, get dressed, the lot of you*.

-----
* assuming that you're not mostly sockpuppets, in which case, both of you.

#60 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:00 PM:

I don't think there's a just punishment for what they did. But if they don't think that what they did was wrong, I don't see how they have much cause to complain if their real names are attached to the story, and stay attached to it for the rest of their lives.

The parents don't, no. The question is, even if their daughter was somehow involved in it, is it a good idea to tar her with that brush. She's 13, and has spectacularly bad influences at home. That doesn't mean she's doomed to be a sociopath or even a garden-variety self-centered nasty person. And I don't think it's possible to associate this story with them and not with her unless (a) their surname is very common and (b) her parents lose custody and she goes to live with people in another city. In which case, changing her surname to theirs might be prudent, assuming it's not her father's brother or some other relative who shares the surname, or so common that it's the same by chance. [I am here reminded of Robert Meeropol, though this girl is guilty of more than he ever was.]

#61 ::: midori ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:06 PM:

James D. Macdonald, 52,
In that case, abi, you'd be perfectly justified in assuming that every single person here is a forty-year-old perv sitting around in his underwear.
I'm only 35.

#62 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:07 PM:

And here's a blog comment listing the businesses that use Lori Drew's ad agency.

#63 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:10 PM:

Vicki 60: Their surname is Drew. Not that common, unfortunately. I agree that the girl shouldn't be tarred with the brush, since she's the same age as Megan and therefore in my view recoverable.

Having her parents lose custody, have her change her name? All good ideas. I'd add, with Scott@8, that they should be forbidden to have any contact with her ever again.

#64 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:12 PM:

James 52: I wish I were only 40 and that I were wearing underwear!

#65 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:15 PM:

Teresa@48: I think the family that ran the hoax was displacing their own issues on the kid who died -- identifying her as their daughter's problem, instead of whatever the real problems were. It's like parents who blame their child's suicide on the satanic influence of rock music,

abi@55: I think they, for some reason, tied their own images of success to their daughter's social status. This started as a little monitoring projec

I think these are actually the flip side of the same thing. Focusing on external success rather than any internal self worth and well being of their daughter. And turning failures into blame games.

These are the sort of parents would would doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion.


#66 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:15 PM:

Xopher @ 51 -- do you know your MySpace bully's real name? I'm sure there are lots, but the CP one I mentioned also has a MySpace history...

James @ 52 -- I don't know-in-person anybody here either, and maybe you all are 40-year-old pervs-in-underwear, but if so it hardly matters, does it? Sexual issues don't come up here often, and even if they did most perversions wouldn't shock me and I don't get the feeling they'd shock or disturb most others here. As to age and garments, that seems even less material. (For the record, I'm 35 and am wearing jeans at the moment, but have no way of proving that).


#67 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:16 PM:

These are the sort of parents who would doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion.

Dang it.

#68 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:21 PM:

Todd @ 66: Whereas enough of the people here have spent time with me in person that I doubt they'd be surprised if I said I was typing this naked, or expect there was any sexual content to that statement. (I'm a casual nudist, but happen to be wearing jeans at the instant.)

Discussions of garments live happily in the salwar kameez thread.

#69 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:26 PM:

Get your kicks on Todd 66: No, I don't. I know what city he lives in, but that's all. He hasn't bothered me or my friends in a while, and I'm disinclined to stir the pot...though I've thought of doing things like hiring a private detective to collect evidence of his cocaine usage/possession (hopefully over the "intent to distribute" amount) and turn it over to the police.

But I've decided I have to let it go, unfortunately. Though if the evidence fell in my lap I'd certainly use it. Short of hiring a detective, it would take someone with better cyber-fu than I have to track the bastard down.

#70 ::: midori ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:28 PM:

Greg London, 67,

These are the sort of parents who would doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion.

Sparkle Motion? Could you explain that? (Google says it's the name of a band in Donnie Darko, but having not seen the movie, I don't know why this is obviously funny.)

And for the record, I am wearing courderoy pants. And everyone's a pervert, just some don't admit it.

#71 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:30 PM:

Abi @45: I believe you have a passing familiarity with Edinburgh? If you're ever passing through, drop me a line and I'll come out to prove that I am, in fact, a 43 year old perv who reads ML in his underwear, and not a sock puppet. (I also read ML in my outerwear, for instance right now, but that's not the point.)

I also know PNH and TNH personally, from real face-to-face meetings over the years, so I can lay at rest your suspicion that they too are forty something underwear perv socket puppet wielders.

The truth is much weirder.

#72 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:30 PM:

I'm wearing socks and an Akubra hat.

#73 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:33 PM:

midori, Sparkle Motion wasn't a band, it was a dance team of young girls. The most selfish, stage-mothery swine of a parent in Donnie Darko says that ("I'm beginning to doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion!") to Donnie's mother.

Spoiler: Guvf erfhygf va gur qrngu bs Qbaavr'f zbgure naq fvfgre. Jvgubhg Qbaavr'f zbgure gb gnxr Fcnexyr Zbgvba ba gur cynar, gurl pbhyqa'g unir tbar.

If I recall correctly.

#74 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:35 PM:

Yeah, I don't know if it's possible to write a "Don't be a jerk" law that won't backfire in all sorts of horrific, but unintended ways. However, it's too bad that the people who goaded Megan to suicide are still anonymous. This is the reason why we invented shame.

The bit I'm missing is: if they were using her to monitor the gossip on their daughters, why did they have "Josh" break it off with her? It reads like they led her on (complete with fake photo) then dropped her in a really painful way. Is it possible to do this unintentionally in the process of collecting gossip? I can think of more credible (if also more slimy) motives.

abi @50: We haven't met. But I did see, up close and personal, your exquisite work for the Mike Ford auction at the last Boskone.

#75 ::: ema nymtonsti ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:35 PM:

Tshirt, sarong.

I wonder if people really are sending the Drews hatemail? I'm still dwelling on the fuss they made over their foosball table and lawn. It's like they have no sense of proportion at all.

#76 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:40 PM:

Jim (57):

The single mother, for this story, requested that her name not be used. She said her daughter, who had carpooled with the family that was involved in creating the phony MySpace account, had the password to the Josh Evans account and had sent one message - the one Megan received (and later retrieved off the hard drive) the night before she took her life.

"She had been encouraged to join in the joke," the single mother said.

They were recruiting people to join in the joke? That's amazingly sordid. Let's suppose they hadn't had "Josh" dump the kid. The hoax could have gone on for a long time, accreting participants. And then, when the kid finally discovered that it had all been a joke, she'd also find out how many people in her world had known about it, and had participated in it without telling her.

Would you ever trust anyone again if it happened to you?

On the night the ambulance came for Megan, the single mother said, before it left the Meiers' house her daughter received a call. It was the woman behind the creation of the Josh Evans account. She had called to tell the girl that something had happened to Megan and advised the girl not to mention the MySpace account.
What that says is that at minimum, Lori Drew knew the hoax wasn't harmless. What it further suggests to me is that whether or not she wrote it, she was aware of the existence of that devastating last message.

#77 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:42 PM:

#74 However, it's too bad that the people who goaded Megan to suicide are still anonymous.

Not that anonymous. Their names are known, and spattered from one end of the Internet to the other. Just not very much here in my original post: You have to click one of the links.

I don't know, of my direct knowledge, that they are the right people.

#78 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:42 PM:

No, not gonna make any funny comment Xopher 69 -- since you said "city" rather than "town", I'm going to assume they're different folks and leave it at that, rather than put in any google fodder and stir either your pot or mine.

Charlie 71 -- dangit, I had the chance to meet you, or at least see you, a few weeks ago; you did a reading at my place of employment, but I was sick that day. For now, for all I know all those books with your name on them could have been ghostwritten by Lanaia Lee.

#79 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:45 PM:

#51--Xopher--you might google "cocaine cardiac damage" and see what you get. It's a horrible side effect, but some people deserve what they get.
Also, I, too, wish I was 40 again. My knees hurt less then.

It's hard enough being a teen-ager without adults working to make it worse.

#80 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:45 PM:

Ema, I'm sure people are sending the Drews hatemail, both for the normal human reasons, and because there are always people out there who are happy to have an excuse to send someone hatemail.

#81 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:46 PM:

Nor is any allowance made for the fact that certain statements and certain actions might stem from the numbness that automatically swamps you when you realize (dimly, through a glass darkly) that you've done something irredeemable, irremediable, irretrievable, unforgivable. Saying you don't feel quite so bad because she tried to kill herself once before is heartless and cruel and stupid and an utterly human (and ultimately doomed) thing to do, to try and keep yourself from inkling what it is you've done. —Perhaps I am naïve to a fault, but the benefit of the doubt should always be weighed, even here, and bullying is bullying, no matter how much moral righteousness you have on your side. The arc of the universe bends towards justice, not vengeance, and certainly not lynch mobs.

#82 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:46 PM:

midori@70: Sparkle Motion? Could you explain that?

Oh, sorry. It's a line from Donny Darko. Most of the movie is about Donny, but there's this third level removed thing going on between Donny's mom and another parent at school. Both Donny's mom and this other mother have daughters in this school "show" called "Sparkle Motion". The other mom is in charge of the show, and her daughter happens to have the lead part, if I recall correctly. Anyway, they get up and dance to a song. That's the big it. And the other mom is talking to Donny's mom about taking Sparkle Motion to New York or something, and Donny's mom can't go or something, and the other mom gets all upset and says "Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion".

And it's just like a spot on representation of that parent everyone knows that gets too wrapped up in their kid's external successes and then starts blaming other people when things don't go according to their master plan.

Plus, it's got a lot of the high school kid teen angst stuff going on, which just sort of plugs into this whole thread.

"Donny Darko" is a really good cult movie (Cult as in not mainstream, not cult as in koolaid.) I recommend it.

#83 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:48 PM:

The mother-down-the-street would have been able to see what "Josh" had posted, just by logging in as "him."

Two 13-year-old girls knew the account name and password. There's no reason in the world to think that the last day didn't include half-a-dozen boys from her old school, egging each other on into greater and greater awfulness.

#84 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:50 PM:

James @52 - Thanks to the boiler being broken here, not only am I fully dressed, I'm wearing my dressing gown over the top of my clothes. Oh and I'm 32. And a dog.

I'll definitely second Teresa and Xopher on the internet being able to do good for kids (and adults) in bad places, as I've seen it happen (in person and online). But when you're in a bad place one person can say one wrong thing to push you to the edge, and never even know (and I've seen that too).

#85 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:52 PM:

Jim @ #3, my sincerest sympathies. There was a suicide recently among my acquaintance, under circumstances that were bound to be severely unpleasant for the EMTs.

Katherine @ #46, good rule.

Re vouching: pat greene knows me, and I know one person who's met Teresa and Patrick. But 'by their fruits ye shall know them'--I trust all the regulars here, whoever you 'really' are, because you all have a solid record of civility and decent behavior. There's impatience with stupidity, occasionally short tempers, but not meanness.

#86 ::: Dave Hutchinson ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:53 PM:

Please understand that I mean no one any offence, but does anyone else feel rather uncomfortable about the widespread posting of the Drews' address, phone number and business contacts? I'm as revolted as everyone else by what they did, but doesn't this smack of vigilantism? Or incitement to vigilantism, anyway?

Actually, the larger part of me says they deserve everything they get. But part of me finds it rather disturbing.

#87 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:57 PM:

Hey! I'm forty-eight.

#88 ::: Heatherly ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 06:59 PM:

Delurking re: the removal of the other daughter, and any child abuse connections.

I just wanted to point out the Missouri statutes (http://www.childwelfare.gov/) regarding abuse and neglect. Missouri does have a statute for 'emotional abuse', but it's not clearly defined, and one would need to define the abuser as a person responsible for the child.

As for the removal of the other daughter: clearly that woman and those involved--incredibly crapTAStic parenting, and utter failure at human decency. But removing their daughter at this point only creates more problems. Consequences? Yes. And consequences that show this child that her parents made BIG mistakes--but removing her penalizes HER, not them.

Also--unless the local DSS has more info than has been published, there's no imminent risk of harm to enable them to remove.

I think any legal consequences will have to occur from another angle--harassment, or a redefinition of child endangerment.

IMVHO. (relurks)

#89 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 07:00 PM:

Perhaps I am naïve to a fault, but the benefit of the doubt should always be weighed, even here, and bullying is bullying, no matter how much moral righteousness you have on your side. The arc of the universe bends towards justice, not vengeance, and certainly not lynch mobs.

Thank you for saying this - It's more elegant than any of my abandoned attempts to say the same thing. Now that everyone knows names, addresses and phone numbers, I fear it's only a matter of time before some vigilante/mob with pitchforks goes for vengeance. And there is another teenage daughter to consider - however worthless her mother is, the child has had rotten role-models. She doesn't deserve what many people seem to think her mother has got coming.

#90 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 07:04 PM:

Yeah, Dave, I hear ya.

I'm reasonably sure that everyone in the perp's social-and-business circle knows about this by now. That comes with being top-of-the-hour on CNN Headline News. And they all know the real names of everyone involved.

Apparently everyone in the neighborhood knew for months; they were just waiting to see if the cops would do anything.

For the rest of us, a letter from yet another anonymous jerk isn't going to help.

Part of me thinks "If you can't haul the weight, don't pick up the freight." Another part thinks "You've heard about three-fold return?"

They haven't harmed me, so I can't forgive them.

I debated writing this post. Would it do any good, or is this just slowing down to stare at a wreck on the Information Superhighway?

One thing that might be interesting would be to revisit the earlier thread, Blow, blow, thou wanker wind and read the trolls' and sockpuppets' comments again with this thread in mind.

#91 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 07:04 PM:

PNM @ 87

Hey, kid, off the lawn!

(Birthday was Friday. I didn't tell the folks at work. While they are out at lunch and I was minding our workarea, I went down to Starbucks-in-the-lobby and got a pumpkin empanada.)

#92 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 07:06 PM:

Dave, I'm not entirely comfortable with it either, and the more detail is added the less comfortable I am.

On the other hand, I came close to finding them myself, simply because I was so very annoyed at the newspaper for declining to name them. I don't think I'd have posted their names if I had, but I'm not sure.

The lack of truly local news is maybe the problem; the people in O'Fallon MO may have a right and need to know what kind of people the ____s are, without everyone on the internet knowing their phone number.

#93 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 07:07 PM:

Oh, and by the way, the Meiers have requested that no retribution be taken against the perps.

#94 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 07:09 PM:

Breaking my guideline of not saying anything sympathetic online because, well, the internet never gets it across the way real life does- this is very sad, and tragic, and just begging for some serious talking to the various "adults" involved.

AS for sock puppets and mind games, I can vouch that Charlie Stross is real, I've met him a few times.
Relatedly, I was also overjoyed to find an internet forum on Alchemy had been started by some expert who lives in Glasgow. I thought it would be interesting to see what I could learn and how many nutters and cranks there would be. Maybe 10 days after I joined the host shut it down complaining about people being nasty and silly and childish to each other. There were definitely some games being played by posters, and I have run into games players in other forums as well. As a result I have realised I have a deep desire to introduce sock puppets and their masters to certain 16th century devices in a book by Vannoccio Biringuchio. However being a nice law abiding person, I won't.

#95 ::: myrthe ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 07:10 PM:

Abi @59, Jim @52 et. al.

..and I, for my part, am *extremely* impressed at the quality of recruit in online law enforcement these days.

Abi, while I have no (and no desire for) photos, I confess to gleefully and wantonly sharing your poems with.. well, anyone who stands still near a browser.

Perhaps you'd best name the bus station handiest to your precinct house. I'll go quietly.

#96 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 07:15 PM:

Isn't it about time that public schools started having "Internet Health" classes? Since more and more interactions are going to be online, wouldn't it make sense for a few classes on how to deal with Internet bullying, harrasment, etc.?

#97 ::: Elfwreck ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 07:20 PM:

Laws broken: hmm, that's difficult. Harassment? Incitement to suicide?

Rules broken: It's against the TOS of every ISP and online content host I've ever seen to post stuff to harass other users.

From Yahoo (I can't access MySpace from the computer I'm on):

You agree to not use the Service to:
1. upload, post, email, transmit or otherwise make available any Content that is unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, tortious, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, libelous, invasive of another's privacy, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable;
2. harm minors in any way;

Seems that the ISP would have a nice civil case, if they could figure out how much damages to sue for. (Dragging their name through the press as a "teen suicide website" should be worth a hefty dollar.)

Oblique crimes: Custodial interference, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, potentially hate crimes if race, gender or sexual orientation were relevant.

#98 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 07:27 PM:

P J... Joyeux anniversaire!

#99 ::: DanCnKC ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 07:27 PM:

Ms. Drew used the same same exact mode of operation as a child predator enacts in the seduction of a child.

Drew posed as a member of the opposite sex and spent weeks and weeks luring this girl into a relationship.

But yet it went further. The adult Drew formed a heated relationship with the 13 year old girl. She worked hard to gain the girl's confidence. She exploited the girl intimately by posing as a boyfriend. She enacted the same methods child predators use to groom their victims.

Then the woman emotionally raped this child. She took her supposed love and sexual stimulation and crushed the girl emotionally with them -all while knowing the girl was unstable.

This adult and her friends calculated the best way to achieve maximum mental distress and then carried out their plan. Even enticed others to join in the destruction of this child.

There are manslaughter convictions on the books that won based on looser ties to a person's death than this. Child predators go to jail for following this scenerio.

Ms. Drew is the clear definition of a child predator. She used the internet to stalk, entice and lure a 13 year old girl into a romantic, sexually sparked, full fledged relationship. She then used that power to inflict Great Mental Harm to this child... A physical rape and mental rape are both as equally destructive to a 13 year old child. Drew knew this (or should have known this) and still proceeded unabated.


This is so far beyond "Harassment", this is full fledged exploitation of a child.

Is the local police of this county out of their minds to think that NO charge will stick?

Is the local District Attorneys office serious if they don't think this girl's rights have been thoroughly trampled by a grown woman?

Does the DA really expect people to roll over while this woman goes without so much as even a single charge?

Does even a speeding ticket register a more serious offense than this?

_____________

Last of all, the very worst. Ms. Drew remains defiant and indignant. Claims the girl was already on the edge mentally.

Ms. Drew denies wrong doing and insists she bears no guilt in her actions.

She justifies her actions as being "protective of her daughter"... Please tell me how she was protecting someone by mind raping a 13 year old child?

To add insult to incredible injury.... The Drews file charges against the family that lost this child.

The Drews, in a final act of ultimate hate, seek to hurt this family who lost a beloved child. She seeks to harm them financially....

Just as MS. Drew attacked an innocent little girl, Ms. Drew now attacks a grief stricken family - again seeking to harm someone's very life.

This woman is evil incarnate

This woman has county officials protecting her...


The same county officials who would put ANY other child exploiter in jail.

It would appear we have a few corrupt city officials. Officials who need to be fired

Perhaps the county detectives on the case need some scrutiny. Did they really investigate this crime thoroughly? Apparently not.

There had better be some charges...and some heads better role from this complete mismanagement of law enforcement.

#100 ::: Dave Hutchinson ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 07:28 PM:

James@90 - Apparently everyone in the neighborhood knew for months; they were just waiting to see if the cops would do anything.

Then I hope everyone in the neighbourhood who knew about it for months and just sat on their hands waiting for someone else to do something about it realises how complicit they all are. This story just gets worse the more I hear about it. That the Meiers have requested that no retribution be taken does them great credit; I'm not sure I would have the character to do that.

I kept thinking about the earlier thread while I went through the sources you cited. And also the MSScribe business. I still find the whole business of trolls and sockpuppets utterly baffling.

I'm glad you posted this. Although, in the circumstances, `glad' is entirely the wrong word. The chances are I would never have heard about it otherwise.

Todd@92 - I suspect I would have looked for them, too, and for the same reasons.

#101 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 07:31 PM:

I'm still stalling on the idea that things were more civilized back in Usenet days when parents weren't involved.

#102 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 07:32 PM:

Dan@99: This woman has county officials protecting her...

Well, that would be interesting.

#103 ::: Janni ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 07:36 PM:

Paul @19: I don't think it's in the nature of children to be cruel so much as to test limits, which often manifests itself the same way.

That is a very useful way of looking at it. Thank you.

Jim @3: Believe me, I really, really know about depression. And I do know, down deep, how attractive suicide can look. I'm just laying out, as a general principle, don't do it. A lot of people you don't even know, including the EMTs, will have a lousy day because of it.

A friend who killed herself tried very very hard to spare her friends grief by planning out the when and how ... which not only of course was impossible, but she wound up being found after the fact by some hikers instead.

I still think of those hikers sometimes, though I don't even know their names, and of how that day without warning became one of the worst days of their life.

#104 ::: Piscusfiche ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 07:43 PM:

Teresa @76:

And then, when the kid finally discovered that it had all been a joke, she'd also find out how many people in her world had known about it, and had participated in it without telling her. Would you ever trust anyone again if it happened to you?

I had something like that happen early last year, when one person took it upon themselves to castigate me in their online journal after my ex broke things off with me and I started dating again a whopping TWO months after the breakup. I woke up one day to find some horrific slanders directed my way online, with people piling on, and not one single person from the group of people asked my side of the story. Turned out that half of them thought they were talking about somebody else entirely, but wow, was that so not comforting after the fact. For months, I was unable to trust almost anybody associated with that group of people, even those who hadn't participated in the online slagging. I was emotionally fried, and I felt isolated, unable to decide who to trust. I can attest that if she had lived and found out about the hoax, she would still be dealing with huge emotional fallout for months and months. I was already in therapy at the time, and my therapist had a fun couple of weeks. At one point, I even asked if she had the authority to check me into a mental ward for a weekend or two, I was that desperate to escape the reality of the situation. And that was me, a grown adult, with a job and money and the ability to escape. Again, I can't imagine how a kid can cope with that level of betrayal, when it really does feel like the world is out to get you.

#105 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 07:47 PM:

Xopher (51):

I used to know someone on MySpace who not only participated in such behavior, but who wrote lengthy essays advocating it. I was the target of several of his organized campaigns of cyberbullying, and it was hard—for me, with my strong support network and adult coping skills! I'm certain, but cannot prove, that he caused more than one suicide.

This scumbag had his profile deleted over and over and over. He just saved the profile code and put it back up in minutes. MySpace doesn't track IP addresses or anything.

...[Y]ou know the fucktard I was talking about above? He would come into (say) a support group for overweight people, pick one, and tell hir that s/he was always going to be fat, and that she should probably kill hirself, because it would only get worse as s/he grew older.

He also targeted groups that were generally supportive of one another, and have his minions go in and attack people at their most vulnerable, making it impossible for anyone to share anything that was bothering them.

He seemed to get around blocks and bans pretty effectively.

And there in a nutshell is why the world needs moderators. A reasonably vigorous and cohesive community can in time fight off trolls, but it's exhausting, and people take damage. Automated systems like Slashdot's will sort out the sheep and goats eventually; but before that happens, people will be taking damage, and afterward the conversational thread will be in tatters. Besides, it's harder to get an automated system to change its procedures in order to deal with someone who's gaming it.

Xopher (58): When that was posted, I was forced to stop and think about whether it was a proper thing to have on Making Light. I didn't mind it, not one bit; but I had to do stop and sort out the implications.

You know what? I think it's fine. We know this couple enlisted their daughter, one of their part-time employees, and the kid across the street to help them with the hoax. That's five people total, two of whom owed them nothing and thus couldn't be relied on to keep it quiet. And since I can't imagine that everyone they told about the hoax reacted by saying "Swell! Let me help," I think the total number of people they let in on the story must have been considerably higher.

If they weren't concerned about keeping their role in the hoax a secret, I don't see why I should be concerned about it either.

#106 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 07:53 PM:

#100 Then I hope everyone in the neighbourhood who knew about it for months and just sat on their hands waiting for someone else to do something about it realises how complicit they all are.

No, Dave -- not while it was going on. After the event. After the Dad drove his truck across his neighbor's lawn, for example, everyone would know. Letting the police build their case is a decent strategy. It was only after it became clear that there would be no official action that the story hit the press, and here's the DA suddenly saying that he hadn't read the file....

#107 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 07:53 PM:

Abi #6: I remember what it was like to be a depressed teenager with a perfectionist father who could never be satisfied no matter what I did (I got top marks in geography, he said that I should have got top marks in mathematics; I won national awards for poetry, he said I should have written short stories or a novel; I edited the school magazine, he said I should have been head boy). Suicide was often in my thoughts. I'm surprised I've made it to 51.

#108 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 07:57 PM:

One quick look tells me Missouri has a stalker law; they could use that, couldn't they?

The lack of any ability to recognize what they did wrong and take responsibility for it is terrifying. The Meiers, on the other hand, seem like amazing people. I am not sure I could be as --I don't want to say forgiving, and rational sounds too cold-- about it all as they are. They honor their daughter's memory in ways those other folk couldn't even approximate in a century of Sundays.

BTW, I am a fifty-one year old librarian in a law school in South Florida. I'm easy to find and I use my own nickname. I don't think I know anyone here personally, but I used to hang around sf way back in the seventies, so there might have been some "brushes". I don't do it for the anonimity. Amazingly enough to many with whom I interact only online, I am extremely shy in person. It's fun being able to know people online: Charles, whose work I admire; Abi, with whom I almost-share a profession and a passion for paper :-); Serge, whose sense of humor delights me; Fragano, with whom I share a Caribbean upbringing... I could go on. To see that wonderful ability to make friends turned against a vulnerable child is... I don't think I have words strong enough.


#109 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 07:58 PM:

TNH: And there in a nutshell is why the world needs moderators
Of course, when the moderators are part of the problem, the community is in for a world of hurt. The bully I mentioned above was a moderator on the Hot-or-Not community forums, and (I'm told) is the primary reason those forums no longer exist; he's also one of the reasons CP is so unpleasant, and he's been persistently angling to become a sysop on the anti-CP forums as well. He's also claimed (although I don't believe it) to be a MySpace administrator.

#110 ::: Jess A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 08:00 PM:

Dave @86: I'm as revolted as everyone else by what they did, but doesn't this smack of vigilantism?

That's why I said (way up @49), that their community should be made aware of their involvement. Which is not to say that every average person with internet access ought to be mailing/emailing/calling them on the phone to berate them or exact some kind of "punishment".

If their community knows, or has known for a while (since Megan's death?), and this still hasn't been a problem for Ms. Drew & whoever else may have been involved, then I would hope that there is some sort of justice somewhere. I can't understand why someone who behaves in this way has been allowed by their community to just ... keep on, business as usual.

#111 ::: ema nymtonsti ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 08:04 PM:

Piscusfiche @ #104:

Exactly the same thing happened and is happening to me. And what possible recourse can you have? vigorously defend yourself? distribute your side of the story? I finally decided that all I could possibly do was cut my losses, and grit my teeth, but it's terribly painful, anyway.

Back on topic:
I think it's all the injustice in this story that makes it so tempting to join in a pile on of revenge - the abject cruelty of these people, and their seeming obliviousness to what their actions have really and truly actually caused. I hope it's true, what someone else said, that they are likely reeling with horror, and incapable of really thinking about what they have done (but when they are such monsters, I at least partly doubt that this is true).

#112 ::: Dave Hutchinson ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 08:05 PM:

James@106 - Dear god, I'm glad I don't live there.

#113 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 08:07 PM:

PNH #87: Infant!

#114 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 08:09 PM:

This woman is evil incarnate

Dan at #99, I find this phraseology extremely disturbing. This woman -- Lori Drew -- is a flawed and irresponsible human being who has a terrible act to atone for. But saying that she is "evil incarnate" takes a lot of other people off the hook, and frankly, it's too easy. I don't want to psychoanalyze her, justify her behavior, or meet her, but I don't think it's helpful or true to say she's evil. The scary thing is, she isn't. She's human. Like you and me.

#115 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 08:12 PM:

The lady's not for atoning.

IMO, OC.

#116 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 08:16 PM:

I was about to say I'd been reminded of the Kitty Genovese case by this, but then I read this at #106:

"No, Dave -- not while it was going on."

One can only hope that that community practices serious ostracism against the creators of "Josh."

#117 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 08:19 PM:

Regarding the publishing of addresses and whatnot.

The families live in Dardenne Prairie, MO. Population seven thousand.

There ain't nothing anyone could do to keep that kind of information private. Not in a town that small.

#118 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 08:23 PM:

I am not surprised to hear that there are no laws covering crimes over the internet in most states.
I had a few good friends who worked cybercrimes in the Ft. Lauderdale/Miami area --- and for the most part their hands were tied and they had to walk in a vast grey area to get anything done to child pornography trackers and sociopaths trying to pick up teenagers in chat rooms.

What I am surprised about is that in this day and age...having had the internet around some 27 years (UDP/TCP 1980, 1981, RFC 791/793). Tulsa for example only established a cybercrimes unit in 2000. Does the city's population have any idea it exists? I doubt it.

The lion's share of cyber related crimes still falls within FBI jurisdiction. There simply aren't enough FBI field agents equiped with the tools necessary to deal with crimes such as these.

Short of donning the black hat and wading into the darkside of hacking there is not much a person can do outside of blocking IPs, using blocking and spam filter tools etc. It's not worth the attention you'll be getting from the FBI. I had a lot of friends who were part of the Memphis Underground movement (back when BBSs were cool) who were bringing vigilante cyber-justice to some of the big businesses --- the FBI didn't think it was so funny.

Lastly Jim @ 3 There's this saying we used to have in the Fleet: "Payback is a motherfucker."

Word.

#119 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 08:24 PM:

Teresa 105: I think the meatspace world needs moderators...and people like the fucktard from MySpace should be banned, permanently, from interaction in any meatspace forum.

And I actually hesitated at first, too. But I figured you'd look at it and kill it if you didn't want it here. And I would not object; as we've tried to explain to trolls and dorks on numerous occasions, this is your space, and I am a guest.

#120 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 08:24 PM:

And in this day where making a joke in the wrong place, or using the wrong WiFi link, can be punished with jail time, we're expected to believe that the prosecutors can't think of a suitable charge? Child endangerment, for starters!

I hope the perps get ostracized.

#121 ::: Piscusfiche ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 08:25 PM:

Ema @111: I'm sorry to hear that you're having to go through that. You may indeed have to cut your losses, although I think it's worth it just to try and reconcile at least once, for your peace of mind later. I tried to see if I could talk to the original poster and see what their deal was...offered to meet up for coffee, got an FU email in response, sadly. As for dealing with things, I'm afraid I'm a non-confrontational person, so after that I just kinda went hermity, and avoided everybody involved. I'd like to say that time heals all wounds, but well, it's almost two years later, and occasionally, I scrape this one open and it smarts a little. (I really wish I were over it. I'm in another city, in another state--you'd think that would help.)

#122 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 08:25 PM:

A brief perusal of other posts out there on the subject finds DanCnKC@99 to be little more than a reflexive drive-by of the memes already calcifying into a Nancy Grace-worthy storyline.

Christ Almighty, the company one ends up kept with.

#123 ::: Janet ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 08:26 PM:

When I was 13 a friend of mine hanged himself because his girlfriend dumped him online. All he got was a tut-tut editorial in the local paper.

#124 ::: ema nymtonsti ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 08:38 PM:

Piscusfiche #121:
Alas, the troublemaker is my ex, and father of two of my children, and without turning this into a soap opera version of my life: he denies everything; got his version out to all our friends and family (including my mother! - who didn't believe him for a second) very quickly, when I thought we were bravely moving on, and casting nought but a wistful sigh towards the past; and I have no contact with any of the people I knew then, including the one woman I considered a friend, but whose desire to 'be friends' with everyone saw her stand by mutely, while my character was assassinated. It's a little over two years now, and I am still hurt and angry.

Janet #123:
Why are we so callous to the suffering of other people, no matter how 'trivial' it seems to us? It's a terrible shame, isn't it? Your poor friend, and your poor 13 yr old self.

#125 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 08:45 PM:

It was a meatspace incident for me, but I got very badly burned by trusting someone I shouldn't've over twelve years ago, someone who was inside my defenses and, when the time was right, hurt me badly.

Just this week, I think I'm getting two things: A little bit of indirect payback, and an easier mind.

I wish Megan Meier had that opportunity.

#126 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 08:46 PM:

It seems to me that Lori Drew is in violation of several parts of section 8 of the MySpace TOS.

Content/Activity Prohibited. The following is a partial list of the kind of Content that is illegal or prohibited to post on or through the MySpace Services. MySpace.com reserves the right to investigate and take appropriate legal action against anyone who, in MySpace.com's sole discretion, violates this provision, including without limitation, removing the offending communication from the MySpace Services and terminating the Membership of such violators. Prohibited Content includes, but is not limited to Content that, in the sole discretion of MySpace.com:
...
2. harasses or advocates harassment of another person;
...
5. solicits personal information from anyone under 18;
...
7. promotes information that you know is false or misleading or promotes illegal activities or conduct that is abusive, threatening, obscene, defamatory or libelous;
...
The following is a partial list of the kind of activity that is illegal or prohibited on the MySpace Website and through your use of the MySpace Services. MySpace.com reserves the right to investigate and take appropriate legal action against anyone who, in MySpace.com's sole discretion, violates this provision, including without limitation, reporting you to law enforcement authorities. Prohibited activity includes, but is not limited to:
1. criminal or tortious activity, including child pornography, fraud, trafficking in obscene material, drug dealing, gambling, harassment, stalking, ...
8. using the account, username, or password of another Member at any time or disclosing your password to any third party or permitting any third party to access your account;
10. using any information obtained from the MySpace Services in order to harass, abuse, or harm another person;
...
(all emphasis except the section title mine)

OTOH the MySpace TOS also precludes messaging anyone with any URL or email address or telephone number. Since they allow linking in messages, I don't see that that makes any sense at all, really.

#127 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 08:50 PM:

Fragano @ 107... I'm surprised I've made it to 51.

I'm happy that you made it.

#128 ::: Nin Harris ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 09:04 PM:

There's a disconcerting tendency these days to assume that anything "text" shouldn't/wouldn't affect you IRL. Or rather, this is the excuse people who like to harass/troll/attack like to make. "Oh, it's just a joke, don't take it so seriously,". It's _very_ different from how it used to be in the late `90s - I don't know what that says about the trend in certain internet communities. I'm saddened to read this - but not really shocked. I spend a lot of my time on IRC and I guess you see a lot when you do. I also don't understand why/how the parents of one girl could create a fake id just to mess with the head of another girl - that is something I cannot wrap my head around.

#129 ::: Cynthia Wood ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 09:05 PM:

I don't get how this woman can feel less guilty because she tormented an already hurting girl with previous depression problems. If, in some twisted bout of insanity, I were to try to torment someone like this, I would feel more guilty, not less if my victim turned out to be especially vulnerable. About the way it's more reprehensible, not less, to torment a disabled person physically.

Really, her comment is the moral equivalent of "I don't feel as guilty since I found out the person I pushed off the cliff already had balance problems."

#130 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 09:06 PM:

Xopher, that sure seems clear to me, and if you can track it down, so can the lawyers at MySpace. I should they would want to take some action, if only to make it clear that this sort of behavior is totally against their policy.

#131 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 09:10 PM:

I am 46 years old, and am fully dressed, in T-Shirt, long pants, underwear, socks, and shoes.

I'm wearing the underwear on my head. Is that odd?

The poynter.org article referenced earlier in this thread causes me to shake my head sadly at the bloggers who think the most important part of this story is about the Death of the Mainstream Media.

Also, I think they don't understand what the word "cowardly" means. Cowardice is excessive fearfulness for your own well-being. The newspapers who did not print the names of the parents weren't protecting themselves, they were protecting a 13-year-old girl. The 13-year-old being protected may be a terrible bully -- but she's still a 13-year-old girl.

Teresa (#105): "You know what? I think it's fine. We know this couple enlisted their daughter, one of their part-time employees, and the kid across the street to help them with the hoax. That's five people total, two of whom owed them nothing and thus couldn't be relied on to keep it quiet. And since I can't imagine that everyone they told about the hoax reacted by saying "Swell! Let me help," I think the total number of people they let in on the story must have been considerably higher."

And not one of those people thought to tip off the parents of the girl's victim.

I can understand not wanting to go to the cops. I can understand not wanting to raise a public stink. But how about taking Mr. and Mrs. Meier and saying, listen, there's something you need to know?

#132 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 09:12 PM:

Lizzy, MySpace is notorious for not taking action on something until someone really twists their ear. And when someone does, they usually just delete the offending profile, thus obliterating any evidence. I bet they've already done that.

#133 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 09:26 PM:

*sigh*.

How soon before the Ripped From the Headlines episode of Law and Order?

#134 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 09:32 PM:

One thing I remember vividly was that in sixth grade almost all of my classmates were going to two specific schools, while I was attending a different one. They all said, "What a shame," and out loud I agreed with them... while inside, I was rejoicing. They never harassed me (beyond normal child-callous comments) or treated me especially badly, yet I was at the bottom of the pecking order and felt it. I knew, even in sixth grade, that I needed a complete break to get out of there, and in junior high, and later, high school, I made my transition from somewhat weird (but nice) outsider to flamboyantly weird (but still nice) person that wasn't in any clique— but had no problem talking with anyone.

In some ways, I think it's important for that kind of complete change to be possible at a young age. Nobody at my junior high knew me from grade school and that was very liberating, and hammered home the point that circumstances can be changed. A lot of teenagers might feel less trapped if they had such an experience in their past.

On the topic of internet stalkers, I was shepherded in my first online excursions by someone who had a reason for online paranoia. These were the days of Usenet and BBSes, and he'd already managed to acquire death threats from people who didn't like his views. (The topics were usually things such as SF fandom and television shows; never underestimate the power of an obsession.) One person had gone so far as to track him down and do nasty things to his front door, so his paranoia was not unjustified.

Because of that, I learned the ins and outs of online anonymity at the tender age of nine. By twelve, further cautioned in the ways of online etiquette (i.e. 'don't be a jerk'), I managed to fool my parents and others with a false identity into thinking I was an adult. (I did have the complicity of the sysops, whom I had met.) All it took was thinking before I wrote and treating others with courtesy— plus a vocabulary gleaned from voracious reading.

Anyway, when this gentleman died, I was broke and far from home and couldn't return for the funeral. There were several Usenet thread devoted to his passing, and these threads had some truly awful trolls. I had a bad couple of days before I discovered the "block user" function. The man was dead and they used it as an excuse to repeat the hatred they'd apparently displayed while he was alive, turned up a notch.

Civility is civility, whether online or in person. Trolls earned that name for a reason— they're not up to the level of "human" in the online world. Leading on a vulnerable teenager qualifies as subhuman behavior in my book. Call them trolls.

#135 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 09:35 PM:

Fragano @ #107: thank you for surviving to adulthood so I could have the privilege of 'meeting' you. May you enjoy many more decades of being out from under that cloud of disapproval!

#136 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 09:44 PM:

Stefan 133: Not until after the writers' strike is over.

#137 ::: Jennifer ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 09:55 PM:

James @ 90 -

I think you may have done a good thing. I had already warned my daughters about the 40 year old perverts, but now they have been warned that a group of people they know could get together and create a persona to take them for a ride.

Knowing that this sort of thing can happen, so that a healthy skepticism is awakened can just what is needed.

#138 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 09:56 PM:

I'm with Jess A., all three times. The events up to and including Megan's suicide, and such further consequences as her family's breakup, would have been horrible even if the instigators had shown a due and proper abject contrition upon realizing (too late) what they had caused.

But the utter lack of contrition actually expressed, on the theme of "Megan had been suicidal before, so it's okay that this time we pushed her to go all the way"....

Yeah, that's after the fact; yeah, it doesn't change the calamity that preceded it; yeah, on the scale of things maybe it's even a lesser detail; but it does manage to make the whole wretched story just that much worse.

Kip @ 81, Lizzy L @ 144, a nod of the head to your saying this is "human". A hit-and-run driver is "human", too. But so is a driver who stops after the hit, renders aid, calls an ambulance, and otherwise takes responsibility. Equally "human", but oh the difference.

This also is "human", and (in Catholic theology) "divine":

No contrition? No apology? No forgiveness.

#139 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 10:01 PM:

Charlie Stross @ 47: Alas, the MO you describe fits a couple of people I might have run across. No point in going further unless it's to help write a "Field Guide to People You Want to Avoid on the Internet".

Xopher @ 51: The guy (you sure it was a male?) sounds truly horrible. MySpace doesn't track IP addresses or anything. -- only underlines my feeling that MySpace is a fundamentally sloppy, ill-thought-out operation.

Steve @ 96: Yes, there are "Internet Health" classes already, at least in my suburban NJ district. And the district's firewall blocks all the social networking sites, even from the teachers' computers.

But they could realize use a book, called THE TROLL WHISPERER or some such, written by an experience internet moderator who who really knows what she's talking about. I wonder if we know s/o/m/e/o/n/e n/a/m/e/d/ T/e/r/e/s/a/ anyone like that?*g*

#140 ::: Katherine Mankiller ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 10:11 PM:

Lila @85, thank you.

I can personally vouch for Jennifer Pelland. I've had the pleasure of seeing her in person several times.

Also, I am fully clothed, thank you. ;)

#141 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 10:16 PM:

*really use* a book, not "realize use" a book. That's what I get from typing without finger gloves on a weekend when the furnace died.

#142 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 10:23 PM:

Um, Pyre, no offense intended, but I wouldn't lecture Lizzy L on Catholic theology if I were you. Or rather, if you do, I'm making popcorn.

Particularly since, in terms of that system, you're wrong--both on the attributes of the divine, and on who gets to decide who's forgiven and who isn't. (Hint: Not you.)

#143 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 10:24 PM:

Doctor Science @ 141: Keep up with the fashions; use oven mitts instead.

#144 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 10:27 PM:

Regarding "internet health" classes...if I recall correctly, Cory Doctorow's S.O. Alice is just now starting a job with the UK's Channel Four in which she gets to spend a sizable budget on endeavors designed to teach young people how to sensibly navigate the Internet and tell good information from bad.

#145 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 10:30 PM:

Pyre, as James said upthread, since I'm not the one injured, I'm not the one who needs to forgive. What the Meier family does with their pain and injury is their business; what God does is Hers. The people who perpetrated this horror, assuming they are not all struck dead by lightning tonight, have -- in theory at least -- the option to understand what they have done, to repent, and to amend their lives. Again, not my business. However, I'm not anxious for outraged total strangers to take some kind of ugly amateur vengeance upon them in Megan's name.

#146 ::: Piscusfiche ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 10:32 PM:

Regarding "internet health" classes...if I recall correctly, Cory Doctorow's S.O. Alice is just now starting a job with the UK's Channel Four in which she gets to spend a sizable budget on endeavors designed to teach young people how to sensibly navigate the Internet and tell good information from bad.

Great idea. I completely applaud such initiatives.

While not completely on subject, that reminds me of one of my favourite ads ever, The House Hippo, which explains to kids how they shouldn't believe everything they see on television. I imagine soon we'll start seeing its ilk regarding internet safety and information you get from the interwebs.

#147 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 10:38 PM:

Patrick @ 142: With the highest regard for you and your opinion, may I suggest that you or anyone else interested take it up with the Catholic Encyclopedia?

Contrition, section "Necessity of Contrition" (excerpt): Catholic writers have always taught the necessity of contrition for the forgiveness of sin, and they have insisted that such necessity arises (a) from the very nature of repentance as well as (b) from the positive command of God. (a) 'They point out that the sentence of Christ in Luke, xiii, 5, is final: "Except you do penance", etc., and from the Fathers they cite passages such as the following from Cyprian, "De Lapsis", no. 32: "Do penance in full, give proof of the sorrow that comes from a grieving and lamenting soul ... they who do away with repentance for sin, close the door to satisfaction."

#148 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 10:39 PM:

Well, I'm 52 and wearing a sweat suit and slippers because I didn't go out today. When I first started posting here, I knew or had been introduced to in real life almost all the posters, so I used Marilee instead of mjlayman, which is what I usually use online.

Posting the family's name here or on other online sources? Well, that stops you being kept "safe" and requires you to make your own decision about how you will act. I think that's fair.

When the WashPost is keeping someone's name secret because it could identify their minor children, they say so. Something like "We are not using the defendent's name in this article because it could identify their children."

I've been hearing about this for several days, including on the NBC News (click on When grownups become cyberbullies for the video) tonight where an "internet security" specialist said there was a national anti-harassment law that might be used against the Drews. I think if nothing else, everybody in that town should shun them.

#149 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 10:39 PM:

I should add that my school district has programs on Internet safety for parents, but perhaps they need to make them *mandatory*.

#150 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 10:40 PM:

Todd 78: Email me and I'll give you his MySpace url (which I have easily available because he's on my Block list).

#151 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 10:50 PM:

I can vouch for about a dozen or more people on Making Light. Whether they'd want me as a vouchee is another matter entirely.

And, I am naked under my clothes, for what that's worth.

#152 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 10:52 PM:

Pyre at 147, I am not suggesting that contrition is not necessary; I am saying that neither you nor I nor anyone else can know the ways God chooses to speak to the human heart. Jesus forgave the men who drove the nails into his wrists, presumably because he knew that the Father's mercy and light could and would, perhaps already had, reached them. We should not assume God cannot also touch these people and guide them to some sense of what they did.

#153 ::: Piscusfiche ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 10:53 PM:

Jezebel has a post about the second worst mother named Lori Drew, and her somewhat ironic quest to ban a book called When I Was A Loser: True Stories Of Barely Surviving High School.

Lori objects to the book on grounds of its "profanity," naturally. So if only to uncover this weird and awesome coincidence and the existence of this weird and awesome-sounding book, we're really happy we posted her name. Because, like, maybe if Megan Meier had read a book like the one the Rhode Island Lori Drew is banning, she wouldn't have hung herself over the Missouri Lori Drew's sick scheme.

#154 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 11:05 PM:

Lizzy L @ 152: Yes, people may in future have contrition, even if they lack it now. I don't think that was disputed by anyone.

You or I may in future be elected to high political office, too. Doesn't mean we get to start enacting laws right now. Doesn't mean we ever will.

#155 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 11:15 PM:

Like I said, Pyre, popcorn.

As an aside, I do have to wonder what it is that motivates people online to resort to the 1911 Catholic Encyclopedia as a bar-room argument-clincher on issues of the (often hypothesized, and definitely fabled) Official Catholic Line. This isn't quite like using the 1920 Platform of the Democratic Party as a guide to what modern Democrats think, but it's a lot more like it than a lot of people in the Church's power structure would like to admit. The plain truth is that the 1911 encyclopedia is in the public domain, so it's online; the subsequent several decades of nuanced, often-agonized argument aren't. Duh.

That said, Lizzy's #152 sounds a hell of a lot more like something the Newman Center priests of my childhood would have said than the gloating "No contrition? No apology? No forgiveness" of Pyre's #138. Yuck.

#156 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 11:18 PM:

Lizzy L @ 145:

However, I'm not anxious for outraged total strangers to take some kind of ugly amateur vengeance upon them in Megan's name.
And this was addressed to me why? Replies to what in anything I said?

#157 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 11:20 PM:

Isn't it Official Catholic Doctrine that you have to count every picket in every fence you pass on your way to work, iron your socks, and wash your hands 100 times each day?

Well, that's odd, because someone told me those things were OCD, and...what?

Oh.

Never mind.

#158 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 11:22 PM:

Pyre @154: Sorry but this response does not seem to address what Lizzy L said. What do you mean?

And when judging others, do remember that the only person who got personal assurances from Jesus himself of his entry into Paradise was a convicted, unrepentant thief.

#159 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 11:23 PM:

Stefan @ 133... Xopher @ 136... If ever this becomes the plot for a cop show, I hope it winds up on Cold Case.The reason I've been following it since the beginning is that it's the one where, no matter how long it takes, those who had their dreams crushed eventually get some Justice. They get some Peace. Tonight's episode about a tomboy in 1963 was a great example. Seeing her get in trouble in high school and her being the one who gets called in by the authorities instead of those who caused the trouble very much resonated for me.

#160 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 11:23 PM:

Pyre, I agree with you that the absence of remorse shown by the people who tormented Megan is hideous. One would certainly prefer it otherwise.

I've said what I need to say on the topic of contrition.

#161 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 11:32 PM:

Patrick @ 155:   "gloating"?   "of Pyre's #138"?   Say what?????

For mentioning Catholic theology on the necessity of contrition?

Which you seem to be suggesting the Catholic Church has abandoned since 1911; cite?

And this merits your emotional imputation toward me personally why?

#162 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 11:35 PM:

Pyre at 156: sorry -- you did not suggest that outraged strangers should do ugly stuff. But I get concerned when folks (Jess A., in earlier posts) start talking about getting "the community" involved, and about "outing" people, and you did praise Jess A.'s responses in one of your posts. Getting a community involved in responding to behavior like Lori Drew's can go in all kinds of unforeseen directions, including physical violence, which will solve absolutely nothing.

#163 ::: Merry ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 11:36 PM:

"(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.’”

Holy Pajoley, this woman had the nerve to attend the funeral! And then stand around and gossip! She is either in some pretty serious denial or has a small and shriveled soul.

#164 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 11:40 PM:

PiscusFiche (104), my sympathies. I've seen a lot of people go through bad fanfeuds and flame wars, and I've become convinced that their condition afterward has much in common with post-traumatic stress disorder. It may be PTSD in truth.

Exhaustion, anhedonia, social and emotional withdrawal, apprehensiveness about things that previously wouldn't have frightened you, and chronically underestimating how much people care about you. It takes a while to get over the worst of it. The pain never entirely goes away, but it can be buried under a heap of further days and deeds and memories.

Greg London (117)

Regarding the publishing of addresses and whatnot.

The families live in Dardenne Prairie, MO. Population seven thousand.

There ain't nothing anyone could do to keep that kind of information private. Not in a town that small.

Easterner.

Dardenne Prairie: well-to-do recently-built white bedroom community-cum-housing development, a real commuter special, sucking away at the twin teats of Interstate 70 and State Highway 61 out of St. Louis while pretending it's a small town. Check out its geographical area in Wikipedia -- it was put together out of three non-contiguous parcels of land, 4.37 square miles total, and was only incorporated in 1981. It's pure burb. If you don't believe me, check out the street layouts.

Ema, if you don't have any stomach for confrontations, try for one single clear statement of the facts, then let it go. Your ex will still be himself, and over time the truth of this may make itself apparent to others who have to deal with him.

Nin Harris (128):

There's a disconcerting tendency these days to assume that anything "text" shouldn't/wouldn't affect you IRL. Or rather, this is the excuse people who like to harass/troll/attack like to make. "Oh, it's just a joke, don't take it so seriously,".
If text doesn't affect you in real life, if it isn't real, what the hell good is it, and how is it that we even know what it means? Of course it affects you. Only sneaks and bullies claim otherwise -- it's one of the ways you can spot them -- and they know they're lying when they say it.

It's one of the reasons I believe in disemvowelling and deletion, rather than telling people to "just ignore it." We can't ignore it. If we see it, we read it; and if we read it, we get that jolt of nastiness its author intended. It drains our vril.

Pyre, you don't know the state of their contrition, and you don't know what's up between them and God. All you know is what's in the papers.

I try not to make claims about which things God can and can't do. God is very big.

#165 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 11:54 PM:

Emma @ 158:

Pyre @154: Sorry but this response does not seem to address what Lizzy L said. What do you mean?
That an event which is a precondition (contrition, election) may possibly occur in the future gives no present assurance of what that event could allow (forgiveness, the power to enact laws).
And when judging others,...
[looking around for a black robe anywhere on my person]
... do remember that the only person who got personal assurances from Jesus himself of his entry into Paradise was a convicted, unrepentant thief.
Convicted, presumably.   Unrepentant, not in evidence.

#166 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2007, 11:57 PM:

Pyre, re-read your own #138. Whatever you may have meant, it didn't read like you were "mentioning Catholic theology on the necessity of contrition"; it read like you were baying for blood.

If you want to convey a different impression, write better.

#167 ::: LizT ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 12:02 AM:

As the mother of an almost 13 year old who went through the trauma of having her best friend turn on her and take all her other friends with her last year in 6th grade (we're having *much* better year in a new classroom now!), this story may cost me some sleep. I never called the school or anyone's mother, I just gave the best advice and encouragement I could and was there for my kid.

Of course I wanted to protect her. I wish I could have. I try to help her build her own armor, instead of being a shield.

Now, of course, we need to discuss this situation. She's not on social networking sites yet, and we read her email (and she hasn't changed her password *yet*), and we've talked about the normal pervs, the trolls, spam and popup add trickery, and certainly about not putting anything out there you don't want out there forever - but now we need to talk about this too.

It gets tiring.

#168 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 12:04 AM:

"Sticks and stones can break my bones
But words can never hurt me"

The problem is, words can and *do* hurt people. We expect words to be powerful. We make words extremely powerful in our culture. But then we send the counter-message that words shouldn't be regarded as powerful when we tell kids to ignore people who are using words to hurt, and to harm - and still expect them to regard words as powerful in every other context.

For my own part, I think at least part of the problem is the way that teenage bullying is regarded as "normal" or "part of growing up", to the point where it's allowed to reach toxic proportions. I'll freely admit to being biased in this respect, since I had thirteen years of bullying through pre-primary, primary and secondary school. I went into culture shock when I hit uni, because it was the first time in my life I'd ever been in an educational environment and *not* spent my days being physically, emotionally or psychologically harassed. Once I got over the shock, I was as angry as all hell, because I *knew* that the only differences between my peers at university and my peers at high school were the expectations placed on us. There hadn't been a magic switch flipped in the two months between finishing high school and starting university. It was just that the kind of idiocy which was perfectly and totally acceptable in high school (no matter how much physical, psychological and emotional harm it caused) wasn't acceptable in a university environment.

How many times does there have to be a tragedy like Columbine, or something like the death of Megan Meier, before our society starts to give the message that mental, emotional and psychological abuse is *just* as socially unacceptable as the physical kind? How often do people have to die because we give our words such power over our hearts, minds, souls?

On the vouching side of things: I don't think I've actually met any of the Flurospherans in person (comes from living all my life in Australia, I suppose). I could say I'm female, 36, and wearing jeans and a linen top over my underwear, but then again, how do you know? How do I know the rest of you even exist? How do you know I exist? How do *I* know I exist?

(Disappears in self-referential puddle of existential angst).

#169 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 12:05 AM:

God is very big.

Did He get bullied at school?

#170 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 12:06 AM:

"In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." Martin Luther King, Jr.

I very much believe in emotional PTSD. Wasn't it just recently in the torture thread that someone mentioned how people who had suffered both emotional and physical torture preferred physical?

#171 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 12:07 AM:

Pyre @165: a reading from the Gospel of Luke

---------------------------
23:39 One of the criminals who was hanged insulted him, saying, “If you are the Christ, save yourself and us!”

23:40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Don’t you even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 23:41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 23:42 He said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”

23:43 Jesus said to him, “Assuredly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
--------------------------------

Please note he criminal known in legend as Dismas the Good Thief does not ask for forgiveness, even though he's in the presence of God. He does not make an act of contrition; he simply acknowledges who Jesus is. He gets in anyway.

#172 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 12:16 AM:

Lizzy L @ 162:

Pyre at 156: sorry -- you did not suggest that outraged strangers should do ugly stuff. But I get concerned when folks (Jess A., in earlier posts) start talking about getting "the community" involved, and about "outing" people, and you did praise Jess A.'s responses in one of your posts.
I apologize for being unclear. By "all three times" I should have specified #49, #53, #54 -- her accidental "triple-post". The particular point I agreed with is the same one your #160 agreed with, as you put it: "the absence of remorse shown by the people who tormented Megan is hideous."

#173 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 12:17 AM:

Years ago I remember reading somewhere a saying along the lines of:

"The lash of the whip leaves a mark on the skin; The lash of the tongue will break bone."

It stuck, probably because of my experiences, a bit in school, but mostly from my family, and in the community since school. Wish I could remember where it came from.

#174 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 12:18 AM:

#171, Emma: right on. See also, Prodigal Son. Mercy, grace, forgiveness: not a damn video game. Or a check register.

#175 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 12:23 AM:

Meg, your story is painful; I'm so sorry you went through such a bad time. I also had a rotten time in school until I got to college. I wasn't harassed or bullied, not in the way bullying happens today and as it appeared to have happened to you; I was simply disdained and ignored, until I discovered that, as you say, words have power -- and I used them to make other people fear me. It worked, and it gave me a modicum of respect, but it took me some time to discover that if I wanted to make friends at college I needed more than a sharp tongue.

LizT, you've put your finger -- so to speak -- right on one of the most frightening aspects of this story. Theoretically responsible adults, who claimed to be "protecting" a child, were manipulating teenage culture in a seriously unhealthy and dangerous way. As you point out, there's no difference between people like this and the would-be child molester pretending to be a boy named "Josh," except that this woman could be the mother of your daughter's best friend and how the hell would you know?

#176 ::: Bill B ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 12:25 AM:

Fandom is how I managed to survive being a teenager.

Plain and simple.

#177 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 12:39 AM:

Kip Manley @ 81: "—Perhaps I am naïve to a fault, but the benefit of the doubt should always be weighed, even here, and bullying is bullying, no matter how much moral righteousness you have on your side."

Word. I don't see how a bunch of people on the net ganging up on the perpetrators is any different than what they did to Megan--remember that they did what they did with the avowed aim of 'protecting' their daughter.

Emma @ 108: "The Meiers, on the other hand, seem like amazing people. I am not sure I could be as --I don't want to say forgiving, and rational sounds too cold-- about it all as they are."

The word that occurs to me is "principled."

Linkmeister @ 116: "One can only hope that that community practices serious ostracism against the creators of "Josh.""

I'm baffled by this idea that somehow ostracism is a more appropriate or finer-edged tool than a legal response. Ostracism is what caused this mess; I doubt it can solve it.

#178 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 12:42 AM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden @ 164:

Pyre, you don't know the state of their contrition, and you don't know what's up between them and God. All you know is what's in the papers.
And I made no claim of deeper knowledge. I referred to "the utter lack of contrition actually expressed". Should I have boldfaced the last two words?
I try not to make claims about which things God can and can't do. God is very big.
And any time I make such a claim (about which things God can and can't do) myself, that would be a perfectly fair rebuttal to my arrogance. My claim was about what Catholic theology says, and I've cited a source, so even that doesn't rest on my bare assertion. As to what Catholic theology claims, again anyone can take the topic up with that claimant. Or, and this would be just as easy, anyone can say "I don't agree with what Catholic theology claims about God." For non-Catholics, this might not even cause a moment's qualms.

Teresa, you and Patrick are both editors. Surely the difference between the two statements "Jones said this" and "Smith said, 'Jones said this'" is easy enough to discern. The latter makes no claim of personal knowledge about what Jones actually said.

#179 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 12:43 AM:

Teresa, #48: "We're all vulnerable."

Thank you for saying that in a widely-read forum. Now I am wondering if the 'net is actually making this sort of abuse more visible, rather than more common. That odd gap between speech and writing that the 'net fills may get abusers to put more in writing. I think there's probably a space for a large-scale social internet service that takes the moderation responsibility seriously. Still, it would take some work to fund it, and it could itself be corrupted. It all sounds very much like a new version of the classic problems of governance.

#180 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 12:53 AM:

I don't know, Heresiarch. I think it would be good for the community if the Drews had to move to another town. Certainly it would be good for the Maiers. As it is, even if no one ever speaks to the Drews, they will be seen around town, and a constant reminder of their crime, and the death of an innocent young girl.

And if all the adults in town try hard not to treat the Drews differently at all, the teenagers still will treat the Drew girl differently. Oh, she will have her supporters—and that will cause disruption in the school. Not only that, but she herself has suffered a trauma, one for which no one in town is likely to have much sympathy, and having to live among people who know she caused the death of a classmate could scar her for life. She's not exactly innocent, but for Ghu's sake, she's thirteen. There's a limit to what a thirteen can deserve.

The Drews need to leave that community and start over somewhere else, not only for the community's good, but for their daughter's.

If they're too pigheaded to realize that (and so far the evidence suggests that at least the mother—well, let's just say her ears cannot be made into silk purses, and leave it at that), the community needs to let them know in terms they cannot ignore. Physical violence is out of bounds, and so is harassment, but shunning is not.

#181 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 12:54 AM:

Jim, #90: The thing that's bugging me is that apparently there were some adults (the mother of the girl across the street, for one) who knew about the sockpuppeting while it was going on, and no one bothered to tell Megan's parents. I would like to think that if I heard about someone creating a false MySpace page for the purpose of talking to a teenager -- especially if said person was an adult -- I would out them to the teen's parents.

But then, I'm really, really paranoid and hostile about people who take up false identities for the purpose of fooling specific other people; whether it starts out with malicious intent or not, somehow it always seems to end up that way.

Steve, #96: I think that's a good idea in theory. In practice, I fear that the curriculum would be designed by the same people who are pushing "abstinence-only" sex ed.

Fragano, #107: Ah yes, the "moving target" strategy of parental approval. No matter what you do well (or change as a result of their disapproval), something else always suddenly becomes a higher priority. The only way not to lose that game (because it's defined in such a way that there's no win available for you; the best you can hope for is stalemate) is to walk away. I'm glad you were strong enough to survive until you could.

Lizzy, #114: Yes, we are all flawed; I'm sure every one of us can remember making mistakes that hurt other people. What pushes the description of these adults toward "evil" is their apparent complete lack of any impulse toward regret and/or atonement. The victim-blaming ("Oh, I don't feel as guilty now because she was suicidal before"), the entitlement (filing police charges over the foosball-table incident), and the complete unwillingness to admit that anything about the whole sockpuppet incident was WRONG... that's the model of a sociopath with no empathy circuit, not a normally-flawed human being.

Nin, #128: That meme is nothing new; it's been codified for centuries in the chant, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me." The attitude that "words are only words, and can only hurt you if YOU let them" is one of the most effective weapons in the bullies' arsenal -- because so many people who are NOT themselves bullies believe it, and so will enable verbal bullying instead of labeling it unacceptable behavior. *pulls up short before launching into long rant about the way our culture reinforces verbal abuse of all types*

#182 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 12:59 AM:

Pyre...do NOT go to the "as an Editor" place. It's not a happy place for you.

Please, please trust me on this. This is working its way up to be a battle, not about the topic (and this thread's topic wasn't Catholic theology in the first place) but about the arguments raised about the topic.

Such arguments are, as I've said elsewhere, foolish. Anyone involved could stop it by just not responding any more (on the topic of who said what and to whom and what it meant). I suggest that you might be the right choice of party to stop now.

I'm not saying you're wrong about what you said, or what you said about what you said. I'm saying you need to stop pursuing this particular course before our hosts get really mad at you.

#183 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 01:08 AM:

Lee at 181: oh, I understand the impulse to label the Drews, especially Mama Drew, "evil." She sure doesn't sound like someone I'd want for my neighbor. But evil is a very strong word to throw around, and it implies such moral culpability and spiritual corruption that I hesitate to use it. You want to call her a sociopath, sure, go ahead. I find that less disturbing, somehow.

#184 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 01:08 AM:

Patrick Nielsen Hayden @ 166:

Pyre, re-read your own #138. Whatever you may have meant, it didn't read like you were "mentioning Catholic theology on the necessity of contrition"; it read like you were baying for blood.

If you want to convey a different impression, write better.
The relevant part of my #138:
Kip @ 81, Lizzy L @ 144, a nod of the head to your saying this is "human". A hit-and-run driver is "human", too. But so is a driver who stops after the hit, renders aid, calls an ambulance, and otherwise takes responsibility. Equally "human", but oh the difference.

This also is "human", and (in Catholic theology) "divine":

No contrition? No apology? No forgiveness.
"Gloating", absent. "Baying for blood", absent. A very visible "in Catholic theology", present.

In your #142 you asserted: "in terms of that system, you're wrong".

In my #147 I cited the Catholic Encyclopedia's Contrition:   "Catholic writers have always taught the necessity of contrition for the forgiveness of sin...."

Now by this time clearly both of us were discussing what Catholic theology does or doesn't claim.

Which makes it utterly inexplicable that you thereafter switched to assertions that the last line of #138 was my "gloating" and "baying for blood", and that "it didn't read like... 'mentioning Catholic theology on the necessity of contrition'".

Had you claimed not to know my meaning before #142-#147, it might have been credible; but after we had both discussed what Catholic theology does or doesn't assert, to claim you didn't know this was the topic is flatly incredible.

#185 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 01:12 AM:

Oh, there sure is a large pile of kindling there and a lot of kerosene-soaked wood...and the Santa Ana wind is blowing right at it. And here comes a guy finishing his cigarette and throwing away the butt, still glowing as it falls toward...

I can't look.

#186 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 01:12 AM:

Nice try, Xopher... Sigh.

#187 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 01:18 AM:

Heresiarch @ #177, so far it seems to me that no legal response is going to be made, thus my suggestion of ostracism (although I like xopher's "shunning" better, for all its 18th century ramifications).

#188 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 01:20 AM:

Editing my #187 for clarity: because of its 18th century ramifications.

#189 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 01:22 AM:

Xopher... Don't we still have an agonizer lying around?

#190 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 01:25 AM:

I can forgive someone who has wronged me, as an act of my own will, even if that person is even at that moment saying "Ha ha ha! I'm glad I did it and I'll do it again!"

It's a matter of my own volition and does not require anything from any other person.

If I can do this as a man, surely God can do the same?

If I have not already granted forgiveness of my own volition, and the person comes to me asking for forgiveness, though, he would be more likely to gain it if he came contrite and willing to make amends.

To assume one is forgiven despite the lack of contrition and penance, relying instead on God's mercy, moves one perilously close to the sin of presumption. I believe this is what the Fathers were warning against.

#191 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 01:51 AM:

Nice point, James.

To carry this a bit further: contrition may be necessary for human beings, so that they may consciously receive and experience God's forgiveness; but God's mercy and love for us are not bound by human frailties and inadequacies. What human beings could not/cannot do, Christ's free sacrifice can and does for us all.

Why should it be this way? I don't know. But I believe it is this way. And I am thankful.

#192 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 01:52 AM:

Emma @ 171

:... [Luke] 23:40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, "Don't you even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 23:41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong." 23:42 He said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom." 23:43 Jesus said to him, "Assuredly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
Please note the criminal known in legend as Dismas the Good Thief does not ask for forgiveness, even though he's in the presence of God. He does not make an act of contrition; he simply acknowledges who Jesus is. He gets in anyway.
I'll make no claim of authority in the matter, but let's take another look at 23:40-41: "Don't you even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward for our deeds...."

To this lay reader that looks like an acknowledgment, a confession, that their deeds were wrong (justly condemned) and an acceptance of the punishment as penance (due reward) -- all stated freely and willingly in the hearing of Jesus. Together with the fear of God (and the plea to Jesus, "Lord, remember me..."), that looks an awful lot like contrition. Whether perfect or imperfect, no matter, since Jesus is right there and responds with a promise that seems to incorporate absolution.

FYI, the names of the two thieves, Gestas and Dismas, are both given in the Gospel of Nicodemus, wherein Dismas says only slightly different words: "Do you not even fear God, who art in this condemnation? for we justly and deservedly have received those things which we endure; but He has done no evil. [And he kept saying to Jesus:] Remember me, Lord, in Your kingdom."

#193 ::: a person ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 01:57 AM:

How do we defend ourselves? The same way we always did: If it's too good to be true, it probably is.

"Josh"--model handsome, straight, and perfect--appeared out of the blue and right into Megan's lap. Megan's heavyset, unhappy, lonely lap. When does a perfect man appear out of nowhere to recue you? Answer: Never. Girls need to learn that early on.

Plus, "Josh" had internet, but no phone (according to the article)?

As a parent, I would have said, "Megan, I know you want to make friends, but Josh doesn't seem for real. He won't meet you though he lives in our community, he has no phone, but internet access? Let's forget about MySpace and do something else that you enjoy. How about horseback riding lessons? Or a console game? Or (insert some other fun thing)?"

#194 ::: a person ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 02:00 AM:

Also, does anyone else notice the sick irony that his name was "Josh", as in, a joke?

josh
v : be silly or tease one another; "After we relaxed, we just
kidded around"

#195 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 02:13 AM:

The internet game-spaces I use, and where I present a pseudonymous persona, are pretty determined to keep minors out.

On the other hand, there seem to be places which encourage minors to join, and use premium-rate phone lines. See this report on one such example. The details are in the comments.

Politicians don't seem to pay much attention to the underlying brokenness of such things. Minors, they appear to believe, need protecting. But they don't deliver on the inferred promise of "Think of the children!".

And there is the practical problem of how to keep the minors out of particular spaces.

#196 ::: oldnumberseven ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 02:17 AM:

What I would like to know is the employee's story. If I came into to work and my boss said to drop what I was doing and instead harass a kid on line, well, I would like to say I would do the right thing. Maybe the employee was a happy participant, though. I would be interested in that story.

#197 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 02:18 AM:

Dave Bell, I can't imagine how "politicians" would have been the least use in this situation.

#198 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 02:30 AM:

Lizzy L @ 197: As system administrators, politicians might have prevented the whole unhappy affair.

System crashes hard, stays down, no harassment takes place there.

#199 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 02:35 AM:

In the US, there are already laws about collecting personal information about persons 13 years old and younger (I'm not remembering the details -- no company I've been involved with has chosen to try to comply with them the hard way).

That's at least one of the reasons MySpace and similar sites require that users be 14 years of age or older.

In practice, of course, this just means that persons under the age of 14 learn quickly they have to lie about their age to do anything fun online, and so far nobody's come up with a reasonable way to ID 14-18 year olds.

#200 ::: Carolyn D ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 02:48 AM:

To do a bit of backtracking in the discussion- #45, There's known tech: "Who vouches for you?"-

In my experience, that wouldn't have made this situation any better. I joined an online fandom (in the fanfic-subset meaning of the term) that attracts fragile 13-year old girls as a fragile 13-year-old and worked my way up to the point where I'm the administrator giving support to the fragile newbies (and the experience is what inspired me pursue counselling psychology).

So in my experience in all the years that I've been in fandom, knowing that girls knew each other in meatspace always put us on alert; while I wouldn't call it a hard-and-fast rule, such a thing was often a prelude to really nasty infighting that got personal very fast, and drew in that person's entire RL peer group. I can't explain why--but anonymity (or rather, pseudonymity) seemed to make the fights that did happen less intense. Perhaps it was because the more "real" relationships got, the more they mattered and the greater their ability to hurt.

Maybe it was also that I could ban harassers from the messageboard, but not the classroom, and my twitchy banfinger made my site(s) an unusual case. But at any rate, what works for adult fandom, as has been pointed out, is not an exceptionally good indicator for what will work with the younger set.

#201 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 03:09 AM:

A person @193:

The "handsome prince" memeplex is one which is instilled in girls from a very young age. Think about all the storybook heroines we're faced with, all the movie and television role-models, all the images we're handed. It has one hell of a lot of cultural capital behind it, and it's been part of Western culture for centuries. I'm in my thirties, and I'm still prone to dream wistfully of a handsome prince coming along to sweep me off on his horse and take me away from everyday drudgery. Not often, I'll admit, but it's an occasional fantasy. When I was a miserable teenager, my handsome prince was someone I hoped for on a daily basis. Someone who didn't know how damn hopeless I was, and saw beyond what the other kids at school saw.

I can see how he was so attractive to Megan Meier. He was designed to be. He was designed by an intelligent woman to appeal to the dreams of a lonely girl. Of course he was going to hit off every single damn trigger she could have.

What was done in the creation of "Josh" was what would have been described as black witchcraft in an earlier era - the creation of a creature to seduce another, and thus break their heart and steal their soul. That it was done by shuffling electrons hither and thither doesn't make the darkness of the act itself any less.

#202 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 03:52 AM:

#52: you'd be perfectly justified in assuming that every single person here is a forty-year-old perv sitting around in his underwear.

At this point, a 54-year-old slob sitting around in his pyjamas (and dressing-gown) felt a moment of unease. But the concentrated, relentless unfunniness of the original posting makes it rather difficult to lapse into merry ML banter here. Truly chilling stuff.

#203 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 04:36 AM:

Is this law still on the books:

A new federal law states that when you annoy someone on the Internet, you must disclose your identity.

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

#204 ::: tavella ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 05:17 AM:

The thing that's bugging me is that apparently there were some adults (the mother of the girl across the street, for one) who knew about the sockpuppeting while it was going on, and no one bothered to tell Megan's parents. I would like to think that if I heard about someone creating a false MySpace page for the purpose of talking to a teenager -- especially if said person was an adult -- I would out them to the teen's parents.

No, the mother of the second girl didn't know about it until after the suicide; her daughter, who appears to have a conscience, unlike Lori Drew, told her. She then called the police, and eventually when the police said it wasn't going to be pursued, arranged a meeting with Megan's parents to tell them what happened.

#205 ::: lalouve ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 05:23 AM:

What strikes me as the major similarity between a child molester and this family is that both treat the child as though he/she were adult and capable of making all their own choices. The wilful denial of the child's vulnerability and the harm coming to said child is the act I would define as evil (the act, not the person).

And I am on the net anonymously; sorry, you all, but there are reasons for this...

#206 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 05:58 AM:

I really do wonder when Lori Drew looks at her life what the picture is she sees. She's in Pennysaver-type ad sales, her husband is in real estate, she's probably a fairly competitive person to begin with - does she think she won whatever game she was playing with Megan Meier? Does she think Megan won? Does she think Megan cheated?

Do you think she knows what she's done to her daughter's life? Do you suppose this troubles her sleep? If it does, is it the crime or the punishment that keeps her awake?

From having been bullied myself, my emotional reaction to bullies is to see them as one-dimensional pulp supervillains. I'm sure by their lights they're reacting proportionately to something, even if it's boredom or a low tolerance for annoyance.

Just because I don't see how anyone who wasn't a cardboard sadist in a pulp novel could do what she did without cobbling up some justification in their head (even griefers and trolls claim to be teaching life lessons, and who's to say they don't believe it on some level), and because I don't imagine it's something she herself would wonder about anyone else, I really do wonder what the world looks like inside Lori Drew's head.

#207 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 06:30 AM:

Cynthia Wood@129: I don't get how this woman can feel less guilty because she tormented an already hurting girl with previous depression problems.

I think the reasoning is, "If it hadn't been us it would have been something else." She feels that she didn't drive an otherwise-healthy child to suicide, rather she just happened to be the straw that broke the camel's back.

The reasoning is horrible and wrong, but I can understand it.

#208 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 06:31 AM:

39 here, almost 40...but I can honestly say that I've never read Making Light or any other site while sitting in my underwear.

In the nude, yes. But not in my underwear.

#209 ::: Naomi Libicki ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 06:45 AM:

A person #193:
How do we defend ourselves? The same way we always did: If it's too good to be true, it probably is.

"Josh"--model handsome, straight, and perfect--appeared out of the blue and right into Megan's lap. Megan's heavyset, unhappy, lonely lap. When does a perfect man appear out of nowhere to recue you? Answer: Never. Girls need to learn that early on.

Well, yes . . . and no.

"If an attractive man likes you and wants to be closer to you, he is probably either not real or has a hidden agenda -- God knows no-one is ever going to like you for yourself" is not necessarily a great lesson for a young woman to learn. Undoubtedly, it is one that Megan would have learned, had she survived. A lot of young women learn this one. (Young men, too. Change pronouns as appropriate for gender, sexual orientation, etc.) And it may keep them out of some kinds of trouble. Overall, however, it's a harmful lesson, not a beneficial one. See also Teresa's post at #164 on PTSD:

Exhaustion, anhedonia, social and emotional withdrawal, apprehensiveness about things that previously wouldn't have frightened you, and chronically underestimating how much people care about you.

That's bad for you, that is.

#210 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 07:00 AM:

Serge #127: Thanks!

#211 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 07:04 AM:

Lila #135: Thank you!

#212 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 07:09 AM:

Xopher @ 180: "I think it would be good for the community if the Drews had to move to another town. Certainly it would be good for the Maiers."

I agree. However, I think that that's a decision that the community needs to make, not you or me.

"If they're too pigheaded to realize that (...), the community needs to let them know in terms they cannot ignore. Physical violence is out of bounds, and so is harassment, but shunning is not."

I have trouble reconciling this statement with your behavior: which aspect of shunning requires publishing the offender's name and address on the internet? It seems far more likely to result in far more violence and harassment than shunning.

Linkmeister @ 187: "so far it seems to me that no legal response is going to be made, thus my suggestion of ostracism (although I like xopher's "shunning" better, [because of] its 18th century ramifications)."

The word for taking personal action to punish the guilty when the law fails is vigilantism. Why do you think you get a different set of rules if you choose to exact that punishment psychologically rather than physically?

If something intolerable happens that the law does not address, the answer is to change the law, not go around it. The Meiers seem to get this--I don't understand why it is so hard for others.

#213 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 07:10 AM:

Xopher @ 180: "I think it would be good for the community if the Drews had to move to another town. Certainly it would be good for the Maiers."

I agree. However, I think that that's a decision that the community needs to make, not you or me.

"If they're too pigheaded to realize that (...), the community needs to let them know in terms they cannot ignore. Physical violence is out of bounds, and so is harassment, but shunning is not."

I have trouble reconciling this statement with your behavior: which aspect of shunning requires publishing the offender's name and address on the internet? It seems far more likely to result in violence and harassment than shunning.

Linkmeister @ 187: "so far it seems to me that no legal response is going to be made, thus my suggestion of ostracism (although I like xopher's "shunning" better, [because of] its 18th century ramifications)."

The word for taking personal action to punish the guilty when the law fails is vigilantism. Why do you think you get a different set of rules if you choose to exact that punishment psychologically rather than physically?

If something intolerable happens that the law does not address, the answer is to change the law, not go around it. The Meiers seem to get this--I don't understand why it is so hard for others.

#214 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 07:20 AM:

Meg @168:

My observation is that there has in fact been a sea change in schools' tolerance of bullying. My district has been on a big anti-bullying campaign for several years now -- not just signs, but workshops for the teachers with people like Rachel Simmons, and repeated training for the kids at various ages. They're just starting to try to figure out how to teach about cyber-bullying, and certainly there's a niche for anyone who knows enough to teach about it.

The trouble is that anti-bullying campaigns have "liberal" written all over them -- especially because, when dealing with older kids, they *have* to teach tolerance of sexual minorities for the campaign to do any good. That's fine in my community but there are a lot of places in the US where it's just not going to play -- places where bullying on the basis of sexual preference or behavior is part of the adult culture.

I *think* that is changing, too, but more slowly.

#215 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 07:21 AM:

Lee #107: Walking away is what I eventually did. My father's approach was his conception of 'encouragement'.

#216 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 07:45 AM:

Feck. Sorry for the doubleup--read the second one. (Caught a grammar error seconds after hitting post, hit stop, corrected it, and reposted.)

#217 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 08:05 AM:

Heresiarch @ 213

For me, at least, the difficulty in letting go of the situation and accepting that any further non-legal action* would be unacceptable vigilantism, is that this seems to be the outcome of all such situations at the moment. This does not appear to be a lack of legal recourse, a number of posts have pointed to relevant law, but rather a lack of will on the part of the authorities to pursue the matter. That's unfortunate, but I agree that it would be nobody else's business if it weren't that in this case and many like it, the lack of action makes it appear that the acts committed, while regrettable, are within the boundaries of acceptable social intercourse. This is not an acceptable outcome, since it makes it that more likely that more such acts will be committed by others.

My view of Xopher's comment is that it is not a call to vigilantism, but a call to the community most harmed, the town in which the actions occurred, to make it clear that it does not accept such behavior. Yes, doing that could devolve into vigilantism, but so can the actions of law enforcement agencies; any attempt to deal in a moral or ethical way with immoral or unethical people necessarily runs that risk. Moral issues by their nature aren't easy to deal with, and they require contant mindfulness. But we still have to deal with them.

* Which the legal authorities and the injured parties, such as MySpace, seem unwilling to take.

#218 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 08:10 AM:

Just so you know, I'm wearing my bathrobe, you are all children relative to me*, and I've personally met, in corpus, three people who regularly post here. I also have a longtime friend who knows both Patrick and Teresa personally, so I must exist.

* 40 was a long time ago, and the wench took the other country with her.

#219 ::: midori ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 09:12 AM:

I don't think anyone's yet cited the John Gabriel's Greater Internet [redacted] Theory.

It goes something like this:
Normal person + Anonymity + Audience = Total [redacted]

Note the "Buy a Print" option. (This is new today.)

While this was originally formulated to describe the interactions over voice chat during gaming, I see an unexpected application in this situation. Perhaps [redacted] isn't quite the right adjective.

#220 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 09:28 AM:

I'm at least somewhat surprised no one who accepted the offer to participate in the hoax turned the tables on the Drews and decided to blow the whistle on them; to remove the sock, as it were.

I've known of incidents where someone on a forum was Not What They Seemed and another participant who knew (or the public at large) spilled the beans.

Very sad story at pretty much all levels.

#221 ::: Seth Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 09:57 AM:

(Disclaimer: I am 38 years old and I am wearing underpants.)

I am not qualified to comment on Catholic theology of forgiveness, but I submit the following excerpt from an eighteenth(?)-century Jewish pre-Day-of-Atonement prayer:

Knowing as I do that hardly anyone is a righteous person who has not sinned against another one, either financially or physically, in word or in deed—this makes my heart tremble within me, because Yom Kippur does not atone for interpersonal sins until the offender appeases the victim. Regarding this, my heart is broken within me and my bones shake, because not even death atones. Therefore, I offer prayer before You that You pity me, and give me favor, kindness, and mercy in Your eyes, and in the eyes of all humanity. So I hereby completely forgive anyone who has sinned against me, either physically or financially, or one who gossipped about me, or even lied about me. So too, anyone who harmed me physically or financially. And for every sin that one person can commit against another, except for money that I could collect in a court of law, and except for someone who sins against me and says “I will hurt him and he will forgive me”—except for these, I completely forgive; and let no one be punished on my account. And just as I forgive everyone, so too may You put my favor before everyone else, so that they will completely forgive me.

#222 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 10:05 AM:

I think that the mom-down-the-street's internal story was, "I'm protecting my daughter from this scary Internet stuff," and later, "She would have killed herself anyway, so it isn't my fault."

#223 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 10:09 AM:

Or, the mom-down-the-street may have thought it was a clever ruse to find out if her own daughter was drinking, smoking, fighting, and going out with boys. That wouldn't explain why she asked her daughter and the kid across the street to join in.

#224 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 10:17 AM:

At the beginning of the thread, I wrote But I want them to lose sleep. I want them to know that they hurt someone who was vulnerable, and I want them to feel guilty for it.

So now there are names and addresses, but I'm not going to make use of them. Because nothing I could do would enforce guilt or loss of sleep. I'd just be venting my anger, making myself a worse person.

Meg Thornton @ 168, I had a similar experience going from middle to high school. At the beginning of ninth grade, I went to a club meeting after school. The people there complimented me and joked with me, and it wasn't until I got home that I realized they weren't being sarcastic or making fun of me -- they were truly being friendly. It completely blew my mind.

#225 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 10:26 AM:

Seth Gordon at 221, thanks. If we are to repair the world (and I believe we are, though always and only with God's help) we'd best begin with our broken selves...

David at 207, that makes sense, I think. I've been trying to understand her reasoning, too, and your formulation helps.

Pyre at 198, I still don't understand what you think politicians might have been able to do. What new law or application of old law do you think might have prevented this tragedy? I'm not trying to be contentious; I really can't see it. Suggestions?

#226 ::: Peter Darby ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 10:56 AM:

You know I was wondering why, last week, Sky News was running wall to wall coverage of "Cyber Perverts on Second Life!", given that the story broke, what, 6 months ago in the press?

I think they must have got wind this story was about to break and are making a pre-emptive strike on a competitor of Murdoch's MySpace to draw heat away.

So, have Fox been covering this story at all? I'm guessing not, but they'll have something to say about either 2nd Life or Facebook within the week.

#227 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 11:00 AM:

Pyre @ 192: I see your point, but...

O MY GOD, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell; but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.

This is what I think of as a Catholic act of contrition. The thing is, we don't know -- great sinners have become great saints, and great saints have had great faults, and some seem to have found favor for no reason whatsoever. Ours not to argue with God about the tools He chooses, nor to assume that because we see someone as permanently flawed, that would be the view of the Almighty.

#228 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 11:03 AM:

Some links in the "Sources" portion are to Fox News stories.

#229 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 11:04 AM:

Lizzy L @ 225: Did you read the second line of #198?

Unless the politicians in question are techies like Al Gore or Newt Gingrich, I'd think the outcome would be a foregone conclusion.

#230 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 11:05 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 217: "That's unfortunate, but I agree that it would be nobody else's business if it weren't that in this case and many like it, the lack of action makes it appear that the acts committed, while regrettable, are within the boundaries of acceptable social intercourse. This is not an acceptable outcome, since it makes it that more likely that more such acts will be committed by others."

To me, this means the necessary course of action is to rattle the authorities' cages until they start doing their jobs, and to educate people about how terrible this sort of thing is. If the law is failing, then fix the law. Don't try to replace it with social penalties. Shunning and ostracism are blunt instruments, and are only ever one popular person's whim away from being turned on the innocent. Using them to address a situation like this is like trying to perform surgery with a blowtorch--it's worse than useless.

#231 ::: Christian Severin ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 11:05 AM:

Of course, when Mrs. D said something along the lines of her feeling "not as guilty because she tried to kill herself before", she was just trying to justify herself to herself. However, since a suicide attempt does not mean certain death at some point in the future (as some here can attest), her justification does not come across as

"Well, she was doomed anyway"

but rather as something like

"Well, she was teetering on the edge anyway -- all I did was shove a little. What do you mean, 'pull her in'? She was mean to my daughter!"

-- which, if this ever makes it to court, will not look good in front of a jury.
Apart from all the other goodness and kindness, of course.

#232 ::: cathy ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 11:15 AM:

Todd@199 - I believe the federal law you are referring to (I can't speak to similar state laws) is the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Part of the issue with COPPA in terms of its limitations is that I think in some aspects it ties the collection of informatin to marketing to children (and then you get into issues of whether marketing must involve attempting to get children to buy stuff).

And of course, since you're talking online transactions, it's difficult to properly establish parental consent. Even if you insist on running a credit card check for identity purposes only, here's no guarantee that Junior didn't swipe the card, although then the company could argue it made a reasonable effort and should not be penalized.

#233 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 11:17 AM:

Emma @ 227: And Dismas had just confessed the wrongfulness of his deeds (justly condemned), accepting the slow agony of crucifixion as his penance (due reward).

As to whether he'd resolved to amend his life: in the face of imminent death, with his limbs nailed in place, all the range of action left to him was speech... such as to speak rightly, to speak justly, to speak the truth, to exhort his fellow thief to the good, to speak for the innocent sufferer, to make some rapprochement with God.

Did he not, in those few words, do all these things?

#234 ::: Peter Darby ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 11:29 AM:

Fair enough, Jim; obviously the local affiliates are less "on message" about MySpace than Sky in the UK (where nothing bad happens on MySpace, only on non-Murdoch sites or "a social networking website")

#235 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 11:38 AM:

James McDonald @ 52: In that case, abi, you'd be perfectly justified in assuming that every single person here is a forty-year-old perv sitting around in his underwear.

I am frequently in my underwear.

(Or, as Steve Martin once put it: "I sometimes wear ...men's underwear! In fact...I'm wearing them right now! [pause] Ha ha. Just kidding.")

But I am no longer forty.

Hey, two out of three.

These posters wearing corduroy and no underwear...now they're creeping me out.

a person @ 193: Plus, "Josh" had internet, but no phone (according to the article)?

I have a cable modem at home. I have no home phone.

a person @ 194: Seriously nice catch.

#236 ::: Laura ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 11:41 AM:

I just wanted to add to LizT @ 167. I'll be sharing this story with my twelve year old daughter. On one hand, it hurts me to have to tell her that people like this exist. On the other, the idea of her not knowing is so much worse.

#237 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 11:47 AM:

Sigh...it's sad...very said. I used to send this around to folks I worked with:

Rules for using the internet:

1. Do not drink and surf. Your monitor, mouse, keyboard and cpu are not liquid proof.

2. That sparkly, happy, blond, bombshell LLcherrykiss that you are having dreams about meeting is a 50 year old man with a porn fetish, a wife of 30 years and 7 children.

3. Yes, you can order it.

4. No, you probably don’t want to.

5. No one loves you, those are spammers.

6. Plan to piss off at least 50 people each day.

7. Plan to be pissed of by at least 50 people each day.

8. Two words: Me too.

9. Two more words: I agree.

10. That intelligent, sour old man who comes in and argues every point on every board you frequent is probably your grandma.

11. Unlike Vegas, what goes on in the internet doesn’t stay on the internet.


IMO the conversation about the bad in the world must remain constant with kids. Things like this keep me up at night.

#238 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 11:48 AM:

I started reading this last night, and caught up this morning. I'll have to try to keep this short, because the situation described in the ML post hits some of my buttons very hard. Good thing I'm at work right now, as I have strong incentive to keep it together and be rational. Hands are shaking as it is.

To all who have experienced/witnessed the torment that is being a "slightly different" (or average, just the "picked on of the week") teenager (or adult, for that matter): my deepest sympathies.

@Metz #173:"The lash of the whip leaves a mark on the skin; The lash of the tongue will break bone." That's been my experience as well. Time and, for lack of a better word, maturity have helped...

@TNH#164:Exhaustion, anhedonia, social and emotional withdrawal, apprehensiveness about things that previously wouldn't have frightened you, and chronically underestimating how much people care about you. ouch I think I resembled that at some time, perhaps sometimes still do...

you know you have issues when "the crow" looks like an instruction manual, but at least you know you have yourself rather well in hand when you know not to watch that movie again...

later,
-cajun
{sniffling at work, glad that it is cold season so it doesn't stand out}

#239 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 11:50 AM:

Caroline @ 224, Your club experience reminds me of the first time I ran into the opposite situation. After going to a small, friendly, no-bullying-allowed school for years, I spent a semester in a public high school in the United States. And it took me weeks to realize that the girls who asked me where I got my so awesome jacket or what I was reading or any of a hundred other things weren't being friendly, they were making fun of me. It was just hilarious to them that I'd cheerfully admit I bought my clothes in thrift stores, that I hadn't seen any of the latest movies or television shows, that I didn't know what the curse words meant...

I insisted on home-schooling for a year after that semester, even though we went back to the place with that marvelous supportive school I'd been happy at for years, because it completely broke my confidence. It's been more than a decade since then, and I still have trouble trusting new people until I've known them for a while because I'm never sure if they're being friendly, or just humoring me and really making fun of me when I'm not around. Or if they're making fun of me right there and I can't tell. All this from what's apparently garden-variety relatively innocuous social viciousness in a single school.

I keep hearing about how awful schools are in the United States, and one reason it makes me so angry is because I know it's not inevitable. I've gone to schools where vicious bullying wasn't approved of by anyone, from parents to administrators to teachers to the other kids, and so it didn't happen. Mean kids were the ones who no one would talk to, at least until they stopped being mean and apologized. I continue to boggle at a culture that assumes vicious behavior in childhood is inevitable and natural and not to be interfered with.

#240 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 12:00 PM:

Emma #227: Back when I memorized the Act of Contrition the line you bolded went: "I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin."

Speaking of St. Dismas and the apocryphal gospels, early in his career Dismas was one of the guys who robbed Mary and Joseph when they were flying to Egypt. (He saw how holy they were and let 'em go.)

#241 ::: Juliet E McKenna ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 12:31 PM:

Like a great many other commenters here, this story has pressed all sorts of buttons for me. It's ghastly on so many levels.

Here's something by way of a ray of hope in the wider context. Elder son who was viciously bullied at primary school, verbally and physically, was recently targeted on the social network he and his teenaged pals at secondary school currently favour.

This school has an uncompromising anti-bullying policy which takes in email, sms/text messages, the Internet etc.

On his own initiative, he promptly reported the abuse to the network who equally promptly banned the offender. Son asked around a bit and identified the offender because she'd used a variant on a favourite screen name she'd used elsewhere. So he reported her to the school. Her parents have been informed.

Son is pretty calm about all this. Not to say the intial attack didn't upset him because it did. But he's over that and moving on. He knows he's in the right. He knows she's in the wrong. So do all of their peer group who saw the nasty messages go up and equally, saw them taken down and the offender thrown off the network for unacceptable behaviour.

#242 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 12:33 PM:

I spent a semester in a public high school in the United States. And it took me weeks to realize that the girls who asked me where I got my so awesome jacket or what I was reading or any of a hundred other things weren't being friendly, they were making fun of me. It was just hilarious to them that I'd cheerfully admit I bought my clothes in thrift stores, that I hadn't seen any of the latest movies or television shows, that I didn't know what the curse words meant...

Oh, my gd, that sounds so much like my high school experience. Of course my clothes were homemade, rather than from a thrift store, because my mother was a professional seamstress...

You didn't happen to live in Clearwater Florida, did you?

At my ten year reunion, this same gaggle of girls pigeonholed my husband (then-fiance) to tell him in horrified tones how I used to wear mismatched outfits to gym class. You'd think they'd've gotten over it in the intervening decade, but the fact they persisted in their idiotic obsessions was worth incalculable therapy. [More on my realization, here].

We need to teach kids that high school is *not* the best years of their lives, because they have many many decades of life afterwards to enjoy.

#243 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 12:44 PM:

James @240: So did I, but in Spanish... not that I had much of a Catholic education. I got kicked out of catechism class, would you believe? My dad the freethinking freemason had much to do with what the priest called my "inappropriate questioning".

Dismas has always been a favorite of mine -- in spite of Pyre's argument I don't think he performs and act of contrition; he performs an act of honesty. He does not self-deceive,try special pleading, nor does he claim to love God. He simply states the facts of his life and waits for whatever may be handed out to him.

Contrition is a thorny issue for me because it seems that without some sort of atonement it's just another bit of special pleading. Feeling sorry for what you did -- ain't good enough.

#244 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 12:55 PM:

Jim, people don't kill themselves because they think it's a good idea, they kill themselves because they have no choice. There comes a point when every rational consideration and all the decency of the world just cease have any hold on you. And many suicides suffer from manic bouts which undermine your ability to think straight; and/or have problems with alochol or drug, the bad kind, that impair their judgement.

I think those people triggered Megan's suicide, but did not cause it. They are scum not because they killed her, but because they wantonly cruel to a vulnerable child that needed help; and as adults they should have provided that help, not hound her. They made an already miserable little person more miserable, and there is no excuse for that.

(When I was two days out of pscychiatric hospital for major depression, a person who had a grudge against me called me on the phone and for half and hour told me what a thoroughly wretched human being I was. She knew I was in a major depressive episode. She did succeed in cutting me off from my then best friend and supporter. I pity her.)

But adolescent suicide happens, even with love, help, support. Suicide happens, despite love, help, support. There are many ways to help, but it still happens.

#245 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 12:56 PM:

A different but related story involving the Internet and forty-year-old pervs sitting around in their underwear, as reported by Fox News.

From January of this year:
22-Year-Old New York Man Murdered After Being Drawn Into Internet Love Triangle

#246 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 12:57 PM:

#148 I think if nothing else, everybody in that town should shun them.

Unless I've totally forgotten what small towns in rural America are like since I left mine 17 years ago, they've been shunned and/or villified and/or gossiped about by pretty much everyone in that community and all the neighboring ones as well. It's also why this made national news when other cases have been swallowed whole by the ether. Someone in the community cared enough (or was embarrassed enough) to hold them up as an example of what not to do. It's a cross between "Some people's only reason for existence is to serve as a warning to others." and "How does it feel when others do it to you?"

The Meiers and their "we're not going to prosecute" stance pretty much ensures their community is more or less behind them. By taking the moral high ground, they won't be accused of petty fuding or mud slinging or any other host of things that would loose them support and sympathy. (The foostable and lawn abuse can be reasonably excused as "knee jerk reactions" and indirect positive ID of the guilty parties. Small town politics are sooooo much fun.)

It also accounts for the "I don't feel as bad" comment. The guilty party was trying to share the blame with the other blamers. It's the Glass Houses, Stones, and Throwing Principle. Only the aim was a little off.

For the record, I'm 37, clothed and met Teresa at ConQuest this year where we talked about beads and beading.

#247 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 01:02 PM:

Anna, I know that teen suicide happens. I even know that it's one of the leading causes of teen deaths. I know that a lot of things get blamed, including the internet, and rock music, and D&D, and The Sorrows Of Young Werther.

I deny that there's no choice. One could always read a science fiction novel instead. I recommend this course of action.

#248 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 01:03 PM:

Lis Riba @ 242: "We need to teach kids that high school is *not* the best years of their lives, because they have many many decades of life afterwards to enjoy."

Hell yes. As a rotten-childhood survivor myself (first suicide attempt at age 8), one of the things that really made everything worse was the insistence of adults, books, movies, everything that these were the best years of my life and I should be the happiest I could ever be.
Didn't really make me think I had much to look forward to as far as growing up went.

The really hard part for kids like Megan is learning that what people tell you about yourself isn't necessarily true - it's a hard road to understanding that maybe the problem isn't that you are fundamentally flawed, but they are. But when you're that young, your picture of the world is still being shaped by the people around you; taking words with a grain of salt doesn't come naturally.

#249 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 01:06 PM:

Heresiarch 213: What Bruce said at 217, plus: I think the internet community, and especially MySpace, needs to protect itself too. I think what Lori Drew did is so outrageous that she ought not have access to the web (a sentence with precedent for merely financial computer crimes), but if the authorities won't do that, we can at least ensure that most social avenues in the web world are closed to her.

Seth 221: Sometimes I wish I believed those things were true. I wonder if I'd be able to act the way the person so praying is acting, if I did? I doubt it, frankly. When I forgive, it's for me, so I won't carry poison around in my spirit. I don't believe it has any effect on the other person, unless they know about it, and even then it sometimes just makes them angry.

In my view, forgiveness is something only humans do. It's an act of compassion and/or self-protection, depending on whether the wronging party needs it, the wronged party needs it, or both. The Divine does not forgive, ever. You don't get to "wipe the slate clean," you can only balance your karma.

But the Divine doesn't punish you beyond karma, either. In fact, karma is just a natural outcome of your actions, not the punishment of some conscious entity.

Any social ostracism that Lori Drew experiences will be her karma. Her daughter is another matter.

#250 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 01:09 PM:

You didn't happen to live in Clearwater Florida, did you?

Nope. San Dimas, California. Only for the one semester, but it was bad enough. My usual school was in another country, and sufficiently isolated from US culture--and even the culture of the country it was in, to some extent--that it got to have its own microculture that simply didn't tolerate that kind of teasing or bullying. California was...different. Especially since I had moved from an environment where no one had much in the way of disposable income and it was just the way things worked, to one where you were socially inferior if you couldn't compete as a consumer. Finding out that my parents' comfortable middle class income was, in that area, technically below the poverty line--and even worse, that people considered this a mark against me--was one of the nastiest realizations I've ever had.

There is a church my parents used to go to when they lived there that I couldn't attend for years for similar reasons. The teasing was much milder, but I was so shocked to encounter it inside a Sunday School environment that I would start crying just thinking of going to that church. My parents were understanding enough to let me just stay home instead, and I'm still grateful. And, sadly, still holding a grudge against that church.

#251 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 01:12 PM:

#242: They don't get over it.

My high school class has had a twenty-year reunion, a twenty-fifth, a thirtieth, a "class 50th birthday party", and is now getting ready for the thirty-fifth. The class's website of "lost alumni" has many that are quite well known in their professions and could easily be found if one knew anything about who they were looking for. I did go to the twentieth, out of curiosity, because I happened to be in town that week visiting my mother. None of them had changed and there was no one there that I cared to see again. I can't imagine doing that over and over and over.

Meanwhile the endemic racism and bullying in the school has now received national attention after some brave parents finally filed human rights complaints and lawsuits.

#252 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 01:17 PM:

Three years ago, I was harassed online by my father. I haven't spoken with him for many years, for various reasons, chief among them that he's an amoral, manipulative misogynist; when I mentioned those qualities of his in passing, in the context of another topic that I was posting about on my blog, he showed up in the comments to tell me what a terrible, ungrateful person I was. I didn't have the concept of a Troll Bingo Card at the time, but he scored an awful lot of spaces on it.

I was very lucky that I had family and friends around, online and elsewhere, who rallied to me and assured me that I wasn't the crazy one (one of his most unpleasant talents being the ability to throw that into doubt) - if I'd been alone against that, I can't imagine what might have happened. Literally can't, because my brain will not allow me to go there. (Especially considering my therapist's reaction to the whole debacle was "But he's your father." Alas, talk therapy and I also parted ways at that point, and we have not reached a reconciliation since.)

As for suicide, yeah, I've been close enough - not scary close, but feeling bad enough I just wanted everything over close, and more recently than I like to think. Some days the thing keeping the abyss at bay more than anything else is my dog, because there's just something about a creature who loves you that much with that little justification that makes you a little more determined to not disappoint.

#253 ::: Rachel ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 01:20 PM:

Reminds me of the panel about conversation on the Internet at Minicon last year. I was bamboozled that it turned about to be about privacy issues instead of how to better approximate face-to-face expressions and emotion. This case, however, shows how big an issue privacy and the guarantee of identity really is in online communication.

#254 ::: Piscusfiche ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 01:24 PM:

A Person@193: Count me as another person who has interwebs but no landline phone. (I do have a cell phone, but I can see a teenager not having one.)

It occurs to me that I forgot to add one of the endings to my first tale of group-think woe. (entry 29*) A month ago, I got an email from a girl from elementary school, who I could barely remember. She wasn't one of the main malefactors by any stretch of imagination, but she offered up an apology. Twenty years later, but hey, better late than never. So, people do change.

...

And I just had a thought about James's comment back at 45.
There's known tech: "Who vouches for you?" That is, "Who do I know face-to-face and trust who knows you face-to-face and trusts you?"

In my old online art boards, we had three or four groups of people that could vouch for each other in different cities across North America. When we met up with somebody who had already been vouched for, we got our real personhood "certified" on the board. It was mostly a joke in our case--we didn't have issues with sockpuppets and assholes--but yeah, it did add a level of cachet to say you'd met somebody in the Real People group. :)

In the Linux community, people had key signings. You present your address and id and whatnot to somebody whose information has already been verified. They log this information, issue you a key, and all your changes to the Linux packages go out with your key, so that if malicious code were introduced they'd be able to track it down. I can kinda see that sort of thing gaining traction in the future not just among programmers, but among other types of social groups.

Also, it occurs to me that nobody here can directly vouch for me being a real person, but Teresa and Patrick know Bill Shunn who knows my cousin through the Leading Edge, so that may satisfy any doubts as to my existence. :)

(BTW, I accidently have two user names here, Pixelfish, and Piscusfiche. At one point, when Pixelfish started becoming a slightly more popular nickname, I thought I would transition to the punny PiscusFiche. But it became more of an accreted nickname than a replacement. Sorry if that ever confuses anybody.)

#255 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 01:25 PM:

Dan @ 252

Ouch.

I feel your pain. My politics has traditionally been a rage trigger for [a person in my family] and I've more or less stopped posting on my blog since they started showing up there.

#256 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 01:31 PM:

Dan @ 252: Ye gods. If you can take some comfort in not being alone... mine was in the medical professions, and once sent me to a psychiatrist friend for counselling because "Only a crazy person doesn't love their father."
I hope you feel more free now. Those are hard chains to loose.

#257 ::: Piscusfiche ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 01:37 PM:

Dan@252: Oh, man, I'm sorry to hear about that. Your therapist should have known better, methinks. And I hear you about the folks that have that talent to make you think you're the crazy maker...there's no living with them. Sometimes you are really better off to cut your losses. I'm glad you had a group of friends to stand by you.

#258 ::: Sassy ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 01:52 PM:

#247 - I disagree with your last statement, so much that I don't even have the words to express it properly or without being stupid and/or offensive in some way. I don't want to be stupid and/or offensive, so all I'll say is that is not that easy.

#259 ::: Cynthia Wood ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 01:57 PM:

I know someone face-to-face who knows Teresa face-to-face, but Teresa does not know that they know me. So I guess Teresa is real, but I'm not? *poof*

Also, while I never sit around writing in my underwear, I am writing in the same clothes I've been wearing for the last two days, due to serial stomach bugs from the children. I'm only 38 though, so I don't get to be a pervy 40-year-old yet.

#260 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 01:57 PM:

Piscusfiche at 254: A month ago, I got an email from a girl from elementary school, who I could barely remember. She wasn't one of the main malefactors by any stretch of imagination, but she offered up an apology. Wow!! That makes me really happy.

Dan at 252: that sucks. I'm sorry. Dogs are good.

#261 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 02:00 PM:

don't want to be stupid and/or offensive, so all I'll say is that is not that easy.

I never said it was easy. Continuing is an act of will.

I believe that the option of suicide must be completely removed from the table.

#262 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 02:02 PM:

246: The Meiers and their "we're not going to prosecute" stance pretty much ensures their community is more or less behind them. By taking the moral high ground, they won't be accused of petty fuding or mud slinging or any other host of things that would loose them support and sympathy.

I reckon they might want the Drews to have the chance to savour their responsibility for what they did unsoothed by any victim status they might accrue by being the targets of anyone's retribution, legal or otherwise.

#263 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 02:06 PM:

Miz Julia, I wondered what had happened to you... I'm sorry to hear that.

#264 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 02:08 PM:

Teresa@164: Easterner.

I can only assume that the reason I'm taking that as a mild knock is that I grew up in a tiny farmtown in the midwest. I guess I still identify with my home town.

If it's purely a commuter town, then it won't have the same atmosphere as a place that's grown up together for a century or so. Too bad.

The story that I tell that pretty much sums up my home town was when a buddy of mine from college came out to visit over the summer. I'd given him directions to the town, but bad directions to get to my parent's house. He got lost. He stopped and asked for directions to "Maple Street". The person shook his head and said he didn't know that one, but who was he looking for? My friend told him my name. The person replied, Oh, he's at his parents home for the summer from school, and proceeded to tell him how to get to the house.

#265 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 02:17 PM:

Jim@190: I can forgive someone who has wronged me, as an act of my own will, even if that person is even at that moment saying "Ha ha ha! I'm glad I did it and I'll do it again!" It's a matter of my own volition and does not require anything from any other person.

This comes up once in a while when I'm life coaching. To "forgive" means to give up the resentment you have towards the person. It doesn't mean you condone their actions. It means you're going to let it go, whatever it was.

When helping people who've had some seriously shitty things done to them, it usually helps to make sure they're using that definition, rather than thinking they must condone the behaviour.

And I've seen some people forgive some seriously heinous things that was done to them. And it's always just amazing to see how much freed up they become when they let something like that go.

#266 ::: Cynthia Wood ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 02:17 PM:

James D. Macdonald - I did read SF instead, only to have many well-meaning people try to stop me, insisting that I should "deal with the real world." I was, at that point in my life, unable to adequately articulate that if I dealt with the real world I had, I wasn't going to survive grade school. I have mixed feelings about removing suicide from the table, even if it were possible. I was in my late twenties before the accummulated goodness of my adult life outweighed the decade-plus of sheer misery and torment that had come before. I.e. if someone had told me at twenty-five that I would be transported in the morning back to fifth grade, and had to go through it all again, I would have thrown myself off a bridge without hesitation. Even though my life in my mid-twenties was good. Even now at 38, the same thing would make me hesitate and think long and hard.

I got scary-close to suicide more than once in school. To places where if someone had walked in at an inopportune time, I would have been in a psych-ward before I could say "Boo!"

#267 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 02:22 PM:

When I was a teenager, my mother told me, "Anyone who tells you that their high school years were the best years of their life must have been living a really boring, pathetic life since then."

It was lucky for me that she, my father, and almost all their friends and colleagues had been nerds, geeks, or art freaks while growing up, so I had plenty of interesting, talented, unusual people reassuring me that yes, things would get better.

Piscusfiche @ 254: I do have a cell phone, but I can see a teenager not having one.

In my current experience (which is a highly urban one), this is backwards. Based on observing my fellow bus riders, I'd guess that 4/5 of Oakland teens have cell phones.

#268 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 02:29 PM:

#195

"Think of the children!" is much easier for a politician to say than "Make a genuine effort to act on behalf of a child's safety."

#269 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 02:48 PM:

37 and dressed.

The fact is, I don't really care if you all are a bunch of 40 year old perverts in your underwear. You're such interesting perverts, and I don't have to see (or smell) you over the tubes.

#270 ::: Piscusfiche ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 02:54 PM:

Lexica@267: I suspect it may be a regional thing though. Urban versus rural. Also the (in this case, fictional) parents attitudes towards technology. Josh was supposed to be homeschooled, so I can see a family allowing access to the internet for schooling reasons, but not wanting to spend money on cell phones when the live in a small country town. Anyway, while it could be a warning light combined with many other factors, I don't see the lack of a cell phone or landline to be a complete creepazoidal thing. :)

#271 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 02:57 PM:

1) I'm glad you're all here, you make the world a better place (unlike some people aka the topic of the thread).

2) I have been known to read ML and engage in other online activities naked, wearing some clothes, outerwear sans underwear, underwear only, and sometimes only wearing a cat. I'm 35. I suppose posting naked from my couch with a cat across my shoulders might be considered pervy. It's your call.

3) I know at least one person who has probably met *NH, and I have a fairly unique name. I can be found in meatspace. If you stop by, don't be put off by my redneck compound, we're just blending in with our neighborhood.

Every time I get close to posting something more meaningful and revelatory, I get rather worked up. Let's just say that if one were to throw in more life unpleasantness and subsitute an uncle's ex-wife for Lisa Drew, I find I identify with that child far more than I should.

#272 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 03:03 PM:

Thanks, everyone, for your words of sympathy. I've mostly scarred over it all by now, but it really was a profoundly traumatic experience, and one it wasn't easy to post about here. I think sometimes the only thing to do for that kind of psychic damage is be comforted that you're not alone in it, and see that other folks have managed to live past it; all the more tragic that Megan Meier did not have those tools at her disposal.

Also, credit where it's due: at the time the incident with my father happened, I'd been reading Making Light for a year, and had some good examples for how real grownups deal with Vexatious Persons showing up in their virtual living rooms. I think being able to sit back and think like a moderator (though I did not have the option of disemvowelment at the time, more's the pity) saved me a lot of flailing and drama that would not have improved matters. So, yeah: thanks for that too.

#273 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 03:05 PM:

More stories:

November 19, 2007
Girl, 13, commits suicide after being cyber-bullied by neighbour posing as teenage boy
(Daily Mail)

Officials in Dardenne Prairie now plans to pass a law to outlaw cyber-bullying.

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

November 19, 2007
St. Charles County prosecutor reviews Meier case
(Steve Pokin)


In that police report, the woman down the street told a sheriff’s deputy she created the MySpace page to see what Megan was saying about her daughter. She also said the account was monitored by her, her daughter and an 18-year-old part-time employee.


The neighbor, when contacted by the Journal last week, disputed the accuracy of that police report.


She has not been charged and is not being sued. The Journal has not named the family.


McGuire offered this reminder: "These people have not been convicted of anything. There is a thing called due process in this country."

November 18, 2007
Mom: Daughter killed herself after Internet friendship ended
(USA Today)


Aldermen in Dardenne Prairie, a community of about 7,000 residents about 35 miles from St. Louis, have proposed a new ordinance related to child endangerment and Internet harassment. It could come before city leaders on Wednesday.


"Is this enough?" Mayor Pam Fogarty said Friday. "No, not by any stretch of the imagination, but it's something, and you have to start somewhere."

#274 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 03:32 PM:

#262

Mother Drew is denying responsiblity. Accepting responsibility for your actions is a lot like admitting you have a drinking problem.

I wonder who notified the media. It could be the Meiers, or it could be the mother across the street who had her daughter suborned. It could be a concerned citizen afraid of the evils of the internet. Regardless, the Drews are being tried in the court of popular opinion. If enough people tell you "you're wrong" sooner or later you believe it. If you don't, there are other ways to get the point across. (The phrase "run out of town on a rail" comes to mind. The Drews are self-employed. Think about it.)

The one thing that keeps a small, rather inbred community alive and healthy is the willingness to "forgive and forget" minor insults and small thefts. (Not that anyone ever forgives or forgets, it's the appearance of it that matters.) The first time one member turns on another with malicious intent, escalates things, and shows no remorse when caught, all bets are off.

In a lot of ways, a small town is like a self-moderated list - everyone is responsible for everyone else's good behavior as well as their own.

#275 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 03:35 PM:

Ooo, the mayor's helping to spread it around? I imagine those people are really going to need to think about moving soon, probably to Mexico if they don't want it to follow them.

#276 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 04:12 PM:

Teresa @ 164
I've seen a lot of people go through bad fanfeuds and flame wars, and I've become convinced that their condition afterward has much in common with post-traumatic stress disorder. It may be PTSD in truth.

Exhaustion, anhedonia, social and emotional withdrawal, apprehensiveness about things that previously wouldn't have frightened you, and chronically underestimating how much people care about you. It takes a while to get over the worst of it. The pain never entirely goes away, but it can be buried under a heap of further days and deeds and memories.

Wow. That's... incredible. That describes perfectly the reaction I've had to some past encounters, and describes what a friend is going through now. If I were still in the psych community I'd drop everything I was doing to get some real research in on this. Alas, I am not. Instead I'm just going to keep this near my heart.

Within the last six months or so I was the victim of some cyber bullying. A few years ago I became involved in a community that had a certain popular, intelligent, and beautiful female as a long-standing member. At first a lot of the threads there seemed to be mostly her having conversations with various friends. I was originally afraid of her, but after a while we got friendly. I tried to be nice to her and all the regulars, this was their turf after all. Eventually, I felt at home.

The popular woman began telling me that some people didn't like me. She also began by pressuring me to post photos. When I refused, she started by saying things to me like "I think some people don't like you because you talk too much and don't post photos." These messages were gentle prodding, not abusive at this point in time. At the same time, I watched her and her circle of friends attempt to destroy the reputation of anyone who ever said anything bad about her within her hearing, again and again. Evetually she became this frightening behemoth to me. I still tried to be nice to her, but she was definitely scary. One day, I made the mistake of trying to defend someone she got into an argument with. A few weeks later I ended up with a horrific private message asking me why I was such a mean, bad person who was manipulative and such. I sent her a letter asking what I had done, only to recieve stony silence. I became incredibly paranoid. People who had been acquaintances or friends but who were much closer to her stopped speaking with me.

After a while it sort of cooled off, though it became clear that she did not like me. Eventually, she had a falling out with a male member of the community.This person had previously been a member of her circle of friends - the same group of people who I had watched abuse others who crossed her. This led to him being immediately labeled as a 'stalker' and her threatening to put out a restraining order against him. The same group of her friends began to actively shun him and spread rumors about him. Eventually this led to him having a breakdown and cutting ties to the community entirely. I was very sad, but then I realized there had been further fallout.

When the rumors had started about him, I'd been foolish enough to defend him in public. Now the popular woman had me as a top name on her hit list. Some of her friends began threatening mine, telling them they were terrible people because they didn't hate me. For a while I considered leaving the community altogether. I'd say if she'd been able to get, say, five more people to turn against me I probably would have left, or at least cut down my participation immensely.

In Teresa's quote above, one particular section stands out to me: "apprehensiveness about things that previously wouldn't have frightened you, and chronically underestimating how much people care about you."

I've definitely experienced this. Right now I am incredibly scared to post this here, and under my usual name, because she might find it and connect it to what happened and use it against me. I still doubt the friendship of some people in that medium, and I'm always worried that she might come up with some new lie that will cost me their friendship. I've never had this feeling before in my life. This woman is literally the scariest thing that has ever happened to me. And I've never met her in real life.

#277 ::: Jess A. ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 04:43 PM:

LizzyL @162: But I get concerned when folks (Jess A., in earlier posts) start talking about getting "the community" involved, and about "outing" people, and you did praise Jess A.'s responses in one of your posts. Getting a community involved in responding to behavior like Lori Drew's can go in all kinds of unforeseen directions, including physical violence, which will solve absolutely nothing.

Please note -- I said that I hoped their community knew who these adults internet-bullying a local child was, and what the end result was. I did not say that they should be outed on the internet; and I certainly didn't say that I thought their community should exact some kind of revenge (physical or otherwise).

I think it's important that this community -- described in the media reports as tight knit and small, the kind of group who car pools and even vacations together -- knows that one set of parents in their midst thought that this sort of behavior was somehow appropriate. Further, that this mother publicly states that she doesn't feel "as guilty" as she might otherwise.

These are not the kind of people I would want to continue vacationing with, or that I would want caring for my child at a sleep-over or some such thing. If they were local business owners (and apparently they are), I wouldn't want to give them my business, either. That's all I meant; I don't think I stated or implied anything more than that.

#278 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 04:53 PM:

Leah @276: You don't mention what you're getting out of belonging to that community apart from feeling at home there, but it'd have to be quite something to make me put up with living in fear. It sounds like an appalling little high-school smugfest. Drop 'em! Or post a link, I have a talent for annoying annoying people.

#279 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 05:16 PM:

abi: Interesting question. For pretty much everyone on this website, my answer is* "no one".

Jim: In that case, abi, you'd be perfectly justified in assuming that every single person here is a forty-year-old perv sitting around in his underwear.

I can say that I am not in my underwear.

As to the more relevant point. I’ve met a couple of the people who frequent here (TNH, PNH, at ConJose, Ulrika, and Bruce Arthurs, Lucy Huntziger and come immediately to mind; though I’d say that, in Jim’s terms, the only one I would say is a solid vouch is Ulrika, followed by Lucy. From a couple of passing moments in the Fan Lounge, I don’t think our Esteemed Hosts fulfill the requirements. Bruce and I haven’t spent enough time together in the past couple of decades for his vouch to be more than general. ).

But time is a great modifier. There are any number of people whom I’ve never met whom I trust to vouch for other people. Some of that vouching (Jim for Robert Glaub being trustworthy on intel) is fairly precise. Some of it, (Xopher for someone being a decent human being) is more general.
It’s kind of like getting a letter of introduction from one Meeting to another (Quakers still do that). I may not know anyone from the Santa Clara Meeting, but if they show up at Orange Grove, and need a place to stay (there are “traveling Friends” who make personal pilgrimages) I have no problem offering them the spare bed.

(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.

That, IMO, is the single greatest condemnation of the woman in the piece. Not knowing Megan was troubled is one thing, but saying, “she was weak, so our hounding her to death is less culpable,” that’s evil.

Funny (ha! ha!) This reminds me of some crap I’ve been dealing with so long (of rumor and innuendo) that it’s faded to general background noise. But I recall, when I put it into context, how painful it was (and I in my 30s) to look at friends and know they had, for reasons of personal gain/comfort cut me loose and said things against me. Looking at them, and being furious, and shamed, all at once. The saddening comfort which came from finding those who refused to believe it (saddening because something which ought to have been expected was extraorndinary) To be 13 and face that... good god, as Teresa said, Exhaustion, anhedonia, social and emotional withdrawal, apprehensiveness about things that previously wouldn't have frightened you, and chronically underestimating how much people care about you.

Been there. Thank god for people who cared enough to tell me what they thought of the whole mess. Who were actively supportive (even to the point of being willing to court some serious blowback in standing up for me). It's good I shall never meet the Drews (or at least that if I should, the odds of my knowing them for who they are is slim).

#280 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 05:23 PM:

Terry @ 279

Some of the exchanges on other threads make me think of the typewriter meeting years ago at LASFS. Fortunately time has blurred the details of that one (save for it being very acrimonious, and also loud), but tabling stuff for 17,000 years still seems a very good idea.

I think Lisa Drew should have had her bright idea tabled for about that long.

#281 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 05:27 PM:

Adrian Smith @ 278

Her group of friends is a small part of that community - probably less than 10%. The community is for a social activity that I love, and where I have responsibilities. And of the 10% who are friends with her, a large percent do realize the kind of things she does... they just don't want to see the knock-down drag-out community-destroying war that confronting her would bring. I don't blame them.

One of the big problems here is that the popular woman has, in the past, suffered from legitimate stalking. For a long time I gave her the benefit of the doubt, and chalked up her somewhat hysterical reactions to people's criticisms of her as a result of damage from previous encounters. I didn't think it was right, but I thought her past trauma had made her somewhat paranoid, and I felt some empathy. I also believe most of her supporters see her as a woman who has been through too much pain and who doesn't need any more. I don't think that they're bad people, just misled.

There have been a few times when I've wanted to scream, because someone has come into the community complaining that someone is harassing them, and she shows no mercy and says that those who harass others are the lowest form of scum, etc. I still believe it may be possible that she doesn't know what she's doing, or she really sees all those monsters...

Still... if someone is making you miserable, the knowledge that they're only doing it because they're probably a little mentally ill isn't very comforting.

It's also a hard question - do I make people who are friends with both of us choose? I can tell them how she makes me feel, but if I tell them we can't be friends unless they dump her, then I'm being just as bad as she is.

The whole situation is, as they say, bad news. That I have been able to stay in the community despite it should be seen as a testament to the rest of the decent people in there.

#282 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 05:35 PM:

P J, the Mother From Hell is named Lori Drew, not Lisa Drew.

#283 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 05:40 PM:

Mitch Wagner #131: I am 46 years old, and am fully dressed, in T-Shirt, long pants, underwear, socks, and shoes.

I am familiar with the T-Shirt, but what is this "underwear" of which you speak? Is it crucial survival gear one needs to survive in the Other Place with the Searing Light in the Sky that some say exists beyond the Magic Pizza Portal?

#284 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 05:42 PM:

Leah @281: Ah right, substantial investment, I see. Bummer.

#285 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 05:42 PM:

#254 ::: Piscusfiche pondered:
In the Linux community, people had key signings. You present your address and id and whatnot to somebody whose information has already been verified. They log this information, issue you a key, and all your changes to the Linux packages go out with your key, so that if malicious code were introduced they'd be able to track it down. I can kinda see that sort of thing gaining traction in the future not just among programmers, but among other types of social groups.

If you mean PGP keysignings, the problem with those is consistent - it's never anything close to a full mesh, and it relies on everybody in the trust chain having similar ideas of what "acceptable identity" is. I don't sign keys for people I've only just met, or who just show me government issued photo ID. Neither of those conditions tell me anything helpful about whether that person is somebody I'm willing to be a trust pointer for...

As far as the "met in person" tag goes, I've met a variety of the folks here in the flesh (and even dragged a few to here). Whether that says anything at all about me...

#286 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 05:44 PM:

My G-d. There's so much to be appalled by in this story; I can't even think of where to begin.

I can't even imagine how this must be for Megan's parents. When someone you love kills hirself, it's very common to feel somehow at fault. I spent the greater part of a year after my sister's death replaying her lest visit (two weeks prior), trying to figure out what I had done, or failed to do.

To know that there's someone out there who is, if not culpable, at least the beginning of a pretty damning causal chain? I'm not sure I could handle that. I certainly couldn't come out and say that I don't want retribution, just laws to make sure it never happens again.

I believe with all my heart that justice and vengeance are completely separate beasts, and not even in shouting distance of one another, and I know that vengeance is toxic and never-ending. But if that had been my son, I also know that I'm not a strong enough person to make the right choice.

This whole thing makes me tear up when I think about it. Here at work. Fully dressed, and not-yet-forty.

#287 ::: Dena Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 05:45 PM:

Romeo and Juliet ends up with a set of mind games that I am strongly reminded of - a case where mind games backfire badly.

The tragedy of Megan's death is not - despite the use of the internet - about the internet. It is about mind games, about overparenting by that Drew person trying to live her daughter's teens for her with all the experience and dirty tricks of an adult. Similar effects (a "social death" that leaves the victim seriously considering a self-applied actual death) have been brought about by lies and conniving pretty much since humans developed language. Or possibly earlier.

The technology that made Megan believe that a nonexistent "Josh" would court her should be a side issue; before the Internet it would have been the malicious mother leaving notes signed by the local homecoming king, with some excuse for why they can never communicate outside of notes until some condition is met ("I'm not allowed to date anyone new until after the mid-terms" or some such). It has never been hard to persuade a person of something they really wish was true.

The pertinent fact, I think, is that all the people involved in this tragic situation lived on the same street. The choice of harassment medium deserves less legislative attention than the actual harassment and malicious mischief, against which I am quite certain Missouri has legislated protection for its citizens. Why the local police or sheriff did not move in that direction is a mystery that bears some digging into, I think.

#288 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 05:47 PM:

Xopher @ 282

My bad. Sorry.
(Theoretically, I'm working. Of course, that can also be said about every one else around me.)

#289 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 05:47 PM:

i was in underpants & a bathrobe when i started reading this thread today, & am now in underwear, corduroys, & two shirts. um. i am twenty-six.

i met dan layman-kennedy briefly in person, & am glad he has been able to rise above a toxic situation (/person) & be with us still. alter s. reiss is my brother-in-law, & he's met teresa & patrick, & i imagine several other posters, from rec.arts.sf days. i missed meeting bruce cohen, speakertomatojuice, by being really stupid & not turning my cellphone on (bruce, i'm very sorry. i hope to make it up to you someday).

i was an odd one in primary & secondary school. probably the only thing that made me come through it ok was having a very close & loving family by design (hi, naomi libicki at 209!), & a best friend who had been pretty much raised with me.

#290 ::: mom of tragedy ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 05:56 PM:

We lose our children everyday to accidents, I know cause I lost my son 6mo. ago to a trucker who blew off a stop sign and killed my son while riding his bike to school. This on the other hand is down right murder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This mother should be tried for the loss of this girls life. Her parents are so devastated and believe me there is nothing worse than loosing your child and getting no justice. I hope they look at this case again and see it for what it is MURDER!!!!!!!!!!! shame on those parents that drove her to this. She may have already had issues, but without their internet harassment maybe she never would have gone there. My prayers go out this family and I hope they get the justice that they deserve.

#291 ::: wwolfette ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 06:02 PM:

The parents were responsible for their child's health. You cannot blame someone else for what rests squarely on this girl's parent's shoulders. This girl had clearly many deep seatedd problems before this incident. The parents are in denial and are trying to blame someone else for their failings. I'm disgusted with her parents if anyone. They are the ones who screwed up royaly. If this girl had a strong enough sense of self and her parents were in touch with her emotionally, she would have talked about it rather than do what she did. I see where this is all leading - an attempt to use this family as an example to control people's web use. I'm not saying I agree with the parent who pretended to be someone else. That in itself is unethical but the parents of the girl must take responsibility and examine their own actions or inactions.

#292 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 06:02 PM:

Jess A. at 277: I understand you didn't intend that the Drews should be attacked. But given the amount of public commentary now swirling around them, I don't think there's much more "outing" to be done. The individual members of this community -- parents, people who use whatever service the Drews provide, etc. -- pretty much have all the information they need to decide whether or not they want to vacation with these people, let them watch their kids, and so on.

I would hate to see some sort of community "shunning," to the point where they might have to sell their house and move, for example. (I know you said nothing about that -- I'm just riffing off your post.) It might feel good to make them move, but I don't think it would improve the situation -- except, now that I come to think of it, it might improve it for their daughter, who is going to go through all kinds of hell now.

Leah, you have my sympathy. I advise you to stay as far away as possible from this person, and if that triggers her animosity and retaliation, get out of there. Actually, you should probably get out now. None of what you describe is healthy or doing you any good. Some things to consider: 1)This can't be the only place you can engage in this activity that you love. 2)Other people will take up your responsibilities in this group, or not -- once you leave, that ceases to be your problem. 3) In six months, or two years, or whatever, this woman will have moved on, or the situation will have changed, and you will no longer be a target. You can go back to them if you choose to do so. (I don't think I would.)

I have met both Patrick and Teresa, I'm over 60, and I know and have hugged several other folks who post here, and it's nobody's business what I wear when I'm posting. Feel free to indulge your imaginations.

#293 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 06:04 PM:

Tania @#271: I suppose posting naked from my couch with a cat across my shoulders might be considered pervy.

No, but it sounds painful! I don't let my cat sit on my bare skin. Heck, even through a blanket, her enthusiasm can draw blood....

Another 41-year-old debatably-perv here... I was in PJs when I first read this thread, but I've since gotten dressed. And yeah, I've had my own introductions to online illusions, some less pleasant than others. In one case, I lost a friend, he almost lost his marriage, and... well, let's just say a whole bunch of folks lost their innocence. I don't think anyone actually committed suicide over that one, but the support group in question had a strong community and dedicated moderators.

#294 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 06:19 PM:

The group that Leah wrote about is, frankly, scary. They sound like people who need serious professional help - they sound like social predators.

#295 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 06:19 PM:

One day in June many years ago, I got a wedding announcement in the mail. My brother, it seemed, was getting married that same day, in California (I live in New Jersey, for those just joining). Please note, an announcement, not an invitation; he not only wasn't inviting me to his wedding, but wanted to make sure I wouldn't have time to just show up anyway (as if I would do something so gauche).

Well, that wasn't so bad. I wasn't that close to him, though I certainly would have gone to his wedding. What really hurt was finding out that everyone else in the family had known (since about February), had known that I didn't know, and had kept quiet about it at my brother's request.

In truth, I wasn't that good at keeping in touch, and I wasn't really on speaking terms with my father at that point (and for some time thereafter), but I had been in contact with my mother: on Mother's Day I'd sent her 13 yellow roses, and spent an hour or two talking with her on the phone, and she never said a word.

I wrote her a subzero letter about this, saying that I guess I couldn't blame her for keeping solidarity with the son who she'd actually have to deal with (they all live in CA now), and who might at some point provide her with grandchildren. I made it clear that I thought [NAME REDACTED] just didn't want the queer brother at the feast.

She wrote back words to the effect of "No, it's not that you're gay. It's that you're obnoxious, and he doesn't like you and never has."

Well, I didn't speak to my mother for years after that, though we exchanged emails. Certainly no more yellow roses were forthcoming. (When you're in shock, you regress to your early training, and mine was Behaviorism: don't reward behavior you want to extinguish.) I didn't speak to my brother for much longer than that.

It wasn't until years later that I found out that I had been excluded at the bride's request, because she felt her conservative relatives would not be able to accept me. Or so she said. I felt this was more or less equivalent to "I don't mind Mexicans, but if I let them eat at my restaurant my other customers will be offended," and I said so. Oh, I forgot to mention the bride was Mexican. Details.

I few years ago (and a decade of therapy later) I decided that I needed to let go of all that (I'd been leaning that way for some time, and hearing that the marriage in question had ended in a messy divorce pushed it over the edge). I decided not to mention it unless someone brought it up, and went to visit them for Christmas. Things were really stiff and awkward between me and my brother, not least because the Southern California sunshine made me jabber like an untied balloon. But we got through it. And I was all scared that my brother and my dad in particular, and the whole family in general, would be just waiting their chance to poke one of my known buttons and start a fight.

But they didn't. I wasn't the only one who'd worked on issues, apparently. My resolution to be just as nice to them as they were to me paid off in spades, as we tried to outdo each other in niceness (my family always finds some way to compete).

These days things are fine. I don't hang with my brother, but I bear him no ill will, and as far as I know that's mutual. My parents and I actually have had FUN together, which would have shocked me had you told me even 10 years ago that it would happen.

And my other two married sibs have good, strong marriages, one of which has given my mother a grandchild. See? Gotta invite the queer brother to the wedding if you want the marriage to last!

#296 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 06:31 PM:

I forgot to mention that I've met Patrick and Teresa and Jim and Avram (briefly) and several other people who post here. If Lizzy L is who I think she is, I've been an uki (if I use the term correctly) for a self-defense demo she gave at a convention once. I bet she wears Aikido pants while posting (hey, she said to indulge our imaginations).

#297 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 06:49 PM:

More media stuff:

According to the St Louis Post-Dispatch, some members of the local community have made their opinion about the Drews very clear over the past year.

Something claiming to be Lori Drew made a cartooney at hitsusa.

A bag of slime oozed onto blogspot to say that megan had it coming. Currently 502'd, but I have a saved copy on another computer.

#298 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 06:49 PM:

Leah Miller @ 281: "It's also a hard question - do I make people who are friends with both of us choose? I can tell them how she makes me feel, but if I tell them we can't be friends unless they dump her, then I'm being just as bad as she is."

In a similar situation, I tried to take that high road. In the end, what I felt/realised/paranoidly speculated was that when my friends didn't take a side... it felt like they had taken a side. Against me. This in a case where I was being roundly mistreated by a couple of parties who were trying to cast me as the villain (which, if you knew the details, was an absurdity beyond belief); much as I wanted to be even-handed, the way it hit my gut was that people who wanted to be friends with people who had treated me so viciously couldn't have that much affection or respect for me... therefore maybe they weren't my friends.
It took a lot of years to learn to accept some of them, but a lot I just left behind. Can't value yourself if you hang around people who accept your belittlement.

Oh, and I've never met anyone here. I'm a figment! Does that mean I don't have to wear clothes?

#299 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 06:52 PM:

Xopher: uke.

And yes, I think I've met Avram, once or twice, now as I think on it.

#300 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 06:55 PM:

I'm 34 and wearing my pajamas. And I can only think, right offhand, of one occasional commentor around here that I know I've met in person on a couple of occasions, and who has met a different (and more illustrious) subset of the Usual Suspects on a more recent occasion, but I'm going to leave it to that individual's discretion whether they really want to vouch for my existence.

Now, whenever Mr. Macdonald leads the grand expedition to go hunting for the glowing tombstone in Portsmouth, I'll see if I can swing down and illuminate the fluorosphere with my, uh, radiant wit or something. I really should have gone down there last month, I need to get some rum and Everything's Cheaper In New Hampshire.

#301 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 07:07 PM:

#291 wwolfette: You cannot blame someone else for what rests squarely on this girl's parent's shoulders.

Hi there. Welcome to Making Light.

Seeing as you're posting from California I presume that you, like most of us, only know what's been printed in the papers. Based on those reports, what else were Megan's parents supposed to be doing? They were monitoring her Internet use (far more closely than many of us do with our own children), they had her in therapy, they moved her to a new school to get away from bullying, and they had her under medical care.

Do you think that the Mom-Down-The-Street had any responsibility for the events? 25%? 10%? None? Would her phone call to the girl across the street while the ambulance was still at Megan's house, warning that girl to keep silent, show some hint of a guilty conscience?

What is your answer to the question, "Am I to be my brother's keeper?" What is your answer to the question, "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"

Is the protection of children solely the responsibility of each set of parents, or is there a general community responsibility?

Does the government have a legitimate interest in the health and safety of children?

Do you feel that the Mom-Down-The-Street acted morally? Did she act ethically? Do you feel that her actions should be the universal law for rational beings?

#302 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 07:21 PM:

Oh! On the subject of clothing -- I'm currently posting in my bathrobe, having managed to catch whatever ick is currently going around, and currently being in a state that involves my cats not only sleeping less than I am, but also having a vastly superior attention span, even in the face of shiny objects. (If I owe anybody email, I apologize... I'll eventually get better, catch up and respond)

#303 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 07:29 PM:

It's uke, Xopher, and gods that was a long time ago! No, I don't wear my gi pants in my home office, which is where the computer lives. My gi and hakama are at the dojo, unless I take 'em home to wash them.

Jim at 301, I deeply admire your patience. Great post. Let's see if you get a response...

#304 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 07:44 PM:

I appreciate the sympathy from everyone, but the last thing I wanted to do was paint the group I belong to as scary. It's really only three or four people there who have caused me specific distress, and I'd hate to see the entire community tarred with the same brush (despite the fact that I haven't outlined their actual identity here).

A while ago someone linked to an essay on Geek Social Fallacies. While I was originally indignant and felt the article was wrong in many ways, upon later and wiser re-readings I realized that the writer specified that all of the fallacies were actually good ideas that had been extended to the point of dysfunction. I think a LOT of trouble with persistent harassment being permitted in geek social circles comes from that very problem: some logically rational idea being extended to its breaking point, and people bending over backward not to be 'unfair' or 'take sides.'

There's a huge problem in geek social circles. The line of reasoning goes something like this: "If DudeA has never been mean to me specifically, and I haven't specifically witnessed DudeA being cruel to someone else, then I have to give DudeA the benefit of the doubt."

This makes it really easy for people who do their business in private messages and behind the scenes to get away with things. Hell, I've almost never disliked someone who didn't show naked hatred for me first (Unless I had definite evidence of them deliberately harming one of my friends). I've always been the peacemaker; I also tend to forgive just about anything that's done to me, if the person apologizes. Before this woman targeted me, I thought she could be reasoned with, and tried to make peace between her and the people she was having conflicts with on many occasions. I wish I knew a good way to disabuse people of this notion of infinite benefit of the doubt... but the fact is that I have a lot of trouble breaking the habit myself.

I have no fear of specific trolls and thugs - a troll has few real supporters, in most cases, and harms people deliberately, out in the open. The most dangerous people are the ones who are very, very nice to everyone until they are angry with them, and then they are very, very quiet about how they go about taking out that anger. They will always have a large cadre of supporters who say "DudeA has never said a mean thing about anyone! This person accusing them is obviously jealous/ugly/evil/mistaken."

I originally considered doing as several people here have suggested, and leaving the whole community - but if I did that, then that small handful of people would have won, and they would have eliminated one of the very few strong voices who will stand against them if something like this happens in the future. At this point I've gotten over it, for the most part. I'm still scared of them, yeah... but Teresa's symptom outline has helped me get even farther down that road to recovery, especially now that I realize that the fear is probably largely unjustified, and that people do care about me more than I think.

I think one of the things that will help me a lot is being able to talk about it here. I've avoided going into a lot of details about it with my friends over there because (and this is hilariously ironic) I didn't want to be seen as talking behind her back and getting her friends to turn against her. I may finally be able to get over that now, and talk with them. That's another flaw with my generation - we don't want to be seen as 'emo,' and we see whining to someone as putting a burden on them... so we avoid talking about this kind of stuff until we nearly break down.

#305 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 07:45 PM:

A bag of slime oozed onto blogspot to say that megan had it coming.

I assumed upon reading it that the blog was written by either a)a troll or b)a deeply misguided sympathiser to the Meiers, trying to whip people into a frenzy of outrage against the Drews - it's such a pallid and pathetic attempt at defending the indefensible it just didn't ring true. Who would seriously argue that someone dedserved to be hounded to death?

If it were written by (b), they must be very pleased that most people assume it was written either by Lori Drew or her daughter. But surely the Drews would be under legal advice to keep a low profile. Just doesn't ring true ...

#306 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 07:58 PM:

Lizzy 303: I'm pleased you remember. Do you remember a very earnest feminist (though at the time I would have said my Y chromosome disqualified me from the label) gayboy with frizzy blond curls?

I'm still earnest, feminist, and gay, but the blond curls have gone the way of all flesh.

#307 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 08:08 PM:

Another saying from the Fleet: "If you get out because of all the assholes, only assholes will be left."

(Private for you-know-who: "Most ships do, but few boast of it.")

#308 ::: Anne Mus ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 08:39 PM:

This is horrible...it makes me want to cry for her. I could never understand the amount of pain a person has to feel to take their own life. Though I admit I've silently thought out "What ifs" to console myself in times of despair in hopes of knowing I would be missed.

It breaks my heart when I find something like this. I'm not old enough to claim I have enough life experience to know what was behind that mother's intentions. But the media has been bringing stories of parent's 'accidentally' hurting or killing their children. Its heartbreaking.

#309 ::: Kelly McCullough ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 08:41 PM:

40 and wearing jeans, t-shirt, and several cats. I've spoken briefly with Patrick once or twice though I seriously doubt he remembers me. However I know at least one other Tor editor quite well, so I could probably establish that I exist if needed.

#310 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 08:48 PM:

Reading this, I am so glad that I was in middle and high school long before the age of MySpace.

#311 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 08:49 PM:

37, and it's far too chilly here with heating oil at $3/gallon to sit around in my underwear. I'm wearing a big purple sweater and black jeans.

I know I've met Mr. Macdonald last year, at Arisia, because I was doing consuite food prep when he was running the VP brunch. When I realized who he was, I praised his Cold Blows The Wind Today post. If Nancy L is the Nancy of nancybuttons, I've been aware of her since my first convention in 1984, but I doubt she'd know me from any other customer. And David Harmon might be the same one I knew from an MIT group c. 1987? Or maybe not.

There are also some people I only know from other online interactions, but recognize their presence and persona. (Hi, Madeline F.!)

And I read out the bit about "40 year old pervert in his underwear" to my 12-year-old daughter, who has an LJ but not a MySpace. I hope that the message will sink in, as well as the humor.

#312 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 08:54 PM:

Still wearing a T-shirt, pants, underwear, socks and shoes.

The same clothes as yesterday, as a matter of fact. I work from home, and my wife has gotten used to the odor.

#313 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 08:58 PM:

as we tried to outdo each other in niceness (my family always finds some way to compete).

LOL! Sounds like some sublimation going on there... usually a good thing! ;-)

#304: I like those Geek Fallacies, and it's nice to see somebody getting memetic terminology right!

I'll add that poor social skills (think Aspie) can include not really getting the idea of "reputation", and thereby screwing up in any of several ways -- soiling their own, failing to keep track of others', or being unable to separate malicious gossip from "mouth-to-mouth news".

#314 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 08:59 PM:

The thing that really hit me the deepest (at least as something I'd take away personally from what I've been reading about this) of all the terrible things surrounding this whole event, was the report of Tina and Megan's last words to each other: " 'I am so aggravated at you for doing this!' she told Megan.

Megan ran from the computer and left, but not without first telling Tina, 'You're supposed to be my mom! You're supposed to be on my side!' "

I can't imagine how I could go on if that's what I kept hearing over and over in my head and wishing there was some way to take it all back. I can't imagine how I'd go on even if my last words to my child were loving and supportive, but the extra load of guilt, seems to me, would be excruciating.

I'm not, just to be clear, trying to point any finger of blame at Tina - moms and daughters get into fights all the time and they blow over, how could anyone know this one would be different?

My daughter is 20 and I guess I was very, very lucky - I honestly can't remember having a fight with her from the time she was 12 to the present day. My son, whole different story in terms of his teen years, but he's 22 and in Iraq now, and I make sure that every conversation I have with him ends in me telling him I love him and am proud of him. I know that every time we talk, it could be the last time we talk.

If I ever do end up having words with my daughter, I hope this is so firmly fixed in my mind that I make sure that, no matter what angry words have just flown between us, I remember to tell her that I still, and always will, love her. Just in case.

(reality check: 50, never posts nude, met Teresa, Patrick and Serge at WorldCon in L.A. and Lee at NASFic)

#315 ::: Piscusfiche ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 09:11 PM:

Leah: Thanks for the link to the Geek Fallacies. A lot of your described experience really rings true with me.

Thena@ 300: I want to do a trip to the glowing tombstone myself. Maybe we should throw an unofficial Fluorosphere gathering, and pick a date.

#316 ::: LizT ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 09:16 PM:

My 12-year-old Fi said, when we talked about this tonight, "Kids do this now, with notes."

I pointed out the problem was a grownup was involved. So we discussed strategies for figuring out if someone was real. And she told me she didn't want to be on social-networking sites yet anyway. Then she angled to try to get us to buy her some anime downloads instead.

Yup, we love that kid.

#317 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 09:18 PM:

Xopher #296: I forgot to mention that I've met Patrick and Teresa and Jim and Avram (briefly) and several other people who post here.

I met Patrick at ArmadilloCon 18 in 1996, when he was Editor Guest of Honor. I thanked him for the quality of his posts on the GEnie SFRT, where he had recently won some flame wars in impressive fashion. I don't remember if I've met any other of ML's guiding lights in person.

#318 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 09:27 PM:

OT for RikiBeth @ #311: Quite possible, as I was hanging out with MIT crowds then. (I was actually studying at Harvard, albeit in fits and starts). The groups you might remember would be the PSG in meatspace, or the kin-shards online (being a relative newbie, I managed to stay on good terms with both sides of the split). I went to a few cons with the online crowd, too. Sometime around then I was also working for the Athena Project.

I dropped out of that social scene in the late 90's, eventually moving down to NYC. A few months ago, I moved further south to Virginia.

Glancing at your LJ page, I can't say I recognize you, but between one thing and another, I don't know how many folks from that era I would recognize! Regardless, if you want to go to E-mail for reminiscence, I'm game....

#319 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 10:22 PM:

Dawno: yeah the Iraq thing makes it hard. Letters are good. Phone calls were iffy, but when I could get them, they were golden (even the horrible one which was practically drowned out by the blackhawk... though as I recall {at the time} it sucked terribly to be on the phone; pointlessly).

Lizzy L.: Aikido?

#320 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 10:37 PM:

Dawno @ 314: And the worst of it is, that remark came as part of trying to protect her daughter. She'd been trying to monitor her daughter's use of MySpace, to be responsible, and unknowingly said the wrong thing.

#321 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 10:57 PM:

Meg, #201: At a slight tangent to your comment, another extremely common meme in the areas of romance and fantasy is, "If the man you want treats you like shit, it's just because he hasn't realized yet how much he loves you." On a cultural level, I consider this the equivalent of grooming women for exploitation by physical and emotional abusers.

James Marsters earned my undying respect for saying, in a speech at a convention where he was one of the media guests, that he was APPALLED by the number of women who considered Spike a desirable sexual partner. He went on to say, "If a man is mean to other people, sooner or later he'll be mean to YOU." That's a message that needs to be broadcast much more often and more loudly.

David, #207: You're probably right. And once again, I'm thinking about the Carrollton church bus disaster. What the article doesn't mention, but I remember from reading the media coverage during the trial, is that one of the primary defenses put forth was that if the bus had been more safely constructed, fewer people would have died. To me, that's exactly what Lori Drew is doing -- trying to pretend that SHE really had nothing to do with it, it was all because of the victim's prior problems anyhow.

Naomi, #209: Not "an attractive man" but "a STUNNINGLY attractive, perfect man". You're ignoring the bit about things that seem too good to be true, and there's a reason behind that aphorism. It's perfectly reasonable to teach young women that there are a lot of men out there who will like you for who you are, but that they are not likely to appear like magic just when Prince Charming would be a welcome visitor.

Side thought... I wonder where they got the picture they used for "Josh"? If it was something like an actor's publicity photo, I would think that person has grounds for action on the basis of unauthorized use of his image.

Doctor Science, #214: Of course anti-bullying campaigns have "liberal" written all over them. So did the abolitionist movement, and the women's suffrage movement, and the union movement, and the civil rights movement. Bullying is a normal and accepted part of current American culture, and cultural change is always spearheaded by liberals.

Dan, #252: Especially considering my therapist's reaction to the whole debacle was "But he's your father."

*incoherent sound* I have no words to properly describe my response to that. (Well, I sort of do, but they'd get their vowels removed.) You were absolutely dead right to fire that therapist, and I don't blame you a bit for being hesitant about sticking your head back into that fire-ants' nest after being so badly bitten the first time.

Xopher said something here not very long ago that seems appropriate in context: "It's often hard for someone who grew up in an unreasonable family to understand what being in a reasonable one is like. It's impossible for someone who grew up in a reasonable family to understand what being in an unreasonable one is like." Which in no way excuses what that therapist did to you, but probably does explain it.

Julia, #255: Don't you have a way to ban that person from commenting? (This is probably ignorance speaking; one of the things I like about LiveJournal is that it does let me ban both specific individuals and anonymous commenters.)

Side tangent... I am SO glad that both my parents died before I started having any significant online presence, and that I have little contact with anyone else in my family. I suspect that this has saved me a great deal of grief.

Greg, #265: I specifically use phrases like "letting go" or "walking away" to describe what you're talking about here, because there's such a lot of pressure to think of "forgiveness" as "saying it's all right". And I've had people try to scold me for not being "willing to forgive" someone who had hurt me so badly that I wasn't about to let them back into my life in any way, even though I was no longer wasting my own energy on being angry with them. To which I responded that if they didn't shut up about it, I'd be happy to include them in my invitation to the world as well.

Picusfiche, #270: See Theresa's comment @164. This is not a "small town" in any traditional sense of the definition; it's a rich-bedroom commuter suburb. I would expect any teenager living there to have a cellphone, home-schooled or not. In fact, I might expect a home-schooled kid to be more likely to have one, as Mom & Dad would want to use it as an activity-monitoring device.

Oh, all right, everyone else is jumping off the cliff. Age 51, wearing a Celtic-print tunic and nothing else. And let's see... I met, and briefly chatted with, Theresa at ConDFW a few years ago; I met James & Debra (and got them to sign all my Mageworlds books) at ConStellation a few years before that; I've known NancyL since ChiCon 1991, where I spent $100 on one rummage thru her tables; I knew Randolph for years on a.c., although we only met FTF at this year's NASFIC, which is also where I met Dawno; there are probably others I've met who I'm not remembering at the moment. Some of them would know me under the nick Celine. And I have a good sense of the "realness" of a lot of you who I haven't met.

(I do wonder whether "wwolfette" isn't someone trying to make trouble for another online acquaintance of mine who goes by "wolfette" without the extra W.)

#322 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 11:13 PM:

Dan, #252, I probably don't want to know if he's the Layman or Kennedy part of your name. My father has never used computers and is now in a locked ward for violent Alzheimer's patients. My brother and I sometimes wish there'd been a locked ward for him when we were kids. But if he were to show up and say things about me, I doubt they could be worse than the things he's already said to me and that's why I don't see him anymore. I'd just ban him.

#323 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 11:15 PM:

John @ 320 - and I'd bet that's where most of the arguments parents and kids have come from (at least it was in my experience with my son). We know what's coming if they go down a certain path and we want to protect them.

Sometimes they ignore you and do it anyway, but it'll be years (and sometimes never) before you hear them say "you were right, thanks for caring" - if you're lucky and they made it out of the situation ok. It makes me even sadder for Tina.

Terry @ 319 - I am one of the more fortunate ones in that my son has wireless internet access where he is and can IM and email me with some frequency. He also has a cell phone he got there and he calls fairly often, too. On the other hand, when I don't hear from him for a while, I get way too anxious. I hope this passes soon, the sleepless nights are taking a pretty heavy toll.

#324 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 11:20 PM:

Terry at 319: yeah. For 36 years. Also Iaido, for about 20.

Xopher at 306, amazingly enough, I do. Dimly. My hair's still there, but it's mostly silver.

Dawno at 314, you sound like one hell of a wonderful Mom. Blessings, on you and your kids. May they be safe.

#325 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 11:30 PM:

Thank you Lizzy - and as for the blessing, your lips to [insert name of higher power]'s ears. My daughter is going to drive all night to come home for Thanksgiving tonight!

#326 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 11:44 PM:

Leah Miller: That sounds like exactly the situation I was in some years ago... Except I've seen the end of the story.

I watched her and her circle of friends attempt to destroy the reputation of anyone who ever said anything bad about her within her hearing, again and again ... a social activity that I love, and where I have responsibilities ... they just don't want to see the knock-down drag-out community-destroying war that confronting her would bring ... if I [left], then that small handful of people would have won, and they would have eliminated one of the very few strong voices who will stand against them if something like this happens in the future...

--Don't help these people unless they've specifically asked you to
--Don't help people who won't stand up with you
--Don't stick around making a place nice if, in order to stick around, you must endure your reputation constantly dropping from the subtle attacks of a crazy person who has it in for you
--Don't stick around making a place nice if, in order to stick around, you must endure Oh Crap What Now twitches every time you see the name of some person of importance there

Search your feelings. Has this woman ever accepted someone again as a friend once she has it in her head that they're working against her? Does everyone else there have their own reasons, much like yours, that they will continue to endure the craziness after you have been shouldered out?

If you get out now, the fears you have about how a war would go need never be realized. Instead of a group of people you must forgive for not standing with you, you'll still have a group of people who would no doubt have totally gone to the mat for you if you'd needed them. Also, by leaving in a quiet time, you'll be much less likely to have her assassinating your character. Thus, you'll be saner and have more social ability to help others who must escape, instead of being "that crazy freak ok maybe I'm having problems but I wasn't bringing them on myself like she did".

I hope for you that however it turns out it will turn out pretty well.

#327 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 11:46 PM:

Dawno @ 314... 50, never posts nude, met Teresa, Patrick and Serge at WorldCon in L.A. and Lee at NASFic

52. No nude posting, but sometimes in a robe and hopefully a better sight then than Richard Grant was when thus attired in Whitnail and I. Have met Abi, Teresa, Patrick, Kathryn from Sunnyvale, David Goldfarb, Tom Whitmore, Dawno, Susan, Lisa Goldstein. Does all of that make me real?

#328 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 11:47 PM:

Lizzy L @324: I have no idea whether Terry's reaction is based on the same basis as I have, but the only context in which I've previously seen uke (and its counterpart seme) is yaoi fandom. My mind, it is boggled.

#329 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 11:52 PM:

#327 ::: Serge says:
Have met Abi, Teresa, Patrick, Kathryn from Sunnyvale, David Goldfarb, Tom Whitmore, Dawno, Susan, Lisa Goldstein. Does all of that make me real?

This is almost starting to sound like a certain story involving puppets, well meaning and less well meaning persons, and the trouble a young person can get into because they want to be real... er... Okay. I think I just twitched.

#330 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2007, 11:57 PM:

Julie L. at 328: no, the reference has nothing to do with yaoi. Aikido is a Japanese martial art. Uke means, "the one who falls" -- or is thrown.

#331 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 12:00 AM:

xeger @ 329... I'm really real. No sock. No muppet. Someone even left a message to me in the 6th issue of LAcon's newsletter last year. That has got to be the reality-concretizer.

#332 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 12:33 AM:

#331 ::: Serge asserted:
xeger @ 329... I'm really real. No sock. No muppet. Someone even left a message to me in the 6th issue of LAcon's newsletter last year. That has got to be the reality-concretizer.

I gotta say... now I want to figure out a way to have random messages inserted into the 6th issue of the next LAcon's newsletter... ;)

"Serge - xeger wants to investigate your quantum state. Will you vanish if observed?"

#333 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 12:52 AM:

Lizzy, in Yaoi the uke is what in America we'd call a bottom (often in many senses). You can see how the terms would be related.

#334 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 12:55 AM:

xeger @ 332... In that case, the message's author was trying to observe me and couldn't find me anywhere.

#335 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 01:04 AM:

Julie L: My reaction is probably exactly the same as Lizzie's, years of aikido means that uki is wrong.

Lizzie L: I've been doing aikido, off and on, for going on 14 years. I guessed aikido because iado isn't the sort of thing Xopher would be allowed to be uke for, and there's not much else where hakama are worn.

I'd like to do iado, but the only dojo I know of is so far away as to make it prohibitive (that and we plan to move to someplace where the aikido is great, but the iado non-existent).

#336 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 01:11 AM:

Dan Layman-Kennedy @ 252: "Especially considering my therapist's reaction to the whole debacle was "But he's your father." Alas, talk therapy and I also parted ways at that point, and we have not reached a reconciliation since."

It seems to me the main problem with talk therapy is that for it to work, the therapist has to be sane. Somehow, this never seems to be the case.

Leah Miller @ 276: If it helps, picture her as a forty year-old pervert sitting around in his underwear. Actually, I give this a damn good chance of being correct--I think 90% of all "beautiful" people are the internet are really exceptionally homely members of the opposite gender.

(And demanding photos from you? Ew.)

#337 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 01:14 AM:

My classical japanese is a bit patchy, but I believe the original meaning of Ukeru is "to receive," so the Uke is "one who receives." It also, amusingly enough means to take (damage or a lesson) and to catch (as in a ball), or to undergo. I could go on, a lot the of other funny definition variants add meaning to both the martial arts meaning and the yaoi one.

Two of my friends who are engaged illustrate this contrast perfectly. He used to do judo, she writes explicit fanfic. He finds the alternate meaning of Uke slightly disconcerting.

#338 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 01:14 AM:

Serge @ #334, "the message's author was trying to observe me"

So you're He-Who-Must-Be-Observed?

I haven't met anyone else who posts here in person that I'm aware of. Clifton Royston saw me (it turned out) in a local used bookstore once. And there was that recent marriage which informed our hosts that we were suddenly related. Since Teresa met my cousins then, I suppose that counts toward me being real.

#339 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 01:19 AM:

Dawno: re connections: I'm glad you have regular contact. The sense of worry about the empty times, will not go away. I'm sorry. When that happens the best thing to do is figure that no news is good news.

I recall my agonies when we got internet (in 2003, it was not common, and we had to strain our privileges to the utmost to get access, and then we had to fight like blazes to keep it). Maia had, in the intervening six weeks, given up on checking for e-mail, and I was tearing my hair out at the lack of response. I finally sent an email to someone else to tell her to check it.

Making Light was, actually, a great comfort because most of the places I might have wanted to go were blocked (bandwidth issues).

If I can help, just drop me a line.

#340 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 01:21 AM:

Terry Karney @ 335:

I guessed aikido because iado isn't the sort of thing Xopher would be allowed to be uke for,...
What a cutting rejection!

#341 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 02:51 AM:

Heresiarch @ 230

Damn, bit by the nannyfilter again. I composed this 12 hours ago and couldn't send it, then forgot about it completely (been hiding from a migraine since 4 this morning, so my memory is not what it should be). Apologies for the delay.

I really want to agree with you; the thing that stops me is that I don't see a lot of evidence that law enforcement is willing to enforce the laws that do exist, or that they will enforce any changed or new laws. What I see in a lot of local law enforcement situations* is that police, sheriffs, prosecutors, and often judges act as vigilantes themselves, trying to get revenge for the community in the name of justice, and not trying** to deal with problems which go outside the narrow confines of what they can easily do.

Maybe you're right, and we're better off being very conservative about the actions we take against people we consider transgressors. But I fear for the society I live in if it can't make clear that acts like this, especially ones that cause serious injury, mental or physical, or death, are not acceptable in civilized society. At times I fear that our society in fact doesn't feel that way and isn't civilized.

* both in my hometown and other towns whose news I happen to come across. Some of what I see locally has come from conversations with local lawyers and newspeople.
** in fact, trying not to

#342 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 03:41 AM:

Pyre: I think we should draw this to a close, lest the point be lost and the fine edge of discussion be lost.

#343 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 03:42 AM:

Pyre: I think we should draw this to a close, lest the point be lost and the fine edge of discussion be dulled.

#344 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 03:58 AM:

Who says there are no charges? Harrassment. The emotional distress one. And if the anti-paedophile laws can't be interpreted to prevent adults from pretending to be children to take advantage of those children non-sexually, they need some rewriting, because it's the same situation.

Teresa @ 48: that so many people were in on the creation of "Josh," but not one of them stopped to think that maybe it wasn't such a good idea.

It's almost always easier to send a room full of people to war than it is to send one or two. There's this saying -- about boys at a certain age, girls at a different age, but I think it applies to people in general whenever stirring up violence or discord -- that the group IQ is the lowest IQ in the group divided by the number of members...

But also there are other factors at play: people who do things like this frequently tend to have narcissistic personality disorder, for instance.

When I was about seven years old, I was kicked out of my Campfire troop for being weird. (That was pretty much the official reason: "you're weird and no one likes you.") Now, mind you, this was true -- I was weird and probably quite obnoxious, and no one liked me -- but then the troop leader handled this by writing a huge multi-page letter to my mother with this gigantic screed about how awful every member of my family was. It even contained nasty insults slung at my older brother -- who was generally quite mild-mannered, and whom she'd met maybe once.

My mother went on the warpath for a while and complained to everyone about it, but I privately thought good riddance once I realized this person was... not firing in all cylinders. And that lesson stuck with me -- if, in the sendoff, they give you a hundred reasons to not want to be there any longer, be grateful for the sendoff, even if it's a rude one. I feel lucky that I wasn't targeted more severely, looking back. I've had this happen as a child and very occasionally as an adult, and I know a lot of my social avoidance is aimed at preventing that kind of thing from ever, ever happening.

I don't know there's a moral to the story. I guess I just wanted to reconfirm that predatory adults are not just found in their underpants, so to speak.

Dawno, Terry Karney: Tor/Privoxy/Vidalia Bundle (a Mozilla add-on) slowly gets around the Great Firewall here; I don't know if it would also work elsewhere, but maybe give it a go?

#345 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 04:10 AM:

Oh, and from here, I've met Bruce Cohen, plus a couple of occasionals. I've met quite a number more of my Livejournal friends; a few years ago, I went on a roadtrip to visit about twenty of them.

#346 ::: Lindra ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 04:46 AM:

Speaking as a first-time poster and as a minor in my country (well, for the next three months) and a minor for some more years according to US law, where ML is based, I have a question which I haven't seen answered in roughly three years of reading ML and given earlier comments, this looks like the best time to ask:

What are ML's guidelines on minors commenting? Are we allowed to? I understand that this blog sometimes mentions topics which would be considered unsuitable for underage posters, and I take it as read that even if I want to comment to those, I probably shouldn't. Does that apply to ML as a whole?

#347 ::: Naomi Libicki ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 06:34 AM:

Lee #321:

A reasonable caution is undoubtedly a good idea. However, the line between "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is" and "If it's good, it probably isn't true" is not necessarily a clear and bright one, especially to a young teenager with an imperfect grasp of emotional nuance. I prefer to err on the side of optimism. This probably has something to do with the fact that I've had a basically good life, and nothing really bad has ever happened to me.

(Please not that the causation I'm implying goes in one direction -- I've had a good life, so I tend to be optimistic. In no way do I mean to imply that optimism will magically protect you from bad things.)

(Also for the record, I will be twenty-eight in a week and change, am fully clothed, and don't care to discuss my perversions or lack thereof at the moment. I've met probably between ten and twenty of the regular posters here, mostly casually. miriam beetle, however, can vouch for the last twenty-six years or so of my existence, although she probably remembers the first few of those imperfectly at best. Alter S. Reiss is better qualified to settle the pervert question.)

#348 ::: WaitsFan24 ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 06:54 AM:

Long time Making Light reader, first time Making Light poster. I've been following this story and regularly posting about it since it broke on Nov. 14. I'm thrilled to see it showing up in so many places, because I think people need to read it (for the record, I'm not in favor of posting the (supposed) perpetrators' addresses and contact info to the world; that's just asking for trouble).

An additional horrific component to this story, for me, was the fact that the parents down the street targeted someone whom they knew suffered from depression. As someon who has had this disease since age 7, I can say from experience that it can make you more vulnerable to sick games like this at *any* age. I've known depressed people who made suicide attempts after being targeted by sociopaths with some 'net savvy.

A few years ago, a really nasty person targeted a a friend who also has clinical depression. Said nasty person spread lies about my friend (that he was crazy, that he was a stalker and a pedophile, etc.), and got quite a few well-meaning people to buy it ... largely because he was friends with a few people (including me) she had decided were "crazy stalkers" who wanted to kill her. As an added piece of irony, his stalker also sent *me* a death threat (or got one of her friends to do it). I was very young then, just barely 20, and my mental health problems were still largely undiagnosed and untreated, so you can imagine how much this terrified me.

A few months later, my friend tried to take his life by overdosing on perscription pills. He was in his early to mid-20s at the time, and his attempt was serious enough to hospitalize him for several days. He should've been hospitalized longer, I think, but mental health care sucks where he lives. Although it was ultimately his decision to overdose, I still blame that disgusting woman for a large part of it. Shem like the family down the block, *knew* my friend had mental health issues.

Although I would never want to see laws passed to force people to be "nice" to each other, part of me really would not be sorry to see people who knowingly goad depressives (particularly with dares to kill themselves) to face at least some heavy fines. I mean, call me old fashioned but a society and its laws are only as good as how they treat the most vulnerable of citizens.

NB: I'm not posting with my usual handle or email address here only because I wouldn't want my friend to stumble across this and identify his story, or for people who know me to deduce who he is from my very abbreviated account. He's suffered enough these past several years, and I don't want to be the inadvertent cause of any more embarrassment or suffering.

But I do assure you that I'm 27, fully clothed and not at all a peverted old man. :)

#349 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 07:19 AM:

Lindra@346: What are ML's guidelines on minors commenting?

In the years I've been reading Making Light, I don't recall any mention of a restriction against minors commenting. But then I wasn't looking for it, being an old fart who long ago lost the ability to qualify as underage. hm.

#350 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 07:39 AM:

Lindra @ 346, I started on Usenet as a minor (and thank the Gods I did; if there's a reason I can count exactly zero suicide attempts/ideations in my own history, it's growing up late enough to get on the Internet as a teen) and so I'm shall we say very sensitive to attempts to restrict minors from communicating with older adults as they will.* Attempts which have only gotten worse over time, as the recent Livejournal debacle shows.

To my knowledge Making Light has none of these barriers in place, which is in keeping with its tendency to exemplify All That Was Good About Usenet. I've seen young teens come out as writers on this blog and be encouraged by the blessed folk here.

*As opposed to the other way around. I'm perfectly willing to say there should be restrictions preventing adults from, say, willfully misleading minors.

#351 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 08:00 AM:

I should ante up. Fifty, in my robe (with underwear on, thank you very much), and I've met Bill Higgins. I'm barely real.

#352 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 08:39 AM:

WaitsFan24 @ 348... I would never want to see laws passed to force people to be "nice" to each other

The Republicans call that legislating morality.

Shame can be a good weapon although not always swift enough. Sometimes a person's nasty nature finally catches up with her/him when they commit an act that gets thru to what little conscience they have. That happened to one of my aunts, who didn't like us, for some reason: when her husband got Alzheimer's, she started getting rid of his stuff, but he wasn't so far gone that he couldn't figure out what was going on. He passed away, and so did she eventually, but her last days apparently were filled with guilt. Good.

#353 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 09:18 AM:

Well, I'm 47 and currently dressed, although I confess to occasionally posting here in my underwear if it is early in the morning. I have met a couple of posters here, but my wife (reader, not poster) has met more than I. Does that make me real? I'd hate to find out I'm only a figment of my imagination...

Several years ago I was befriended by a poster with similar interests as mine on a Usenet highway-related newsgroup. We soon became friends and allies on the group, and he relied on my design experience to bolster several arguments he had with others online about various highway controversies in his state.

At times he would call on the weekends to just talk, and I soon found he was a very lonely person in real life, with nothing much other than his computer to keep him company. He would stay on the phone for hours, sometime until very late at night despite my efforts to end the conversation. When my wife and I were in his area on vacation, he arranged to meet us and again overstayed his visit, staying with us at the hotel until I literally had to push him out the door so we could rest.

Then, one time online, I disagreed with his position on an issue, and he sent me an email accusing me of "backstabbing" him on it. My attempts at explanation weren't good enough, and he began making public comments on the newsgroup questioning my integrity and legitimacy in my field of engineering. Pretty soon it got to the point that if I said anything referring to my experience on the newsgroup, he was questioning it and making pointed comments about whether I was qualified to even make such statements.

We were also both members of an email-based discussion group that he had created to avoid the controversies and arguments that always seemed to spring up in the public newsgroup. One day I found myself barred from the group, and when others asked why I wasn't posting there any longer, this person announced I had requested I be removed from the mailing list. One of the other participants emailed this exchange to me, at which point I emailed every other member of the mailing list a message saying that he had summarily removed me from the group without my permission. This revelation had several others question this person about his intentions, and he finally admitted he had removed me "because of our past disagreements". Several others promptly asked to be removed as well.

Since then he has emailed me threatening to actually call/email my supervisors at work in an attempt to verify my qualifications and work experience, and hinted that if I were to silence myself about issues he had an interest in, he would not do so. At the time I was running a website about a massive highway project I had been the lead design engineer on, and had given my responsibilities on that project and my work experience/qualifications there. He felt I had overstated my responsibilities and was looking for something he could accuse me of that could lead to me losing my professional licensing.

I called his bluff and told him to take his best shot, that my supervisors not only knew of the website, but they liked and approved of it. He then backed down, but since then he has not stopped the constant sniping and questioning when I post on that newsgroup.

I found the best tactic I could take with him was to use the killfile feature to not see his posts, and the majority of readers support my participation there, so he is now just a minor irritant to me.

#354 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 09:24 AM:

Marilee: If it's any consolation, the Kennedy side. My family-in-law has no shortage of fascinating disfunction, mind, but they're none of them Sith lords (AFAICT).

Lee, Heresiarch: My therapist was basically a nice person with some odd blinders about certain things that had to do with a certain quirky old-fashioned mindset. It's not that I got nothing out of my time in that arrangement, but that was the point at which I realized I wasn't really being listened to; it's not like I hadn't been talking about dear old dad's various atrocities for a long time by then. Sigh. I realize this has made me more gunshy about therapy than is really good for me, depressive that I am, but it's a little disheartening to realize that you've already developed more coping tools than the professional is giving you. And I'm a subversive, fannish bisexual, and under no illusions about what the odds are of finding someone who isn't going to think of at least one of those things as a disorder to be corrected.

On iaido: I have a friend who was practicing a few years ago (still is, as far as I know, but we've been out of touch for a while), and that is one of the most elegant and beautiful things to watch done, and also one of the most terrifying once you understand the applications. I have to hand it to any culture that devotes effort to solving problems like "What's the most efficient way to kill a guy standing in a doorway?" Amazing stuff.

#355 ::: Jan Vaněk jr. ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 09:27 AM:

I got to the article from the Lanaia Lee thread at the original blog, so I suppose most ML regulars already know it, but in case it's of any use to anybody else:

The Life and Death of Jesse James: An internet love mystery by the screenwriter of A History of Violence - the guy obviously has talent, but may be too close a pal with Harlan Ellison for his own (prose style's) good...

[Capsule, spoiler warning: A pro net impersonator tries to mind... um, ...rape a woman, but she's adult and has good friends. In the comment thread, if you can get to it, there's a link to her weblog, with all stuff before deleted, and even a YouTube of the video.]

#356 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 10:13 AM:

I'm in my mid-twenties and always wear at least pajamas while posting (it's getting cold here and I keep the heat at 60).

As far as I know, I have not met any of the other posters here in person. Perhaps this makes me a figment of someone's imagination.

If you google my name and the email address with which I post, you'll only find my posts here -- but if you google the email address I accidentally posted under a couple of times, you'll find me. I'm duking it out with a horseback riding therapist for Google primacy.

...Of course, now I go and google myself and Google has gone and changed the algorithms again, so that a lot of completely useless hits come up before either of us.

Anyway, Xopher has access to my Facebook profile and could run extensive background checks on me if necessary. So.

#357 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 10:24 AM:

Quick, before I have to go behind the nannyfilter again:
miriam beetle @ 289

It's not at all a problem; you'd told me you didn't know if your schedule would support a meeting, and I simply assumed you'd gotten jammed up and didn't have time to call. We'll do it some other time. If you're planning on being at that Extropian party at Galactic Center 10,000 years from now, I may see you there (I think there may be a competing bash in the Lesser Magellanic, and I've always been more for edges than centers).

A.J. Luxton @ 344

if, in the sendoff, they give you a hundred reasons to not want to be there any longer, be grateful for the sendoff, even if it's a rude one.

This is extremely good advice. Sometimes (see below) the best thing you can do is exit in as graceful a manner as possible, and never go back.

James Macdonald @ 301

Wizard. I'm not normally a fan of the Socratic dialog*, but you make it clear what a handy tool it is for gently calling into question closely-held and unexamined beliefs.

Xopher @ 295

Please save some mindspace to talk about this later. I really haven't time right now to do it any justice and it's an important topic for me. I've been almost completely estranged from my extended family (8 aunts/uncles, 30 cousins on my father's side) for the last 37 years, so it hits close to home.

Picusfiche @ 104
* you must be a very small fish - grin*

I was very lucky in that, as late as I started therapy, and even though it was for something totally different**, my therapist listened to my trials with my family and said, "I think you've adjusted reasonably to your own life and have put the problem behind you; I don't see any reason to look them up just to try to find some sort of rapprochement that isn't likely to be possible or helpful."

* Reading the Meno Dialog pretty much cured me of Platonism at an early age.
** Behavioral therapy for ADD

#358 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 10:26 AM:

Twenty-five, fully clothed at the moment, because I'm at work, though I've been known to read and post to ML in pretty much every state of dress or undress. The only poster here that I've ever met is Gursky, whom I went to college with, and I have no idea if he's met anybody else from here. So my reality is tenuous at best. Although Serge has my home address, which I suppose could be used against me should it come to that.

#359 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 10:49 AM:

I'm finding it interesting the way that the talk about this story keeps drifting from it being the parents of the other girl who were behind this, to it being the mother. And it's the mother who gets the worst of the discussion. The mother's first name, but not the father's, is posted, the mother's business address, but not the father's is given, the mother is the one who gets the worst insults and attacks - people have called her the "mother from hell," but no one has similarly talked about a "father from hell."

#360 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 10:51 AM:

The only poster here that I've ever met is Gursky, whom I went to college with, and I have no idea if he's met anybody else from here. So my reality is tenuous at best.

You know your own reality. You're reasonably confident of Gursky's reality. But for all you know, everyone else here (me included) could be a sockpuppet being run by Fred, a forty-year-old perv in Muncie, Indiana. Best not to even speculate on what he's wearing.

Best that you assume it's so. (Since I know neither you nor Gursky and I don't know anyone who does, I just have to ask -- Hey, Fred, how's the weather in Muncie? It's snowing here, and that's going to change to freezing rain tomorrow.)

The story of the Life and Death of Jesse James above (#355) reminds me of why we claim that various scam agents don't really exist. For example, Sherry Fine appears only as a signature line on letters that come from Robert "Adjudged Conman" Fletcher's literary agencies (operating under a variety of names) in Boca Raton. She, and any number of others, always post from the same ISP. And they have no other existence than as signatures on those letters. No one reports "I had lunch with Sherry Fine." No one named Sherry Fine entered her cat in the Boca Raton Ugly Cat Contest. There's nothing. No one who's met her. No one who's seen her. She has no interests. No hobbies. No job history. Nothing. Just a signature line on a form letter.

Real people meet others and make impressions and do things and talk and make mistakes and remember conversations and live in the world. Fakes ... don't.

#361 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 10:58 AM:

The mother's first name, but not the father's, is posted, the mother's business address, but not the father's is given....

That isn't strictly true. Both have been widely published on the 'Net.

The mother is the one who made the police report, and is the one who talked to the press.

Was the father one of the posters to the fake "Josh" account? Unless he was the unnamed part-time employee, he hasn't been identified as one of the four known posters.

#362 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 11:05 AM:

James @ 360: "Real people meet others and make impressions and do things and talk and make mistakes and remember conversations and live in the world. Fakes ... don't."

By their social gaffes shall ye know them?

Thirty-seven, wearing woefully mismatched flannel pyjamas (Happy Bunny bottom vs leopard print top). Working from the sofa on a snow day with a cat interfering with my mouse hand. An uncertified figment with however a useful history of online embarrassments to vouch for me.

#363 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 11:06 AM:

Leah @ 304

Actually the thought that keeps coming to mind, havign read your account, is 'psychic blowback - don't these people know it's corrosive?' - meaning, to me, that they're going to end up at least as damaged as anyone they've done that too.

57 (just), and dressed because I'm at work. (Usually fully clothed when I'm here, anyway, although there have been times when I couldn't sleep and came online.)

(Teresa, I still have hot pepper seeds for you from LACon. They'll be good for another couple of years.)

#364 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 11:09 AM:

Dan, #354: If/when you feel like having another go at therapy, the Kink-Aware Professionals List would be a good starting point. At this point, I would be looking there as well if I wanted a therapist; while I'm not kinky per se, my lifestyle and attitudes are sufficiently non-mainstream that I'd worry about the same thing.

#365 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 11:10 AM:

30, wearing combats and T-shirt and two pairs of socks (and underwear, lest I be accused of not being a pervert) and slightly real.

I haven't (knowingly) met any of the core trust network of frequent posters here, but I have two degrees to TNH in two directions I know of - neither of them mutual strong vouches, though.

Farah Mendlesohn would probably vouch for my existence, or at least the existence of someone who uses the same identity tokens as this post does and hasn't disclaimed them - connecting the two up provably is yet another problem.

#366 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 11:24 AM:

Lindra: (I am not any authority). I can't see any reason ML would have a policy to forbid your commenting. It seems to me that if one is allowed to read a discussion, one ought to be allowed to make reply.

It also seems to me that such a philosophy is in keeping with the mindset of those who run the place.

I'm amused in that I seem to be the only person here who falls, exactly, on the age at hand. Which age seems both perfectly normal, and absolutely unbelievable. In so many ways I feel the same age I ever was, and in others; not the least.

Dan Layman Kennedy: I don't know, and probably says, "something" about me that such things as the underlying source of iado (and any other number of martial arts) bothers me. I understand the lethal purpose of them (and western fencing, and the rifles, pistols, etc.). Is it the apparent disconnection/artfulness of it that gives you pause, that it's so spare that it's not immediately evident that it's origins are questions of lethal force?

#367 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 11:39 AM:

Terry Karney @ 342/343:

By all means let's sheathe the bladther.

But thanks all for a fascinating insight into the role of ukelele players in Japanese martial arts.

Who can carry a tune?

And who will fall amid tiny bubbles?

All at [you knew this was coming] the Don Ho Dojo.

#368 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 11:45 AM:

P.S. I vouch for my fifty-seven sockpuppets, and they for me. Top that.

Why is this necessary when our moderators can see IP numbers? Unless a lot of us are using their publishing firm's proxies?

As to the other questions.... Does a blanket count?

#369 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 11:45 AM:

Teresa: Do you want pepper seeds? I have six varieties from this year.

Anaheim/California (very good flavor, variably hot. Never more than could be made into rellenos).

Sichuan.

Pasilla

Cayenne

Cascabella (moderately hot. A couple of them in eggs made a very nice omellete)

Chile de Arbol/Thai.

The sichuan, cayenne and anaheim were all very productive. The pasilla was very tasty, but scant for fruit.

I'm making hot sauce from them.

#370 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 11:48 AM:

Pyre @ 368: "Does a blanket count?"

Depends: are you using it as a cape?

#371 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 11:59 AM:

Ursula L @ 359: By reports the mother was the ringleader: created the phony account, and recruited the others as help. (Also she was the one quoted on that incredible Megan-was-suicidal-anyway excuse.) I haven't seen anyone claim the father did squat in the "Josh" conspiracy, and I wonder how much he actually knew about it before too late. But his workplace has been very much posted, with its address and phone numbers and email addresses, and its website's page on him has been taken down.

#372 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 12:11 PM:

Bill @ 370: If it were red, I might, except for the risk of violating Cory's trademark.

But it's black, with grey printed Chinese dragons, and technically it's a quilted comforter, so its capeness might lack something in dramatic drapability.

#373 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 12:20 PM:

Terry Karney: Is it the apparent disconnection/artfulness of it that gives you pause, that it's so spare that it's not immediately evident that it's origins are questions of lethal force?

That's very well-put. It's such a quiet art, all tea-ceremony elegance and precision, that then it's all the more disconcerting when someone breaks it down and says "And this bit's where you flick the blood off the blade before you resheathe it."

Lee, thank you for that link. I was aware that there were lists of that kind out there, but was at a loss to even try and frame a Google query on it. Much appreciated.

#374 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 12:28 PM:

#362: By their social gaffes shall ye know them?
Unfortunately, that may be my inadvertent strategy to establishing existence.

The problem with anonymity is that the anonymous person faces no real negative consequence to being a complete jerk. Unfortunately, this is a problem to the community, not to the jerk. Certainly, no one could have constructed Josh if we had to identify ourselves at all times. However, there's, alas, nothing about using your real identity that prevents social gaffes.

Anonymity also has its good uses. Sometimes, the best way to get truth out is to do it anonymously. (e.g., whistleblowers who are trying to avoid retribution.) That there seem to be more jerks than whistleblowers is beside the point.

#372: If it were Cory's trademark, if you asked him nicely, he'd let you use it. It's probably xkcd's though. (However, asking nicely may still work.) I almost went to a Halloween party wearing goggles, a red cape, a mylar balloon. Then I realized that no one at that party would get the reference. I ended up going as "Special Forces Soldier Charlie Brown" instead. (This is what happens when you can't commit to a costume.)

Thirty-seven. Right now, I'm at home in sweats because my employer decreed that all its employees use their vacation days to take this week off. I attended Viable Paradise X. I've bumped into Teresa, Patrick, Jim and Debra at various cons. I also spent a terrific weekend with them at the VPX reunion. (HP7 spoiler: Guvf cnentencu srryf yvxrf jung nyy gur tbbq thlf va gur abiry qb gb pbaivapr rnpu bgure gung gurl npghnyyl ner jub gurl ybbx yvxr.)

#375 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 12:32 PM:

ethan @ 358... So my reality is tenuous at best. Although Serge has my home address, which I suppose could be used against me should it come to that.

You young fool!
Bwahahahah!!!

#376 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 12:38 PM:

John Chu @ 374: "I almost went to a Halloween party wearing goggles, a red cape, a mylar balloon."

Um... exactly where was the balloon positioned?

Around here the reason for the "almost" would be getting stopped on the way by people wearing police costumes.

The xkcd stick figures don't appear to be wearing clothes (other than hats, capes, oven mitts, & such accessories), which on one hand simplifies making Halloween costumes and on another hand creates a challenge for the non-anorexic trying to resemble the characters.

#377 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 12:54 PM:

Waved goodbye to 40 some while ago. I read & post in many states of dress, but for much of the year at home just wear a sarong, adding t-shirt & sox if it gets chilly. Perversion? Hmm. Opinions differ; nuffink illegal under current law.
Back in 2005, Neil Gaiman visited Australia, something I'd been hoping for for quite some time. He was in Sydney for only one day, with two events. It was the date I'd been booked in for day surgery for some months before I'd heard he was coming, so I missed both. Quite frustrating that was. Then fate also conspired against my attending the Sydney Writers' Festival last year where he was again. Am starting to wonder if meeting him is Something That Will Never Be. He would probably have been the only personal connection I'd have to much of this group. I'm not part of 'fandom' in Oz, and have never travelled to the Americas, so I doubt I've met the majority of y'all. There are a few other Australians who've commented here, some from other cities & states, but even if we did cross paths in Sydney, I wouldn't be using this ID in public. If you were at certain events in the Sydney Olympics or Royal Easter Show we may have been in the same crowd.

I do, however, keep a blog, email addresses and accounts at some sites under this name which have been around a fair while, and have commented, non-trollishly I hope, using it across quite a few places. I haven't disclosed this pseudonym to friends IRL. They know of my online presence and addresses under my main name, used for Serious, Weighty, and Official Communications as well as personal ones with them.

#378 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 12:58 PM:

I only blew in here on the "wanker wind" very recently, so I don't have any clue who any of you are in person, though I recognize a few authors whose work I've read. I've seen Neil Gaiman at one talk/book signing (Dreamhaven Books, MPLS, 2005?) and another talk at the Walker art center earlier this year (I think - it was cold, so it could have been late '06) but he still doesn't know me from any other fan, I'm sure. You can track me down on the 'net by variations on my current handle, and I posted in the Wanker thread a link to some "prose" of mine that has more ID in it. Heck, follow the trail long enough and you might actually know me from somewhere...

Oh, 32, at work and thus recently trained not to discuss state of dress/preferred personal activities...

Gotta run, darn conference calls.
Later,
-cajun
P.S. Therapy can help if you find a doctor who works well with you. It sucks when they go and pass away on you, though...

#379 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 01:18 PM:

HP7 spoiler: Guvf cnentencu srryf yvxrf jung nyy gur tbbq thlf va gur abiry qb gb pbaivapr rnpu bgure gung gurl npghnyyl ner jub gurl ybbx yvxr.

yby!

But seriously... re: the 'how real is the Internet and how seriously should we take things' angle -- in Germany we've had a couple of Columbine-like incidents, and also some threats. A lot of times the kids involved had posted to the internet, often to a German site similar to MySpace. Sometimes they've blatantly discussed their intentions, sometimes they've 'merely' written things such as glorifying Columbine. What's interesting to me is that other students have noticed these types of posts, gotten alarmed, and notified the police or school officials. There's a debate going on about school security, how the police can best respond, and so forth, but ...yeah, the internet is real, or at least it's safest to assume so.

My daughter (almost 16) is currently going out with someone she met on that internet site I mentioned. He doesn't go to her school or even live in our town. His internet persona seemed nice, but of course we were concerned about how legitimate it all was. He communicated to her that he'd be delighted to meet us (i.e., the parents) and have us meet him, and things have turned out well. But even before the Megan incident, all the possible problems involving chatrooms, MySpace, etc. have given me several grey hairs. The worst thing parents can do is not be aware about what their children are doing on the internet -- keeping in mind that their children could be perpetrators or victims. If I found out that my children were involved in cybermobbing, they would have their computer privileges removed faster than the speed of light.

Ahem. I'm in my late 40's, fully dressed, and nobody here's ever met me IRL, to my knowledge. (But if anyone's ever in the Düsseldorf area, I'd be delighted to meet up. Fully dressed.)

#380 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 01:34 PM:

All this talk of degrees of separation (my daughter met Neil Gaiman at Helena last spring, does that count?) and online relationships, and suicide, leaves me wondering if Jim or Doyle ever met the woman who went by the fandom name T'pauer, who was my first close online friend. She was an E-room charge nurse in Boston, but also worked in New Hampshire the last couple of years of her life. Those two years, she went from health disaster to employment disaster to combinations of both (notably a needle stick involving an end stage AIDS patient) before committing suicide in a place and manner she had described in detail to a wide group of online and 3D friends from Trek fandom and the ADDult community.

We tried, boy we tried, to talk her out of it, online, in person, on the telephone, but there were just too many highly probable ways for her to die, in pain, after long illness. One of the people I had met in person went to her funeral; I guess it was quite a deal.

Take from that what you will; to me, it looks like the diametrical opposite of the MySpace case.

(For the record, I've given away sufficient personal information, here and on lj, to find me via Google Earth. 55 and, at the moment, sitting here in an ankle length long sleeved fuzzy night gown).

#381 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 01:42 PM:

Lindra, I have never seen anything from Our Hosts or any front page commenter saying that minors aren't welcome to comment here. In fact only your forthright honesty has revealed you to be one; remember "on the internet no one knows you're a dog"? (And they mean an actual canine; it's a reference to a Spider Robinson story.)

I think Teresa judges people by the content of their posts (and the key question there is "is it civil?") not by their real or perceived age. I am not Teresa, nor Patrick, nor any of the FPCs; I'm only reporting what I've observed.

Bruce 357: Mindspace reserved. Please use appropriate keywords to call it up; I won't remember, since I have ADHD myself.

Lee 364: BLESS you for posting that! I know someone who really needs it. (I'm not going to look at it now, since I'm at work, but I will later.)

Pyre 367: I've joked with my bf about him being my uke-lay-lay. (Makes it shocking I forgot how to spell the damn word.) He wasn't familiar with the correct Hawai'ian pronunciation of 'ukulele', though, so he didn't get it.

#382 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 01:43 PM:

JESR @ 380... All this talk of degrees of separation

Did I tell you how quickly that takes me to Doctor Who, and to Ingmar Bergman?

#383 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 02:01 PM:

...the woman who went by the fandom name T'pauer, who was my first close online friend.

Long ago I knew a nurse who went by the name of T'Pehr. Same person?

#384 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 02:07 PM:

James @ 383... I knew a nurse who went by the name of T'Pehr

"What's your diagnostic?"
"Blood fever."
"Again?"

#385 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 02:31 PM:

James D. MacDonald, was she from Southie, and did she have a brother who was a career Army officer?

#386 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 02:36 PM:

I don't know where she was from or anything about her family. I do know that at one time she was planning to study to be a Doctor of Osteopathy (DO). I don't know if that ever happened.

As I say, this was a long, long time ago that I knew her. Thirty years or more. Was her real first initial "M"?

#387 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 02:48 PM:

No, her name started with J, different person entirely. I just wonderedif you'd run across her because she'd been active in fandom in the NE for a long while, and because she'd worked in emergency medicine in New Hampshire for a while (starting thirteen or fourteen years ago, when her regular job got borked by mergers and reorganizations).

#388 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 02:57 PM:

Lindra @346:

In the absence of any guidance from the owners of this blog, I'd say that you can be as young as you like as long as you're not being immature.

Which, based on your comment and the thought behind it, you're probably not.

Welcome. Do you write poetry?

#389 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 03:01 PM:

Abi @ 388... you can be as young as you like as long as you're not being immature.

Nyah nyah nyah...

#390 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 03:35 PM:

On the original topic: The Smoking Gun has gotten hold of the police report... the police report filed by Lori frelling Drew after it came out locally that she was behind the Josh character.

"Drew approached the sheriff's department last November, after "the neighborhood...found out her involvement in Megan's suicide and her neighbors have become hostile toward her and her family." Drew, the report noted, wanted the neighborhood tension to be documented in case any of her property was subsequently damaged."

Apparently she went "banging on their door" to talk to them, despite being advised to leave them alone, because it would have made her feel better.

I'm not going to trust myself to type anything else. Assume full disemvowellement and disemconsonance.

#391 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 04:00 PM:

Bill #390: I'm not going to trust myself to type anything else. Assume full disemvowellement and disemconsonance.

The shorthand I use for this kind of situation is "Please insert 1.3 terabytes of profanity here."

#392 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 04:04 PM:

Bill @390: Oh, [redacted]. Just how [redacted] can that [redactingly] [redacted] [redaction] [redact]?

I mean, seriously. [Redactionary redactment].

#393 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 04:09 PM:

The lady Drew has some serious synaptic disconnects ... contacting the Meiers in spite of being told not to, and thinking it would relieve her of responsibility?
Oh my aching clavicle.

#394 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 04:11 PM:

My favorite part of that was when she said the exchanges became "sexual for a 13 year old" and yet she continued. So, how is this not subject to child predator laws? Seriously? Because that seems.... predatory?

(29, dressed, and went to the same college as someone here, but not at the same time... so I think you're all figments of my imagination)

#395 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 04:15 PM:

EClaire @ 394: "My favorite part of that was when she said the exchanges became "sexual for a 13 year old" and yet she continued. So, how is this not subject to child predator laws? Seriously? Because that seems.... predatory?"

Seriously... and knowing how insecure Megan was, I have no doubt in my mind that any introduction of sexuality came from fakeJosh. Can't you just see three Mean Girls giggling in front of the computer and egging each other on?

#396 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 04:17 PM:

LFD sure sounds like a victim here. A victim of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

#397 ::: flowery tops ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 05:06 PM:

I just wanted to drop a quick note, as the poster formerly known as e/m/a/n/y/m/t/o/n/s/t/i, to the kind folks who responded to my tale of woe (Teresa, Piscusfiche) that the silent friend coincidentally rang me yesterday and after having it out with her, I suddenly feel human again. Turns out Martin Luther King Jr was right.

(I'm changing identities after it suddenly dawned on me, with a discordant clang, that the ex knows that old id, and is capable of searching via google and interfering with my privacy.)

#398 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 05:17 PM:

#387 JESR No, her name started with J, different person entirely.

Then let's lift a glass to absent friends.

#399 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 05:27 PM:

pj,

Actually the thought that keeps coming to mind, havign read your account, is 'psychic blowback - don't these people know it's corrosive?' - meaning, to me, that they're going to end up at least as damaged as anyone they've done that to.

yes, definitely. i so don't want to give details, but for a year, a couple of years back, a person decided that i was hir enemy, & the thing keeping hir from the happy life zey was meant to have.

in the end, people who care about people, rather than using them as ammo or props in the great story of their struggle, tend to have better friendships.

#400 ::: Viorica ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 05:32 PM:

Bill@ 395: and knowing how insecure Megan was, I have no doubt in my mind that any introduction of sexuality came from fakeJosh.

I'll bet good money it was for the purpose of the girl's daughter being able to call Megan a whore.

Really, this whole thing is horrifying, and puches more buttons than I'm comfortable with. I remember (from very recent expierence, actually) how badly a first relationship ending can hurt, especially if the other person ends it- and that's not even considering how callously "Josh" went about it. And adding in a history of emotional problems, it doesn't take a genius to see how a situation like that could end. This woman had to know what she was doing. And while I agree that vigilantism is crossing the line, she deserves some sort of punishment. Besides losing a foosball table, I mean. The self-entitlement there is disgusting- she's the injured party in this situation? Jesus Christ on a pogo stick, she has personality issues. And the idea that she did it for the purposes of monitoring Mgean's thoughts on her daughter is crap. If that was her motive, why terminate the so-called relationship?

I avoid MySpace as a rule, mostly because chatspeak irritates me to no end. That, and I criticised a popular book series on my blog, and got flamed. I do have a Facebook, but almost never use it- it's just for the sake of keeping in touch with friends who go to other schools. And as for online relationships, I'm not *that* desperate, thankfully. I left my insecurity over being single back in ninth grade. Thanks to Lori Drew, Megan never got the chance to.

(by the way, I'm wearing socks, pants, a tank top, a sweater, a bra, and underwear. Oh, and glasses. I'm also sixteen, so if anyone's the perv here . . .)

#401 ::: Dave Hutchinson ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 06:13 PM:

For the record, I'm 47 next month and I'm always fully-dressed when I post here.

#402 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 07:56 PM:

I spent about five years being an infrequent poster (but reader of almost everything, at least initially) in a newsgroup, a webmonger (exclusively about the newsgroup's main topic) and an IRC channel operator (spun off from the newsgroup). The web sites spawned real-world consequences, like account closures and threats from real lawyers (including one from a board member of EFA).

A few months before I finally walked away from the entire scene, a group of people from the newsgroup vilified me on the IRC channel for hours at a time, over a period of weeks. I was often the only op awake at the time, and as I felt that I couldn't use /ignore and retain my ability to protect the channel, I got to read it all. I'd go to bed, and when I woke up and scrolled back I'd find that it hadn't stopped. I was powerless to act because the rules for the channel explicitly stated that the operators could not ban, kick or silence people for the content of their speech...

The operators held fast and there was eventually a split, with the more rabid members going off to start their own IRC server.

The final straw for me was that thing with the pedophile, but that's another story.

#403 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 08:11 PM:

#401 ::: Dave Hutchinson stated:
For the record, I'm 47 next month and I'm always fully-dressed when I post here.

I can't get the refrain of "You're never fully dressed without a SMILE" out of my head, now... and the mental image is something else, indeed.

#404 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 08:35 PM:

Bruce@357: "I think you've adjusted reasonably to your own life and have put the problem behind you; I don't see any reason to look them up just to try to find some sort of rapprochement that isn't likely to be possible or helpful."

Good advice.

It is often that people want to look someone up like this because they're ready to let go of the stuff, and on some level they think that will make the other person willing to let go as well. Not always, but it is common.

But further questioning sometimes reveal that the client is actually making the other person's "letting go" as a function of their own completion with the past. What that ends up doing is making the clients well being a function of the other person accepting them. But their non-acceptance was what started the issue in the first place. Which is to say, the client is right where they started.

There isn't a lot of power in this approach because it really just enforces the situation that caused the problem in the first place. And even if the other person does decide to let it go now, something else could come up in the future where they disapprove, rendering the client back into the position of trying to get their approval, trying to get their acceptance, their understanding, their good graces.

And for some assholes, that just ain't gonna happen.

Which means the first thing that needs to be established for the client is a way to define themselves without being a function of this other person's acceptance. When the client can look at the other person without the filter that they need this person's acceptance, they can usually start to look at that person's behaviour more objectively and hopefully find whatever it is they need to let it go.

But it isn't uncommon for me to tell a client "It really isn't about them, because we can't change them. All we can do is change how you relate to this person given what they've done to you in the past and given they might continue doing it to you in the future."

#405 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 08:49 PM:

Xeger @ 403... "You're never fully dressed without a SMILE"

Skirting the real issue again?

#406 ::: Lindra ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 08:49 PM:

A.J. Luxton @ 350, Terry Karney @ 366,
Thank you for answering me - I think I can safely act upon common consensus.

Xopher @ 381,

They could be dogs, or they could be monkeys. A roomful of them, one word each, add half again as many monkeys for every sockpuppet. They might not be at the stage of writing Hamlet, but they can certainly troll. It would explain why so many sockpuppets are easily disambiguated.

abi @ 388,

Thanks! No, I don't write poetry. I have tried, but I've always been unable to continue after a few lines. My first impulse is to very, very bad overwrought emotional blank verse, and I laugh so hard at myself for playing into the stereotype that it's impossible to continue.

As for the original topic, I'd like to say that I'm surprised by this, but I'm not. This is something I've seen over and over again for as long as I was in primary and high school, and contributed to my dropping out after the first day of year twelve. That was my breaking point. I can educate myself without the bitching, backstabbing, ostracism and going to the bathroom to the unmistakable tune of someone trying to bawl as quietly as possible in the next stall over, thank you.

I think one of the salient points is that Megan already transferred from being bullied at another school before this started, and though her mother might've been confident that Megan was doing better, that may not have been the case when 'Josh' started up. According to what I've read, she found out enough of the hoax to start tossing out names of various classmates who might do such a thing to her, so there was clearly an alliance, probably centered around the Drew girl, already being used against her. The idea of what the next day at school would be like probably contributed to her suicide.

In school I saw this pattern all the time: transfers midway through the year, quiet broken-down sorts, the ones leaving our school midway through the year just as ghostly as the ones coming in. We sometimes heard about the people who had left, but more often than not we never did. The incoming transfers sometimes lasted, sometimes they didn't, but we remembered what they looked like when they first came in, and we knew exactly how vulnerable they still were. Half of them transferred again within a few months. Everyone knew most of them finally had the breakdown they'd tried to avoid by transferring to our school in the first place. Sometimes where everyone could see. It wasn't pretty.

My personal experience is pretty standard: woke up on schooldays and wanted to die, wished that weekends would last forever, camped out in the library in an attempt to ignore all of it. It's only been recently that I've been able to unwind and know that I'm free, I'm not in school anymore and I don't have to go back.

A few commenters mentioned they wouldn't have liked to be teenagers with the internet around. I take the opposite view - it was the internet which saved me. I wouldn't be here without it. It can be misused, hideously, but it can also be the Good Side of the Force.

Following that, thanks to all of you who try to help us, forums or IM or blogs. We don't always come back to thank you, or show any appreciation for what you say to us - signing off in a huff is a classic response - but we do remember you, and more often than not, you do help.

#407 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 08:55 PM:

Lindra... I don't think I said so before, but here goes...

Welcome to ML.

#408 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 09:09 PM:

Lindra @ 406: god, you just brought high school back to me... every day I am thankful that I had the most incredible principal. She expelled me in autumn of my last year, ostensibly because of skipping school; but with the hindsight of years I saw she did it to save me from the bullies. She let me come back to do exams in the spring, which, high school being high school, were easy enough with a week of cramming beforehand. Because of her I not only survived, but graduated and was able to eventually go on to college.
I wish everyone in that sort of situation could be so lucky.

#409 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 09:31 PM:

Lee @ 321 (sorry to take so long), it's not that simple, unfortunately. The comments I could deal with (although it dredged up a few things I could have lived without revisiting) but it moved into meatspace and got kind of ugly, and I've sort of eaten my seed corn for the year toughing-it-outwise.

Anyway, on the essential question of the day, 44, generally sweats or a nightshirt, and I know eight people here IRL, for various values of know.

#410 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 09:40 PM:

#405 ::: Serge quipped:
Xeger @ 403... "You're never fully dressed without a SMILE"

Skirting the real issue again?

Better than the dressing down I'd get (for being in my dressing gown, no less!)

#411 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 10:37 PM:

xeger @ 410... Better than the dressing down I'd get (for being in my dressing gown, no less!)

All right, nobody move while we garter the evidence.

#412 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 10:43 PM:

xeger @ 410... Better than the dressing down I'd get (for being in my dressing gown, no less!)

Serge @ 411... All right, nobody move while we garter the evidence.

Brace yourself - wouldn't want to be caught with your trousers down...

#413 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 11:03 PM:

Lindra: Thank you for writing that. It means a lot.

#414 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 11:08 PM:

xeger @ 403 "I can't get the refrain of "You're never fully dressed without a SMILE" out of my head

Why don't you belt it out for us? Time's a waisting!

#415 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 11:18 PM:

Every time I read about bullying in school, I repeat to myself: I don't want to homeschool, but I will if I have to. As in, I pledge that when I have a child of school age, I will keep up on my local state and city homeschooling requirements, and know exactly how long it will take to enact the necessary paperwork/whatever.

And if I see the signs of bullying— including simple, continual reluctance to go to school— I will enact those plans as quickly as humanly possible. If the teachers are unwilling or unable to deal with bullying (unable due to outside interference being quite plausible), I will simply take it out of their hands.

Bullying doesn't toughen children. It only toughens those who have self-confidence to begin with— children, in general, have fragile self-confidence and can't handle bullies with the confidence of adults.

And... um... I'm wearing pajama pants for the simple reason that my jeans won't fit for a while. And I can't say as I have met any ML posters, so I'll just have to steal the description of that friend of the family mentioned above and say I'm a brain in a jar. Wearing pajama pants.

#416 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 11:18 PM:

Lindra - well said. I too was a library lurker. I have to visit the HS I graduated from for my job, and these days they pretty much lock the students in the cafeteria during lunch. My high school experience would have been a living hell if I had not been able to escape to the library during lunch.

I was on BBSs in the late 80s, and BITNET and USENET in the early 90s, when I was leaving my teens. I am very appreciative for how the internet has helped me find like-souled* minds.

*Yes Serge. Souled, not soiled. You might have a soiled mind, but the rest of us are above that sort of thing!

#417 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 11:20 PM:

xeger... Tania... Is this when I start belting it out?

Oh, what a beautiful mornin',
Oh, what a beautiful day.
I got a beautiful feelin'
Ev'rything's goin' my way.

#418 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 11:25 PM:

Tania @ 416... like-souled mind

Or like-minded soles? Shoe'd I drop it?

#419 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 11:29 PM:

Serge... please... I was in a very amateur production of Oklahoma. I still have nightmares.

#420 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 11:54 PM:

Viorica @400 And while I agree that vigilantism is crossing the line, she deserves some sort of punishment.

I think she's going to get it. Plenty of people know about this now, and tracking her wherever she goes with the object of making sure her new neighbours are in the picture doesn't sound like a huge amount of work. And lots of geeks have memories of being bullied.

#421 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 11:59 PM:

Bill @ 395: "and knowing how insecure Megan was, I have no doubt in my mind that any introduction of sexuality came from fakeJosh."

Viorica @ 400: "I'll bet good money it was for the purpose of the girl's daughter being able to call Megan a whore."

Perhaps even with photographic proof provided by Megan. (Think of Vanessa Hudgens, whose pic emailed to a boy wound up posted all across the Web.)

#422 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 12:11 AM:

More than the rest of that last post from "Josh", the very last sentence just sticks in my brain like a cockleburr:

     "The world would be a better place without you."

What came before that was only generally vicious, nasty, mean, petty, cruel, sadistic, vindictive, and horrid.

But that last sentence, the capstone, reads to me as specifically urging Megan to commit suicide.

Am I reading it wrong? Ungenerously? In the worst possible way?

Or is that the same reading any reasonable person would give it?

(Let alone the reading a depressed 13-year-old girl would certainly give it?)

#423 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 12:18 AM:

#415 ::: B. Durbin wrote:
And... um... I'm wearing pajama pants for the simple reason that my jeans won't fit for a while. And I can't say as I have met any ML posters, so I'll just have to steal the description of that friend of the family mentioned above and say I'm a brain in a jar. Wearing pajama pants.

Hmm... the best I can come up with is something along the lines of ... so you're 'jamas jar'red bdurbin? -- and that's clearly stretching the pun so badly you'd need enormous ears to hear it...

#424 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 12:45 AM:

A tragic situation all the way around, and I'm hoping for some appropriate balancing of the scales for those who participated--and for those who knew but said nothing.

To those who have considered suicide, I'm glad you made the choice to live. (While my own life hasn't been all peaches and cream, it's been remarkably free of emotional trauma--yet there have still been times when suicide crossed my mind as a viable option. Not for long though; I knew I did have people in my life who cared about me, and I couldn't see leaving them behind with the mess (for multiple values of "mess".))

For the record, 49 in slightly less than twenty-seven hours; undies, French-terry sweatpants, t-shirt; never spend time on the computer unclothed due to potential cat damage and non-privacy-enhancing window placement; don't know anyone here, although I did get to chat very briefly with Neil Gaiman across a table at an Anansi Boys book-signing--and am almost always intimidated by the collective smarts of ML's FPCs and posters of comments. :)

#425 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 01:04 AM:

Pyre, #422: You're not wrong. The least nasty reading of that line is, "I wish you'd never been born," -- and that's stretching it. Saying that to a 13-year-old who's been bullied and has known depression issues? That's like standing on the sidewalk looking up at the guy on the ledge and screaming, "Jump! Jump!"

#426 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 01:12 AM:

Lindra, welcome!

In grade school and first three years (7-8-9) of high school I pretty much lived in the library. Books (and singing in the choir) saved my sanity.

I have said, in an earlier post, that I was not bullied as I see it manifesting today. But I was shunned and ostracized and treated with contempt. I hated grade school, hated (except for the books and the music) high school, graduated from it with the yell of joy which one might hear from a soul released from hell, and have over the past 40 years consciously and deliberately suppressed most of those memories, on the grounds that I truly do not need to carry around all that shit. If you can do that and remain healthy, I recommend it. (Don't know what a therapist might say to that. Don't particularly care.)

Pyre, I have no idea what these people were thinking. But yeah, that last line is gruesome. And I suspect if you challenged the intentions of the folks who thought it up they might say something like, "But we didn't mean it." Or, "We didn't think she'd take it so seriously...!" Or some other very-hard-to-believe statement.

#427 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 02:01 AM:

In my worst nightmares, I am always back at school, forever unable to leave it. I wake up sweating and shivering, frightened to go back to sleep. School was bloody hell, a maze of terrifying and agonised choices among competing miseries, hiding from a relentless search by all the shiny black crows for the slightest hint of a greyish feather.

I remember standing in the lunch queue looking, as was my wont, at the ground, feeling a tap on the shoulder, and turning around to receive a bony fist fair in the mouth. Now, OK, it wasn't any worse than a cut lip, but the thing is, I never saw the kid at all, and can remember only the laughter, which came from all around me. He'd done it for no reason at all.

I remember being beaten up in the library by three guys, one of whom later became an internationally known athlete. Apparently I looked culpably funny. In the library. At lunchtime.

I remember finishing the cross-country run and damn near dying, falling down three paces after the line, only to have the h/e/a/d/t/o/r/t/u/r/e/r phys. ed. teacher pick me out to go around the course with him and help him pick up the guys who'd passed out on the way. The temperature at the time was 95 degrees. I remember the teacher's words to this day: "There are cases even sadder than yours, Luckett."

You ever had the experience of a wet heading? It involves a toilet, and it's somewhat like being waterboarded with urine.

I think about my school days, and choke with anger and burn for revenge. It makes me a worse person. May God forgive me, and may He forgive them. I have tried, He knows I have tried, but I can't.

#428 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 02:11 AM:

I was bullied some places (and making sure I got a library pass was a daily ritual). I wasn't bullied in some places (much smaller schools.

I had other social outlets, and by the time I hit high school I managed (in very large schools) to find niches I could fit in (theater, musical theater, the paper, a like minded group of D&D/drama geeks). I also had fandom, and BBSs and books.

Serge, et al: Such gallus remarks, full of hatful spite, someone will sock you and then you'll be sorry.

#429 ::: flowery tops ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 02:12 AM:

I went to a bunch of different schools, and I always noticed that the schools I went to in the city (and it didn't matter whether the area was posh or not) were more cut throat in terms of peer groups and bullying. After a moderately unhappy early high school (at two different schools, and the all girl Catholic school was far nastier than the all girl state school) I ended up at a local mixed high school in an area with a really amazingly broad community. There were famous people's kids, artists, rich and poor, athletic kids, plain old middle class folks, all kinds, and it was a remarkably cohesive and friendly school community. I got into vintage clothes and was an art class weirdo. I didn't like school, but it wasn't, thankfully, because of the other kids.

I've had more trouble with cliques and bullying as an adult!

#430 ::: Nikki Jewell ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 02:49 AM:

The original story is just so sad. I can't understand why or how people could do such a thing. But what strikes me as sadder is that nearly everyone on this thread has, to different degrees, experienced the same thing. Why do people do these things?

I was a library-dweller at school too; my own worst dreams are of school; I've experienced that utter desolation that is a consequence of a parent doing or saying something that is unspeakably and deliberately cruel. I've also been lucky enough that none of it has ever been so bad that I've wanted to halt my existence.

At the same time, it has toughened me. I had (have) two ways of coping - one is simply avoidance, the other is fitting myself into a hard shell. From the outside, it looks as if nothing affects me. It's a continuing problem for me that I now find it hard to get out from under my shell and relate easily to people. I am just lost in admiration for all the people here who are brave enough to do that.

#431 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 02:53 AM:

Looking back at high school 4 and a half decades ago in the light of the MySpace story, and in light of what Lindra and others have said about their recent experiences, I conclude that I was very lucky. I was lonely and socially maladjusted on top of all the other common ills of adolescence, but I wasn't seriously bullied*. That gave me a few years before going out into the world of college and the military to get over the treatment of the previous years.

The interesting thing is that all that previous pain was in public schools, mostly in middle-class neighborhoods. The high school was a private part-boarding / part-day school, which you might think, based on all the nasty stories written about private schools, would be much worse. The difference was that the faculty really gave a damn about the kids, and made very sure to keep things like that from happening. It was also smaller than most schools (33 in my graduating class) which does fit the pattern others have described.

* that only lasted from kindergarten through 9th grade, after which I moved to the school I described in the link above.

#432 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 03:21 AM:

#429 ::: flowery tops the all girl Catholic school was far nastier than the all girl state school

All girl Catholic schools are the stuff of nightmares (mine was, anyhow). It's the nuns, as much as anything. I forewent the pleasure of our high school reunion after a week of nightmares wherein I axe murdered a few of the people who I guess I still harboured animus for, even though day to day I don't think about them. If it hadn't been for a particular teacher saying I would go to places they wouldn't even hear of on the right day (how he knew exactly what to say and when, I can only attribute to Grace), I could easily have ridden my bike onto the wrong side of a busy road. These days, I'd be worried about ruining some innocent motorist's day, but I was as self-absorbed as most teenagers.

It was a pleasure to shake the dust of that place from my feet, and an even greater one to get to Uni and find a whole bunch of people who had all been The Wierd One where they came from. And finding the Internet - through pleasure and out the other side, I tell you!

#433 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 03:47 AM:

Xopher@381: Actually, "Nobody knows you're a dog" is a reference to this New Yorker cartoon. Spider Robinson had a story where someone with Tourette's used the net to socialize, and another story with a talking dog, but I don't recall him combining them. (There's plenty of Callahan's material that postdates my giving up on the series, though, so it may be he did later -- but if so, I bet he was riffing on the cartoon, too.)

#434 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 05:56 AM:

Bill @ 419... Serge... please... I was in a very amateur production of Oklahoma. I still have nightmares.

From playing Jode? Me, I was sort-of involved in an amateur production of South Pacific: all I did was read the French stuff for the actor playing Emile so that he could imitate the accent of an actual francophone, instead of Rossano Brazzi's Italian accent.

#435 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 06:09 AM:

My last year in high-school turned out to be the best. Sure, there were some students who didn't care much for the nerd I was, but overall the school accepted me, and even liked me in spite of my quirks. Never got into a single fight. And yet... When I had a high-school dream last week, I found myself visiting not that school, but the one where I had begun that last high-school year, and which I precipitously had to leave after one week due to one such fight. The dream was a happy one as I walked around the 'present' version of that school. Plenty of kids running around from one classroom to the next. Why then was I happy? I think it's because I was now a grownup and there was nothing that school kids of my past could do to me anymore.

#436 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 06:51 AM:

Yet another library at lunchtime if possible dweller here.

I was bullied from age 10-12 and I retreated into books, the library and my own imagination. I actually finished reading the entire children's section of the local library.

I actually considered suicide during parts of it but decided to not go through with it because I thought my pet budgie would miss me.

Thinking back on it now I'm struck by how little the idea that my loving and fantastic parents would miss me entered into my head.

I got complex PTSD out of that period of my life. I've pretty much dealt with the whole experience now and I'm comfortable in groups these days and happy :)

It's worth reading about complex PTSD though, it's a variant of PTSD that happens when rather than acute trauma (a car accident, a terrorist attack, snake bite) a person has to deal with chronic trauma where they are powerless to leave the situation. It's usually talked about in relation to concentration camps, prison, brothels and spousal abuse but it applies to bullying in schools as well.

It was really brought home to me when several years after I'd left the school I had been bullied in, and thought I was mostly ok, I walked past one of the guys who had been the core bullies and heard him speak and just seeing him and hearing his voice (he didn't notice me at all then) made me almost have a panic attack. My heart beat went through the roof and I had a huge spike of adrenaline and went into immediate fight or flight mode. It was quite scary really. Especially since it has been years and I hadn't thought about those guys or the bullying for a long time. My hindbrain remembered, obviously.

#437 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 07:55 AM:

Yet another lunchtime library dweller. I wonder if anybody has studied the sociology of students who hang out in the library over lunch in preference to the cafeteria.

FWIW, I've since gone on to get a MLS, and, though I don't work in a library, I've always found them places of solace and comfort.

A favorite quote of mine, by Robert Hughes, with which I suspect many of you can relate:

"Libraries have always been home to me. They have seemed not inhibiting, not scary, but veritable lighthouses of Utopian order and generosity amid the clutter and ignorance and selfishness of so much of the life that is lived in this world."
BTW, 37, currently in a state of less-than-dressed, but I really ought to get up from the computer and ready for work (at which point I sit back down before a different computer, fully clothed)...

#438 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 08:15 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 341: "I really want to agree with you; the thing that stops me is that I don't see a lot of evidence that law enforcement is willing to enforce the laws that do exist, or that they will enforce any changed or new laws."

The answer to this is to fight for better law enforcement--if the police, prosecuters, etc. you have aren't willing to do the job you're paying them to do, get replace them.

Look, if you were fed up with the care provided by your local hospital, would you decide to start treating your neighbor's illnesses on your own, and let him treat yours? Of course not. We pay experts to do these jobs because they are not jobs that can be done adequately by amateurs.

"But I fear for the society I live in if it can't make clear that acts like this, especially ones that cause serious injury, mental or physical, or death, are not acceptable in civilized society."

I fear for the society I live in if people begin to believe that they can hand out punishments of their own devising, without recourse to a court of law.

(I support the organized shunning of the Drews roughly as much as I support the sewing of red letters onto the clothing of adulterers.)

#439 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 08:44 AM:

Nikki Jewell @ 430: "At the same time, it has toughened me. I had (have) two ways of coping - one is simply avoidance, the other is fitting myself into a hard shell. From the outside, it looks as if nothing affects me. It's a continuing problem for me that I now find it hard to get out from under my shell and relate easily to people."

I remember when I was a child (though I am still but an egg), and my parents told me "If you don't give them the response they're looking for, eventually they'll stop teasing you."

This is a lie.

Teasing you isn't always about teasing you; often it's about amusing their friends, or solidifying their place (above you) in the pecking order. A response from you might be a nice bonus, but it's hardly necessary. Being impassive earns you nothing--except a reputation as an emotionless weirdo.

These realizations are the fruit of hindsight. At the time, I just tried to give as little satisfaction as possible, and then, when it didn't work, tried harder. I learned not to show any response to anyone at all in the halls, because I could never tell whether it would be met with laughter.* Learning to wave at friends (when I finally found some) in the hallways was a major project in high school. I still have to remind myself to smile a lot of the time. I lost that instinct.

*Recently, I realized I can finally hear laughter and not automatically assume it's directed at me. It's nice to let go of that, at last.

#440 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 09:27 AM:

My mother died in a car crash right at the end of my junior year in high school. I really don't remember that summer, or my senior year for that matter. It was just something to get through, and it kept me busy, which was no doubt the best thing for me. I had some friends and some supportive teachers who helped me through that time, but I still blamed myself for her death for a couple years afterwards.

The worst part was riding the school bus every day, not being in school itself. There were always some local farmboys on the bus who had little to no interest in going to school, and enjoyed picking on anyone who wasn't like them. I had my share of harassment from them, but the time I slammed the local bully's face against the window and promised him next time he would go OUT the window was enough to cause him to leave me alone after that.

#441 ::: Seth Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 09:53 AM:

Heresiarch @ 438: I support the organized shunning of the Drews roughly as much as I support the sewing of red letters onto the clothing of adulterers.

Miss Manners once pointed out that customarily, there are a number of ways that polite society responds to impolite behavior, ranging from raised eyebrows to shunning, and the law only needs to be brought in when all these informal methods fail. If people give up on the informal methods, then that just leads to expanding the domain of the legal methods, and since the law is a blunt instrument, this is not an improvement.

So I think it's entirely appropriate that the Drews are being ostracized by their community: it seems beyond reasonable doubt that they have committed a very serious offense, and that offense is not being addressed by the courts.

#442 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 10:08 AM:

Thanks to everyone for sharing - David Goldfarb #433 mentioned Spider Robinson's Callahan series. ML, at least in this thread, is reminding me heavily of the titular bar in that series, in a good way. Pour me a few fingers of a nice, peaty, smoky highland single malt, please! (I would, but I'm at work again... darn policies...)

From what has been shared to date, my story is far less heartrending by comparison. My mountains would be another's molehills, but we only really live in our own minds most of the time (except for books, thank the gods for books!). Trying to write out my experience never really works out. Suffice to say I had what I considered at the time to be a typical angst-ridden pre-teen and teenage life, with a very welcome break occurring at age 13 due to a multi-state-distance family move, and another when I went away to university. I learned how to sublimate my more difficult to deal with emotional reactions, and built a pretty good "extrovert emulator" for dealing with parties and large groups. I think I overdid the sublimation bit, though - I got way too attached to a particular inanimate object (a vehicle in this case) and it was absolutely heartbreaking to have to give it up. It took me many years to let go of that vehicle. I built way too much of myself into it. At the time it was a huge help - here was something I had absolute control over and could totally zone out working on, plus it was self-propelled and represented the option to go somewhere else if things got bad enough. I went on many a destination-less drive just to be in my own place for an hour or so. My self-preservation instincts (coupled with heavy vehicle that was underpowered) kept me from doing anything too foolish behind the wheel - and the time I was waaaay to messed up emotionally to drive I went out on my bicycle instead and rode to exhaustion.

Suicide did come up, but I found one very strong counter to that. Took hitting rock bottom to discover how strong it was for me, but curiosity basically keeps me on this here planet, if nothing else. I'm a science geek, so the idea that literally anything is possible, combined with the knowledge that probability is almost never zero given an infinite universe (or multiverse), meant that something would be different tomorrow. Sure, it could get worse, but it could also get better. At least, it would be different in at least some small way, and bring with it another day's probabilities. Curiosity about what would happen the next day, and the day after that, and so on... Anything that can go down, can also go up. I wanted to be there when it did!

Happily, it has gotten better. Had some tough times adjusting to "the real world" after graduating from university and having that wonderful dorm full of fellow weirdos scatter across the globe, but I do okay now. Meds for maintenance, though - someday I may find a therapist who can help me figure out what the root cause is so I can fix that and perhaps not need the meds. I don't hesitate to recommend them to those who have a good doctor/patient relationship to help them find the right combination. I also warn rather strongly not to drastically change your meds without physician supervision - I can attest to a very scary episode that resulted from the experiment following the thought "I'm doing okay now, maybe I can taper off..." Trust me, you don't want to do that.

Thanks to all of you for providing a place where I feel okay typing about this stuff. It saddens me that the topic that generated this thread is about someone who didn't make it, but at least this thread came out of it, and that's at least something good, right?

Gotta run, work is where I am after all...
-cajun

#443 ::: Nikki Jewell ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 10:10 AM:

Heresiarch @ 439: Agreed about the learning to react normally to friends. Even now I find it hard to say good morning first to neighbours, just in case they don't respond. I make myself do it.

I'm not so sure about the being impassive not working, it did kind of work for me, in that some of the amusement factor was lost. Except that it worked so well that now my own mother thinks I'm an emotionless weirdo...oh well. It got me through school.

#444 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 10:34 AM:

Seth Gordon @ 441

Thank you for saying what I was trying to in a concise and clear way.

Heresiarch @ 438

Look, if you were fed up with the care provided by your local hospital, would you decide to start treating your neighbor's illnesses on your own, and let him treat yours?

I have had to deal with doctors whose indifference or incompetence made that an appealing option. Just because someone is an authority does not imply either benevolence or competence, and often does imply a level of ambition that excludes high levels of either.

The point that Seth makes is the key, I think: the power structure of law enforcement can't be used for everything; it's both insufficiently omnipresent and very overpowered. So we expect many tasks of smaller scope and lesser effect to be dealt with by citizens on the spot. Where the line between personal and official is drawn depends a lot on how much each is willing to do. I agree completely with you that vigilantism is a very dangerous practice in many ways, and that it can be a slippery slope. I'm not sure we get away from occasionally having to dance on that slope.

I won't go on about this subject any more since I really don't disagree with you; I'm just not willing to draw as clear a line. There are far more interesting and pleasant subjects for us to talk about.

#445 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 10:41 AM:

Heresiarch@438: The answer to this is to fight for better law enforcement--if the police, prosecuters, etc. you have aren't willing to do the job you're paying them to do, get replace them.

Most societal interactions are regulated informally by society itself, not the police. Individuals may choose at any time to enforce their personal boundaries, telling people to leave their home, their party, firing someone from their job, because they can no longer allow their behaviour to occur.

If every individual were unable to draw their own personal boundaries and instead had to defer this job to the police, the world would be in chaos.

Look, if you were fed up with the care provided by your local hospital, would you decide to start treating your neighbor's illnesses on your own, and let him treat yours? Of course not. We pay experts to do these jobs because they are not jobs that can be done adequately by amateurs.

This is not an "expert" job, however. This is any individual looking at what happened and saying "I don't condone what you did to this little girl".

I fear for the society I live in if people begin to believe that they can hand out punishments of their own devising, without recourse to a court of law.

You've simplified the spectrum into "let the police deal with it" and "mob violence". Somewhere in there is another option where folks are allowed to choose who they interact with and who they shun.

Bill Maher had a good quote "Don't be so tolerant that you tolerate intolerance." People have to be able to say "No".

I support the organized shunning of the Drews roughly as much as I support the sewing of red letters onto the clothing of adulterers.

If I'm walking down the street and run into a friend of mine, I'll stop and smile and have a talk. If I'm walking down the street and run into someone who I know to be a bastard, I keep walking. If he stops and tries to talk to me, I'd keep walking.

As far as it being "organized", the only question is whether people are telling the truth about what happened. Did the woman create a fake account? Did she befriend this girl through the fake account? Did she then through this fake account tell this girl certain things?

If the facts of the matter are being relayed, then whether or not it's "organized" is irrelevant. I might get the information from a newspaper. I might get it from someone who personally knew Megan. Doesn't matter as long as the facts of the matter are what's relayed. If someone is telling lies about the Drews then you can legislate that under the heading of "slander". But if it's truth, then the law is powerless.

And once I've read/heard/viewed those facts, I can make my own judgement about the Drews. That's part of being human: we judge. And you can't legislate that away.

Certainly if someone were to attack the Drews, that would be illegal and I wouldn't suport that either. But that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about "organized" and/or "shunning". And that basically requires us to stop being human, to stop being social. Because two things social human beings do is talk and assess.

#446 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 12:31 PM:

Heresiarch #338: The answer to this is to fight for better law enforcement--if the police, prosecuters, etc. you have aren't willing to do the job you're paying them to do, get replace them.

I mostly agree with what you're saying (and also mostly agree with what Bruce is saying), but I can't get behind this part because there's no mechanism for doing it. When the cops are bad, there's no recourse--particularly because it seems a majority of people are willfully blind to the problem when there is one.

#447 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 12:47 PM:

Heresiarch: The concept of "shunning" or "distancing" is part of what fuels ALL social interactions. It used to be perfectly okay for white people of my social class to be openly racist. Now it's not. What happened? Racism (at least, overt declarations of it) became socially unacceptable, and those who continued to practice it were distanced.

At this point, it does not appear that any legal action is going to be taken against the Drews. If there is also no social ostracism, that means they will not suffer any consequences at all for their actions -- thereby reinforcing the idea that this kind of behavior IS socially acceptable. I doubt that you would consider this a positive outcome.

I think Greg has put his finger on the point; you seem to be drawing a false dichotomy between "legal action" and "mob violence", when what's really being discussed is peer pressure.

#448 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 01:57 PM:

I've been away for the last few days (family stuff), but this story...

I've been the odd one out from about 7th grade on -- but one of my mother's friends/co-workers (who was both a doctor and a lawyer) took an interest in me, and his advice not only got me through high school, but proved to be equally useful later on.

College was wonderful -- there I found out about fandom, and a world of people who cared about books -- and where I finally met some fellow Pagans...from that point on life has been pretty good.

But that bit about high school being the "best years of your life" -- who ever came up with that lie deserves to be tarred and feathered. High school was hell, and the odds are that I'll never want to attend a high school reunion.

The only thing those years gave me was the ability to show no emotion whatsoever, no matter what is going down.

I'm 52, fully clothed, and have seen some of the other posters at SF cons. I help run a small filk convention in Central Ohio, so I'm certainly 'findable.'

#449 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 02:06 PM:

Part of me wishes more people would go look up the people who maltreated them and take vengeance. Dave Luckett's coach, for example. Must be pretty old by now. Fragile bones. TONS of fun.

It's not at all the nice part of me.

The nice part of me wants the people who were maltreated to be OK. The nice part of me knows that the damage is permanent, but hopes we all can grow around it, find ways to be so that it doesn't matter.

Even the nice part of me wants those people to DIE before they do it again. Reforming would be better, of course. Most of the people who mistreated me in high school are not bad people now. But people like Lori Drew, or the cyberbully I described upthread are adults (nominally) and are unlikely to change.

I'm happy to say that I no longer want them to suffer. In fact I want all their suffering to end, permanently, and as soon as possible.

Please note, I know what social damage it would do for anyone to take this into their own hands, and I'd vigorously oppose the state taking any such action. I'm speaking of a Bolt from the Blue kind of thing. I want them to die of sheer bad karma, not because someone hit them with a baseball bat.

I don't know whether to be glad or sorry I don't live in that kind of universe.

#450 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 02:11 PM:

Jane Haddam wrote one of her Gregor Demarkian mysteries about high school bullying coming back to haunt all the participants; I reviewed it at Library Thing. The book did take me back, although I was fortunate; there were half-a-dozen of us like-minded geeky sorts who could band together, and I don't instantly recall any active bullying directed at any of us or at anyone else.

#451 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 02:23 PM:

Xopher@449: I want them to die of sheer bad karma, not because someone hit them with a baseball bat. I don't know whether to be glad or sorry I don't live in that kind of universe.

I don't believe in some external karma that would produce a bolt out of the blue. I prefer that moral judgements be left in our hands, rather than some alien entity. Life is what we make of it. And I'm glad I live in that kind of universe.

#452 ::: Sylvie G ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 02:26 PM:

De-lurking because, as is the case for so many others here, this story has been pushing a whole lot of my buttons.

I have a fantasy of going to a reunion and confronting my old classmates and informing them that the only real knowledge I gained during those school years was that I wasn't deserving of love or friendship or even simple respect and dignity, and that it's taken me twenty years or so to finally start disbelieving that (with a long way to go still). In my fantasy, my former classmates are wrought with sorrow and remorse. In reality, I'm quite certain that their reaction would actually be, "What-ever. Loser."

I read a story like Megan's and think There but for the grace of God...

And yet there's no escaping from these people, even out of school. I work with a handful of adult, well educated and presumably mature women who I could very well see organizing an on-line harrassment campaign against one of us poor schlubs at work who would rather spend our money on books than on the latest fashions. It never goes away.

(If anyone really wants to know, I'm fully dressed, including a band-aid on my arm from the flu shot I got this morning. And if I'm a figment of someone's imagination, I wish they'd imagine me some new colleagues as well...)

#453 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 02:27 PM:

xopher#449: the not so nice part of me agrees with the not so nice part of you, and the nice part of me doesn't let the not so nice part of me watch "the crow" because it gets too worked up...

later,
-cajun
P.S. my posting style does change a bit from time to time. all lowercase is generally me trying to keep calm...

#454 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 02:29 PM:

The more I read, the more thankful I am that although I was a freak and an outcast, I wasn't bullied or harassed.

Xopher @ 449: It's not school-related, but there's a former co-worker I haven't yet been able to clear out of my brain. Occasionally something will come up to remind me of her and of just how much I want karma to backhand her into next week. I don't just hope that bad things happen to her, I want bad things to happen to her and be OBVIOUSLY the result of her own backstabbing, manipulative behavior.

And I'd like it to happen as publicly as possible, to boot.

*sigh* Yeah, more time on the meditation cushion is definitely called for. I'm tired of giving her free rent in my brain and would really like to let go of it completely.

#455 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 02:33 PM:

Linkmeister @ 450

And years later, they were still trying it. Fortunately their victim had grown past them. (I like those books, even when they aren't being much fun.)

#456 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 03:15 PM:

Speaking of neighbourhoods and pressure - there's a land grab case in Boulder, CO that's getting plenty of local attention.

#457 ::: Danny Vice ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 03:22 PM:

As details about Lori Drew's 6 week cyber-voyeur techniques emerged, the more I am convinced that outing this kind of behavior is not only right, but essential. Essential? Why?

It is becoming clearer and clearer that Lori Drew employed many of the same grooming techniques that child predators utilize to charm their way into gaining a child's trust. Even Lori herself reported to police that she created the MySpace account in order to find out what Megan was saying.

The most significant key here is that Lori Drew spent approximately 6 full weeks baiting Megan into this trust by posing as a "cute" boy that Megan would be attracted to. Right there, Drew utilizes the sexual stimulation that exists in male/female pair bonding in order to manipulate the 13 year old girl.

Lori Drew groomed her victim like many child predators do, enticing her with flirtation, mild sexual conversation and playing on Megan's weakness. Lori knew that Megan had a low self esteem and was treated for depression.

Outing Child Predators has been public policy in most states and is usually upheld under the premise that the public has a right to reasonably protect itself from criminal behavior where it exists. Families with children have a right to know when those who might prey upon their child, live nearby. Public policy dictates that if a child is exposed to potential harm from predatory activity, then parents should at least have the opportunity to be aware such harm may exist.

It is the predatory nature of this case that bears striking resemblance to the public policy. The only difference in this case is that the alleged perpetrator of this heinous act has not been charged or convicted.


Thus far, details in the case have been heavily supported by Lori Drew's own admissions, police records and interviews. The amount of speculation in this case has been minimal, and the majority of public outrage has largely focused on the facts presented.

The Missouri Public Records Act of 1961 were devised partially to inform the public of persons, events, proceedings and reports that may effect the public directly. These records (such as the charges Lori Drew filed against the Meier family), were the principal documents used to tie Lori Drew to her abhorrent acts. By filing this police report, Lori in effect put herself into the spot light. The Blogging community simply connected the dots and reported the results.

The Vice enjoys the sharp irony that Lori Drew's own actions, activities and zeal to hurt eventually lead to her own uncovering. As I see it, public policy laws and Lori Drew's own manipulations of those laws worked to her undoing. The Vice is appreciative for Lori Drew's assistance in these efforts.

Danny Vice
http://weeklyvice.blogspot.com

#458 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 03:25 PM:

Sylvie: Your comment is making me have to restrain myself from going off on one of my snobbery-is-bullying rants. Suffice to say that I'm unhappy that we-as-a-culture have enshrined and egged on the attitudes you're describing in our unseemly current fascination with various makeover shows on TV, which as far as I can tell are mostly excuses for people who are inclined to be cliquish assholes to indulge the worst parts of themselves for the sake of entertainment. I realize that some of my reaction to that sort of thing isn't rational, and I'm responding to a lot of triggery stuff from the less fun parts of my own childhood, but I'm really not joking when I say that What Not to Wear is a dark blot on the collective soul of humanity.

Xopher, I completely understand how you feel. I'm not immune to fantasies of comic-book-style vengeance myself; I mostly try to let them run their course in my head so I can let it go and get on with my life. I don't think we do ourselves any good by trying to beat that darkness in ourselves back, or pretending it isn't there. I like your acknowledgement that it's not very nice, but there it is. I feel much the same way, and I suspect that understanding that the Shadow is in me too is one of the things that keeps me from really indulging it in a destructive way.

But I do think there's real karma, just not in the way you're describing. When I think of my father (not to keep flogging this bit of unpleasantness from my life, just that it's my own point of connection to dealing with awful people), I think he's being punished more from just being the way he is than anything I or God could do; he's alienated his children, his friends, his family, and cut himself off from all kinds of joy that would come of letting go of his overinflated sense of entitlement and acting like a decent human being. He's trapped in a tiny little hell and really doesn't understand how he got in there. And he's really going to have to find his own way out of it, if he's ever going to at all. That's karma, I think; not retribution, just having to lie in the bed you made. When I think about him at all now, I don't wish misery on him. He's already miserable. I wish he'd find a genuine way to be happy, because happy people don't do the kind of things he does.

Doesn't mean we have to put up with abuse in our own lives, of course, but I find thinking of it that way provides a useful sense of perspective when I'm wishing hellfire and vengeance down on people who have acted dreadfully towards their fellow humans.

#459 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 03:57 PM:

As awful as my adolescence was, this thread is making me understand how much worse it could have been. I am and was morbidly obese, asthmatic, painfully shy, awkwardly geeky and sometimes annoyingly smart (but not necessarily in useful ways). At 35, I still haven't really figured out how to talk to people (read: women) in person, and haven't ever really been on a date date. In school I didn't have any close friends...but nearly everyone was at least friendly, and the only really overt teasing I can remember was near the beginning of my freshman year in highschool, from upperclassmen who didn't know me. Looking back, I'm wondering now who said what to whom to make that stop.

#460 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 04:13 PM:

I keep mentally stumbling over how so many adults happily forget the reality of teens, school and bulling. Only the victims of the abuse remember it. The abusers certainly don't and all the silent witnesses forget so the cycle keeps on going no matter how many hand wringing outcries there are when a particular case hits the evening news.

I managed to survive a lot of violence on the fuel of anger when the systems, institutions and adults I was told to believe in as protectors, so long as I did what was expected, failed me but I know many others did not make it to the other side.
The scars however never go away. I have to tell myself they are battle trophies to keep on going.

#461 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 04:45 PM:

#439 ::: Heresiarch @ 439

my parents told me "If you don't give them the response they're looking for, eventually they'll stop teasing you."

You got told that too? My mother told me that. I agree with you: it's a lie.

It -might- work, possibly, if you've never reacted, but once you've reacted even once, they know they can get a reaction again - if they just keep trying. Besides, how do you prevent reactions such as blushing or getting teary-eyed - you know, the involuntary reactions?

And bullying can be oh so subtle (certainly among girls) and almost impossible to describe or prove - a look, a giggle, raised eyebrows and smirks if you dare to answer a question in class and get it wrong, a foot to trip you up, followed by an oh-so-(in)sincere apology...

On the other hand, when I did finally tell my parents and they told the teacher, she made an announcement to the effect that certain people were bullying certain other people, no names needed, they knew who they were - and this was to stop. I remember the leader of the clique coming up to me just after the announcement and saying "Surely you don't think I'm on of the girls who's been treaing you badly?" I managed (for once) to look her in the eye and just say, very clearly, "You know you are" and walk away. It did get a lot better after that.

#462 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 04:55 PM:

The discussion of social pressure vs. legal pressure was an interesting tangent - I think they're very inter-related. What we're seeing now thanks to the media coverage is social pressure on the legal system to take this case more seriously than they did initially.

I'm not buying the line that there was nothing the Drews could have been charged with - I've read that before, and it's often just an excuse for not doing anything. The real reason could be that the prosecutors don't care, they aren't confident they can win, or just that the case is too complicated or indirect.

I'm with Stephen King on high school - "I don't trust people who look back on high school with fondness; too many of them were part of the overclass, those who were taunters instead of tauntees"

#463 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 05:13 PM:

That there is a profitable market for stories in which outcast dorks return in triumph over the status quo at the high school reunion tells us a lot. So many hold on to the fantasy that the enemy won't prosper after high school and one can rub their faces in it 10 years down the road or have a healing public confrontation in which they are applauded by the masses for finally speaking the wise truth to the bullies.
Sure it's a comedy but how many Romey and Michele's High School Reunion actually happen.

#464 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 05:17 PM:

Xopher #449: I want them to die of sheer bad karma, not because someone hit them with a baseball bat.

I wonder if CafePress can do baseball bats?

#465 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 05:28 PM:

Part of me wishes more people would go look up the people who maltreated them and take vengeance.
Along these lines, one of the funniest incidents in my life happened in high school when I managed to turn the tables. I blogged it here, if anyone wants to read for the vicarious comeuppance of a bad joke gone awry. [Setup involves uber-popular guy asking me to the Homecoming Dance]

Even the nice part of me wants those people to DIE before they do it again.
Columnist Leonard Pitts gave his take on the Meier story. He concludes:

So no, I don't want these folks hurt. I want them healthy. I want them long-lived. And I want them to be reminded, every day of their long, healthy lives, what a great joke they pulled.

#466 ::: Nikki Jewell ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 05:40 PM:

dcb @ 461 - I do think the no-response strategy can work, but it probably depends on the people, both the bully and the target, and on the type of bullying. I experienced the subtle girl bullying that you talked about, and particularly the so-called-friends turning against me. Not responding - at all - worked for me then. I didn't allow myself to get teary-eyed, because it felt like a simple matter of me vs. them, and I just had to win - couldn't let them. I took myself into my imagination and kept myself there.

It makes me furious that the long-term stuff they got me with is still there, but at least they don't know that. On the other hand, I think I was lucky not to get the systematic, constant, vicious bullying that some people on this thread have had.

And I wouldn't necessarily give out 'ignore them and they'll give up' as advice, mainly because I think the response has to depend on the people and the situation, and everyone has to find the way that suits them.

(The advice I got from my mother was "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, hit back harder than they hit you!" - and I can't see that as at all sensible, not when you're one against many. Unless of course you can find a subtler way to hit back; I know my mother meant physically.)

What is so achingly sad for me about Megan's case is that she must have felt she had no chance, that everybody, including the one person she'd tried to confide in, was against her, and that she had nothing and no-one she could turn to. She didn't even have a chance to develop any resources to fight them with.

I don't know about karma, but I do think the worst of these people are likely to end up friendless, lonely and bitter, and it will be the consequences they've made for themselves, and that seems fair enough to me. I'm content to let that happen.

#467 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 05:42 PM:

Lis @465:

Similar thing happened to me in middle school, and taught me coping skills that lasted till I got to college and a better signal:noise ratio among my peers.

This one guy (jock) was always asking me (geek) out in seventh grade. Always, but I knew he was joking. He'd make assignations, then claim he waited and waited for me. He'd lavish over the top compliments on me. Always in front of his friends, who were chuckling and snickering in the background.

After a time I found it funny, and gave back as good as I got. Our school had never a more eager suitor, nor a more reluctant maiden, that it did that year. He knew I found it as funny in my way as he did in his, and still he kept going.

Fast forward five years, to the graduation boat trip. The boat was coming back into the dock, and I found myself next to him at the rail. We were talking about colleges, and he started worrying at me out of the blue: would he like it? Would he get into a good fraternity?

Well, I could have sucker-punched him and had my revenge. Easy. But I remembered laughing, and remembered how many times having laughed with him made it easier to laugh or shrug off other, less amusing adversaries.

"Hey," I said, "Does the sun rise in the east? It'll be fine."

I've never seen him since, but I'm content with those parting words.

#468 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 06:40 PM:

Lis@465, quoting Leonard: So no, I don't want these folks hurt. I want them healthy. I want them long-lived.

The movie was meh, but there's a line in "300" where King Leonides looked at the spartan who'd betrayed them and said coldly, "may you live forever".

That one actually made me go "oof".

#469 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 07:03 PM:

#459 ::: Todd Larason mused:
At 35, I still haven't really figured out how to talk to people (read: women) in person, and haven't ever really been on a date date.

Hi Todd :) It's going to sound utterly unhelpful or disingenuous -- but women are just people. Don't talk to them differently... and try thinking of them as bumpy brothers instead of a different species (granted that women sometimes are a different species... but they're more often the same species ;) )

#470 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 07:03 PM:

I'm 53, my state of dress has changed while reading this thread, and I certainly hope I'm still what society considers perverted.

Posters here that I have met in person include Don Fitch, Arthur Hlavaty, Xopher, maybe Bruce Arthurs, possibly Patrick, and perhaps more of you who use handles I don't know. My Kevin Bacon number would be 4 if the project hadn't been canceled.

Dave Langford published my CoA in 1980 and it's still valid.

#471 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 07:24 PM:

I have also met fellow ML poster Nina. And Faren Miller, but that was long ago, before the internets - meaning circa 1990.

#472 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 07:41 PM:

Lis, #465: Yes, that's a nice fantasy to contemplate. And I think something along those lines is what those of us talking about "shunning" are envisioning -- that every single day something brings home the reality of what they did.

Sadly, that wouldn't be the most likely outcome. The entitlement mentality is too strong; instead of coming to terms with their own (moral if not legal) culpability, they'd just become more and more convinced of how they didn't really DO anything, and she was suicidal anyhow so it wasn't THEIR fault, and it's all just so UNFAIR for them to be PERSECUTED this way. And then they'd want to write a book about it and go on the talk-show circuit. As victims.

#473 ::: Jenett ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 07:56 PM:

Re: Xopher's comment @381

I've known way too many people who made it through their teens because they had adults to talk to online who understood interests that many people in their life teased them for (and also reassured them that life gets better) to think minors should just disappear online.

I actually think a well-developed, long-term, active community with a variety of posters is one of the *safest* places online, and that goes double for minors.

It's not that there can't still be jerks, trolls, and various kinds of unpleasant behavior. But the chances of it being called out in the open are so much higher than in a small and limited communities, or in one-on-one conversations. There's better potential damage control. (I am convinced you need a) geographic distribution, b) age distribution, and c) some kind of shared focus, but 'thoughtful discussion that goes below the surface' works, and d) some nuanced tools for dealing with problems.)

On the library thing: I currently work in a private high school library. I'm really aware of the kids I see there on their own (as opposed to chatting with friends), and I do what I can. The school can be cliqueish but crossing the line to bullying is still rare enough that it's a Big Topic when it happens. Doesn't matter: I keep making sure kids know it gets better later, and that there are other things out there.

#474 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 08:14 PM:

I have a Bacon number of 3.

#475 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 08:17 PM:

Which makes me average for most movie stars (the average Bacon Number seems to be 2.957).

It's possible I have a lower number, but I don't think so.

#476 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 08:37 PM:

Terry Karney... How did you get your Number?

#477 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 08:42 PM:

Nikki Jewell #466: The advice I got from my mother was "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, hit back harder than they hit you!" - and I can't see that as at all sensible, not when you're one against many.

Actually, that's not bad advice, but it's not about "winning" as such. Most bullies are essentially cowards -- they attack victims who (they think) can't hurt them. If you demonstrate that every time they beat you up, they will take at least some damage themselves, they're likely to lose the taste for picking on you. Of course, that won't help much against a "recreational fighter".

There may also be an equivalent with respect to the subtler social bullying, but that's squarely in my own weak spot, so I can't help you there.

The catch these days is that some bullies can escalate their threats to deadly force. Which is liable to get them put away, but that's small comfort to a corpse. (Come to think of it, I guess the Drew girl actually did a social equivalent of "pulling a knife" on Megan, by bringing in her mother.)

For my own case, I took some teasing for being "weird", but the real problem was my own inability to process social cues which made me unable to separate friendly joshing from nastiness. (It wasn't until I was 40 that I discovered Non-Verbal Learning Disability, and realized I had it.)

#478 ::: Lindra ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 09:38 PM:

Speaking of useless parental advice, my mother picked me up after school most days and asked me 'How was school today?' and I said: 'They hate me. Everybody hates me.'

Her advice?

'Just be friendly!'

#479 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 10:06 PM:

Serge: I committed a misdemeanor with Ruther Hauer, who did a film with Gary Oldman, who did a film with Bacon.

Of the various other "stars" I've interacted with... herm... let me check Judge Rheinhold... Nope, he isn't any closer to Bacon.

#480 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 10:23 PM:

My high school had a required two-part freshman course entitled "Challenge." (It was a small private school— this fulfilled the religion requirement for the year but wasn't very religious.) One of the teachers referred to it as "how to survive high school." This is the same teacher who told us that the people who said, "these are the best days of your lives" are wrong. I would add, amnesiac or lying.

I think everyone needs to hear "These are the best days of your lives" at that age... followed by "only if your life goes straight downhill from here. Seriously, at some point in your twenties you're going to look up and realize the hormones have stopped yanking your moods around like a Great Dane on a leash, you're in contact with friends you've chosen rather than just random people in your age group, and you've got opportunities all around you. Your teenage years generally suck— if they don't, you're pretty lucky. Just remember— it gets better from here."

#481 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 10:30 PM:

I found that looking them in the eye and telling them the fight they are trying to pick is something they don't want, works wonders.

But I seem to have an air of dangerous (or maybe having 120 lbs of skinny guy tell you that stepping outside is a bad idea; for you is in the realm of crazy), and that might have something to do with it.

I also am pretty good at compartmentalizing scared, am not really prone to physical intimidation, and know I can clean most people's clocks (see above, 120 lbs didn't leave me much time to appreciate the nuances of fair fighting).

I recall the only fight I ever caused. One of the kids in my complex was picking on a smaller kid, and I told him to cut it out. He tried to bully me into butting out. Didn't work.

We ended up with a crowd, and I beat him (managed to knock him down and had him pinned) when the apt. managers son decided that was dull and pulled me off, so the fight could continue. It ended when I stepped backwards and sprained my ankle.

Gerald ran off shouting, "I won, I won." He never did understand why I looked through him when he tried to play tough with me after that.

But he also didn't actually pick on anyone else.

#482 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 10:32 PM:

David @ 477: "If you demonstrate that every time they beat you up, they will take at least some damage themselves, they're likely to lose the taste for picking on you. Of course, that won't help much against a "recreational fighter"."

I've heard that too... didn't work for me. When I tried fighting back one day I just got labelled as "that crazy girl who fights boys". Made things worse in some respects.

Ah, school... so glad it's far behind me. But it's somewhat comforting to hear that so many of the excellent and interesting people here had the same sort of miserable time, and turned out so very well.

#483 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 11:08 PM:

Bill @#482: From your comment, I take it that you're female despite the "screen-name". Even in the original context, the advice was pretty specific to a particular type of bully. Inter-gender conflicts throw up a bunch of other wrinkles. (Also, boys beating on girls seems anomalous to me, for almost any age. Maybe I'm just older than I realize....)

#484 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 11:20 PM:

Regarding all-girl Catholic school as being worse: that's interesting, because I actually fled my public middle school nightmare for the relative shelter of all-girl Catholic schooldom, and it was successful for me. There's something about the way teenage girls act around boys that encourages a lot more meanness than I ever experienced in high school. In middle school I was cruelly mocked for having top grades. In high school, there were jokes, but they were of the jealous variety rather than the "you're a freak for being smart" variety. I definitely did the "hide in the library" routine, though it was generally hide in the bathroom, or else schedule violin lessons during technology class regularly, since the tormentors didn't have the chops to be in the same academic classes that I was in, just the extra stuff like home ec and tech.
High school was much better. The only real trauma I remember did have to do with nuns, but there just weren't many of them left by the early 90s, so it wasn't as bad as it could have been.

And as far as my realness and state of dress: I'm in a knit dress and tights (still in teacherly attire), and Serge has my home address as well. I'm starting to wonder if he's got some nefarious plan brewing...

#485 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 11:29 PM:

From Komarr, Ekaterin telling Miles about how the youngest of her older brothers used to taunt her (text slightly elided):

"What my mother told me was the way to get him to stop was for me to just not react. She said the same thing when I was teased at school, or upset about most anything. Be a stone statue, she said. Then it wouldn't be any fun for him, and he would stop.

"And he did stop. Or at least, he grew out of being a fourteen-year-old lout, and left for university. But I never unlearned to respond to attack by turning to stone. My mother was wrong, I think. But I'm stone all the way through, now, and it's too late."

Miles bit his knuckles, hard. Right. So at the dawn of puberty, she'd learned no one would defend her, she could not defend herself, and the only way to survive was to pretend to be dead.

#486 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 11:42 PM:

Terry@479: I committed a misdemeanor with Ruther Hauer, who

Do you mean Rutger Hauer, or do you...

Hey, wait a second...

misdemeanor???

I would wager my bacon number is pretty high, assuming I can't start with any of you folks here. Hm, although my wife might have a really low number. She does have quite a few interesting stories.

#487 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 11:52 PM:

#484 ::: kouredios commented:
And as far as my realness and state of dress: I'm in a knit dress and tights (still in teacherly attire), and Serge has my home address as well. I'm starting to wonder if he's got some nefarious plan brewing...

Starting to wonder?!? Heavens to Betsy chile! Bless your cute wooly socks, dear, but only -starting- to wonder?!?

#488 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 12:42 AM:

David 483,
"Inter-gender conflicts throw up a bunch of other wrinkles."

Understatement. I would never call the stalking, sexual assault and attempted rape on top of the beatings a wrinkle. Ooops there goes one of the old wounds again. But yes there are some unique experiences for girls from bullies.

#489 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 12:44 AM:

High Plains Drifter is on TV right now. This thread has made me realize why I like it so much.

#490 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 01:24 AM:

Hm. For me high school was rather a relief after the pure hell of junior high. Never considered suicide - one thing about being an artist is that (unlike gymnasts, ice skaters, and high school prom queens) you expect to have an long working life - and that that would come after school, and things would be better then.

As for the other questions, I'm over 40, not much more perverted than most, never post in just underwear (my studio's cold!) (tonight it's velvet skirt, velvet shirt, tights, and a leather jacket), my Bacon number is 3 (same as my QE II number).

I know that I'm imaginary in some senses, and I've met several people here, I think (Mary Kay, Xopher (only once, and I'm not sure you noticed), Terry Karney, and at least two of our hosts).

As for what to do about Ms. Drew, et al? I vote for hauling in the big guns; I've listed everyone involved in this sorry mess in my prayers of intercession this week.

#491 ::: Teapot7 ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 01:25 AM:

I hope this isn't going to be considered too off topic for this thread, but I feel that we've drifted into the general area of toxic human interactions, so I ask your for your forbearance.

btw - I'm a long time though infrequent poster here, but am anonymising myself in a just-this-once fit of paranoia. If anyone is curious they can ask, but it's not relevant.

Anyway... my niece visited town for a couple of days with her new boyfriend. She's 17 and pretty passive. He's smooth, attractive, affectionate, self centered. My first impression of him was good. Then I got the worried phone call from my dad, who'd got the worried phone call from my sister, and started getting a different picture:

- he hates her going out with her friends
- he's gone and got a job at the fast food place where she works
- he's trying to get her a job at his second place of work, a restaurant
- she goes to uni, he doesn't. So he shows up there and hangs around to be with her.
- he's been giving her quite lavish gifts from very early on
- he tells other people he has to watch her because she can't be trusted
- he seems to have a very limited set of friends - none male - despite being charming at first glance
- dominant in converation, all topics turn towards him and what he's done/where he's been etc.
- comes across as very hard done by/wounded when thwarted
- my cat doesn't like him :)

I don't know if I'm expressing this well, but it comes across as a catalogue of mostly individually harmless characteristics which collectively paint a picture of an insecure narcissistic controlling individual who has some problems with boundaries. The paranoid part of me is more than ready to picture this escalating badly. Other parts of me say it's a normal teenage relationship and that I wouldn't be thinking bad things if I hadn't been prepped to. Every member of my family who's met him (her sister, parents, grandparents, uncle and aunt) has been left with the same impression though, so either there's some powerful groupthink happening, or there's something wrong for real.

I don't want to run her life for her, and I know there's not much point saying "hey, drop that boyfriend - he's no good for you" to a teenage girl...

From much reading of Making Light, I think the locals have both much wisdom, and much experience of doubtful relationships, and I'd like to know what sort of impression this makes on people - alarm bells? - and what you may have done about winding up obsessive/controlling relationships, and do you think this sounds like a problem?

#492 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 01:33 AM:

Teapot7 @ 491 - the best advice I can give boils down to being there, being supportive, and -not- trying to run her life for her, or doing much more than expressing gentle doubt, once. It sounds like it'll likely end in tears, but the surest way to chase a teenager away involves unsolicited (especially negative) advice about the person they're currently fond of.

There's a time when you get to make your own mistakes - it's a blessing when you've got folk to help pick you up after making your mistakes, that don't say "I told you so", and just generally let you know you're loved and cared about.

#493 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 01:40 AM:

I don't know what my Bacon Number is, but I did shake hands with James Michener. He made it a point to meet everyone at our printing company because we were running his book Texas on our presses.

Another possible point of entry for me into the Baconsphere might be Bruce Sterling, who made some appearances on Nightline. My bbs was the official online presence of his Cheap Truth zine back in the day.

#494 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 02:21 AM:

Terry Karney at #479:

Actually, your Bacon number is three: Kevin Bacon's Bacon number is defined as "zero" - so Oldman has a BN of "one", Hauer is a "two", which gives you a Bacon number of "three".

(I know this only because I looked up my own Bacon number....)

#495 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 02:29 AM:

Teapot, #491: These are the two that set off screaming alarm bells for me:
- he hates her going out with her friends
- he tells other people he has to watch her because she can't be trusted

Isolating the victim from other support systems (AKA reality checks) is one of the prime hallmarks of an abuser. Several of the other bits fall into that pattern as well -- him getting a job where she works, trying to get her a job where he works, showing up at her school to hang out (so that she can't hang out with anyone else). This isn't just boundary issues. And running her down to other people is a preliminary to the abuse escalating from emotional to physical. ("I *said* she couldn't be trusted, and then she proved it, so I had to teach her a lesson!")

Here is a link to something I posted a while back about red flags for online dating. Actually, only a few of them are completely online-specific; the rest are equally applicable to a real-life relationship. If you can print out the list and get her to read it, she might notice that there's a problem. If possible, do this in a different context -- for example, a discussion of some high-profile abuse case -- so that she doesn't see it as pointed straight at her, which (as you note) will probably just make her dig in her heels and balk. The last thing you want to have happen is for her to ignore her own internal warnings because that would feel like caving in!

#496 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 03:06 AM:

Greg London @451: I prefer that moral judgements be left in our hands, rather than some alien entity.

As (I imagine) you know (Bob), ostracism comes from ancient Athenian law, where yearly the citizens were allowed to banish a particular citizen, for any reason, by majority vote. Apparently the votes were taken in an anonymous ballot, scrawled on potsherds (called ostraka in Greek). It would be nice to vote some people off the island.

I liked the version in Michaelmas by Algris Budrys. At the risk of spoilering one element of the story, an advanced AI is used to punish an unscrupulous media personality: when the mike or camera is put to the guy, the signal is corrupted; he has become persona non grata to all media.

Of course, this was also an alien entity; in the story, there was only one person providing moral guidance to the AI (hoping that by the time he was dead, the AI would have developed enough of a moral sense to secretly rule the world wisely).

#497 ::: Juliet E McKenna ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 04:39 AM:

On the whole bad karma retribution thing. The instigator of the bullies who made my elder son's life hell is currently getting more grief than most folk see in a lifetime.

As is the wholly innocent and delightful sibling.

The only thing likely to keep one parent out of jail for causing death by dangerous driving is the fact that the other is in the terminal stage of cancer.

This doesn't change what happened to my son or make anything 'better'. It just makes me terribly, terribly sad.

#498 ::: Juliet E McKenna ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 04:46 AM:

For the record, wearing jeans and sweater with appropriate underpinnings. 42. Have met PNH in Dublin and listened appreciatively along with a roomful of others to TNH on worldbuilding at Boskone in 2003.

Where I think I met some of the other folk here. If that's where Lizzy L did her aikido demo before a sunday morning panel, I was the other woman aikidoka there.

Also spent secondary school lunch breaks in the library. Would never tell any teenager those are the best years of your life. Generally tell them there is no amount of money in the world that would convince me to go through it again. And that every decade of my life has been better than the one before and I confidently expect the trend to continue.

#499 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 05:08 AM:

Never before this did I even wonder whatever happened to the football stars and cheerleaders, the homecoming kings and queens, at the high schools attended by those geeky computer nerds Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

I suspect that Wozniak, Jobs, and Gates would not call high school "the best years of their lives."

But those others might.

Do they keep the yellowing mementos of their glory days pinned to their cubicle walls, posted on their locker doors (gradually accreting grease from the coveralls), or in shoeboxes in their closets?

I don't know. I have no way ever to find out. So now I'm going to stop wondering again.

#500 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 05:28 AM:

teapot7 @491: the guy is a stalker, and will be an abusive partner. The killer for me was this line:
- he tells other people he has to watch her because she can't be trusted
but the whole thing is extremely consistent with a pattern of behaviour that is well beyond either normal teenage behaviour, or having some trouble with boundaries.

I don't have any advice for you on how to get her to part company with this person, I'm afraid, though other people have already made sensible suggestions. Be aware that even if you persuade her that he's bad news, he may not accept her rejection. Bluntly, if she does reject him, she needs to keep a diary of his attempts to persuade her that she's wrong, because she may need to take out a restraining order and have it enforced.

#501 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 05:44 AM:

High school the best years of your life!? Lots of adults used to tell me that, and while HS definitely had its good points for me (grade school and jr high were the bad times), I remember thinking, "WTF? I'm only 16/17/18. You mean it's going downhill from here for the next foreseeable 70 years or so??" I was always skeptical about that, figuring (a) the statement said more about those who said it than the actual state of the world, and (b) I would certainly have enough control over things to make my adult life fabulous. Heh. ;)

#502 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 06:13 AM:

I'm recalling Season 1, Episode 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Amy's mom was famous in her day as a cheerleader, and is doing everything she can to live through Amy. In the end, she has been reduced to a trophy in the display case.

In a later episode, Oz comments, "You ever notice how the eyes on this figure seem to follow you?"

#503 ::: Renatus ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 07:37 AM:

Teapot7: I'm getting MAJOR warning bells. It isn't just you; that guy is a creep, full stop. He sounds like my ex-abuser to so many decimal places I went stiff reading that description. Other half just asked with great concern what's wrong, heh...

You might not be able to pry him away from her with overt words or actions (I know I came to be mostly convinced I deserved everything I got, and in a frighteningly short period of time). There are things that help, though--you and her immediate family should make it a point to let her know frequently that you all trust her, believe in her, always have a place open for her if she needs it. Take her on outings without Mr. Creep whenever you can so she has time to be herself and let her own, non-poisoned thoughts come back to her.

Shiver. I really really really hope she'll be okay.

For what it's worth--28, mock turtleneck and a long skirt, haven't met anyone here, alas, but I do have a long-running Internet presence. It's a bit spotty because it took me a few years to find a screenname that I felt comfortable in, but I never hid the changeovers. I've met a handful of my LJ friends in person, though (one of them being my other half).

#504 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 08:00 AM:

#499: I suspect your comment is true of Jobs and Wozniak but not of exclusive-private-school-educated Gates.

#491: Creep and future abuser, if not already. Several relatives and college friends went through messy divorces after marrying people like that; one only after ending up in the hospital. And, yes, everyone else saw the warning signs.

#505 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 08:04 AM:

Teapot7 @ 491:   Alarm bells, yes.   Sounds like a problem, yes.   What to do: with all else, include having a sit-down talk with niece, parents, and a stack of reading/reference material to point at, quote, and leave with niece for further study, on warning signs of abusive and controlling relationships -- all this at a time and place where boyfriend isn't going to be around, but soon (if Thanksgiving isn't a good time, have them over to your place for the weekend?).   Google Is Your Friend.

#506 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 08:12 AM:

Jon Meltzer @ 504:   Even so, is it likely that Gates feels worse off now than in his school years, and would prefer to turn back time if he could?

#507 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 08:25 AM:

At this point I remember the adage of venerable Kai Lung:

There are few situations in life which cannot be remedied, and without loss of time, either by suicide, a bag of gold, or by thrusting a despised adversary over a steep cliff on a dark night.
The problem here is that too many people chose the first option when the third might have been more suitable.

#508 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 10:43 AM:

Teapot (491), why do you feel this sudden need to anonymize yourself?

#509 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 10:48 AM:

Oh, it's you. Disregard previous question.

#510 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 11:24 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 444: Fair enough.

Greg London @ 445: “If I'm walking down the street and run into a friend of mine, I'll stop and smile and have a talk. If I'm walking down the street and run into someone who I know to be a bastard, I keep walking. If he stops and tries to talk to me, I'd keep walking.”

I’m not trying to tell people how to behave. I have no problem with individuals deciding they want nothing to do with Lori Drew. If I was in that community, that’s what I’d do. I’d do it to protect myself and my family from a known crazy person. But we’re not in that community. What stake do we have in whether or not they get shunned?

Lee @ 447: “If there is also no social ostracism, that means they will not suffer any consequences at all for their actions -- thereby reinforcing the idea that this kind of behavior IS socially acceptable. I doubt that you would consider this a positive outcome.”

When you say from this distance, “I hope that the community shuns the Drews,” what’s your goal? Do you hope to rehabilitate them? That seems counter-productive: shunning seems more likely to drive them further from the path of sanity than to bring them towards it. Do you hope to discourage future offenders? It seems far-fetched to think that the details of how one town treats one offender will change the way the entire country views this kind of crime. Far more effective would be to educate: publicize the crime, while stressing its despicability (kind of like we’ve been doing on this thread), rather than focusing on psychologically tormenting the one person for whom that education comes too late. It won’t do her any good; it won’t do anyone else any good, so why do it?

It seems to me the only purpose that would be well-served by shunning the Drews is slaking our lust for revenge. The only thing gained by inflicting pain upon the Drews—and make no mistake, what you are advocating will cause tremendous psychological harm—would be the satisfaction of seeing them suffer. That isn’t good enough.

“I think Greg has put his finger on the point; you seem to be drawing a false dichotomy between "legal action" and "mob violence", when what's really being discussed is peer pressure.”

I think it’s kind of ironic that on this very thread, where one after another, people have been relating the terrible scars left by “peer pressure,” you’re seeking to minimize its potential for psychological harm. Does it not count as mob violence if the scars are only on the inside?

The thing about social pressure is that it needn’t necessarily serve a moral cause: it’s ripe for abuse. Because the punishment is inflicted by the community at large, anyone with sufficient popularity can initiate it against anyone they choose, for whatever reason they choose. The only court these punishments require is the court of public opinion, which is notoriously fickle.

People have claimed that shunning and other social punishments are finer tools than the legal system. I disagree: they are cruder, less reliable tools than legal ones. The law may be a blunt instrument, but socially-inflicted punishments are far blunter. Laws were put into place not to increase our ability to inflict punishment, but to lessen it: people are perfectly capable of exacting terrible punishments from each other without any help at all. In fact, that’s exactly the problem; we’re too good at it: it’s too easy to inflict punishment far beyond what is appropriate. The law exists to control our , to keep us from going beyond the reasonable. Put the enforcement of the good behavior back into the hands of everyone, and you are guaranteeing that it won’t be enforced fairly.

#511 ::: MerryArwen ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 11:32 AM:

I'm a little late to the party, and I've never posted before, but after perusing particularly some of the earlier comments . . . while the 'net was part of some of my more hellish moments in adolescence, I can also say it honestly saved my life. After my own night of complete hell (in my case I was staring at a knife, rather than pills, mostly because I wasn't sure of the fatal dose), it wasn't the people around me and in my physical sphere who helped me (they were, in fact, most of the problem). It was people thousands of miles away, of whom I had only their word they were who they said they were, who picked me up, offered to call, talked to me straight through their night and set me on the slow path of convincing me I shouldn't shuffle off the mortal coil.

Since then I have met most of them in person, and certainly have enough proofs of their existence that I am as sure they are who they say they are as I'm sure any of my classmates are, but at that point in time, they were aliases on the screen (and several of them substantially older than me.)

Which is why, although I'm aware that I got lucky and that it is statistically wiser to do the assumption-of-bad, this rather makes me sad: if I'd had the presence of mind to do the Safe and Smart Thing when I was seventeen and broken, I'd probably be dead now.

#512 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 11:59 AM:

#504: I could have been much clearer. What I should have said is that I doubt Gates' high school had football jocks, cheerleaders, homecoming, or anything like the experience of most of us. If Gates was considered weird then it would have been because he wasn't on the investment banker-corporate lawyer track of his peers.

#513 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 12:11 PM:

Teapot7 (491): This reminds me of trying to tell new authors that PublishAmerica is bad news. (They too are big into telling you how much they love you before, then psychological abuse after, while the reality of what they offer turns out to be far less than they've led the author to expect.) The answer I hear, over and over from those new authors is, "Yes, but they Love my Book," or, "You're just jealous!"

So, as is my wont, I'll give the contents of a get-away kit that your young lady may want to put together. Perhaps she won't listen now, but perhaps she'll remember when it's time. This is taken from Total Health for Women: Physical and Emotional Abuse:


Assemble a safety kit. It's also useful to surreptitiously put together a "safety kit" for a fast getaway. The kit should include school records for the kids, Social Security cards, copies of birth certificates, prescription medications, any money you're able to set aside and an address book with all your important phone numbers and contacts. Store it in a place you can get to once you leave the house. Some experts recommend keeping money and a spare set of house keys hidden somewhere in the car. But do this only if your abuser doesn't make a habit of sifting through things to check up on you.

They have numerous other simple, easy, potentially life-saving suggestions on that same page, presented in a list, including: Set up a signal, find an advocate, find a refuge, and heed your instincts.

If you're pointing the young lady at resources, consider that one.

#514 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 12:16 PM:

Teapot (491): I hate to say it, but IMO you're probably right to be worried.

- he hates her going out with her friends
Bad. Normal relationships accommodate friends. Isolating someone is a move to control them.
- he's gone and got a job at the fast food place where she works
Given what else is going on, it sounds like he's monitoring her.
- he's trying to get her a job at his second place of work, a restaurant
Again, a control move, and he'd be the one everybody knows.
- she goes to uni, he doesn't. So he shows up there and hangs around to be with her.
Really not good. That's not an environment he can control, but he's trying to do it anyway.
- he's been giving her quite lavish gifts from very early on
Absent the rest of the context, you could write that off as an excess of generosity. With the rest of the context, it looks manipulative.
- he tells other people he has to watch her because she can't be trusted
Flashing red lights and siren. If you can't trust someone, you don't play control games with them. What you do is break up with them. At minimum, you talk to them about it. The only reason I can see to talk to other people about it is to justify overcontrolling behavior in advance so they won't intervene.
- he seems to have a very limited set of friends - none male - despite being charming at first glance
I'm worried by people who have no old friends.
- dominant in converation, all topics turn towards him and what he's done/where he's been etc.
I've known some decent people who were like that, but they assumed that others would talk about themselves just as readily, and were interested when they did. However, this guy sounds like it really is all about him. If so, it's an unequal relationship, and your niece is not going to be happy with him.
- comes across as very hard done by/wounded when thwarted
Yet another danger signal. He's aggressive and managing, but he doesn't grant others the right to do the same.
- my cat doesn't like him :)
I don't know your cat.

You're right to be alarmed. Even if he's not actively dangerous (which IMO he might be), there's no way he can offer your niece a normal, supportive relationship. I doubt he puts much value on her staying in school and getting her degree. He sure isn't going to make her happy in the long run -- not if he's already treating her like she's untrustworthy and permanently in the wrong.

Is there any way to find out whether he's got a history of violence, domestic complaints, other problems?

Your niece is the one who has to figure out that he's a bad deal. If she does figure it out and dumps him, watch out for retaliation.

#515 ::: Nikki Jewell ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 12:32 PM:

Teapot7: I agree with the others that your niece's boyfriend seems odd. Any one of those things might be passable but taken together they are a massive danger signal.

The problem is that if you or your family start attacking the boyfriend, your niece is likely to attach herself to him more strongly, and stop listening to you. She might also cut off contact, which could play right into the boyfriend's hands.

I think maybe all you can do is to try to show your niece that you are there for her, that you're sympathetic to her, and that she can talk to you and go to you if she wants to.

I really hope it all works out.

#516 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 12:54 PM:

Teapot7 @491: something I've seen happen both with outright abusers and with lower levels of control-seeking -- control of other people's telephone access to the person viewed as property. This includes things like:
-- not passing on messages when the person really is out
-- claiming that the person is out when they're actually in, or claiming that they're in the shower, or unable to come to the phone for some other plausible sounding reason
-- pretending to put the call through to an extension, but in reality not doing so
-- turning off the ringer on the phone so that calls are missed

A lot of this stuff is significantly harder to do to someone's mobile phone, but those can be sabotaged as well. Be aware that if you call her and can't get through, and she doesn't return her calls, it may be because she doesn't know about them.

#517 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 01:33 PM:

In junior high (which was worse than senior high) we had a typing assignment (on manual typewriters, by the way) that began "High school days are the happiest days of your life."
I refused to type it, did the next one instead, and bet the typing teacher, who was also the guidance counselor, that I would NOT look back on these years with any affection whatsoever.
In my second year of university, I came back to take stuff out of storage, and collected my $1.

I figured university was miles better than high school because a)you weren't with the same people all the time; b)students had mostly chosen to be at uni, where high school was more of an internment centre.

-Barbara (49, fully clothed and in my right mind)

#518 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 02:32 PM:

#491: As previously noted, this is a classic stalker/abuser profile. As also noted, simply telling the girl "this guy is trouble" won't get you very far. That's not really the bug in human nature it sounds like -- there are reasons why some lessons really do need to learned anew in every generation.

What you can do, is try to make sure she survives the lesson, by keeping him from cutting her off, and by "priming" her for the realization of just how screwed up he is.

My suggested line of approach would be, yes, to sit her down somewhere (without the boyfriend) and have a talk. But don't expect an immediate enlightenment -- the point is just to lay the groundwork for her eventual escape. The points to cover:

1) Quite a few of the grown-ups in her life are wary of this guy, including you. Don't just tell, but let it show that you, personally, are worried. Not angry or jealous, but scared on her behalf. Make it clear that no matter what the boyfriend may claim, all these people not only love her, but they're willing to stand up for her.

2) Go down the same list you just showed us with her. Then pull out the pamphlets from the battered-woman's shelter, and show her the similar list therein. Don't expect her to go "aha!", or even to believe you just yet, but she'll remember this part the first time he swings at her.

3) Tell her that if she ever needs help, or just someone to talk to, she can call you. Give her your cell-phone number, and ask her to memorize it. If you don't have a cell-phone, get one for this (and carry it!).

I think those three points pretty much exhaust what you can do without "going nuclear". Pretty frustrating, but that's humanity for you!

Oh yeah, one more thing: Do a Web search on the boyfriend. Besides criminal charges and such, check the social sites for "trails of devastation" associated with his name/online IDs. That may not come up with much given his age, but it's worth a try....

#519 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 03:30 PM:

#491: I agree with everyone else that this is very much a controller/potential abuser profile. Also, the lower her self-esteem, the more likely she is to accept this kind of domination, so reinforce her value as much as you can to keep her core strength up. Compliments are good but won't go very deep - encouraging her to do things she's good at works best in my experience, more points if this elicits objective positive feedback from external sources.

Talking him down to her will often help to reinforce the us-vs-them mindset that these controllers cultivate, so really I'd focus on giving her activities that let her use her own skills and which he is not involved in (so he can't take credit for success). I learned this lesson the hard way, helped a friend do a midnight move out of an abusive boyfriend's apartment, and discussed all the warning signs I'd seen... she moved back in with him a month later.
Got to help make her strong enough to see her own value and that she really is worth more.

#520 ::: Dena Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 03:47 PM:

Jim Macdonald @245: the BBC put together a fascinating review of the story you referenced, which aired today (or at least, was put on podcast download queue today).

The striking thing to me is the extent to which people displace the blame from human nature to "the Internet". The exact same thing could have happened via pen-pal relationships in 1950 or 1850 or even, with some maneuvering, in 1750. And if the men in the story were in the Colonies in the 1750 version and the women in England, you'd have heard about how "the Colonies" were such a bad and scary place. Or maybe about the Puritans or the Quakers.

(I'm a forty-one year old woman, I only use the computer fully dressed, and if Didi Chanoch of the Dark Establishment blog mentioned in the sidelights is a reader, he'd vouch for my being a real human being with actual involvement in the science fiction community.)

#521 ::: Dave Hutchinson ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 05:10 PM:

xeger@403, Serge@405, et al - now I'm fully dressed. :-)

#522 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 06:49 PM:

boy, am i glad i never got any of the "high school is the best years of your life." i'm also particularly grateful that my school didn't believe in prom.*

if prom is the best night of your life, you've had/will have a pretty lousy life. same with your wedding day being the best day of your life. if your wedding is the best day of your marriage, you probably shouldn't have gotten married. (that was passed on to me by a teacher, in what would have been my senior year of high school.)

*so what happened instead was that a super-rich student hosted a formal dance at his own house, & invited all of the juniors & seniors**. well, all of the juniors & seniors worth having. i wasn't invited. it reminded me that i was unpopular, which is something i managed to overlook most of the time, but i knew even then i would've hated to go.

**this was no more than thirty people. very small high school.

#523 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 06:55 PM:

Sometimes you can't stop the train wreck.

The best you can do is say, "Call me any hour of the day or night. I'll be there. I'll come for you."

#524 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 06:57 PM:

I think the best week of my life was the week beginning with the birth of my daughter. I turned forty-five that week, so I wasn't too worried about whether it'd all be downhill from there. I'd already accepted that.

#525 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 07:12 PM:

kouredios @ 484... I definitely did the "hide in the library" routine, though it was generally hide in the bathroom, or else schedule violin lessons during technology class regularly

Wow. That was a fancy Catholic school if the bathroom had its own library and violin lessons.

As for my knowing your home address... My plans usually aren't quite if the nefarious kind. They're more like what Baldric, Blackadder's henchman, usually comes up. In other words, they're more likely to backfire on me, and I'm still recovering from my last attempt to take over the world. In other other words, you're safe.

#526 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 07:13 PM:

Most useless parental advice: "If the hat doesn't fit you, don't put it on."

#527 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 07:32 PM:

There was no internet when I was in High School, the band, choir and journalism classmates I hung around with provided the support network I needed.

In my freshman year an older student on the yearbook team pulled a very mean stunt on me in the yearbook and I was quite humiliated. But for the good friends in the aforementioned group it could have had a much more serious impact.

After my divorce, alone with two very young ones and trying to cope with the loneliness of living a new town and having no close friends, I turned to a thing called Q-link which I found on a disk in my Commadore 128 box. I met the man I'm married to by playing nightly trivia games on Q. That was over 16 years ago now.

I do owe a lot to having that outlet and wish that I were still in touch with some of the wonderful people I met online that way.

So, while there is a lot to be wary about on the internet, I guess I still hold out hope that the good can outweigh the bad somehow.

#528 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 07:42 PM:

Glad that things worked out for you, Dawno.

#529 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 07:52 PM:

I found enough of a niche in high school that I didn't get bothered. Plus the very few people who bothered to try to get in my face by bullying got a very quiet 'you so do not want to go there.' from me. At the time I worked with horses on weekends and sometimes after school, and was fairly fit plus known to be 'odd.' And I actually did something that got me a letter, what amounts to an inter-scholastic, televised (local ed. TV) trivia team won the district title in my senior year.

I did run into a miscellaneous guy (my GRADUATING CLASS had 829 students) at an SCA event, listened while he talked to someone else about high school. And asked, "Where the heck did you go to school?" They were both classmates. My year. I had no clue. The one doing the most talking thought and still thinks high school was the best years of his life, but then again he was 40 years old and living in his dad's garage.

My best years started in college, when I discoverd FANDOM! I went far away my first year, hated it but the school did have a good SF Club, with a magazine and we did a couple Star Trek conventions with a local promoter. Next year I went back to Kansas and U. Kan. Lawrence (how the heck did KU Football and 'undefeated' end up in the headlines, BTW?). I started a SF club and the guy I ended up marrying showed up at the first meeting.

I'm 51, met our illustrious hosts at this year's ConQuesT in KC, Moo, and am in my warm flannel jammies and slippers. I might go get a robe on later, I'm in a 1912 house with circulated water heat, my bedroom/office is large and the radiator not so big. And it Finally got cold.

#530 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 08:04 PM:

Someone said something earlier about some switch seems to be turned on (or maybe off) when most kids go to college. Some behaviors they'd indulge in high-school seem to become unthinkable to them. It's mysterious, but very strange although I'm not complaining. That's how one of those who picked on me quite a bit in high-school became my first friend when we both wound up in the same college's programmer classes.

#531 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 08:16 PM:

#522: My high school days were a nightmare, but I actually did have a decent "prom" experience.

Our class student activities star (school board student rep, yearbook editor, senior of the year, et cetera) held an anti-prom party and invited everyone in the AP classes. It didn't matter how geeky or out of it one was - all were welcome. No cheerleaders, no football jocks. No need to worry about dates and corsages and limos and all that. About fifty people were there. And her family had a swimming pool ...

(If you're out there, Amy - thanks again)

#532 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 08:22 PM:

#531: That's because you must have been one of the few people that he knew at the college, if not the only one.

#533 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 08:36 PM:

Dardenne Prairie voted last night to outlaw online bullying.

#534 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 08:56 PM:

Jon Meltzer @ 532... Come to think of it, very few people that we knew in high-school went to that college. But he had already quickly made friends once he got there so that can't be it. No matter what, since he had a car and was a drummer in a weekend group, I'd hitch a ride to college with him and was exposed to a lot of music (King Crison and Gentle Giant among others), a lot of it on an 8-track tape deck (does that age me or what?). Yes, as often happens, we lost sight of each other some time after graduation when he quit programming and became a Mountie.

#535 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 09:40 PM:

Dena @ #520:
The striking thing to me is the extent to which people displace the blame from human nature to "the Internet". The exact same thing could have happened via pen-pal relationships in 1950 or 1850 or even, with some maneuvering, in 1750.

I was staying away from this thread because it hits too close to home, but Dena is absolutely right. It's disgusting that adults pulled this sort of stunt on a teenager, but it's very garden-variety human (and especially teenage) cruelty; the net connection is just a twist.

I had the boy tease done to me in 8th or 9th grade live and in person - a whole gang of the popular kids decided how funny it would be to make me think a cute guy liked me, and got lots of entertainment out of making fun of me for actually believing it even briefly. I was still presuicidal at that point, so they didn't accomplish much except to make junior high school even more socially excruciating than it already was.

And the "you have done bad things" is a standard manipulative tactic. I think of it as "I know what you did last summer", after the teen suspense novel of that name, though it's more cleverly used when there isn't actually any real basis to it - just an attempt to make the recipient go frantic either (1) thinking their deep, dark secret shame (doesn't every teenager have one?) is known or (2) trying to figure out what mysterious bad thing they've done. Either could be enough to push a teen with a shaky sense of self-worth right over the edge.

(I'd love to say this is a teen thing, but I just realized my striking sense of deja vu in this thread is because I recently got something just like this from a former lover: mad at me for unspecified bad things I've supposedly done. It doesn't work as well the second time around from the same person, though, so it's not likely to actually make me kill myself.)

For the record, I'm not 40 and not sitting around in my underwear because it's cold and I don't have the heat on yet. But next summer I will turn 40 and fully anticipate sitting around in my underwear while using the net in my un-air-conditioned home.

I have met a number of people from ML, though, and if Mr. Macdonald wants to observe my actual existence he (and anyone else attending Darkovercon) can see me on stage raising money for Children's Hospital Saturday night.

#536 ::: Lili ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 10:34 PM:

(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.’

Oh, OK. So she felt guilty when she thought she had viciously bullied a thirteen-year-old who was about as strong and stable as thirteen-year-olds ever get...but once she found out that she had been viciously bullying an especially fragile, especially vulnerable thirteen-year-old, that was OK.

Heresiarch said: 'I fear for the society I live in if people begin to believe that they can hand out punishments of their own devising, without recourse to a court of law.

(I support the organized shunning of the Drews roughly as much as I support the sewing of red letters onto the clothing of adulterers.)'

Going by that argument, parents who send kids to their rooms to think about what they did are threatening society - because that punishment wasn't handed down by a court of law. If Joe Schmo next door gets raving drunk at every neighbourhood Christmas party, gropes all the family pets, swears at small children and gets sick in the coat closets, and nobody invites him back next year, then the people who don't invite him are endangering society - because no court of law decided that they were allowed to cross him off the invite list.

I fear for the society I live in if we don't make it clear - us, the community, not law-enforcement officials - what does and doesn't constitute acceptable behaviour. I would never support, for example, the vandalism of these people's home, or any harm to them or their property. But they violated not just one of my most fundamental personal rules (no mindfucking) but one of the most fundamental rules of any community: it is not OK for adults to deliberately harm children. If the community ignores this violation, they condone it; they accept adults harming children as part of the community ethos.

We can't always pass off all responsibility for the community onto the law. We can't always shrug and figure that if it's legal then, hey, we have to treat it as acceptable. If people behave hideously, ignoring it or glossing over it isn't helpful to society. Actions have consequences. To try to eliminate those consequences because they weren't set down by a court of law is, IMO, very dangerous.

#537 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 11:13 PM:

James D. Macdonald @ 523
Sometimes you can't stop the train wreck.
The best you can do is say, "Call me any hour of the day or night. I'll be there. I'll come for you."

Amen to that. I've said that, and been ecstatic to be called, woken up, able to help[0].

[0] ... and as somebody that's been prey to phone/pager for most of my working life, that's saying a hell of a lot.

#538 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 11:15 PM:

Serge @ 534 wrote ... Yes, as often happens, we lost sight of each other some time after graduation when he quit programming and became a Mountie.

I'm afraid to ask how it is that it often happens that you find yourself with friends who quit programming to become Mounties -- and oddly grateful that your reference to an 8-track means that it's reasonably certain we're not talking about the same person (in that case, at any rate... I decline to speculate about the rest of your friends who've quit programming to become Mounties).

#539 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 12:44 AM:

"I'm afraid to ask how it is that it often happens that you find yourself with friends who quit programming to become Mounties "

I'm always meeting taxi drivers who gave up programming to drive a cab. They all seemed pretty happy.

#540 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 12:46 AM:

Teapot7: he's bad news. Having been the girl involved in a similar sort of deal, I'd advise ditching the talk with her. If all of these signs are showing, they've been together long enough for her to be partly in the tangle.

What she needs are people who will validate when she asks, "Doesn't this seem odd to you?" or "Do you think he should do this?" She needs honest, concerned answers, and the reiteration that you're there, no matter what. This didn't help my mother, but she was 19 and being worked over by a master in 1961. I can't speak to the physical horrors of a romantic relationship gone wrong like this one looks to do, but I'v seen and been the psychological victims of this variety, and it's very hard to get gree of. He'll try to limit all her time with her family, preferably only times when he is there. I saw my father do this with my mother. I have all sorts of now deceased great aunts that I never met. The hope now is that your niece is a pretty sensible person in Uni that wants to be there. He's going to become a burden. When those occasions come up, try not to go into a hate-fest about him, It all feels tied together, but try to focus on the one she's focused on. She probably still loves him and harmful imformation about him may very well arouse the momcat reflex.

On the thread topic, I was awrfully fragile at 13. I dreamed of knives. The big thing that stopped me was that I was afraid that one of my parents would catch me, and I couldn't imagine a life after that, but it would hagve to be so much more horrible than the one leading up to it. I didn't know how long it took to exsanguinate, and I was pretty sure that you cut the length of the wrist, not cross-ways, but I wasn't sure. I also knew it would hurt, and I worried about that. And how I could make sure I didn't make wounded noises that woke them up.

Later, when I was eighteen, my primary reason for not committing suicide that night was that my attempt would be pretty primitive, and if it weren't permanent, everyone would laugh at me like they were laughing at Cheryl and Steve who had tried to committ suicide by taking too many aspirin. Neither went anywhere near the toxic doses, but there was a ridiculous scene with Cheryl threatening to throw herself out of a second story window and Steve trying to drag her back inside. If one or both of them had actually managed to kill thesmelves, it would only have been more ridiculous, since it was clear that the game they were playing was Psychodrama City, and with the chosen methods it would be most likely a stupid miscalculation might end them up with one of them killed. The more likely outcome is that they would be (one or b oth) failed suicides. It 's taken me a long time to feel more generous about people who commit parasuicidal behaviors. At the time, I held them in deep contempt, and I was afraid that if I managed to succeed in killing myself my friends would all think that I'd been meaning to make a gesture and screwed it up, or that if I made the attempt and didn't die, then they'd hold me in contempt as having to intended on a suicidal gesture. I figured out I'd be laughed at either way, so I called the crisis line. It was the right guy on the other end of the crisis line.

I haven't had suicidal moments that bad, since. I often think, "well, I could always kill myself" when I find something huge that I don't want to deal with, but it's just an option, in case everything else goes wrong.And there's a lot of everything else.

#541 ::: strawhat ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 12:52 AM:

Another one here who wouldn't be fourteen again for all the money in the world.

I think the thing that saved my sanity was that mom sent me to summer camp for a week or two each summer starting at age 12 -- nothing fancy, just your basic more-or-less fleabitten Y camp. It must have been cheap, or mom wouldn't have been able to send me.

But anyway. Just getting out of the closed social system of school (not a particularly evil environment, just cliquey, and in that small city we had all known each other since birth and the cliques were ironclad) & into another place where no one knew I was supposed to be awkward, badly dressed, and unpopular, even for only a week or two each summer, made all the difference in the world. I can't begin to tell you how much.

So that's my two cents.

#542 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 12:57 AM:

I forgot to add my validity data. I know P & T, Jim, and a bunch of people met through fandom or at a party at P&Ts. And I am sitting in my bed with my laptop, wearing a comforter, I'm 45, and it all depends on what you mean by pervert, now doesn't it?

#543 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 01:57 AM:

Bill @ 539 commented:
I'm always meeting taxi drivers who gave up programming to drive a cab. They all seemed pretty happy.

It's not the part about giving up programming[0] - it's the part about giving up programming to become a mountie.

[0] I can stop anytime y'know. I just program 'cause I like the way it feels.

#544 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 02:49 AM:

Teapot7, I pretty much agree with what everyone else had to say about this, with the caveat that one of the things abusers use to gaslight their victims is the thoroughly evil (and superficially reasonable, since it conforms to a number of our societal prejudices about appropriate behavior) idea that if there isn't physical abuse, there isn't abusing going on.

I'm not by any means minimizing physical abuse, but the greatest damage done by even physical abusers is in convincing their victims that they don't in any meaningful way deserve to be treated any better than their abuser chooses to treat them.

Don't make it about him, because then you're only saying it because [laundry list he's worked up about why he's right and everyone else is not only wrong but malicious - and he's already trying that out by slandering your niece]. It's probably a thing of beauty, full of tons of perfectly internally consistent reasoning that passes for logic in the dim light it's designed to be seen in.

It's about her. She deserves to be treated decently. She deserves to be trusted. She deserves support. She deserves to have anyone she lets into her life have her back.

Her sense of her own worth is the single thing that gives the lie to even the most complicated rationalization he can come up with, and by letting her know that it's never occurred to the people who know her best that she's anything but a person of great worth you can help give her that armor. It'll also let her know that if she is abused, you're not going to see her as damaged goods. I know it sounds absurd, but shaming the victim is something which keeps a lot of people from helping themselves.

If his understanding is that she's a bad person, that understanding is something she has to accept to be in a relationship with him. It doesn't just show promise of being abusive. It already is.

#545 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 02:54 AM:

xeger @ 543

Nope, you're hooked. Only addicted programmers use zero-based lists.

#546 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 03:00 AM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) @ 545
Nope, you're hooked. Only addicted programmers use zero-based lists.

But... but that's the default state! That's just -natural-!!!

#547 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 03:00 AM:

I had never thought to check my own Kevin Bacon number before; this subthread persuaded me to do it and I find I have a KB number of 3:
bacon, kevin appeared in animal house with furst, stephen
appeared in "delta house" with mostel, josh

Josh was a friend of mine in college. I lost track of him after that, and was very surprised to find he'd become an actor like his father; he seemed to be on track to be a concert violinist.


#548 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 03:37 AM:

In #351 John A Arkansawyer writes:

I should ante up. Fifty, in my robe (with underwear on, thank you very much), and I've met Bill Higgins. I'm barely real.

This puzzled me a bit, until I realized that (if I am not mistaken) John has recently changed the handle he uses here.

Not only did I meet him briefly, but I was hoping for an opportunity to converse further. We were at the same party for a while, but I was trapped in a conversation with someone who is nowhere near as interesting as he thinks he is.

So John, I'm sorry if I appeared aloof, and I hope to do better the next time we meet.

#549 ::: Individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 04:49 AM:

Bullying is bullying, and kindness is kindness; the same human behaviours play out in any social group, the technology is irrelevant. The only important difference the internet makes in this case is that thanks to the internet we (unconnected strangers across the world) all know about the evil people who bullied Megan to death.

I'm really heartened to see that there's a younger generation here. I thought until this thread that miriam, ethan and I were the youngest people here (I'm 28). I think it's an excellent thing that there are teenagers reading this thread and experiencing the immense compassion expressed by this community. There is justified anger towards Lori Drew, but the overwhelming tenor of the thread is people trying to be as kind as possible in their different ways. Hell, I needed to see that myself.

Am I real? Vicki knows me. And, um, I've met Farah's cat... I don't think I'm the sort of person anyone would bother pretending to be; I'm too old for teenagers to trust me, and too young to claim any sort of authority or wisdom. I have a boring habit of getting dressed first thing when I wake up, so I don't converse on the internet or anywhere else in my underwear.

#550 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 06:48 AM:

Susan @ 536... I have met a number of people from ML, though, and if Mr. Macdonald wants to observe my actual existence he (and anyone else attending Darkovercon) can see me on stage raising money for Children's Hospital Saturday night.

Is there any way one can make a donation?

#551 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 07:09 AM:

Lydy @ #540:
Yes, you cut lengthwise. Yes, it hurts. But if you don't go deep enough to actually kill yourself, the scars fade in time.

It also seems to take an unbelievable number of aspirin to get to toxic quantities.

My most efficient belt-and-suspenders suicide plan involves a combination of sleeping pills, carbon monoxide (car in garage), and hypothermia. This seems like it would be fairly peaceful and painless (I could read a good book until I fell asleep) and not leave my body all messy and stressful for people.

often think, "well, I could always kill myself" when I find something huge that I don't want to deal with, but it's just an option, in case everything else goes wrong.And there's a lot of everything else.

I find it comforting to have the option and the plan and all.

#552 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 07:13 AM:

Serge @ #550:
Find some way to get your check to Darkovercon by Saturday night. After raising over $10,000 last year, this year we are dialing it back to somewhere near the sanity range, which means I am not jumping through hoops to get outside money.

#553 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 08:27 AM:

Bill @ 548: I am indeed the artist formerly known as adamsj, it was the Heinlein Society party, there were a fair number of people there who fit your conversational partner's description, and neither was I offended nor did I find you aloof.

By the way, have you ever had a panel audience so anxious to do all the talking for you? Or was it just one or two people?

#554 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 10:12 AM:

As Serge notes, I've met him, along with various writers, reviewers and editors who live in the Bay Area or went there for conventions, readings, etc. before I left for AZ late in 2000. LizzyL: are you the writer (never could tell from your posts)? If so, I've also reviewed and enjoyed your work.

Junior High was a pain, but I was lucky in the High School years -- a few friends, too under-the-radar for bullying (in a place with at least a thousand students), and best of all, parents who took me to a bunch of great San Francisco/Bay Area rock concerts in the Sixties and dug the music themselves. So, no sex, no drugs, but plenty of rock and roll!

"Best years"? Not till I first met the guy I'd (eventually) marry in the early '80s. Still, I have some great memories of earlier days -- and I can give sincere thanks for how fortunate I've been. I just wish others here hadn't had to endure experiences that were so much worse.

#555 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 10:20 AM:

Herersiarch@510: People have claimed that shunning and other social punishments are finer tools than the legal system. I disagree: they are cruder, less reliable tools than legal ones. The law may be a blunt instrument, but socially-inflicted punishments are far blunter.

Laws put people in jail. You were arguing against "organized shunning". I don't know how not talking with someone or boycotting their business is a "blunter" punishment than being put in jail for some period of time.

But we’re not in that community. What stake do we have in whether or not they get shunned?

I am willing to wager money that you did not make this exact same argument when Making Light was discussing the incident where the Gretna police prevented people from evacuating New Orleans after Katrina. And yet most of us had nothing personally at stake in those events. But we could look at the actions of the Gretna police and declare them immoral.

What stake did white people in the north have in southern states segregation laws? What stake do we have in the events of Darfur?

I would guess that at some point you were the target of some undeserved organized shunning. I agree that social pressures can be used for bad ends. But it can be used for good too. Sometimes its the outsiders who have no stake in something who can best tell right from wrong.

#556 ::: Piscusfiche ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 10:42 AM:

Individ-ewe-al@549 : Heh, I'm only a little older than you. I've also been posting on and off here since, oh, I was 24ish? (The weird part about getting older is getting used to not being the youngest in a given situation.)

#557 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 11:11 AM:

teapot@491, the first question is whether you heard this information straight from the boyfriend, or was it someone who heard it from someone who heard it from the girlfriend. If this is fourth person removed, and passed through some people who have their own ideas of who this woman should be dating, then the whole set of information is unreliable.

- he hates her going out with her friends

Unless her friends are an obvious bad influence on her (bad, like, she's a recovering alcoholic and they keep trying to get her to drink) this boyfriend's attitude is not conducive to a long and healthy relationship.

he tells other people he has to watch her because she can't be trusted

Trust is a funny thing. I know folks have ideas about trust being something other people must "earn" and whatnot, but in the end, you decide who you trust and who you don't. Trust really is granted, not earned. It may be that this is not a "fair" way for it to work, but it does seem to work this way.

The evidence in support of that view is the boyfriend saying he can't trust the girlfriend here. Assuming she's not done anything to actually lose his trust (she didn't cheat on him or anything), then the only explanation for his attitude is that he hasn't granted her his trust.

And that could be because either he was betrayed by some girlfriend in the past and needs to deal with that issue of his past, or he knows himself to not be trustworthy (he's cheated on past girlfriends or something), and he projects this onto the people around him. i.e. He doesn't trust her because he doesn't trust himself.

Either way, it sounds like the makings of a unhappy relationship. He'll be unhappy because he hasn't dealt with whatever issues from his past he needs to deal with. Your niece will be unhappy because this guy will be projecting his past onto her, relating to her as something that some other girlfriend did to him, or relating to her as unreliable as he was when he cheated in past relationships.

I guess the question is what does she see in him? Why is she going out with him?

If she's got a healthy dose of self worth, she should quickly realize this guys at least half a bubble off center, if not more. Then just give it some time and it should all work out. (Though, given the job transistions, this must have been going on for a while)

If she doesn't have a lot of self confidence, then she might be going out with this guy because she doesn't think she can do any better. That could be a problem if she ends up marrying the guy or something.

If it's her, then the guy really isn't the problem. You get her to leave one loser, she'll hook up with another loser. That's what people of low self esteem do. If she's 17 and going to college, she shouldn't be in a long term relationship, anyway. She should be dating, meeting new people. Dating lots of people has a nice side effect that it lets you learn about yourself, and how that compares to all the crap you made up in your mind that you thought you were. It also clears out the cobwebs in your mind about what you think the dating population is like, versus what they're realy like. (All men are pigs. versus. Hey this guy is really nice to me. And this guy. And this guy too.)

Left to our own devices, people can be notoriously hard on themselves. Dating puts the person out in the real world and can get rid of a lot of those internal monologues like "I suck" or "they suck" or whatever.

She should be dating until all these monologues are gone. And the rule for dating is that it should be fun. If it isn't fun, time to date someone else. Until she knows enough about herself and men that she's ready to choose a life long partner and get married, that's all she should be doing in the relationship arena. The main reason for that is if she has some monologue that she's not worthy of a better mate, how can she choose a lifelong partner?

Once she's learned what she needs to learn, and once she's at a point where she's actually ready to commit to all the things that come with marriage, kids, mortgage, etc, then she'll have the tools to choose the man that's right for her. Until then, date.

This applies to men and women. And it sounds like this guy she's dating needs to learn some things about himself as well, and should be dating too, not getting a job to keep an eye on your niece.

#558 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 11:30 AM:

Susan @ 552... this year we are dialing it back to somewhere near the sanity range, which means I am not jumping through hoops to get outside money.

Isn't last year when you did the Rocky Horror show to bring in donations? As for sending a check with next-day delivery, the mailing would probably cost more than the donation I could afford. Does the con have a PayPal button for that?

That being said, take care.

#559 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 11:45 AM:

Faren @ 554... As Serge notes, I've met him, along with various writers, reviewers and editors who live in the Bay Area or went there for conventions, readings

Tha means there are lots of people who can vouch for your Reality, eh? Other fluorospherites I've also met and talked to include Lisa Spangenberg, Paula Helm Murray, and Claude Muncey. Claude is one of the few people I've met who make me feel short.

#560 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 11:56 AM:

About proms... I never attended one. Come to think of it, I'm not sure there was such a thing in Quebec's Catholic school system back then. Anyway. There's this person I used to work with who had something interesting happen at her prom. No, no Carrie stuff although there was this other girl who, for some reason, hated her (probably because, even though my co-worker wasn't as pretty, she was smarter). Apparently during the prom, the other girl started saying nasty things about her sexual habits. When that came to the attention of one of my co-worker's male friends, he confronted the other girl, who was his date. And he just dumped her right there and then.

#561 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 12:02 PM:

Faren at 554: yep, it's so. We've met many times at a certain house in the Oakland Hills.

#562 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 12:03 PM:

In #553 John A Arkansawyer writes:

By the way, have you ever had a panel audience so anxious to do all the talking for you? Or was it just one or two people?

I don't mind a bit of banter with the audience. It was just one guy. He exhibited appalling behavior.

In retrospect, I played a good sport for much too long.

I wish I had confronted him right after the second time he took a phone call without leaving his seat.

Be assured that I never intend to read, let alone purchase, any of his novels.

#563 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 12:07 PM:

Serge: Quebec? Montreal? I'll have to see if I can get you to prove my existence someday. Though I rather like being a figment.

#564 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 12:42 PM:

Bill @ 563... I take it that you live in the Montreal area. I myself grew up in Quebec City's suburb. As for preventing you from remaining a figment, well, who knows? Be warned though. The last time I went there was in 2004, which was 9 years after my previous visit, and in the interval the youngest daughter of my friends turned from a babbling one-year-old into a bookworm.

#565 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 12:58 PM:

Serge @564: well, maybe I can claim that I drove past your house on my visit to Quebec last month. Drive-by validation?

#566 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 01:04 PM:

The most direct line to my Bacon number is probably through meeting Steven Spielberg thirty-some years ago. If we want to talk about someone I actually, kind of, know as opposed to met, that would probably be Benton Jennings, who was in my university drama department, and is in Mr. and Mrs. Smith with Brad Pitt.

#567 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 01:11 PM:

Susan @551:
I find it comforting to have the option and the plan and all.

I've read more discomforting posts, but not often. I hope you're OK, and that the con lifts your spirits.

#568 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 01:23 PM:

abi @ 567... Susan... I feel the same way. My thoughts are with her.

#569 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 01:44 PM:

I think I figured it out: my Bacon number is 5.

Earl Cooley III was Denis Loubet's college roommate; Denis Loubet was a co-worker of Chris Roberts at Origin Systems; Chris Roberts directed Wing Commander (1999) with Matthew Lillard; Matthew Lillard was in Without a Paddle (2004) with Rachel Blanchard; Rachel Blanchard was in Where the Truth Lies (2005) with Kevin Bacon.

#570 ::: Piscusfiche ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 02:23 PM:

My Bacon number is 4.

Kevin Bacon was in Big Picture, The (1989) with John Cleese
John Cleese was in Secret Policeman's Third Ball, The (1987) with Chet Atkins
Chet Atkins was in Genius of Lenny Breau, The (1999) with Randy Bachman. PixelFish has hung out once with Randy Bachman (but mostly his oldest daughter, who happens to be married to one of my best friend's older brothers.)

Honestly, I think I'm ore excited about being 3 degrees from John Cleese or Batman or 2 degrees from the Simpsons.

#571 ::: Cassie ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 02:31 PM:

Heresiarch @213: If something intolerable happens that the law does not address, the answer is to change the law, not go around it.

There are a lot of behaviors that could be construed as shunning that don't involve the law, unless the rule about bringing enough cupcakes for everyone when you celebrate a birthday in class is a law now. Individual business owners may refuse to buy adspace from Ms. Drew and refuse to sell to the Drews; no law says they must. Similarly, community spaces may be full of people that choose not to associate with the Drews. While it is, on a large scale, chilling, it is not illegal -- nor is it the same sort of psychological torture or any kind of harassment, as far as I know. This sort of behavior is society's way of making known what behaviors it won't accept. Certainly it can be used wrongly and unwisely -- it often is, among kids and teenagers -- but it does have an important role.

As far as my personal validity, it is shaky. I suspect I may have slept in the domicile of a regular commenter's friend a few years ago, and I have met Tom Galloway once, though it has been years and I doubt he remembers the girl with a bunny on her head. I am 28 and currently in a bathrobe.

#572 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 03:53 PM:

My Bacon is five: I once met (1) George Takei who worked with (2) Leonard Nimoy, who was in 1978's Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which was directed by (3) Philip Kaufman, who directed The Right Stuff, in whcih Guss Grissom was played by (4) Fred Ward, who was in Tremors with (5) Kevin Bacon.

My Max von Sydow is four: I once met (1) Gary Kurtz, who produced Star Wars, which was directed by (2) George Lucas, who is a friend of (3) Steven Spielberg, who directed Minority Report, in which (4) Max played one of the main roles.

#573 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 04:19 PM:

Requiescat in pace.


Amen.

#574 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 04:23 PM:

My Bacon is three, thanks to the fact that I know Bob Andy who was in The Mighty Quinn with Denzel Washington, who was in Man on Fire with Dakota Fanning, who was in Trapped with Kevin Bacon.

#575 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 05:01 PM:

Nikki Jewell @ 466

I'm pleased for you that you were able to not-respond. It's an ability I still don't have (now at 40). If I'm very frustrated, upset or angry, I cry. Wish I'd been able to turn it around like you did.

I'd really like to work out how not to cry when I'm frustrated etc.

Oh, and (forgot earlier) I'm generally fully dressed while at the computer, 'cos otherwise it hurts too much when one of the cats jumps onto my shoulders.

#576 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 05:09 PM:

dcb @575:
I'd really like to work out how not to cry when I'm frustrated etc.

Oh, me too. Particularly since I work in an almost all male office. I can just feel the credibility draining away sometimes.

#577 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 05:31 PM:

James @ 573... What was that about?

#578 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 05:35 PM:

dcb @ 575: "I'd really like to work out how not to cry when I'm frustrated etc."

Ehh, be careful what you wish for. I got so desensitized at one point that I completely lost the ability to cry at all. This isn't as handy as it sounds when you really do need to be able to blow off accumulated internal negative energy at safe moments. Crying is great for relieving internal pressure.
It ended up resolving itself in an odd way: I was reading a book (in a safe place), and there came an incredibly sad chapter with the main character dying all alone, old and sick... and I just started bawling for this character, for the first time in years. Thereafter whenever I needed to cry I would read that bit of the book, and eventually just the relevant page became a reliable trigger.
Unfortunately, this hair-trigger sensibility to sad things in books became quite deep-seated, and now I cry like an idiot whenever I read anything even a little bit sad. Movies too. Can't turn it off.

#579 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 06:06 PM:

Jim @573:

[*]

#580 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 06:26 PM:

Greg #486: Yes, Rutger, and yes, a misdemeanor. I used to work at a studio, as a projectionist. All sort of interesting things are learned/done. The facts of the matter are less interesting than the bald statement of it’s nature.

Hauer was screening some movie. He, his girlfriend and someone Hauer was speaking with about the film, were blocking the stairs, as I was heading down from another show. I waited, and vaguely recognised Hauer. I shifted, to get a better perspective, and he turned. I recognised him, he noticed that I recognised him and gave me a nod, a half-smile and winked.

They go outside and the other guy is parked in. There was no note (as per policy). I did a quick check of the edit-rooms. No Joy.

When I came out, we noticed the car was unlocked. We opened the door, pushed it back, until the other guy could get out. Then we pushed the car back, and locked the doors.

Which was (and the statute has long run out) a violation of Calif. Vehicle Code 10853 Unattended vehicle, tampering with mechanism or setting in motion.

A misdemeanor.

It'a a better story than finding Judge Rheinhold's tooth for him.

Bob Oldendorf # 494: Terry Karney at #479:

Actually, your Bacon number is three: Kevin Bacon's Bacon number is defined as "zero" - so Oldman has a BN of "one", Hauer is a "two", which gives you a Bacon number of "three".


I said my bacon number was three #474 ::: Terry Karney I have a Bacon number of 3.

#581 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 06:40 PM:

Because of that job, and having worked as a set dresser, and some other oddities of living in L.A., and being in/around the Industry, I have some very low numbers (a Michael Keaton/Judge Rheinhold/Rutger Hauer/Madonna(on a technicality)/and a few more which don't come to mind right now... oh yeah, JC van Damme/Nancy Allen number of 1 will get to a lot of people).

Some other stuff, from fandom (and the Army; esp. because of my job as an intepreter) get me some low numbers for some of the world's movers and shakers (I have a number of 2 for Elisabeth II, Yasser Arafat, etc.).

All of which is fun for party games, but doesn't affect me much (though if Mr. Keaton wants to be as generous with his wallet as he was with the ice chest full of snacks and drinks, I'll be glad to let him shower some of that largess on me).

#582 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 07:03 PM:

Bill and dcb: I cry when I'm angry; rarely when I'm sad or moved, except in a very superficial way (sad movies, etc.) I've decided that crying to let it out when I'm angry is a good thing, since on a few -- very, very few, count 'em on one hand -- occasions when I've been really angry and not in tears, I've been known to punch holes in walls. Crying is lots less dangerous and I don't bruise my knuckles so badly.

#583 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 07:27 PM:

Terry @ #581, Elisabeth II needed an interpreter?

#584 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 07:40 PM:

Terry Karney @ 581... I have a 2 to Albert Einstein thru the mother of the hubby of my wife's youngest sister, a 2 to Orson Welles thru Chalton Heston, and another 2 to Welles thru the aforementionned mother (the family was amused when she passed away to find letters from Orson assiduously courting her while her hubby was still alive, especially since nobody could figure from the letters whether or not she had succombed. Oh, and she and her hubby were on Hitler's enemy list.)

#585 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 07:54 PM:

Serge at 584: I also have a 2 to Einstein: I have a photograph of him standing in a garden with my grandfather and my aunt. Through that same grandfather I have a 2 to Bela Lugosi and Danny Kaye and either a 2 or a 3 to FDR.

#586 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 08:03 PM:

It's 16 degrees celsius in here. I want angora underwear. And I'm old enough to have gone through my teenage years when internet was high geekery that mere mortals didn't even hear rumours about.

Am I real? I'm wondering about that myself.


Heresiarch @ 439: I remember when I was a child (though I am still but an egg), and my parents told me "If you don't give them the response they're looking for, eventually they'll stop teasing you."

I heard the same. It's the adults' way of making the problem go away, part wishful thinking, part victim-blaming. It would make me more angry if it wasn't an expression of helplessness.

What I found useful to discourage bullying (note, though, that I had it easy, growing up in a reasonably civilized place and time) was a reputation for being psycho. I tended to escalate conflicts into something impossible to ignore. (Hulk smash!)

Teasing you isn't always about teasing you; often it's about amusing their friends, or solidifying their place (above you) in the pecking order.

So true. When I looked back over bullying situations (both those I suffered and those I took part in) they were a kind of team-building exercises. Since then I made a mental note to walk away from groups that take too much pride in themselves.

B. Durbin @ 180 and others: I feel that people who believe one's school days the best days of one's life are having a bad case of mixing up potentiality with actuality. As a teenager, you have all those years ahead of you to make the right decisions and do good and clever things. Only, the catch is, you cannot do them at that time. You can only wait for time to pass. Occasionally I catch myself missing the things that could have been and get sentimental about a time when they seemed possible. Must be senility knocking. Because, really? Any good thing you have easily trumps any even better thing you might have had by the strength of its reality.


Teapot @ 491: I'll add this to the advice you have got: Plan ahead how you can help if the manure hits the millwheel and you get a call for help in the middle of the night or something like that. I also have, very occasionally, had some success with saying "I do not like the way he's treating you. You deserve better."


Pyre @ 507: To paraphrase something from Atwood's "Cat's Eye", enemies are a lot easier to deal with than friends. It's amazing how long people can believe that they are friends while treating one another in ways that might get an enemy discreetly shoved over a cliff.

This whole topic is kind of triggering to me... I had something that Megan's tragedy reminds me of happen in meatspace when I was 15. Not adults conspiring, though (that wouldn't have been that much of a problem, one expects adults to be conspiring against one as a teenager, usually with good reason), but my whole clique back at the time, including one girl three years my senior who I was badly in (unrequited) love with. Those group taught me more than half of all the good and useful things I ever learned, and one day they all did a 180 degree turn and decided to hate me for my own good. That triggered my one (and only) suicide attempt -- I couldn't think of anything but wanting the pain to stop right now. Fortunately I was too out of it to handle a knife competently and instead discovered that cutting did the job well enough, so I limited myself to that. Reading a novel was not anything I could do for months, anything demanding emotional involvement was far beyond me. I spend four weeks listening to the radio and doing crossword puzzles and the next four working through a whole year's worth of math lessons.

Since then, I have avoided trusting anyone with anything I could not afford to lose, which has worked out amazingly well.

Sorry for talking so much, it just came back and wouldn't leave me alone.

#587 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 08:10 PM:

Serge #584: I have a 2 to Virginia Woolf, and a 3 to Edward Elgar (who courted an old friend's aunt).

#588 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 08:24 PM:

Bill @585: If there'd been an airlock near, I suspect you could've gotten him tossed out it. All in the spirit of the event, y'know.

#589 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 08:35 PM:

Lizzie L @ 585... I have a 2 to Bela Lugosi and Danny Kaye

Both of whom take you to Boris Karloff, whom I think played an assassin in Walter Mitty. I've always loved Danny Kaye. Sometimes he could become a bit too much, but I loved him. And I was so happy when I saw him in one of his last roles, in 1985's The Twilight Zone episode "Palladin of the Lost Hour". Remember that?

#590 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 08:45 PM:

Bacon number of 2. I was introduced by a mutual friend to Diane Lane when I was in college, and she made a movie with him. I'm also a 3 on three different paths.

I'm a Vincent Gallo 2, which has always made me want to shower with a brillo™ pad.

#591 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 08:46 PM:

Sister in law's husband is a cousin to Albert Brooks after that several directions to go for linking to any one else.
Husband's girlfriend crossed paths with TNH at a workshop and had a misunderstood question.

40 and fully dressed but medicated.

#592 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 08:48 PM:

Oh, the one I'm proudest of: Tesla 2. He offered my grandfather a job once.

#593 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 08:58 PM:

White Christmas is on the telly, and I am reminded I have a 2 to Danny Kaye (he used to babysit an ex-girlfriend of mine).

Serge: I am sure she does, but it has never been me.

But I did have dinner with the Duke of Westmoreland, head of the Territorials, and he has seen Her Majesty a few times, so I get a 2 to her, and that gets me a 3-4 to LOTS of people.

Which is, of course, how the game works.

#594 ::: Viorica ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 09:15 PM:

Bill @ 578: The book wasn't Les Miserables by any chance, was it?

#595 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 09:16 PM:

John Cage 1, Frank Zappa 2, Brian Eno 3. In overtime.

#596 ::: Iain Coleman ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 09:21 PM:

Terry @ 593: Indeed, that is how the game works. I have a 2 to every senior person in British politics (having met the two previous leaders of the Liberal Democrats), giving me a 3 to all sorts of international public figures. Not that it means much. Live a reasonably varied life for a few years and you're bound to pick up these sorts of connections. A stronger test would be whether you have their mobile phone number.

#597 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 09:35 PM:

teapot7 @ 491: get your niece a copy of Gavin De Becker's The Gift of Fear. She and everyone in her support network need to read it.

BTW, I'm 46, fully clothed (and still cold), and my Bacon number is 4. (I was in a DFACS instructional video with Speedy Arnold; Speedy Arnold was in Stillwater with V. Kim Blish; V. Kim Blish was in The Cactus Kid with Beau Starr; Beau Starr was in Where the Truth Lies with Kevin Bacon.)

I wonder if the "ignore them and they'll leave you alone" idea originates in a misapplication of the behaviorist notion, "behavior that is not rewarded will be extinguished". A noticeable reaction from the victim is NOT the only way a bully can be rewarded; e.g. attention from his/her friends, ability to intimidate other people who are afraid bully will turn the observed behavior on them, etc.

#598 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 09:36 PM:

I have a 3 to Brian Blessed. And a 4 to Derek Jacobi.

#599 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 09:37 PM:

T.W. @ 591... Sister in law's husband is a cousin to Albert Brooks

Whose real name is Albert Einstein. Yes, it is.

#600 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 09:38 PM:

Terry Kaney @ 593... I have a 2 to Danny Kaye (he used to babysit an ex-girlfriend of mine)

Danny Kaye, baby-sitter?

#601 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 09:43 PM:

Terry @ 593: It was hard to live in Arkansas without having a Bill Clinton number of 1, but somehow I managed. I have an awfully strong 2 to him, though, having spent an interesting evening with his brother pre-conviction.

I'm prouder of my multiple 2s to Jimmy Carter.

#602 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 09:50 PM:

I have a 1 to both Clintons and Lauren Bacall.

The number of 2s this gives me is staggering.

#603 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 09:58 PM:

Serge 599,

Yes I know. I never hear the end of it or how disfunctional the whole Einstein family is. I get to see it for myself actually. Step brother in law's father Professor Einstein looks like a Roswell gray with glasses and a touch of hair.

#604 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 10:00 PM:

Viorica @ 594: "The book wasn't Les Miserables by any chance, was it?"

No, I was around nine or ten at the time and didn't manage to get access to grownup books for another couple of years, via a kindly librarian who gave me access to the adult section even though I was three years under the limit (like another person in this thread, I'd read everything in the junior section).
I've tried to find the book again but never managed to name it exactly; it was a thin children's book based on a Disney movie about a brown bear who has to grow up all alone and gets beaten up a lot before he awakes from hibernation one spring to find he's pretty badass, at which point he becomes a bit of a bastard. The crying bit was when he's old, and pretty badly injured from all the fights, and he goes to this little valley that's basically swimming in natural toxic gases, and lies down to go to sleep... jesus, I'm tearing up just describing it. Go, enduring power of the written word.

Bacon of 3, due to a D-list actress I worked with once who has had small speaking parts in a few big movies. Actually, maybe even a 2 due to another acquaintance who had small speaking parts in pretty much every big movie for a couple of years back in the 90s.
A political 3 to a variety of heads of state due to meeting the head of the Office de la Langue Francaise at a launch for a product we made for them (me > head of OLF > PM of Canada > lotsa Important People).
I am jealous of many of the 2s in this thread.

#605 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 10:11 PM:

One to Jimmy Carter. Two to Bill Clinton. One to Newt Gingrich, in San Francisco, of all places.

#606 ::: Piscusfiche ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 10:13 PM:

Julia@590: You can borrow my Brillo for Vincent Gallo. I just finished cleaning my kitchen after Thanksgiving. It's all nice and bleachy.

I guess I have some other numbers. It's just....well, I can't think of any reason to be proud of them.

I have a number 2 to Jenna Jameson, for example. Which, EWWWWW, puts me at a 3 to Ron Jeremy.

#607 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 10:25 PM:

The one I'm proudest of is a 2 to Doctor Who, through Ken Campbell. That gives me a 2 to John Cleese too (he was in Fawlty Towers) and indeed most of British TV. Not that I watch TV much, but still.

I also have a 2 to Brian May - an occasional drinking partner had the next desk over while he was completing his PhD - and a photo of my uncle giving Prince Charles a tour for another 2.

#608 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 10:35 PM:

...and, which I should really have checked on preview at least, that gives me a Bacon Number of 3.

#609 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 10:37 PM:

I have ones to Lynda Barry, Matt Groening, and Calvin Johnson (Evergreen, what can I say?) and my husband went to school with Ronald Reagan Jr. and Jon Lovitts and met Groucho Marx and Larry Fine, so I have irrationally low numbers for someone who never goes anywhere.

#610 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 10:39 PM:

I had lunch with Dave Van Ronk. In Cleveland. Which means I'm a 2 to Bob Dylan. I met Janis Joplin a couple of times. And a whole bunch of people who were very cool 40 years ago: Jose Feliciano, Judy Henske, Jesse Colin Young, Eric Anderson...

#611 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 10:48 PM:

Lia #597: Indeed the "just ignore them" is focused on a particular type of tormentor, just as the "always fight back" line is targeted at a different type. There's no one answer, because "bullying" is really a catchall for several subtly different situations.

Teapot7 @#491: After seeing some of the comments following mine, I'm reminded of the importantance of not coming on too strong in the "talk". Clearly, the less "bristling" on her part you can manage, the better, but even if she does, don't respond in kind. And however you approach it, best of luck!

#612 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 10:52 PM:

John A Arkansawyer: I have a 2 to both of them. Army stuff for Clinton, and my father was a State House Beat Reporter in Atlanta while Carter was Governor.

#613 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 11:38 PM:

Sam Kelly @ 607: I also have a 2 to Brian May

Depending on what exactly counts, I may have a 1 to May. He featured one of my songs on his site (open thread readers can guess which one).

#614 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 11:42 PM:

Inge et al: For myself, I tend to think of trust as a precondition of any close voluntary (i.e. nonfamily) relationship. If some degree of trust isn't there, why open up to them? If trust is betrayed, why stay?

Which leads to the question: if Teapot's niece's boyfriend so vocally distrusts Teapot's niece, why is he trying to get closer to her on so many fronts? Seems more like a surveillance plan than a relationship. And why in turn would she want that?

How far does the surveillance go? Does he stakeout her home at night? Watch her bedroom window? Tap her phone? Interrogate her other friends? This would be stalker territory.

#615 ::: Dena Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 12:26 AM:

Being an interpreter means that you not only get 1s with all kinds of exciting people but - since interpreting is best done in teams - you get 2s with anyone any interpreting partner of yours has met.

Which is how it happens that a disconcertingly high number of my friends have sent me pictures of themselves smiling and shaking hands with mass murderers. ::shudder::

#616 ::: danny Vice ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 12:32 AM:

On Wednesday, October 21st, city officials enacted an ordinance designed to address the public outcry for justice in the Megan Meier tragedy. The six member Board of Aldermen made Internet harassment a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $500 fine and 90 days in jail.

Does this new law provide any justice for Megan? Does this law provide equitable relief for a future victim or actually weaken the current law?

I reject the premise of this new law and believe it completely misses the mark. The reasoning behind this opinion is that city officials have consistently treated this case as an Internet harassment case instead of a child welfare/exploitation case.

Classifying this case a harassment issue completely fails to address the most serious aspects of the methods Lori Drew employed to lead this youth to her demise. The Vice disagrees that harassment was even a factor in this case until just a couple of days before Megan's death.

Considering this case a harassment issue is incorrect because during the 5 weeks Lori Drew baited and groomed her victim, the attention was NOT unwanted attention. It was not harassment at all. It was invited attention. Megan participated in the conversations willingly because she was lured, manipulated and exploited without her knowledge.

This law willfully sets a precedent that future child exploiters and predators can use to reclassify their cases to harassment issues. In effect, the law enacted to give Megan justice, may make her even more vulnerable. So long as the child victim doesn't tell the predator to stop, even a harassment charge may not stick with the right circumstances and a good defender.

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

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

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

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

City officials who continue to ignore this viable, documented admission and continue to address this issue as harassment are intentionally burying their heads in the sand, when the solution is staring them right in the face. Why?

On June 5th, 2006, Governor Matt Blunt signed into law stiff penalties for convicted sex offenders. The Vice believes that officials continually reject a child predator classification of this case in order to keep the penalty of this offense out of this harsher realm.

Opponents of this law are active in defeating this law not by changing it, but by disqualifying cases like Megan's from ever being heard.

There are several other child exploitation laws on the books. To date, none of them have even been considered by City, State and Federal officials in this case. I'm outraged that a motion was never even filed, so that the case could at least be argued before a judge or jury.

Those satisfied with this response out of Missouri officials need to think through the effect this law will truly have. It quite honestly has the potential to directly undermine Jessica's law. It quiet easily gives prosecutors a way out of prosecuting child endangerment and child predator cases in the future.

Beware the wolf in sheep's clothing here.

Danny Vice
http://weeklyvice.blogspot.com

#617 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 12:41 AM:

Heresiarch: I had a feeling that the term "peer pressure" would bring up that kind of response. However, despite its bad press, peer pressure is in fact one of the strongest forces behind ALL kinds of social interaction -- including things like common courtesy and Not Being An Asshole. When someone steps over the line, we let them know by our reactions that what they've done isn't socially acceptable. (Or at least that's what happens in theory; in practice, many people are either too gobsmacked or too intimidated to show disapproval of rudeness, which is one of the reasons it's becoming so widespread.) If you genuinely see no difference between that and mob violence, I don't think there's any further useful discussion possible here.

#618 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 01:50 AM:

Individ-ewe-al @ 549

Somebody may already have said this, but I don't think communities like Making Light can be good places to be in for any length of time if there isn't a lot of diversity, and diversity in age is one of the most important. I don't want to deny or forget the person I was at 20 or 30, but I know I can't think like that any more; having people around who have the level of energy and the freah outlook that I've left behind, and who have different ideas and goals than I do is very important for me, and IMO for all of us in not getting stuck in a single way of looking at the world.

* currently 5,271,009 experience points, 17th level Trickster.

#619 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 02:50 AM:

Serge @ 589

I certainly remember that show. As much as I loved Kaye for all his comic bits and his unbelievable physical abilities, I'm a sentimental old softy and the stuff I remember best are that program and the movie "Me and the Colonel".

As for various connection numbers, we all live embedded in a huge web of communication and acquaintance. It's not even possible to know all the people I'm connected to at level 3, for instance. I can name a few close connections just to show how a diverse a collection they are, even for someone like me who's not much of a joiner. Just living awhile and having the people you meet live a while creates a network of intersecting world lines that would make a spider dizzy.

I'm a 1 to Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak because I lived and worked in Silicon Valley in the 70's and went to several meetings of the Palo Alto Computer Club, including the one where they showed off their new computer. Of course there are a bunch of others you've probably never heard of, like Adam Osborne, Victor French, Gary Kildall, and Ted Hoff. That makes me a 2 to about half of the high-tech industry in the Valley prior to the mid-90's, which just goes to show the importance of being in the right place at the right time.

I'm a 2 to President Eisenhower because my uncle was on his staff during WW2, a 2 to Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska because my father was a friend of his about 40 years ago, and a 2 to a large part of the folk music scene of the 60s and 70s, as well as the rock scene of the 60s because I knew people who were musicians or sound technicians so I got introduced to visiting musicians, and the sister of a good friend of mine was married to the owner of a club in Manhattan, so I went there a lot and met a lot of people.

The interesting thing about these connections is that they show that society isn't a bunch of closed, parochial, and unconnected subcultures; rather it's a web of highly connected individuals who group together in largely overlapping communities.

#620 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 03:07 AM:

Bruce Cohen #619 -- who's Victor French? I know the other names, but not his, and Google just wants to tell me about an actor.

#621 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 03:17 AM:

And here's me thinking that I loved Danny Kaye in "The Court Jester" and "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty", but thought he made a pig's ear out of "Hans Christian Anderson", the musical.

Physical comedy is much underrated, in my opinion. It's really difficult to do well.

#622 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 03:20 AM:

My father actually had a conversation with Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. He was Chaplain of the naval base at Manuas Island at the time. My father, not the Duke.

#623 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 06:27 AM:

Bacon number of 3 here: My sister is an aspiring actress, using the stage name of Emilie Odeile. According to the Bacon Oracle, she has a Bacon number of 2 via someone named Hans Raith.

Haven't really worked out my numbers for other people, although having met Tom Galloway and Jon Singer, I imagine I have 3s and 4s to practically the entire world.

#624 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 08:34 AM:

Pyre @ 614: I see trust as something given topically. I might trust someone to pick me up at half past two in the morning on a phonecall, but not trust them with my chequebook. I might trust someone to run my household while I'm away, but not to defend me to her friends. I trust no one not to change, or not to have their limits.

#625 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 09:32 AM:

I have, as I have mentioned before, a Bigfoot number of 1. Met him at a party once.

#626 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 09:36 AM:

I have an Abi of One.

#627 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 09:37 AM:

I have a Dobie Gillis of Three.

#628 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 09:44 AM:

Abi @ 576 , you too? Why is it acceptable to shout or swear in an office situation, but not acceptable to cry? All are means of letting out tension. But if you cry, you're "weak" and don't need to be listened to, while if you shout or swear you're "strong".

Actually, the people I admire and envy are those who can express how angry they are in a calm, quiet vooice which has listeners hanging on every word - the classic trick of many really good teachers.

Lizzy L @ 582
My husband shouts, swears and occasionally hits solid walls or other solid objects (inanimate only) to vent his feelings (over computer foul-ups, excessive idiocies of politicians etc.), then gets over it. I bottle up the tension until I cry: I've concluded that, physiologically speaking, his way is probably safer. I'll admit the tears don't mess up the knuckles (or the walls).

#629 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 10:14 AM:

Aside from being introduced to the boxer Max Baer as a toddler, I don't think I have any connections to CA celebs outside of writers (Hi, Lizzy L!) and rock musicians -- I met Quicksilver Messenger Service and their quirky manager Ron Polte while naively trying to start a fan club for them, as a teenager. (Polte: first person I ever heard use the word "lifestyle." QMS bassist David Freiberg: a gem of a gentleman.)

#630 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 10:26 AM:

Faren @ 629... I don't think I have any connections to CA celebs outside of writers (Hi, Lizzy L!) and rock musicians

Let's see. My brother-in-law used to work for California politician Carol Migden. And I once walked by Willie Brown while campaigning in a BART station. (He was campaigning, not me.)

#631 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 10:45 AM:

dcb @ 628, I believe it's about the balls out, horns together way of displaying dominance. Shouting and swearing (which are, btb, not acceptable in my office) are much closer to dominance rituals than tears.

Actually, the people I admire and envy are those who can express how angry they are in a calm, quiet vooice which has listeners hanging on every word - the classic trick of many really good teachers.

I once had a coworker pull up a chair so he could listen in, when he discovered I was about to read the riot act to one of our vendors. When I asked why, he explained that he wanted to pick up the knack of ensuring that the vendor cooperated, whether the vendor wanted to or not. I (fairly obviously) didn't think there was anything impressive going on, but it apparently amused the coworker.

#632 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 11:19 AM:

I have a Queen Elizabeth number of 2, if my Dad being introduced to her at a garden party counts. A lot of people must meet her that way.

46, and, of course, I wear full evening dress when reading Making Light. I then don a red cloak and flying goggles for reading Boingboing, and a viking helmet for RPG.net.

#633 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 11:28 AM:

The UK Independent picked up this story today. The neighbours' daughter somehow vanished from the narrative during subediting.

#634 ::: Viorica ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 11:41 AM:

If my friend Josh can be believed, I have a Eugene Levy number of 3. However, I've never seen any of his movies. Meh.

#635 ::: Emily H. ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 12:53 PM:

Last night my friend of ten years told me that she tried, if badly, to kill herself when we were in high school.

(I knew, at the time, that she was depressed and untreated for it; I was terribly scared for her; but I thought I was overreacting.)

Sometimes we never realize how thin the ice is, and how cold the water underneath. I don't know how we survived those years.


#636 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 01:09 PM:

Dcb 628,

I so rarely cry that it's probably unhealthy but for anger response on a good day I can do "the look". You know the one. The gaze that can make even the biggest and toughest of adults feel like they are 3 and the whole universe is about to fall down on them. I can also combine it with "the voice". That calm speaking tone that makes you feel as if an invisible hand has reached in and plucked out your soul. Many tell me I would have been a perfectly terrifying nun. I recommend mastering both.
The voice requires speaking in your lowest octave with an accent similar to a BBC announcer starting with the words, "I'm disappointed in you...". You have to sell it that your judgment carries weight and that they have failed miserably then they do the rest to themselves.

#637 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 01:59 PM:

abi @ #567:
I've read more discomforting posts, but not often. I hope you're OK, and that the con lifts your spirits.

I am at the con and more or less fulfilling my obligations there, though not with any particular competence or pizzazz. In between I am sitting in my room being depressed and antisocial. It's not going to be one of my more convivial weekends, though I shall put on the Perky Face for tonight to facilitate fundraising.

The delete key on this laptop is actually a backspace key. Whose dumb idea was that?

#638 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 02:20 PM:

Susan @ 637... Like I said before, if the Fundraiser has a PayPal button for outside contributions, let us know. Like I said before, our thoughts are with you.

#639 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 03:19 PM:

I have a 3 to Hugh Laurie. And to Kate Beckinsale.

#640 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 03:44 PM:

xeger @ 631 I could probably do with listening in on you sometime. Actually, if I'm in "righteous indignation" mode, I can do pretty well - but generally I can only do this for someone else, not for myself.

T.W @ 636. Now I'm envious. Is it teachable?

Fragano Ledgister @587
On the musical front, I have a 2 to Ralph Vaughan Williams, Sir John Barbirolli, and thousands of others in the classical music world (my step-father is a classical music critic). Also a 2 to Queen Elizabeth II, now I come to think of it, both through my step-father and via my mother-in-law. Which gives me a 3 to too many heads of state, politicians etc. etc. to count. And a 2 to Lowry, via another (still living) Salford/Manchester artist, Harold Riley.

#641 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 03:52 PM:

dcb @640:
if I'm in "righteous indignation" mode, I can do pretty well - but generally I can only do this for someone else, not for myself.

See, this is advantage of having exactly the same voice* as your mother. We've represented ourselves as one another to any number of vexing people on the phone over the years.

------
* Last time I was in California we even managed to fool my father.

#642 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 04:04 PM:

dcb, #628: Why is it acceptable to shout or swear in an office situation, but not acceptable to cry?

Two words: cultural sexism. Shouting and swearing are things men do. Crying is something women do, therefore not acceptable. It's even worse for a man who has the crying reflex, because then he becomes a girlie-man. :-(

#643 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 04:08 PM:

Serge:
I thought that saying find a way to get a check to the con was pretty straightforward, but I can spell it out slowly.

You - need - to - get - a - check - to - the - convention.

That means no, not Paypal unless you want to arrange it with someone here. That is why I said "check". This is a Darkover-specific fundraiser; we don't solicit from fandom everywhere. There's no rule against people sending in random donations, but people pretty much don't. We come together as friends and family and have a concert and raise money for sick kids.

#644 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 04:30 PM:

dcb #640: That's a lot of classical music connections.

I have a 2 to the Queen myself (though my favourite is to Fidel Castro, since my connection is, inter alia, to women who have been hugged by him) through having known Michael Manley.

#645 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 05:33 PM:

Bacon number: 3, through an actor friend who has worked with Ed Asner.

#646 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 05:43 PM:

Susan @ 643 ... Completely sideways to the question of how to get money moved around, it's weird how language conditioned I've gotten. It took me a couple of reads through to remember that 'check' and 'cheque' get to the same end place.

#647 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 05:58 PM:

Jon Meltzer... What's my Asner? Let's see. Four. George Takei; William Shatner; Barbara Luna; Ed Asner in Outer Limits episode "It Crawled Out of the Woodwork" aka the vacuum-cleaner creature's episode.

#648 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 06:26 PM:

abi @ 641: That's a neat trick. Now if only I could fool myself into thinking I was doing it for someone else...

Lee @ 642: Yes, and it's seen as "childish". Why (as the converse) shouting and swearing is considered "mature" behaviour, I'm not sure. But there is no doubt that crying is seen as weak and childish - and that therefore the person crying is seen thus, and so are their opinions/arguments.

Fragano Ledgister @ 644: hundreds, thousands - I haven't tried to do a head count, but he's been a music critic for a long time; all those years of composers, conductors, singers, orchestral musicians, opera producers etc. has got to add up...

#649 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 07:17 PM:

dcb @ 648

Why (as the converse) shouting and swearing is considered "mature" behaviour, I'm not sure.

To paraphrase an old saw, "The winners write the etiquette books." Shouting and swearing typically win in dominance contests over calm and quiet, and also over crying, for the winners to then say that crying is unacceptable behavior, while shouting and swearing are appropriate further cements the success of their winning ways.

#650 ::: Dave Hutchinson ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 07:56 PM:

I also forgot to provide any validation data. I have been in the company of Charlie Stross on occasion, and Dave Langford has visited our flat. None of this convinces me I'm real, and if they have any sense at all both gentlemen will deny knowing anything about me.

I find the Bacon Numbers a bit confusing, but I think I have a four to the last Pope. My wife knows one of the Solidarity politicians, he knows Lech Walesa, and etc.

#651 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 07:56 PM:

Oh! I can do a Bacon number of 3 as well, then, through Ed Asner!

He's a cousin of my great-aunt Frances, the one who ALWAYS gives Lenox china as wedding and bar/bat mitzvah gifts.

Susan, I hope you're in better spirits now.

#652 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 08:18 PM:

Rikibeth, you have a me number of 3 through Ed Asner, too -- he was in a movie with my former next-door neighbor.

#653 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 08:42 PM:

Dcb 640,

I suspect our hostess here can do both the look and voice of withering automagically and she can probably do it in text as well.

#654 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 08:44 PM:

Susan @ 643... Your telling me to send a check to the con was indeed pretty straightforward, except that I interpreted 'con' as the event, which would have necessitated next-day delivery, when I should have understood it to mean the con's commitee. Still, I should have figured out the correct interpretation from the rest of your post - but didn't.

#655 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2007, 10:22 PM:

I just posted my follow-up thoughts on why something like this apparently hasn't happened in the Nerd World.

I can come up with a long list of factors, but I think the most important is: Lurkers support us in email. In Nerd World you're never totally cut off. Even if you're in the wrong, even if you're batshit insane, even if you're a plagiarist (though that one's really pushing it) there will be people on your side. And if you're hurt, if you're unhappy, if you've said something really stupid and don't know how to apologize, there will be people who will still communicate with you, who will tell you it's not the end of the world.

#656 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 01:19 AM:

Susan: best wishes to you.

On sadness and crying: I have this abandoned kitten here, as I mentioned in the Thanksgiving thread. It doesn't have very good chances. (China is not very kitten-friendly.) I spent a morning of teaching getting more and more frantic over what I was going to do if I couldn't find a caregiver and its mother didn't come back. This culminated in having to cut my lunch short because, when I visualized myself taking it to a vet to be put down and holding and speaking to it during, I started crying hysterically into my soup. I'm pretty sure if I thought about that again I'd start bawling again, no saving throw.

This is why I am waking up in the middle of the night to dropper egg yolk + yogurt down a kitten.

Weirdly, the idea that it might die *anyway* isn't nearly as troubling. I'm scared for it, but not that scared; if it dies, it dies. The part that tied me up in knots was the idea that it might die without knowing I cared for it. Now it knows, and I'm doing what I can.

Degrees of separation: I don't know any movie actors, really. I am, however, three degrees from the late J. Robert Oppenheimer by two separate chains. My father knew Feynman. A friend of mine had a mother who knew Oppenheimer.

#657 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 02:24 AM:

(To keep things to a manageable length, I'm going to address one person per post. Apologies for the excessive verbiage.)

Lili @ 536: "Going by that argument, parents who send kids to their rooms to think about what they did are threatening society - because that punishment wasn't handed down by a court of law."

Something I don't think I've been communicating very well is the difference between, on one hand, individuals making decisions about how to regulate their interactions with others, and on the other hand, organized social punishment. They seem to me to be quite distinct.

I have no problem with anyone deciding not to invite some proven asshole back to their party. Rock on. I'd do the same. That's sensible self-protection. But that is categorically different from calling your friends and telling them not to invite him to their parties either, and to call their friends and tell them to do the same. Do you see the difference? Once you start using the community as a whole to enforce your decisions, it stops being normal and acceptable and becomes very dangerous.

Even if everyone reaches this same decision and refuses to invite him to any of their parties, that's still fine in my book. As soon as one person (or more likely, a small group) decides that they don't like Joe and don't want anyone else to invite him to their parties, that's crossing the line.

We aren't in any position to shun Lori Drew directly. All we need to do to never see her again is go about our lives normally. So when we talk about shunning, the only kind we can possibly be discussing is the nasty, asking-others-to-enforce-our-personal-dislikes kind. And that is, I think, very unhealthy.

#658 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 02:38 AM:

Todd Larason @ 620

Victor French is an invention of my fingers; I meant to type Gordon French, but my fingers deceived me, and then my eyes joined in the conspiracy. Sorry for the confusion.

Gordon was one of the founders of Processor Technology, which entered the hobbyist computer market with the SOL-20 in the mid-70's. He later worked briefly for IMSAI, about the same time I did, and we were members of a group of IMSAI, Proctology (as it was fondly known to its founders), and North Star employees who looked into spinning off another company and making a better PC.

#659 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 02:50 AM:

Thinking about the whole connection business makes me feel a little like Forest Gump, or a somewhat more anonymous Samuel Boswell: I've been around a lot of the interesting stuff that went down in the second half of the 20th century, but was only a minor participant and witness, not a mover and shaker. Still, it's been an exciting ride and a long strange trip, through a time that was as interesting* as any I know of in all history. I hope I can stick around for awhile longer to see what happens next.

* for many and varied values of "interesting"

#660 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 03:21 AM:

Greg @ 555: "Laws put people in jail. You were arguing against "organized shunning". I don't know how not talking with someone or boycotting their business is a "blunter" punishment than being put in jail for some period of time."

(Well, actually, laws can also fine people money, confiscate their property, execute them, force them to seek counseling, attend classes, or do community service. That's just US law, though--different societies through history have also branded people, cut off their hands, sold them into slavery, and many other things besides. I'm not advocating any of that, obviously. My point is that the law can exact any punishment you want it to. It could even sentence people to shunning, if you felt like it. Saying that the law only does such and such and just can't possibly do anything else is a pretty weak argument.)

What do I mean when I call social punishment "blunt?" Let me give an example:
Lori Drew is shunned. She becomes increasingly depressed, and eventually commits suicide.
Lori Drew is shunned. She is embittered by what she sees as an unfair punishment without any recourse to appeal, and takes out her anger and frustration on her daughter.
Lori Drew is shunned. She and her family move away, change their names, and she never thinks about it again.

All of these strike me as quite plausible. How can you predict which will happen? You can't: there's no way to tell how harsh the punishment will end up being. You can't even tell who it will hurt. You might kill her, or you might not even touch her. And that's not even getting into the issue of: How will other people choose to enforce the Drews' shunning? Will they ignore them, or will they drive through the neighborhood screaming "Murderer?" When you enlist the community as a whole to inflict a punishment, you have to contend with a thousand different interpretations of what a fitting punishment is. It's an inevitable consequence of punishments inflicted via commen consent. So, you cannot control how the punishment will be inflicted, or how harshly it will be received. That's what I mean when I say it is "blunter." The law, for all its flaws, has many more checks and balances than ad hoc punishments like shunning.

"And yet most of us had nothing personally at stake in those events. But we could look at the actions of the Gretna police and declare them immoral."

I'm not denying anyone the right to make moral judgements. Of course I think that what Lori Drew did is wrong. Of course I think what the police did at Gretna is wrong. That's not the question. The question is, am I so certain of my own judgement, and of the reliability of the information I based that judgement on, that I feel comfortable turning that moral judgement into real-world consequences? The answer, for me at least, is no.

"Sometimes its the outsiders who have no stake in something who can best tell right from wrong."

Precisely why I'm so strongly in favor of using the legal system, with its impersonal, objective juries and so forth, to ascertain the truth of the matter and assign appropriate punishment, rather than leaving it to the townsfolk to do so ad hoc.

#661 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 03:31 AM:

Cassie @ 571: "There are a lot of behaviors that could be construed as shunning that don't involve the law, unless the rule about bringing enough cupcakes for everyone when you celebrate a birthday in class is a law now. Individual business owners may refuse to buy adspace from Ms. Drew and refuse to sell to the Drews; no law says they must. Similarly, community spaces may be full of people that choose not to associate with the Drews."

I addressed most of this in my response to Lili. I think the basic test is, can I deal with this by myself? If so, then do it. Avoid the person you need to avoid. Glare disapprovingly at the person who cut in front of you. Don't invite Joe Schmo to any more parties. If not, and you need the assistance of the community at large to deal with your problem, then it must be done through the legal system. When large groups of people work together, there's too much potential for things to get out of control to just wing it. There needs to be guidance.

#662 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 04:43 AM:

Doctor Science@655: Here I was sure you were going to do this: Lurkers support us in email.

(Hey, Jo! Why isn't that one on your web site?)

#663 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 04:47 AM:

Lee @ 617: "If you genuinely see no difference between that and mob violence, I don't think there's any further useful discussion possible here."

To be perfectly honest, I do see organized shunning as a form of mob violence: greatly increased power, radically decreased responsibility. This is not the same thing, however, as claiming that all social pressure is mob violence. (My point at 510 was that you were trying to downplay the severity of shunning by calling it mere "peer pressure," as if peer pressure were incapable of lasting harm.) I freely admit that there are many applications to which social pressure can be productively put. For example, social pressure is a great way to communicate, especially about social norms. I encourage people to use it in this way! It is, however, a terrible way to punish.

If I've seemed harsh on social pressure, it's because the topic at hand--the nation-wide shunning of the Drews--isn't a particularly cheery example. It is, in my humble, really fucked up. As far as I can tell, it isn't an attempt to correct the Drews behavior, or make it clear that their behavior isn't socially acceptable. (This is a story that got international coverage. It is quite obvious, shunning or no, that no one thinks this behavior is normal or okay.) Rather, it is an attempt on the part of people far, far removed from the situation to inflict punishment. That is what I am critiquing, not the very existence of social pressure.

If you genuinely see no difference between that and calling all social pressure mob violence, I don't think there's any further useful discussion possible here.

#664 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 06:58 AM:

Heresiarch @ 660: Trouble is, the psychological outcome of jailing someone isn't a certain thing, either. It seems like a much clearer-cut punishment because the physical aspects are controlled, but there are a lot of different things that can happen to someone in that situation psychologically.

Punishment is a very weird thing. Are we punishing someone for the greater good, or are we doing it from a sense of retribution? Let's take a couple of prospective outcomes -- (a) the offender reforms totally; (b) the offender becomes utterly miserable and jumps off a cliff.

Both could occur as the result of punishment situations coming into contact with someone's pre-existing mindset. Which outcome is more what we are 'looking for'?

#665 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 08:39 AM:

re 642: Calling it "cultural sexism" misses the point. It has nothing to do with gender; it has everything to do with the image of leadership. Well, and the general omnipresence of profanity. Indeed, to me there's a perverse sexism to assigning all of the positive virtues except forcefulness and loyalty (to the degree that the latter is even recognized as virtuous these days) to femininity.

re 655: I think the nerd community is not so welcoming as all that-- and I think that's why this sort of thing doesn't happen within it, because one of the things that makes it the nerd community is that it is heavily populated by people who for various reasons are socially crippled enough not to be able to feign effectively. A second factor is that nerd-dom has been more focused on semi-open contexts where the timid can just lurk, or if active can withdraw easily with lesser penalty.

But the third factor is that the nerd community online is obviously and brutally unwelcoming when not approached on its (local) own terms. Remember: we invented flaming. Every forum I've seen that's small enough and like-minded enough has pile-ons when dissenters show up, unless whoever is moderating it is ruthless enough to suppress this. So it's a safe bet that anyone who is fragile enough to be hurt either stays a lurker or avoids us entirely.

#666 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 10:10 AM:

Serge:
Your telling me to send a check to the con was indeed pretty straightforward, except that I interpreted 'con' as the event, which would have necessitated next-day delivery, when I should have understood it to mean the con's commitee. Still, I should have figured out the correct interpretation from the rest of your post - but didn't.

Sending it to the con, via next day mail, was precisely what I meant. If I had meant concom, I would have said concom. Darkover doesn't really have a concom anyway - it's a one-woman show, and said woman lives in Scandinavia.

At any rate, the fundraiser ended shortly after 10pm last night (EST). We appear to have overtrained our attendees; we figured after last year we would be low-key about it and raise maybe $2000. Instead we had $5691 plus assorted foreign currency. Fans being fans, this was then subjected to nit-picking. The number wasn't a nice round number. Solution: throw in $9 more to make $5700. That was entirely too round; donate $1 to make it less so. And that was entirely too close to the current year by Jewish reckoning, so donate $67 more to bring it to $5768. Plus foreign currency (fans are well-traveled; we got Korean and Israeli this year.)

This lifted my spirits somewhat, when I finished being stunned, but the real up came later, when I imprinted upon a Segway.

#667 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 10:19 AM:

Heresiarch @657: Something I don't think I've been communicating very well is the difference between, on one hand, individuals making decisions about how to regulate their interactions with others, and on the other hand, organized social punishment. They seem to me to be quite distinct.

Not so much as you think -- in fact, I'd say you've thrown up a false dichotomy. You're essentially claiming that you have no problem people deciding "all by themselves" to shun (e.g.) the Drews... but as soon as they discuss their decision with friends and neighbors, it becomes a Bad Thing? Sorry, but that's just how humans, and groups, make decisions.

It seems possible that when you talk of "organized shunning", you're thinking of something rather nastier, where anyone who doesn't join in the shunning is explicitly stigmatized themself. But the thing is, that takes a "cabal" with unchallenged control over the community. In the modern US, the whole thing will blow up, the moment some dissenter escalates to public exposure, much less law-enforcement.

But the thing is, you really don't need that kind of control to implement a social punishment! All you need is for most of their (former) friends, neighbors, and so on (in widening circles), to share a common response to the news. If everyone who hears about it decides that that the Drews did was completely beyond the pale, to the point of "stay away from that family, they're dangerous crazy", then they'll be ostracized even without a ruling from the Secret Masters Of The Neighborhood.

#668 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 10:29 AM:

Susan @ 666... This lifted my spirits somewhat, when I finished being stunned

Glad to hear it helped.

#669 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 11:01 AM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) #659: I think you've conflated Samuel Johnson and James Boswell.

#670 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 11:05 AM:

Hooray for the successful fundraiser.

#671 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 11:24 AM:

Susan @ 666 (aiee): "We appear to have overtrained our attendees; we figured after last year we would be low-key about it and raise maybe $2000. Instead we had $5691 plus assorted foreign currency. Fans being fans, this was then subjected to nit-picking. The number wasn't a nice round number. Solution: throw in $9 more to make $5700. That was entirely too round; donate $1 to make it less so. And that was entirely too close to the current year by Jewish reckoning, so donate $67 more to bring it to $5768. "

This made me laugh, only because I do that all the time when partially paying off line of credit and credit card balances so as to leave nice interesting numbers in the account.

#672 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 11:27 AM:

Heresiarch@657: Once you start using the community as a whole to enforce your decisions, it stops being normal and acceptable, and becomes very dangerous.

What do you think "law" is?

Actually, that's not an interesting question at this point. I think we're at the point where further debate is simply going to go in circles around whether or not people can organize social structures without resorting to government or not. Which will essentially boil down to "Yes, they should" versus "No, they shouldn't".

A more interesting question might be something along the lines of "When were you shunned in your life?" Because it doesn't feel like you're talking about this case, and what people are saying about the Drews, so much as you're talking about something that happened to you in the past that this case somehow reminded you of.

#673 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 11:34 AM:

NelC @632: I wear full evening dress when reading Making Light.

Cool! Me too!

#674 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 11:55 AM:

Serge, #572: If you've met George Takei, your Bacon number is three, not five. According to the Oracle of Bacon at Virginia, Takei's number is 2 -- he was in American Summer with Tom Arnold, and Arnold was in We Married Margo with Kevin Bacon. (I know this because I looked up Takei myself, having interviewed him for a Tor podcast at the Worldcon in Japan.)

Lizzy, #610: I've actually jammed with Dave Van Ronk, by virtue of having been in a Minicon music circle with him the year he was Music Guest of Honor. Of course, this honor was shared with a bunch of other Minneapolis-area musician types, like Steve Brust, Fred Haskell, Nate Bucklin, etc. I guess this makes us all 2s to a lot of famous musicians.

#675 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 12:07 PM:

C Wingate @655:

But the Nerd World is plenty welcoming if you're a nerd. And there are certainly enough nerds who are fragile, depressed, insecure, and capable of acting *precisely* like 13-year-olds. Some are even 13.

#676 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 12:19 PM:

Patrick @ 674... Thanks for the correction. I have this theory that, if you don't work in Hollywood but have met any of the ST-TOS people(*), you have quite an advantage over everybody else in any variation of the degrees-of-separation game. Heck, William Shatner, for example, was in Judgment in Nuremberg.

Meanwhile, I figured out that my degree of separation from the Beatles is FIVE: I once met (1) Charlton Heston, who was in The Big Country opposite (2) Gregory Peck, who was in Roman Holiday with (3) Audrey Hepburn, who was in Funny Face with (4) Fred Astaire, who appeared in (5) John Lennon's Just Imagine. Another FIVE to the Beatles is (1) George Takei, who worked with (2) William Shatner, who, in episode Assignment: Earth, worked with (3) Teri Garr, who was in Young Frankeinstein with (4) Peter Boyle, who played the Creature, and who was the Best Man at the wedding of (5) John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

(*) or the Mission: Impossible cast, which was filmed next door by the same production company.

#677 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 12:34 PM:

Degree to David Bowie is FOUR: (1) George Takei, who worked with (2) William Shatner, who was in The Undiscovered Country with (3) Iman, who is married to (4) David Bowie. That connection also takes me to The Sound of Music.

#678 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 01:06 PM:

Heseiarch @663 about the online outcry against LD- I think you're mistaken in your view of the function of the calls for shunning, and even, in some particularly irresponsible cases, harrassment, of the perpetrators of Megan Meier's misery. What is forming is not a lynch mob but rather a consensus that such behavior, from an adult to a child, and especially using the child's developing sexuality against her, is an unmixed wrong, something that no-one can accept nor participate in.

Gossip, in general, functions much more effectively as a social control for the community at large than it does as a punishment for the object of the gossip. The same is true of actual legal penalties, and if you think that the three outcomes you list differ in any essential way from what happens after criminal trial and punishment, well, then, I envy you a life free of close associations with repeat offendors.

#679 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 02:14 PM:

Oh, the Beatles. I'm definitely a two there. Teresa and I know Crawdaddy founder and counterculture entrepeneur Paul Williams, and I even wrote the introduction to one of his books. Paul was one of the people at the impromptu Montreal hotel-room session where "Give Peace a Chance" was recorded. I'm pretty sure Paul met other members of the Fabs a time or two as well.

(Note: this is not the singer Paul Williams who appears in Phantom of the Paradise, nor is it the Paul O. Williams who wrote fantasies for Del Rey.)

Come to think of it, anyone in the SF world who's met Chris Priest has a Beatles number of 2, since Chris met the whole band on the streets of Liverpool in 1962. George Harrison kissed his girlfriend and made fun of his suit. Chris wrote it all up in a fanzine article for Avedon Carol many years later.

(Note: this is the author of The Affirmation and The Prestige, not the comic-book writer also named Christopher Priest.)

#680 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 02:52 PM:

Patrick @ 679... And your Two to the Beatles means you have a Three to the Monty Python gang, because of George Harrison, who produced Life of Brian. And there was that episode where Eric Idle introduced Ringo, and Lulu, but, before they could open their mouths, the ending credits started rolling.

#681 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 03:05 PM:

Susan @ 666
Congratulations on the fundraising! And I'm glad it's lifted your spirits.

#682 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 03:57 PM:

News of the Megan Meier suicide has now made it into newspapers in the UK; according to this Observer news story Lori and Curt Drew have been shunned by their neighbours, are receiving death threats, have had bricks through their window and demonstrations outside their front door, and the police are on alert.

(Oh, and the town just passed a local ordinance making cyber-harrassment a misdemeanor offense.)

In other news, PNH: you are at most three handshakes away from Adolf Hitler (through me).

#683 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 04:01 PM:

Heresiarch @663: This is a story that got international coverage. It is quite obvious, shunning or no, that no one thinks this behavior is normal or okay.

Sadly, I must contradict you. While defenders of the Drews are certainly in the minority, they seem to compensate for their numbers with loud, stubborn callousness; e.g., a certain proportion of comments at this blog (and for that matter the original entry in its own right) esp. once the /b/ brigade starts in, or this page in its entirety. Do not click on either link if vulnerable to catastrophic despair about the human condition. In brief, they appear to view "Josh Evans" as a fun spoof that no sane, normal person would've taken seriously, beyond which they see Megan's death as dismissible anyway because of her personal flaws (including the fact of her suicide in and of itself).

I'd forgotten how much stigma still circulates among the general public about mental illness. One of my friends once blogged about it in terms of "outing" her own bipolar disorder; even simple depression, which has been receiving more widespread publicity and understanding, is still scorned by some people as no more than a weakminded character flaw which its victims should be able to shrug off with a smile.

Meanwhile, I finally got around to looking through the primary documents at Smoking Gun, and was (if possible) even further horrified to discover that Megan's parents (and thus probably also the parental Drews?) are my age. I can't even begin to imagine being in the place of any of them.

#684 ::: Hypatia ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 04:03 PM:

Lori Drew is a psychopath. That part is clear.

But more disturbing than that are the actions of authorities: If it had been an adult MALE that "carried on" in a sexually explicit way with a 13 year old girl, even if it WERE for the purposes of revenge for his teen daughter, he'd be locked up as a pedophile.

Second, there are al-READY laws on the books that cover this type of harassment. For chrissake: just implement them!

What is particularly chilling to me, is that Lori Drew knew that the victim was known to be suicidal in the past. That means that her statement to her that the "world would be better off without you" or whatever it was... is even MORE chilling: it means she was TRYING to steer this girl to suicide. It means she had a desire to push it in that direction, and did so.

Reminds me of Charles Manson. He never "technically" put his own hands upon his victims either, but he "made it happen" by manipulating people, I mean that's the premise upon which he was convicted: that he had INCITED it.

Same thing here. Lori Drew incited this suicide and should be just as responsible as Manson was when he incited those murders---and she should also be treated just like any other adult who engages in online relationships of a sexual nature with under-aged children.

#685 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 04:20 PM:

Beastly Susan (@666), following a Segway somewhere, & Bill (@671): This reminds me of xkcd#336, called Priorities.
Congratulations on the funds raised, too. I hope after a rest you can get your energy back.

#686 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 04:22 PM:

Hypatia 684: There's no evidence that the final/fatal message came from Lori Drew. In fact, some stories imply very strongly that it came from the other girl, the one whose mother ratted out the Drews as soon as she found out.

Doesn't excuse Lori Drew. I think she knew-or-should-have-known all sorts of things. But I don't think it's accurate to say she actually intended for Megan to commit suicide.

#687 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 05:09 PM:

Would convincing someone to commit suicide violate existing assisted suicide laws? There's got to be something that will put these people in jail.

#688 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 05:44 PM:

Meanwhile, I finally got around to looking through the primary documents at Smoking Gun, and was (if possible) even further horrified to discover that Megan's parents (and thus probably also the parental Drews?) are my age. I can't even begin to imagine being in the place of any of them.

In case anyone was wondering "what age would that be?" -- according to Pharyngula, Lori Drew is 48 years old.

I, like Julie, find that horrifying.

#689 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 06:47 PM:

That's just my age. Hmm. Does anyone know her maiden name? Because I knew a Lori in high school who...didn't have a lot of ethical boundaries.

#690 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 08:16 PM:

Patrick, #674, then I have a Bacon number of 3. I typed for LeVar Burton when Event Horizon interviewed him online for an entire week. In other areas, I used to know a lot of high-level admirals, so I suppose I was pretty close to a lot of different administrations.

Julie L., #693, I have the dubious honor of having depression due to brain damage. It's hard to argue with that.

#691 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 08:20 PM:

Yes, I've met Individ-ewe-al--and enough other people here that if you're denying my existence, the whole thing collapses like Alice's house of cards. (Among other things, both Nielsen Haydens, Avram, and Jim can vouch for me.)

How have we gotten this far without anyone mentioning Jon Singer in this context?

#692 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 08:22 PM:

If the info in the comments here is correct, all of Lori's schooling took place within the state of Missouri.

#693 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 08:33 PM:

PF @ 606: Hey, I've met Ron Jeremy! Now there's a man with not many degrees of separation from anybody.

Serge @ 676: Hey, I met Teri Garr the same summer I met Spielberg. (They filmed CE3K in my home town.)

I'm suddenly reminded that my mother went to high school with Joseph Mascolo, who was in Shaft's Big Score, Sharky's Machine, and All in the Family, so I've inherited a Bacon number slightly less grandiose than whatever hers is.

I've also met John Gavin, which connects me to Hitchcock in his Hollywood days and Reagan after his.

#694 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 08:37 PM:

Bacon games: I'm a 2 to anyone who's met Jon Singer, Katya Pendill, Neil Gaiman, Bill Gibson, Michael Weholt, Glen Blankenship, Harlan Ellison, Isaac Asimov, Barry Goldwater, Jesse Jackson, Sid Coleman, Rosalyn Yalow, Jane Espenson, Bruce Schneier, Whitfield Diffie, Julia Hendricks, Benjamin Hayden, Joe Leavitt, the editors of Boing Boing, and Ian and Betty Ballantine. That's more notables than I can contemplate all at once. Add in the fact that I once worked at the Council on Foreign Relations, and I'm Linkmeister's first cousin by marriage, and the connections make my buffer overflow.

Personally, I think it's much cooler that Nancy Hanger is related to John Carter of Mars.

T. W. (653), sometimes the force is with me, but just as often it isn't. The useful thing to know is that if you're moving with the force, it's much less expensive. The toughest piece of in-person moderation I ever did -- big meeting, two hours straight, and a lot of bitter, divisive issues to thrash out -- luck was with me so thoroughly that I satisfactorily answered several question via randomly-chosen fortune cookies. I came out of that one buzzed. On the other hand, I once took over my neighborhood Republican caucus (long story), working against the flow the whole time, and the top drop afterward was so steep that I ached all over.

Greg, Heresiarch -- any system for regulating behavior can be abused.

Why you shun malefactors: it might encourage them to reform. It might not. There's some chance that it will lead to further misbehaviors on their part, but so will anything else you do or don't do.

What shunning really does is tell everyone else that you seriously disapprove of such behavior. It also removes the perp from your immediate social circle. You may still have to encounter them at malls or large social events, but that's why the Cut Direct was invented.

It's like banning a troll: the troll may not achieve enlightenment as a result, but everyone who's watching will know where you draw the line, and you won't have to deal with the troll any more.

(Footnote: Never insist that another hostess not invite someone you're shunning -- or, worse, disinvite them after an invitation has been issued. If you absolutely can't stay in the same room with them, decline the invitation as gracefully as you can. Otherwise, go and have an especially lovely time while ignoring the pariah to whatever extent you can manage without being rude to anyone else. The principle is that if someone's going to be uncomfortable as a result of the encounter, it's damned well going to be them.)

Susan (666), Bill (671), I'll bet that when people around you have birthdays, you congratulate them if their new age is an especially interesting number.

Julie L. (683), it's not necessarily the stigma of suicide that's at issue. Anytime someone even mildly prominent dies, you get jerks popping up online who'll jeer and say they had it coming.

#695 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 08:49 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 669

Oh Great Ghu, I have, haven't I. Yesterday was not at all a good day for names, at least for me. At least that one was obvious, and it wasn't an attempt at name magic. I mean, imagine trying to invoke Astarte and saying "Asmodeus" instead. Could be very embarrassing.

#696 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 08:51 PM:

Very off-topic.

Currently I am hallucinating a live-action movie of Terry Pratchett's "Hogfather" on the PAX cable channel. I must be hallucinating it, because if it were real then you-all would have mentioned it online, and nobody has (that I've seen).

Real convincing hallucination, though.

#697 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 09:01 PM:

Marilee @690: Depending on which way the causality goes between depression and sleep apnea (possibly neither, since the correlation may be simply be that there's an underlying common factor that contributes to both of them), I may have brain damage due to depression. "That which does not kill me makes me stronger" does not apply to chronic oxygen deprivation.

I do have and use a CPAP machine every night (and take supplementary wakey pills in the mornings), but the nose mask doesn't keep my pharynx(?) from flooping down into itself while I'm asleep. When I keep waking up to burp out air that's gone down my esophagus, that means it took the wrong turn again instead of getting into my lungs. Sometimes I think that it would be easier to just get a tracheotomy and have done with it.

#698 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 09:04 PM:

I've met a lot of famous people. The one I'm happiest--proudest--to have met? Cesar Chavez.

#699 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 09:10 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @669 [wrt Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) #659]: I think you've conflated Samuel Johnson and James Boswell.

"My heart warmed to my countrymen, and my Scotch blood boiled with indignation. I jumped from the benches, hissed in the greatest rage, and roared out 'Damn you, you rascals! I have had it with these bloody English snakes on this bloody English plane!'"

--oh. Oops.

#700 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 09:11 PM:

Teresa @ 694... I think it's much cooler that Nancy Hanger is related to John Carter of Mars.

Does NASA know about this?

#701 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 10:11 PM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden @ 694...
Bacon games: I'm a 2 to anyone who's met Jon Singer, Katya Pendill, Neil Gaiman, Bill Gibson, Michael Weholt, Glen Blankenship, Harlan Ellison, Isaac Asimov, Barry Goldwater, Jesse Jackson, Sid Coleman, Rosalyn Yalow, Jane Espenson, Bruce Schneier, Whitfield Diffie, Julia Hendricks, Benjamin Hayden, Joe Leavitt, the editors of Boing Boing, and Ian and Betty Ballantine.

Woo!!! I'm a 2 to TNH!!!

#702 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 10:12 PM:

#696: Dang, I hate it when hallucinations are shared!

I'm going to being this up on open thread.

#703 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 10:24 PM:

Pyre @ 696. That would be the Hogfather that was shown in the UK for last Christmas. I've been hoping that it'll turn up on our TV some day. Perhaps it will, because I see the (non-special edition) Region 4 DVD is due for release in the first week of summer (December 6th). I'm wondering if I should keep my powder dry waiting for the special edition (perhaps due for next Christmas, or just order it from the UK, because it's not mentioned on any of the pre-order pages.

Why do they do this jerking around of their customers? Don't they know we're wise to them now? Do you think they're looking forward to the new DVD formats to institute stronger regional barriers? *sigh* Still trying to keep happy thoughts after the good news on the weekend.

#704 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 10:31 PM:

Whee! I'm a 2 too!

#705 ::: Shannon ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 10:33 PM:

Sorry for such a long posting. I just came back to this thread after a while and found a lot to respond to. It’s a subject close to my heart, sadly.

461: You got told that too? My mother told me that. I agree with you: it's a lie. It -might- work, possibly, if you've never reacted, but once you've reacted even once, they know they can get a reaction again - if they just keep trying.

I know this to be complete truth. On the other hand, if I didn’t keep reacting so badly, it might not have escalated. But try telling that to a 2nd grader, which is when it started. And then once you have that reaction, and people know you have that reaction, it gets passed on. It also kills your self-esteem, which never goes up so long as the teasing keeps going on.

477: If you demonstrate that every time they beat you up, they will take at least some damage themselves, they're likely to lose the taste for picking on you. … the real problem was my own inability to process social cues which made me unable to separate friendly joshing from nastiness.

Unfortunately, when I tried to “hit back” verbally, my own nerdiness only exposed itself further. “Your words are laced with sarcasm?” What kind of insult is that? Yikes. Icy silence would have been my best defense, but I was never good at keeping my mouth shut. As for being able to separate our social cues and joshing, most of the time in high school it was legitimate teasing. You can usually tell from the tone. But scars from back then still arise when people do mildly tease me. I’m usually fine, but I can get a rather defensive a little too quickly.

478: Speaking of useless parental advice, my mother picked me up after school most days and asked me 'How was school today?' and I said: 'They hate me. Everybody hates me.' Her advice? 'Just be friendly!'

It’s better advice than you think. I think being genuinely nice to everyone – to the point where the teasers realize they are having no effect – might be the best defense of all. And in the process, you’ll probably gain some real friends as a result. Even some people you might never think to be friends with otherwise. Because it’s unlikely that the nerdiest, most outcast people hate you. And they could be the one who count – the man I married and several of my current friends were in that nerdy group. You could even gain people's admiration. I remember the one girl who I admired the most wasn’t the prettiest, wasn’t the smartest (although she was damn talented), but she was incredibly kind to everyone. Even me, the outcast. And when I disliked a lot of other people, including some of her friends, I respected her.

485: But I never unlearned to respond to attack by turning to stone.

It wasn’t until my senior year of college that I realized how emotionally hardened I had become as a result of that social pain. It wasn’t helped by an organization I was in that had some remarkably similar behavior to high school cliques, either. But with support from good people, it is possible to break down those walls. I credit God's grace and healing too.

531: My high school days were a nightmare, but I actually did have a decent "prom" experience.

I think that the prom experience is much of what you make it. I went to a similar anti-prom party for my junior year at my friend’s house and had a terrific time. By the time senior year came around, our group of friends all attended prom together. We were the weird nerds, but no one cared and we had a hell of a time. So it all depends on context.

541: I think the thing that saved my sanity was that mom sent me to summer camp for a week or two each summer starting at age 12

I think one of the things that was most discouraging to me was that the teasing extended beyond high school. One of my worst periods of social outcastness were on a YMCA trip where one kid – who had the choice between the trip and hard-core summer school – took his main goal as making me as miserable as possible. Thankfully, the rest of my outdoor activities were far more positive. I think they usually are – I just had horrible luck.

586: enemies are a lot easier to deal with than friends.

I think until I met my good group of friends during sophomore/junior year of high school, this was what really rubbed salt in the wound. Teasing is okay if at least your friends were supportive. But I think with girls, it’s such a horrific social ladder in junior high/middle school, that you think by putting anyone down, you’re on your way up. I know I felt that way at times. And my friends definitely did. My best friend from that time actually sent me a letter two years ago apologizing for all the nasty stuff she did to me. I did a lot to her too, and I was glad we could forgive each other. We’ll never be as close as we were, but it was good to reestablish that bond with her.

Bacon number of 1, if just meeting the person counts, as I met John Cleese. I lobbied the Oxford Member of Parliament in person, so anyone he’s talked to (probably at least Tony Blair and Gordon Brown) means I’m a 2 away from them.

#706 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 11:26 PM:

Teresa@694: any system for regulating behavior can be abused.

Yeah. I think the question is whether a system such as organized shunning must always be abused and therefore should be always be, well, shunned.

At least that's how I read it.

#707 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2007, 11:41 PM:

One of my acting teachers was Harold Surratt, who's done a lot of bit-part acting in various big- and small-screen venues, giving me a 2 to a whole bunch of Hollywood luminaries (perhaps most memorably Christopher Lloyd, with whom Harold had a scene in The Dream Team as a revivalist preacher). I also went to school with a guy who had a recurring role on The Sopranos for a while. It's a funny old world.

I also have Jorma Kaukonnen number of 2; a guy I knew in the West Virginia music scene used to go hang out at the Fur Piece Ranch from time to time. And (to connect to a Thankgiving Weekend theme) I have an Arlo Guthrie number of 3, via two distinct routes - one by way of a step-relative who has an aquaintanceship with Pete Seeger, and another through a family friend who (ages ago) had a one-night stand with David Bromberg.

It's a source of constant wonder to me that the longer I live, the more I realize that everything's a lot closer than it seems.

#708 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 12:02 AM:

I have a Madonna number of 2, but I suspect that neither Madonna nor the intermediary wants to be reminded of the link.

#709 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 12:24 AM:

Margene was in a non-speaking part in a movie here in KC, MO that I think puts me in a Bacon number of 3.

Just saying.

There are a bunch of SF writers (Heinlein) that I've actually met.

#710 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 12:44 AM:

Vicki: Jon has been mentioned. I got to meet him, so far as I can tell, at a party being held because Lucy Huntzinger was visiting Seattle while Maia and I were up.

I have a Beatles number of 2... wow. Peter Boyle is a member of the LASFS. I met him once or twice at meetings.

#711 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 12:57 AM:

(Before I forget again, NelC wins the internet @ 632, even though she was just showing off there on the dismount. Greg shows quick thinking and flair at 673, winning himself an internette.)

A.J. Luxton @ 664, and JESR @ 678: Your points are good ones. The consequences of legal punishments are equally hard to predict. Still, that's not an argument in favor of social punishment, and my second point, about the inherent unpredictability of putting punishment into the hands of the public still stands: once you make it everyone's job to punish perpetrators, you have no control over how each of them will elect to do it.

David Harmon @ 667: "You're essentially claiming that you have no problem people deciding "all by themselves" to shun (e.g.) the Drews... but as soon as they discuss their decision with friends and neighbors, it becomes a Bad Thing? Sorry, but that's just how humans, and groups, make decisions."

No, I'm saying that when you start using other people to enforce your dislikes, that's when it becomes a bad thing. Are you talking to your friends and neighbors about it, and letting them come to their own decisions, or are you making them follow your lead? I don't think it's a false dichotomy at all; I think it is a quite valid one.

Let's try a more concrete example. Upthread, Leah talked about a particular individual on a site she frequents. This woman is particularly notable for her coterie of hangers-on, and her willingness to use them to punish anyone who happens to cross her. Now, is the problem with this that she happens to get into fights with people? No. Is the problem that when she gets into fights, people take her side? No. The problem is that the people taking her side are taking it because she told them to. The problem is that she forces everyone in the community to pick sides. She uses her social network to multiply her power, the same as any sockpuppeteer. She is dictating to other people what their stance on an issue will be, and their actions. That is the problem.

A consequence of this that ought to resonate with you is that this kind of behavior causes noise in the system. People's reactions are a key way to determine where social boundaries lie, and if there's an organized* campaign to against someone, it makes it impossible for them to tell if they're truly transgressing, or if they just pissed off someone popular. They can't trust their senses anymore. It futzes with the stabilizing effects of social pressure.

At 694 Teresa says something I think is key: "Never insist that another hostess not invite someone you're shunning -- or, worse, disinvite them after an invitation has been issued." This is the line I see being crossed by people advocating shunning of the Drews. Denied the opportunity to shun the Drews personally, they are trying to get other people to do it for them. That is, in my opinion, unacceptable. If you have a problem with someone, and tell your friends, tell your neighbors about your experience, that's fine, as long as you let them come to their own conclusions about how to deal with it. But start telling other people how to interact with your foe, and you've crossed a line.

*This has always been a key part of my point. Organized social discipline is a very different thing than unorganized.

Greg @ 672: "A more interesting question might be something along the lines of "When were you shunned in your life?" Because it doesn't feel like you're talking about this case, and what people are saying about the Drews, so much as you're talking about something that happened to you in the past that this case somehow reminded you of."

I don't think you appreciate how offensive this is. It's a quite nasty kind of ad hominem: you're claiming that the arguments I'm making are purely the product of some scarring experience I've had, rather than having any basis in reality or rational thought. You're dismissing everything I've said as the senseless ramblings of a poor, tortured soul--pitiable, perhaps, but not respectable. Forgive me if I decline to engage under these conditions.

#712 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 01:48 AM:

I manage a Bacon number of 3 via the fairly weird collection of Mickey Rooney (he recently put on a show at performing arts center where I work), Donald O'Connor (hired me to play Irish music at a reception for the Irish Olympic team in 1984), Bill Clinton (he and Hillary came to a benefit concert my band did, and thanked us in person) and Dwight Schultz (came to some of my parties because he was a college buddy of my roommate).

My Queen Elizabeth number is also 3, via Catrin Finch, formerly Official Harpist to the Prince of Wales and (former) King Constantine of Greece. As a young air force officer, the then Crown Prince was in my father's class at the NATO school in Oberammergau, and was persuaded to come visit my 6th grade class. He shook everybody's hands -- what a good sport! And in searching for a photo of him around that time (1960), I find that shaking hands with the Crown Prince of Greece gives me a 2 for Elizabeth Taylor, who gives me another 3 to Kevin Bacon.

#713 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 02:48 AM:

Pyre @ 696

I just sat through that same hallucination. It was four hours long, but I hallucinated I could fast forward through the commercials. The voice of Death was performed (in my hallucination) by Ian Richardson, an inspired choice.

#714 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 02:51 AM:

Julie L @ 699

Ouch; laughing that much hurts.

#715 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 04:20 AM:

C. Wingate, #665: It has nothing to do with gender; it has everything to do with the image of leadership.

Which is exactly the point; the "image of leadership", to many people, still doesn't include women -- or, more precisely, women who don't act just like men. This is one of the places where the sexism is so deeply-ingrained, and so universally-accepted, that people just don't notice it's there.

Heresiarch: I think we've been talking about much the same thing, and each imputing different meanings to the other. Here's what I want to see happen to the Drews, laid out in detail:
1) Everyone in the community knows what they did, and at least the vast majority recognize it has having exceeded the boundaries of civilized behavior.
2) As a result of this, the Drews become generally persona non grata. Some of this may in fact happen as a result of peer pressure; when all your friends are snubbing someone, it's hard to swim against the tide (even if no one is "forcing" you to comply) unless you feel very strongly that the snubbing is unjustified. And I don't have a problem with that, since I don't believe that the snubbing is unjustified at all.
3) Okay, suppose they decide to move somewhere else and "put it all behind them". I want to see people there recognizing them, and if not snubbing them, at least keeping a VERY close eye on their behavior.
4) I do not want them ever to be able to "live it down". Megan didn't get that chance.

Barring all of the above, I'd be reasonably happy if they were simply denied all Internet access for the rest of their lives. As noted upthread, there has been precedent for this in cases involving financial damage. I think a young woman's life is worth at least as much as someone's bank account.

Re Bacon numbers, I have no idea what mine is and no ready way to find out. I've met a fair number of SF authors and artists, so I probably have fairly close connections to some interesting people, but again... I have no idea who they'd be. Except that I have a 2 to anyone Theresa has met.

#716 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 07:01 AM:

Julie L @ 699... Ah, a pastiche. Yay!

#717 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 07:21 AM:

Y'know, I just had to go and look up Kevin Bacon in wikipedia to figure out who he is. And it turns out I have seen him in a movie (although the only actor I recognized in it was Tom Cruise).

Can't we pick someone more, well, famous as an anchor for the five degrees of separation thing?

#718 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 07:32 AM:

Charlie Stross... Someone more famous than Kevin Bacon(*)? Well, I did propose Max von Sydow.

(*) Who was in Animal House. He's the guy whose initiation into the snooty fraternity involves getting paddled on the butt.

#719 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 07:33 AM:

Charlie: I think the point about Kevin Bacon as an anchor is not his stardom or talent, but rather his ubiquitousness. In fact, his lack of megastardom is probably part of the fun.

#720 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 07:46 AM:

Jakob.. That is indeed the point. It's just a silly game of memory. Bacon himself did a TV ad in the last couple of years where he tries to buy something but can't show an ID to prove he is who he says he is. He comes back a bit later with a few people, each of whom know only one of the other people present, but who exemplify the Six Degrees.

#721 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 08:35 AM:

Epacris @ #685:
Beastly Susan (@666), following a Segway somewhere

It was much more exciting once I convinced him to let me back on it the second time. I was fresh out of hearing the Hallelujah chorus from mid-jacuzzi (the sopranos were particularly good this year) and thus wearing nothing but a bikini, an unbelted kimono-style robe, and a non-hairstyle that made me look like a large economy-sized Helena Bonham Carter in Mrs. Lovett mode. After sufficient practice to feel confident, I began racing up and down the hotel hallway, hair and kimono streaming behind me, arms stretched straight out in front of me (look, Ma, no hands on the Segway!), announcing "I am DEE ZOMBIE SEGWAY!" and cackling madly.

The security guards were quite amused; each time I made it back to the main lobby I would slow down and make a small and decorous circle (I wasn't feeling confident enough to do fast turns) before heading off back down the hallway again.

I hereby renounce all desire for a pony. I want 2 has Segway!

#722 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 09:50 AM:

I am also two degrees away (via another college friend) from Mike Godwin, so I guess that ends this subthread.

#723 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 09:57 AM:

Heresiarch@711: It's a quite nasty kind of ad hominem:

No. It was a question. You can try to inflate it into some kind of nasty nasty, but given that you've made your argument and about a dozen people countered your argument, and no one seems to be willing to change their opinion, I figured repeating the various arguments would get old fast. Not to mention, I'm usually dinged around here for making the same argument over and over again, except louder, and all that, so I thought I'd change the subject to something that would actually have a chance to change.

You're not going to change your opinion about organized shunning, are you? No? OK, then. There's about a dozen people who've argued against what you said, and they're likely not to change their opinion either.

And since that conversation has reached a dead end, I thought I'd ask where you got your ideas from, on what experience is your opinion based.

you're claiming that the arguments I'm making are purely the product of some scarring experience I've had

I never used the word "scarring". I never cast anything that might have happened your past in a negative light. The only thing I said is that it seems that you're reacting to what's happening to the Drews based on something from your past, rather than based on what is actually happening to the Drews.

If you'd rather not discuss it, that's fine. I was simply curious. And no offense was meant in asking the question.

But if you think that this is nothing more than different folks making purely logical arguments and point/counterpoints, then I don't know what to tell you. That isn't my experience of how people work. Everyone has made their point, and no one is changing their position, so is it really about logical arguments at this stage of the game, is it?

And I get that there are certain topics that engage me on an experiential, rather than logical, level. I get that there are things that I react to on a gut level, rather than some kind of vulcan, pure logic, unemotional level, topics where it isn't simply about the topic at hand, but how that reminds me of some experience from my past. But here's the thing. This isn't one of them. Not for me, anyway.

And it might be that you are not hooked by anything experiential around organized shunning. It's just that from my side, there's something about the way you reacted that reminded me of the way I react when I'm working at a gut level. And it may be that you aren't invested in it, and it's just me seeing something that really isn't there. If so, my mistake. But if you think people are nothing but logical arguments and they never react on an experiential level, or if you want to argue that suggesting as much is a personal insult, or an ad hominem, well, then, all I can say is I've had a different experience of people.


#724 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 10:05 AM:

re 715: The sexist part of that is not in the image of women, but in the image of men. Those women don't act "just like men"; they embody a personality type which may be stereotypically assigned to men, but which in reality has always been found, and acknowledged to be found, in both sexes. And furthermore I'd say that there has always been a certain Anglo-American admiration for it in both sexes (see under "QE I", "Grace Hopper", "Margaret Thatcher"...). Women who can "hold their own with the men" are stock characters in American lore, and they are figures to be admired. But the ambivalence (to say nothing of flat self-contradiction) about the image of women does not extend in the same way to men. You expressed it yourself: women may adopt both male and female stereotypes, but men are, well, men.

Anyway, as far as I can tell the reason swearing has become acceptable in the office is because we've become a profane culture overall. And I would suggest that the big difference between crying and shouting is not gender, but that one is intimate and the other is not. And therefore the one is vulnerable and the other is not. I suspect that men and women alike understand that being vulnerable at the office is not safe.

#725 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 10:19 AM:

Heresiarch@711This is the line I see being crossed by people advocating shunning of the Drews. Denied the opportunity to shun the Drews personally, they are trying to get other people to do it for them.

I don't think they're trying to do this (other than by posting addresses, perhaps) - they're merely expressing their opinions AFAICT. I myself think it's going to self-organise with or without any central attempts at encouragement - the Internet just lends itself to that sort of thing. And although you say upthread you think it unlikely to discourage future offenders, I'm not so sure an object lesson like this couldn't have a salutary effect if enough people hear about it, certainly on other adults who might have been contemplating losing their sense of proportion in similar ways.

#726 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 10:27 AM:

I have 3 to Raquel Welch, and to Edward James Olmos.

#727 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 10:36 AM:

Oh! I finally just realized my Bacon number--it's three. I went to school with John Lithgow's nephew, who I'm assuming has met Mr. Lithgow, who was in Footloose with Señor Bacon.

#728 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 11:39 AM:

My Bacon Number is one: he and his wife were the celebrity hosts of a gala at a former job, and I spoke with him repeatedly on the phone and got him coffee (or tea, or some such -- things blur) at one of the committee meetings. That may bring some of you closer to him, for what it's worth.

One thing I came out of school bullying with was a certain distrust of my own reactions. With parents and teachers all telling me, "Oh, they're teasing you because they're jealous," and things of that sort, despite my recognizing that they were teasing me because it was a group bonding ritual, it left me very confused about who to trust, and what I should believe. As an adult, I realize that I was right, but it took a long time to learn how to have faith in my own reactions and intuitions.

Oh, and 45; business casual right now, because I'm at work, but often in nothing more than glasses and a shawl, if the apartment is warm. And I am not a pervert. I have perfectly normal tastes and preferences, and therefore can be a role model for the rest of you.

#729 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 12:34 PM:

I think people are combining two very different games here. One is "Six Degrees of Separation," where you try to get from yourself to any one other person by chains of "met" (however you define that...I think we agree that seeing them on the street doesn't count, and having sex with them does, but the line is somewhere between those two, and agreement as to exactly where is elusive).

The other game is "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon," wherein actors who have appeared in movies are linked by chains of "was in a movie with" back to Kevin Bacon. Kevin Bacon has been in so many movies, in many widely varying genres and levels of quality, that it generally doesn't take anywhere near six hops to get to him.

For a person who has never been in a commercial movie (for example, me), the SDKB is undefined. You can figure out your SDS number to anyone in the world, including Kevin Bacon.

Please note that the only person to whom you have an SDS number of 0 is yourself, and the only person in the world with an SDKB number of 0 is Kevin Bacon himself. 1 is having actually met the person (or for SDKB been in a movie with them), 2 is having met someone who's met them, etc.

Please note that some people with SDKB numbers of 1 have larger SDS numbers to Kevin Bacon, because the were never in a scene with KB and never got to meet him; this applies mostly to extras and bit players. Obviously there are people with SDS numbers of 1 to Kevin Bacon who have never been in a movie with him and thus have higher SDKB numbers.

Yes, I know I have considerably raised my Geek Points by this posting. So be it. *stern face*

#730 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 12:39 PM:

Wow! sds(Xopher, Kevin Bacon) == 2! (I've met Velma.)

sdkb(Xopher) remains undefined, however.

#731 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 12:49 PM:

Xopher... Stern-faced? You?

#732 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 12:58 PM:

*make a Very Scary Face at Serge*

#733 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 01:09 PM:

Xopher... Scary like the Halloween photo you had in your blog last year, with you going "BWAHAHAHAH!!!"

Eeeek!

#734 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 01:41 PM:

The shunning talk makes me think of the end scene in Dangerous Liasons. But we're not in a world were being booed by everyone in the theater is a soul shattering disgrace. That doesn't even get rid of untalented celebrities let alone self absorbed citizens. I can safely bet that harpy mother was a bully in her own teen years.

#735 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 02:39 PM:

TNH @694:
The toughest piece of in-person moderation I ever did -- big meeting, two hours straight, and a lot of bitter, divisive issues to thrash out -- luck was with me so thoroughly that I satisfactorily answered several question via randomly-chosen fortune cookies. I came out of that one buzzed.

I had one that good in my last job. It was a conference call, so it had all the immediacy of an in-person meeting and all the impersonality of an internet flame-war. The two principals, who had been at odds for a month, fell to arguing over vocabulary.

I told them if they didn't stop arguing over words we were going to switch languages, and since I was chair, the language we were going to switch to was Classical Latin.

They continued to argue.

I started speaking Latin*.

They shut up.

I switched back to English and asked if we could perhaps be a little more constructive.

The meeting went much more smoothly after that**.

-----
* It was bad Latin, but no one else could tell. I only kept it up for about a minute.
** I don't know if they were intimidated, amused, or just weirded out. I also don't care, because they behaved and we solved their problem.

#736 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 02:44 PM:

Please note that some people with SDKB numbers of 1 have larger SDS numbers to Kevin Bacon, because the were never in a scene with KB and never got to meet him; this applies mostly to extras and bit players.

Holy moly, I just realized I actually have a Bacon number! I am in Spiderman for approximately half a second, the moment when Spidey's handing over the saved kid to its grateful mother during the Green Goblin attack on the World Unity Festival or whatever the heck that was. (I did not, I note, get paid for this. Even the box lunch sucked.)

I was almost in another scene, but Sam Raimi told me to get out of the shot. :)

#737 ::: tye ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 02:46 PM:

I am 2 to the Duke of Edinburgh, which makes me a 3 to the royals and too many others to count. I shook hands with him while he was doing a walkabout.

I am also a 2 to the Beatles, through a man who jammed with them before they became famous.

My number is 3 to Jean Beliveau, which may not have much meaning to most of the people here, but it sure impressed the hell out of me. That was back in the day when Hockey Night in Canada was the entertainment highlight of the week. My aunt used to work with his sister in Montreal.

#738 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 02:48 PM:

...extras and bit players.

I have just realized that I do in fact have a Bacon number (though I have no idea what it is); I appear in Spiderman for approximately half a second, during the bit where Spidey's handing a rescued kid back to its grateful mother after the Green Goblin attack on the World Unity Festival or whatever that was. (I didn't get paid, though. Even the box lunch sucked.)

I'd've been in a longer shot, but Sam Raimi told me to get out of it. :)

#739 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 03:12 PM:

Bill at 604, I think your book may be the 1969 Scholastic / Disney edition of Ernest Thompson Seton's Biography of a Grizzly, in that edition titled King of the Grizzlies. There are also Scholastic editions that pair it with Lobo, another Disney film of the time.
Was there an incident where a smaller bear, called the Roachback, climbed up on a ledge and left clawmarks high on Wahb's rubbing tree, to make it seem that a bigger bear had marked it?

Here's towards the end (copied from 1900 edn with Seton's drawings):
But as he climbed with shaky limbs, and short uncertain steps, the west wind brought the odor of Death Gulch, that fearful little valley where everything was dead, where the very air was deadly. It used to disgust him and drive him away, but now Wahb felt that it had a message for him; he was drawn by it. It was in his line of flight, and he hobbled slowly toward the place. He went nearer, nearer, until he stood upon the entering ledge. A Vulture that had descended to feed on one of the victims was slowly going to sleep on the untouched carcass. Wahb swung his great grizzled muzzle and his long white beard in the wind. The odor that he once had hated was attractive now. There was a strange biting quality in the air. His body craved it. For it seemed to numb his pain and it promised sleep, as it did that day when first he saw the place.
Far below him, to the right and to the left and on and on as far as the eye could reach, was the great kingdom that had once been his; where he had lived for years in the glory of his strength; where none had dared to meet him face to face. The whole earth could show no view more beautiful. But Wahb had no thought of its beauty; he only knew that it was a good land to live in; that it had been his, but that now it was gone, for his strength was gone, and he was flying to seek a place where he could rest and be at peace.

#740 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 03:32 PM:

Teresa @ 694: Julie L. (683), it's not necessarily the stigma of suicide that's at issue. Anytime someone even mildly prominent dies, you get jerks popping up online who'll jeer and say they had it coming.

Why does the name Furr ring a bell?

Patrick @ 698: I've met a lot of famous people. The one I'm happiest--proudest--to have met? Cesar Chavez.

M3 T0O. (He held a press conference in El Paso, back in the day. If you're even local press, you will get a 1 to a lot of famous folk.)

Come to think of it, via another route, I'm two away from Robert Mitchum and Helen Keller.

Heresiarch @ 711: No, I'm saying that when you start using other people to enforce your dislikes, that's when it becomes a bad thing. Are you talking to your friends and neighbors about it, and letting them come to their own decisions, or are you making them follow your lead? I don't think it's a false dichotomy at all; I think it is a quite valid one.

The latter, of course, because I am all-powerful.

Xopher @ 729: Please note that some people with SDKB numbers of 1 have larger SDS numbers to Kevin Bacon, because the were never in a scene with KB and never got to meet him; this applies mostly to extras and bit players. Obviously there are people with SDS numbers of 1 to Kevin Bacon who have never been in a movie with him and thus have higher SDKB numbers.

Holey moley, Carrie, I realize I may have a Bacon number too, since I was in a movie (if you consider Hotel Torgo a movie) with Bernie Ronsenblum, who was in Manos: The Hands of Fate with Mary-Robin Redd, who is in Man Trouble with Jack Nicholson.

If I had actually wandered on-screen while they were shooting Close Encounters of the Third Kind I might have a number through that also, but as far as I know I always remained off-camera. Guess I'll know better next time.

#741 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 03:39 PM:

I suspect, for real Bacon Numbers (as opposed to SDS numbers) I have at least a 3, from being a commercial which had lots of "names" for different versions of it.

Carrie S. Your Bacon Number gives me odd confusions. You have a "bacon" number of 1 to Maia (my better 3/5ths, there being not much of me). She was one of the insect wranglers in Spiderman (even got name credit, and a bad photo, in the movie's book). That gives you a "me" number of two (because we both worked on some inserts for Ripley's Believe It, Or Not!).

But your SDS Number to Maia is probably not lower than 3 (unless you know Jon Singer).

I shall have to try and figure my canonic Bacon Number, instead of my SDS number (though the commercial to which Xopher alludes used SDS, not SDKB numbers, so the idea is confused).

#742 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 03:45 PM:

4 to Katharine Hepburn.

#743 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 04:19 PM:

I share a birthday with Kevin Bacon! We're a few years different in age, but the same day and month.

I worked for years and years with the son of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, and even helped Mr. Hughes (the elder) with a phone problem. The poet laureate connects one to a lot of people.

Other than that, people I grew up with have gone on to do well for themselves, and I have worked with people that are very prominent* and respected in their fields of research. So I can link pretty fast to all kinds of odd places.

All you folks that know Bruce Schneier can link all over the place. I don't know him, but I like his work.

*My favorite line "Sure, it's an honor to be presidentially appointed, but did it have to be this president? I'm going to give the appointment scroll to my mother to hang in her house so I don't have to look at that man's signature."

#744 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 04:51 PM:

Tania @ 743... I share a birthday with Kevin Bacon!

I share a birthday with Jeffrey Combs, who is but one year older than me.

#745 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 05:00 PM:

Well (in re know) how are we defining it.

For SDKB, the rules are pretty plain.

For SDS... the original experiment required face to face (handing off a letter to see how long it took to get to the addressee).

But in the modern age (cough,cough) there are people I know, whom I am likely to never meet.

This has always been true (APAs [APAe?], pen pals, etc.) but the web seems broader than it was (before the net, the odds are I'd know "directly" maybe 10-30 of the denizens here).

So, on one level I, "know" Bruce. On a different level I, "know" Neal Stephenson (we've been to social functions together, and been in the same conversations about things).

If I were to say to either of them, "I'm Terry Karney," I'd expect a more enthusiatic welcome from Bruce, though we've never, "met."

#746 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 08:37 PM:

Barbara @ 739: "I think your book may be the 1969 Scholastic / Disney edition of Ernest Thompson Seton's Biography of a Grizzly, in that edition titled King of the Grizzlies."

Barbara, right on the money. And now I'm rather conflicted, because I want to thank you for your undoubted kindness in tracking it down for me; on the other hand, I made the mistake of reading the excerpt and now I am really a complete and utter mess and can barely see the keyboard. Kind of like you brought me to look at the thresher that chewed off my legs as a child, if you know what I mean. It's... yeah, I don't have or want to have words to explain what that brought back for me.
But, I'm sure your heart was in the right place. So thank you.

#747 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 09:17 PM:

SDS: 2 to Emperor Showa. 3 to Richard Nixon. Max of 3 to Clyde Tombaugh (might be 2). 2 to Wiley Post and Will Rogers. 4 to Rowan Williams (Archbishop of Canterbury)-- but that's cheating: almost all Episcopalians are four from him. (I might only be three, but that's not remarkable either.) I don't have very good connections on the artistic side: besides my KB connection the best I can do is 3 to Frederick Hart (the sculptor).

Factoid: almost all Episcopalians are 3/4 from QE II. (The bishop who confirmed them -> (some other bishop ->) the Archbish of Canterbury -> herself).

#748 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 09:22 PM:

Julie L., #697, my brain damage is from acute oxygen deprivation. It's a long story. I did have a sleep study a while back, and as I predicted, I don't have sleep apnea and don't snore. Have you talked to your doctor about the CPAP failure? Maybe a second opinion?

I know several of the folks Teresa mentions (I even have a bowl made by Jon Singer), but I know her, too.

#749 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 09:34 PM:

abi (#735) That technique could be a handy one for our new PM during Cabinet meetings. One of his notable characteristics is fluency in Mandarin, from a diplomatic placement some years ago.
Videos of him doing a press conference and switching languages to answer questions, or chatting cosily with – was it the Chinese Premier who visited not long back? – put his opponents into quite a snit: "showing off" was the comment. But even Aussies who may not like the Chinese system know that: it's one of our largest trading partners (we ship them massive quantities of fuels & raw or lightly-processed material, they ship goodies back); it is and will remain a very big influence in our geographic region; and they're much bigger and richer than us, so we need to keep a reasonable relationship & good communications with them.

Bill (#746) never read the book, but as soon as I started on the excerpt, knowing where it was going, I skipped straight over it. That kind of thing tears me apart too. This is interesting because I too (as others have mentioned elsewhere nearby) have trained myself against reacting to 'real' human suffering. This meant I was perceived as 'strong' during my bereavements, when actually I couldn't cry, even when I wanted to. Luckily I wasn't accused of contributing to any of the deaths, when the same behaviour is seen as suspicious.

#750 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 09:35 PM:

I have an Ursula K. LeGuin SDS number of 2, since I went to high school with her nephew Travis. Alas, I didn't find that out (nor that she had visited my hometown) until right before graduation.

I did get a handwritten and thoughtful reply to a fan letter I sent her, though. Still have it somewhere.

#751 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 09:42 PM:

My wife once swore at a bunch of noxious co-workers in Anglo-Saxon. Word came back to her that one of the targets said, "She swore at us and we don't even know what she said!"

#752 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 09:47 PM:

C. 747: As far as I know, Episcopalians owe no allegiance to the Archbishop of Canterbury. And going back to a previous Archbish of Cant wouldn't connect them to QEII.

The Episcopal Church is part of the Anglican Communion, but not part of the Church of England. The Presiding Bishop is the head of the Episcopal Church, and she does NOT report to the ABC.

This is important right now because the Episcopal Church of the United States may be on the verge of telling the rest of the Anglican Communion (overall a sexist, homophobic bunch) to fuck off and die.

#753 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 09:54 PM:

I don't think this variation has been formally named, but you could call it Six Degrees of Warren Beatty (no known relation) if you limit it to intimate connections. (Reference: Who's Had Who by Simon Bell et al.).

#754 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 10:05 PM:

Xopher at 752: It's got so that every time I open up a news article on the C. of E., I find myself chanting 'Schi-sm, schi-sm, schi-sm' under my breath. Some of us don't want the homophobes either, but there's still some hope of improving them by keeping them close. I suspect it's not very much hope, however.

#755 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 10:15 PM:

Oh, the Episcopal Church has its homophobes. They may just schism off and join the Anglicans. The ECUS is going to keep appointing gay priests and gay bishops as often as it likes, and the Anglican Communion...needs the money.

#756 ::: flowery tops ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 10:21 PM:

Lila @ 750:
I have one of those too! Isn't it wonderful?

#757 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 10:53 PM:

Bill at 746 - urgh, very sorry. I wavered over what to quote, and decided to keep away from the actual ending, but yeah, I can see that was too close. I should've kept to citing Wahb and the clawed tree part - that's what I remembered from my own childhood.

I was (still am) completely messed up by a scene in Damiano, by R A Macavoy, where the little dog (Biondino? Biondello?) asks about a dead baby 'it's so little, can't it be alive?' which I read after my second miscarriage. Oh, look, I'm tearing up just typing that in.
-Barbara

#758 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 02:24 AM:

Barbara Gordon @757:
I was (still am) completely messed up by a scene in Damiano, by R A Macavoy, where the little dog (Biondino? Biondello?) asks about a dead baby 'it's so little, can't it be alive?' which I read after my second miscarriage. Oh, look, I'm tearing up just typing that in.

Do not read The Time Traveller's Wife. I barely made it through, and there's one scene that comes back to me every now and then.

Oh, look, I'm crying.

#759 ::: Lindra ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 05:29 AM:

abi @ 758,

The Time Traveler's Wife is one of my favourite books for that exact reason - it makes me bawl something awful.

ROT13-ing spoilers. Juvpu fprar va cnegvphyne jnf vg gung znqr lbh pubxr hc? Sbe zr, vg'f gur bar jvgu Urael'f qnhtugre naq fur geniryf onpx gb Urael naq Pynver ng gur Ubhfr, naq Urael svaqf bhg. Ohg zber guna gung, vg jnf jurer ur gbyq ure abg gb gryy Pynver. Xvyyf zr rirel gvzr.

Oh, look, I'm all sniffly.

#760 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 06:49 AM:

Lindra @759:

Sbe zr, vg'f gur vzntrf sebz ure zvfpneevntrf, cnegvphyneyl gur gvzr fur jnxrf hc gb svaq gur cresrpg srghf va ure unaq, fgvyy zbivat, ohg orlbaq fnivat. Gur srryvat bs urycyrffarff gur vzntr ribxrf vf nyzbfg haornenoyr.

#761 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 07:35 AM:

Barbara, abi, Lindra, & others with similar sensitivities, I recommend you keep well away from William Kotzwinkle's Swimmer in the Secret Sea. I stumbled across it maybe 10 years ago in a mixed heap on a sale table, knowing nothing about it, except that a friend was very keen on his The Fan Man. It's a sort of demi-glace of emotion, and made me quite cautious of reading any of his other works in case they cause me that much sorrow again.

#762 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 10:22 AM:

Epacris, I was given Swimmer in the Secret Sea after the first miscarriage, as a sort of working-through book, so I wasn't sucker-punched. In the middle of a Renaissance fantasy, though, I wasn't braced. Naq gura gur yvggyr qbt vf xvyyrq, naq gur yvar vf ercrngrq. I was reading on the bus, too.

abi, thanks for the warning about Time-Traveler's Wife. Life is full of these little trapdoor surprises, isn't it?
-Barbara

#763 ::: Piscusfiche ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 10:34 AM:

I've not read Swimmer in the Secret Sea, but when Epacris mentioned it, the imagery in the title struck me immensely, because I used similar imagery in my poem, Cave Fish, after my miscarriage when I was 25. (*Although I was thinking more of In Xanadu's sunless sea and the sacred river.)

#764 ::: Lindra ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 10:49 AM:

If we're giving out warnings, The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards also belongs in the don't-read category. I read it and The Time Traveler's Wife for the first time in the same day and I wandered around a little shocky for a few days afterwards.

Gurer'f ab gehr zvfpneevntr nf fhpu, ohg Aben, gur jvsr bs gur znva punenpgre, guvaxf ure puvyq jnf fgvyyobea. Gur zbzrag gung trgf zr vf jura fur betnavfrf n zrzbevny sbe ure qrnq puvyq, naq fur'f dhvrg naq gvtug naq tevrivat naq fur qbrfa'g xabj. Naq gur zrzbel bs gung ybff unf fb zhpu zbzraghz gung va n jnl gur ragver abiry vf nobhg gur yvr bs gung puvyq. Urnegoernxvat.

#765 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 10:49 AM:

I think I'm 2 from just about every president since - and maybe including - Nixon. Bush41 by two different routes, too. Families can be so much fun (but we don't discuss politics).

#766 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 11:12 AM:

Barbara @ 747: no worries. It was actually a beautiful excerpt, and very apropos to the discussion.
And for those who have never considered suicide and can't get their minds into it, well, that excerpt is an absolutely perfect framing of one sort of suicidal state of mind - the craving for release.

#767 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 11:25 AM:

I have One to Babylon 5's Michael O'Hare. I have One to Bruce Campbell.

#768 ::: Peter Darby ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 11:53 AM:

Hmm... I've got a Rowan Williams number of 1, similar for Edward Woodward and Ron Moody, which gives me a Bacon number of, let's see... oh, 3 in both cases.

And on CofE schism... I just wish they'd listen to folks like Desmond Tutu (I passed him once on the way into the Lambeth Conference), who are saying "We have got WAAAAAAAAAY bigger problems that homosexuality, guys".

#769 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 12:07 PM:

Hey, I just realized -- I have 1 to Bruce Boxleitner, who was at the NSS convention in Houston the first year I was living here. I chatted with him briefly, and later a bunch of filkers serenaded him with "Falling Down on Z'ha'dum". That should get me low SDS numbers to a fair selection of actors.

If I want to count autograph lines, I also have 1 to Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, and Walter Koenig. But I tend to consider that a bit dodgy.

#770 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 12:21 PM:

Lee @ 769... Did you ever notice that there ae two actors from Tron who wound up in Babylon 5?

(My understand from something that O'Hare once said is that Boxleitner is a comic-book fan.)

#771 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 01:31 PM:

Serge (742):
4 to Katharine Hepburn.
3 — Phthbbbt!

And though she's Katharine Houghton Hepburn, we're not related, but the Houghton in her name is why the 3.

Also 3 to Chiang Kai-shek, Stalin, Churchill, JFK, and QE II — orpnhfr V unir n 2 gb Ryrnabe Ebbfriryg.


And a 2 to Castro to cap it off.

#772 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 06:51 PM:

I've never checked before, but I have a Bacon Number of 3, from having met Jose Llana when he came back to my high school for an "our alumni do neat things" presentation. Besides being a Broadway musical actor, he was in Hitch with Jeffrey Donovan who was in Sleepers with Kevin Bacon.

I'm a sketchy 1 to Al Gore - he keynoted my graduation, although I never actually spoke to him.

Pop culture alumni of my high school include the guy who wrote screenplays for Arlington Road (rough start) and Reindeer Games (....) and Scream 3 (...well, at least you got paid!), and S. R. Sidarth, whom George Allen referred to as "Macaca".

Intriguing alumni include the first woman in the Coast Guard to be awarded a Bronze Star, the leader of the first DARPA-Challenge-winning team, and one of the founders of Obsidian Entertainment.

#773 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 07:23 PM:

Damiano, by R A Macavoy, where the little dog (Biondino? Biondello?)

Macchiata. Meaning Spot.

Great series of books. Wish there was more.

#774 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 07:25 PM:

I used to know a Senaxyva Ebbfriryg - I wonder if they were related?

[Note: I didn't really. But I'm now back in that previous thread's world of rot-13-named fictional characters...]

#775 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 07:30 PM:

John Houghton @ 771... How did the Castro link come about?

#776 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 08:22 PM:

Thanks to former primary/secondary-school classmates (or rather, mostly to their parents), I have a bunch of 3s to various large groups such as anyone who's been in Congress during the past ~30 years and the entire Supreme Court circa 1980, as well as 2s to Joan Baez and possibly Dick Cheney (if I'm correctly remembering his daughter from geometry class).

I think I have two separate 3s to the Clintons, via one of Chelsea's college TAs or a White House photographer who gave us a "signed" picture of Socks the Cat.

#777 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 08:34 PM:

752: I'm not talking a sacramental connection, but merely "has nontrivially met". One was confirmed by a bishop, who either went to Lambeth or has met another bishop who attended, and thence met the ABC, who of course has met the queen. As a bonus one gets a linkage of four or less between any two living Episcopalians.

As far as the Anglican future is concerned, it's a safe bet that ECUSA is going to get chucked out of the communion next year, that the C of E will go along with that, and that ECUSA will then fragment into at least two if not more parts, in a fusillade of lawsuits.

#778 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 09:00 PM:

PiscusFiche, #763, that's a very powerful poem.

#779 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 09:33 PM:

I shook hands with a mayor of New York City, which probably gets me a lot of politicians, and not just Americans.

#780 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 09:46 PM:

I have 2 to George C. Scott.

#781 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 10:38 PM:

C. 777: I think that the Anglican Communion chucking the ECUSA out would be really good for the ECUSA and really bad for the AC. And I think they know that. They can rant all they want, but they need the money—most of the money bouncing around the Anglican Communion comes from the ECUSA.

I almost hope they do it. They can bloody well ROT afterwards, and it would serve them the hell right. But I don't think they're quite as stupid as you seem to.

#782 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 10:52 PM:

Bill, thanks, I'm glad you're okay. Thanks also for keeping me mindful that books are powerful memory-triggers. I have seen people cry before over rediscovering or identifying childhood books. It's not like answering a crossword puzzle clue.

Piscus, thank you for sharing your poem. I was never able to gather up the strands and put them into order for myself, either time, and yours does that. The last line is so spare and strong.
The closest I've come was a memorial poem for a friend's niece, killed in a traffic accident.

Unknown now
What jaunty beasts would have sprung
From the bright paper squares
Alison leaves
Her thousand paper cranes
Unfolded.

-Barbara

#783 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 11:10 PM:

re 781: Of course nobody really knows what will happen. But when I see the Jake-ites all nodding solemnly that Lambeth ought to be called off, I see an admission that ECUSA can't call the shots. And anyway, it's the British who write the resolutions, and Cantuar for one has been somewhat beyond hinting that he isn't going to help the Americans.

And we all know that a bunch of American dioceses are going to bolt. Right now Peter Lee in Virginia has a court case on his hands as to whether state law is going to free all his parishes from his control, and the situation in California is also up in the air. Even where the law is on 815's side, they are going to be hurt by the fighting. I think both sides of the split are going to be hurt badly at first, and I suspect that unless whatever of ECUSA is left will have to learn to control their radicals. I don't think they'll be able to do that.

#784 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 11:16 PM:

Why on Earth will "whatever is left" of ECUSA have learn to control their radicals? Once the stupid homophobic bozos are gone, ECUSA can move into the 21st Century where it belongs!

#785 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2007, 11:35 PM:

re 785: Yeah, and then what are they going to do about the Office of Women's Ministry? If you think I meant Louie Crew as one of the radicals-- he hardly counts!

#786 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 02:17 AM:

Adrian Smith @ 725: "I don't think they're trying to do this (other than by posting addresses, perhaps)"

Interestingly, this is exactly what I originally took issue with, way back @ 212. Here we come full circle, and I exit stage left.

#787 ::: Iorwerth Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 05:59 AM:

783:"And anyway, it's the British who write the resolutions, and Cantuar for one has been somewhat beyond hinting that he isn't going to help the Americans."

Largely because he's wound up in an utterly impossible position over here, the poor guy. There's a theory circulating that the internal situation of the CofE at the moment is largely due to a faction of vocal and politically motivated conservative Evangelicals [1] to effectively wipe out the liberals and what's left of the Anglo-Catholics. On this reading of the situation, they could have made their stand on women priests [2], divorce [3] or gay priests. The first two aren't options, and the last has the advantage that a lot of Anglo-Catholic style vicars are gay, so one can feel justified in picking on them for more than merely their style of worship. The AoC has gotten caught in the cross-fire, particularly since the CEs decided to invoke Bishop Akinola and company as support, turning a nasty local spat into something more serious. (Hence Desmond Tutu's exasperation.)

There are probably some sincerely held beliefs regarding the interpretation of the Bible involved as well, but it's bloody hard to make out over all the sniping and character assassination.

[1] As opposed to the non-politically motivated ones, who have more important things to do than politicking in the Synod.

[2] Not an option, since many of their wives want to be ordained.

[3] Good grounds for this, as Jesus *specifically* condemns it in the Gospels, but not an option, since many of them are divorced.

#788 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 09:16 AM:

2 to Cary Grant, and I again have George Takei to thank for that.

#789 ::: Calton Bolick ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 09:48 AM:

#717: Can't we pick someone more, well, famous as an anchor for the five degrees of separation thing?

I assume that the original choice of Kevin Bacon was not fame, but assonance (as a play on "Six degrees of separation/Kevin Bacon"). And my own Bacon number is 3, if you count my friend Charlie (who was an extra in an Ed Harris movie). I don't, unfortunately, know anyone famous or anyone who really knows anyone famous, though if you stretched things you could count my college-radio-show interview with Douglas Adams as "knowing" him.

And as a lurker and (currently) a non-science fiction fan utterly uninvolved in fandom, I doubt I could prove to anyone here that I exist, though I've no doubt I'm only a few connections away, as I have a photograph of me holding Frank Wu's Hugo*, making it: all y'all --> Frank Wu --> Frank Wu's Hugo --> me.

*I happened to be walking around Yokohama that day, when some people I passed said to me, "Here, you want to hold this Hugo?" Honest.

#790 ::: Janet ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 09:53 AM:

I rarely post on ML but I've become intrigued by the discussion of connections to famous people. I seem to have a few in the political sphere.

In the late 60s I spent an afternoon sitting on the floor at Hubert Humphrey's knee as he discussed world affairs, especially his concerns about the explosive situation in the Middle East. This was at the Watergate in the company of a gaggle of Washington interns.

In the late 70s I had a neighbor (now a law professor in Michigan) who had worked in the Nixon White House with Haldeman and Ehrlichman.

I have a 2 to Saddam Hussein (and numerous others notable and notorious) through knowing a former ambassador, who had been a college room mate of a close friend.

#791 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 09:54 AM:

Barbara @#757, the dog's name is Macchiata, which means "Spot".[Oh, Vian beat me to it.] And me too, in spite of any direct personal experience to tie into that scene.

#792 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 10:16 AM:

Serge (775):
How did the Castro link come about?
My father worked as a press aide of some sort during Castro's good-will tour of the US in 1959. The one where Eisenhower played golf instead of meeting Castro. This was after Castro had nationalized some industry, but before he had fully embraced Communism.
The Roosevelt link came about when my father was assigned to her as an Army photographer during WW II. He was a personal friend of her for a few years, and, according to his story, ended up staying at the White House when he couldn't find a room when he was posted in D.C.

#793 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 10:22 AM:

I have a 2 to virtually any TV personality in Australia, due to my appearing opposite a Certain Young Lady (BWBT) in a production of "Mixed Doubles" in teachers' college, a period of my life over which I prefer to draw a veil. She very sensibly did not graduate, and after a short career holding up signs during professional pugilistic contests and removing her clothes to appropriate music for a living, began appearing in local TV productions, and then briefly (and I mean that in several different senses) on a national quiz show.

As a result she married very well indeed, divorced almost as well, and is now very much more wealthy than I.

#794 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 11:14 AM:

I forgot, I have a 2 to Pierre Trudeau via my sister, who was granted a long personal chat with him in year before he died. So a 3 to most of the grand world of politics.

#795 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 11:22 AM:

I'm a 1 to Will Wright of Sim City fame, which puts me pretty close to a lot of game writers. I'm also a 2 to George Lucas, due to a number of people who have worked at LucasArts and LucasLearning.

And my brother was an extra (several times over in the same scene...mmm, CGI) in The Phantom Menace, which gives me a Bacon number of 4.

#796 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 11:36 AM:

Re. the Episcopal Communion and degrees of separation: I have a photo of my late parents-in-law (my FIL was an Episcopal priest)with the Archbishop of Canterbury, on some anonymous street-corner in London. Which puts me 2 from QE2. I'd say something snarky about the Apostolic Succession and its effect on degrees of separation, but there's not sufficient coffee on the planet to make my brain work that well today.

I finally found my lowest Bacon number: 3, through Matt Groening. I'd expected a lower number via Jane Fonda or Marlon Brando, but they are bothe B2. I'm 2 for both, via Stephanie Coontz for the first and my mother and a bunch of Nisqually elders at Frank's Landing during the pre-Boldt Decision protests of the late 60s for the second.

#797 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 11:58 AM:

I'm probably 2 to lots of shady people in the intelligence business, having met Oleg Gordievsky once. I'm also 3 to Osama bin Laden, two different ways...

#798 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 11:59 AM:

2 to Joan Baez (we shared a voice teacher); 2 to Bill Clinton two different ways, both through cabinet members; 2 to Condoleeza Rice (my husband's freshman roommate, who I also know, was her piano coach before she did this government thing); probable 3 to at least one pope (another friend I met through my husband knew a high-up chap in the Curia)

#799 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 12:06 PM:

2 to Pierre Elliot Trudeau. 4 to Tommy Lee Jones by way of the previous Prez and Veep.

#800 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 02:19 PM:

Does correspondence count, or only a physical meeting? It seems to me there can be much more depth in the first (e.g. between pen-pals) than in the second (e.g. shaking hands, "how do you do", in a long line of the same). Are we all "1" to one another, by reason of our mutual responses on this blog?

#801 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 02:31 PM:

Pyre, my own idiosyncratic take on the degrees of separation link issue is, "would the other person recognize you, given adequate background info?" If so, you're a "1" to that person; if not, not. So for example, "I was one of the 582 people whose book you signed at such-and-such" wouldn't count, but "I was your team escort in the 1996 Paralympic Swim Trials" would count. I would know very few of the people on ML by appearance, and not many by (real) name, but if abi or serge or heresiarch came up to me somewhere and introduced themselves, I'd "recognize" them.

#802 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 02:36 PM:

Lila @ 801... if abi or serge or heresiarch came up to me somewhere and introduced themselves, I'd "recognize" them

...in a police lineup? Of course, the moment I'd open my mouth, you'd recognize me - unless you think you just ran into Christophe Lambert.

#803 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 02:54 PM:

I've met Patrick, Teresa, Jim Macdonald, Jon Singer, Charlie Stross, Xopher, Vicki, and many other Fluorospherians. (As well as Mike Godwin, mentioned by Jon Meltzer in #722.) I doubt that I've met (m)any that Jon hasn't, though, so I'm probably not a critical link for any of the folks here.

I have connections that give me distances of 2 to Bill Gates and Bill Clinton.

I have a "complex" Bacon Number (where the real part is defined as the SDKB number requiring movie credits and the imaginary part as an SDS number of social connections from that point on) of 2+1i (John Perry Barlow has an SDKB number of 2), and a finite Erdös number.

#804 ::: Lili ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 06:54 PM:

I have an acting-based Bacon Number of 3, two different ways: I've been in shows with two guys who were in movies with guys who were in movies with Kevin Bacon.

I also have an Elvis number of 4, through one of the same guys. My boyfriend has an Elvis number of 3, which has absolutely made his day.

#805 ::: Franzeska ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 02:04 AM:

I'm a little creeped out by people using this story to exorcise their own high school demons.

I spent a lot of time on Usenet when I was 13, and I met plenty of very weird, creepy people. I also met a lot of nice girls my own age... who even at the time I thought were about a billion times more likely to be middle-aged perverts. I had my share of traumatic adolescent experiences (like being turned down loudly through the window of math class at the beginning of 9th grade), many of which were in person and theoretically much worse than anything online. None of this made much of an impression on me; I was protected by a healthy dose of narcissism and misanthropy. I don't think there's any way to know how a given person is going to react, even at age 13. Certainly, we should blame the other parents for participating in this ridiculous hoax, but I'm willing to believe that they didn't think she'd actually kill herself.

Also, no 13 year-old is an innocent angel. The fact that Megan "dropped" her friend raises all sorts of red flags for me. I know exactly what kind of atrocious behavior that word usually covers up. If her friend had acted alone in inventing "Josh", I wouldn't have much of a reaction, suicide or no suicide. I've had real life friends confess this sort of crap to me before, and I've always told them how disgusted I was with them and asked them to stop, but I don't think it's a very surprising response to being dropped. It's an appealing form of "justice" for the same reasons that heaping abuse on the Drews and spreading their address around is.

People are jerks, and horrible things happen every day. The best thing anyone can do now is leave everyone involved alone and hope the media stays away from Megan's parents.

#806 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 08:27 AM:

I've met Patrick, Teresa, Avram, and Jim, and quite a few of the contributors, so I suppose we're mutually sustaining each other's reality.

I also have a Jon Singer number of 1 so I suppose I'm adequately socially connected.

Which can be used as a segue into the more interesting topic of early emotional abuse, because when I was a kid, there was no reason to think I'd end up with friends and what I suspect is a larger than average social network.

As such things go, what I went through was pretty mild. It was almost all verbal--I can't imagine thinking, as many who've suffered serious verbal abuse do, that physical abuse would be better. No one pretended to like me and then attacked. I wasn't the object of any elaborate attacks.

However, I had a low-to-no affection, bad-tempered upbringing (I'm talking about what I can remember--I'm sure I got enough affection to get by on when I was a baby), and always had some girls insulting me when I was in school.

The first reaction I got from my mother was "What did you do to them?" and the longterm reaction was "Ignore them and they'll stop". The former led me to believe that my mother didn't like me and had quite possibly been a bully when she was in school.

The latter made me very angry, and it took me quite a few years to figure out why. The kids teasing me were under no obligation to control any part of their voluntary behavior, and I was supposed to control my involuntary reactions. This is grossly unfair. It was also obvious that the no fighting back advice was to guarantee that there were no cost to any adult.

I wasn't absolutely isolated--I always had one person for low-intensity hanging out, and I played blockball in my neighborhood. It took me a lot of years to think of it as "I played blockball" rather than "They let me play blockball". Nonetheless, I am underwhelmed with any "poor, isolated Kliebold" stuff I've seen--he did have a close friend.

Some of the insults did get to me. I was in my 30s before I more or less calmed down about my height. On the other hand, I was also hassled about my feet turning out, and I assumed that was insanity on my attackers' part. How could anyone human notice foot directionality, let alone have an emotional reaction about feet turning out? (I've since done enough bodywork so that sometimes I notice feet turning out. However, I do not think it's grounds for attack.)

Anyway, I think the worst damage I took from all this was that no one seemed to think there was anything wrong with the way I was being treated. This led to a distrust of the adult world that I'm not over yet.

Not so many years ago, one of the girls who saw what was going on and hated it told me. It did help. She didn't have the nerve back then, and was afraid I'd take it badly when she told me, but I was quite grateful. She said that she had since resolved to not let such things slide--I wish I'd asked her for details.

I mostly didn't fight back, and a lot of that was that I was paralyzed by the idea of malice. I still am to some extent. It's hard to explain, but I'm not an especially malicious person, I'm quite capable of hurting people by accident or if I think it's urgent self-defense, but there's a deep level where I don't understand hurting people for the fun of it. My reflex is to shut down because malice means the universe is going wrong. At the time, I had no idea there was anything I could do to change what malicious people were doing. I've since grasped the idea that, while success is not guaranteed, sometimes it is possible for me to have an effect on an emotional/social situation.

Dammit, that's very Aspergersish and abstract. I also do think of myself as a person among people, but there's this structural "who's in charge" thing going on, too.

I thought paralysis around malice was a very rare reaction, possibly related to the moderate social dysfunctionality I've got. This is self-diagnosed--it seems like an Aspergerish sort of thing, but milder than Aspergers. Hypothesis: Partly, I'm much less aggressive than most people, and partly I'm not invested enough in the social order to attack people who don't fit it.

I was meaning to post about it here anyway--it's a reaction I've never seen mentioned anywhere, which is enough to make it interesting, but I also talked recently with someone who has it too. Now I'm wondering if it's actually fairly common, and what anyone here thinks might be going on with it. I don't think it's just fear, though fear is obviously a part of it.

#807 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 10:56 AM:

Nancy @806:
I was paralyzed by the idea of malice. I still am to some extent. It's hard to explain, but I'm not an especially malicious person, I'm quite capable of hurting people by accident or if I think it's urgent self-defense, but there's a deep level where I don't understand hurting people for the fun of it. My reflex is to shut down because malice means the universe is going wrong. At the time, I had no idea there was anything I could do to change what malicious people were doing. I've since grasped the idea that, while success is not guaranteed, sometimes it is possible for me to have an effect on an emotional/social situation.

A beautiful summing up of the way I work, and the reasons I get tied up in knots about conflict and people who enjoy arguing. It always feels like it could veer into malice, and I can't stop it, or deal with things if it does.

As a parent, trying to figure out what to do if my kids get bullied, this makes me almost physically ill.

#808 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 11:22 AM:

Abi @ 807... It's already happening after only a few months in Holland? Schools, a place of nasty little primates.

I'm sorry for your kids. The thing is that you love them, you do what you can to protect them, and they know you're there for them. That makes a difference.

#809 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 11:35 AM:

Abi, thanks.

For whatever reason, arguing doesn't scare me that much, though I can run out of energy when facing determined opposition.

One of my nightmare questions was--if I had children, what would I do if one of them turned out to be a bully?

#810 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 12:17 PM:

Nancy, #806: Anyway, I think the worst damage I took from all this was that no one seemed to think there was anything wrong with the way I was being treated. (emphasis mine)

You've just summed up the worst part of being bullied -- that it's considered to be a NORMAL AND ACCEPTABLE part of society. Until we change that perception, nothing else is going to change no matter how much lip-service parts of society pay to the "bullying is bad" gloss.

The first reaction I got from my mother was "What did you do to them?"

...which makes the connection between bullying and rape absolutely explicit. In both cases, the victim is considered to have done something to provoke it -- and the number and variety of things which can be considered to be "provocation" (including trying to ignore one's tormentors!) make it very clear that this is a no-win scenario for the victim.

#811 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 02:29 PM:

I too am a bit disturbed at the investment in what for most of us have to be decades-old grievances. My rocky times ended in high school, and certainly part of that was that the private middle and high schools I attended (partly to get me away from the expected hell of public school) did not invite back the bullies who tormented me. On the other hand there was at least one person whom even I had some contempt for; though I didn't torment him I didn't give him any support either, and I presume he chose not to come back. But there were tormenters, and my social skills remain scarred by their efforts. The time for anger at them is long past, for me at any rate. I have enough problems with the present.

I could never really fit into the nerd community, so it's just as well that in high school the social structure didn't work that way. When I went to college I did some fannish stuff, but the étonnez les mondains impulses and slannishness repelled me. So I've tended to swim around the edges of it, just as I swim around the edges of church and other more ordinary social situations.

#812 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 03:23 PM:

Serge @808:
I was speaking in the hypothetical. Although Alex has come home with a certain number of stories of this kid or that kid poking him with pencils and suchlike, closer examination shows that he's giving as good as he is getting.

We're facing a cultural difference, too. In Britain, he was told to go to a teacher if a fellow student bothered him. Here, his teachers say, well, poke him back. It's young primate behavior, particularly in a school where everyone is new to the country and each other.

I don't know what the situation is on more sophisticated bullying. Dutch culture is too drastically different than British or American culture for me to be able to judge it. But I associate with a lot of Dutch geeks and nerds, and very few of them seem to be loners, or to have the habits of mind that high school bullying can create.

#813 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 03:33 PM:

Abi @ 812... I was speaking in the hypothetical.

I am so happy that I had misunderstood.

#814 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 03:55 PM:

C. Wingate @ 811

If you're at the edge of the fan community I don't know where the hell I am.

What is slannishness? I assume from context that étonnez les mondains is 'freaking out the squares' or otherwise being freely and outwardly unusual in public? Or has my high school French failed me again?

As for why people are so invested in high school events - if you weren't there you can't know. (And by there, I mean somewhere in the bullying ecosystem - people have escaped through art school, private school, homeschooling, etc - good for them - It's not the same.) Heh, I really hate when someone says that to me, so let me try to explain.

I'm often astonished with the number of people in my current age group (in their 20s and 30s) who have been messed up by their experiences in the military. We have a new generation of youngish people with PTSD and disabilities, and it's just going to get worse.

Now I'm not going to argue that high school is comparable to a war zone, but there are certain parts of your life that are unpleasant and which you can't really ever leave behind. I have a few friends who can't or won't do certain activities or expose themselves to certain stimuli - because it comes to close to taking them back to their war memories. I also know a lot of people who can't do things in social situations because it will come too close to triggering the memory of something awful from high school.

Both these things are involuntary: a response deeply ingrained into your personality based on a time from your past. It's just a matter of degree. In the end, nine times out of ten it helps to talk about it - especially in a safe place, with people you know will be supportive and rather than being spectators.

I truly believe that a lot of people were psychologically damaged by high school. Telling them not to talk about it is just going to lead to repression and withdrawal. If bad things happen, the memory of them is always going to be a part of you. I don't think not talking about them does any good.

Just because there are worse things that can happen doesn't mean bad things aren't bad. Your past is part of who you are today, and you can't just edit out the bad parts. You can decide to work on things, and you may succeed, but there's no guarantee of success. Time, positive reinforcement and a safe place to talk about it can help.

#815 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 05:06 PM:

re 814: My elementary school experiences were as bad as what people are describing. Maybe I am damaged from it, but what's done is done. And please don't deny me empathy.

Also, I didn't say not to talk about it. I said that what I was reading was disturbing.

#816 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 05:47 PM:

Wingate,

Many of us here are so used to having our experiences of this type denied, belittled and dismissed that we get high strung defensive about it.

#817 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 06:03 PM:

Leah 814: Slannishness is a reference to A. E. Van Vogt's novel Slan, in which a new human species (IIRC) is hunted by the old human species, and hides out in safehouses called slanshacks. Fans feel very different from other people, and meeting other fans for the first time is a heady experience. Some time ago someone started saying "Fans Are Slans!"

They even started calling places where a lot of fans live slanshacks. Today, 'slannishness' means the tendency of a particular group or community of fans to regard non-fans with contempt, and/or to simply avoid interacting with them.

As for étonnez les mondains, this song (which I learned in the SCA) may shed some light:

Freaking the mundanes, freaking the mundanes,
You'll come a-freaking the mundanes with me!
As we said as we walked down the sidewalk in our funny clothes,
You'll come a-freaking the mundanes with me!
'Mundanes' are non-fans, or non-SCA folk. Originally a very slannish kind of term, it's no longer meant quite as offensively as it sounds (keeping in mind, of course, that what offends IS offensive; the term is not generally used around...non-fans). For example, I might say that I'm a software support analyst in mundane life, without necessarily meaning that my job is mundane...though it is.

OK, bad example.

Jeff McBride is a professional magician in mundane life (though I knew him first as a drummer). That shows how completely the term has been drained of its original meaning.

Among fans or SCA people with some level of maturity, deliberately freaking the mundanes is considered infra dig. It's noob stuff.

#818 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 07:20 PM:

C Wingate @ 815

I'm sorry if my post came off as dismissive or if I seemed to be denying your empathy. The post was a combination of a reaction to your line @ 811
"I too am a bit disturbed at the investment in what for most of us have to be decades-old grievances."
and Franzeska @ 805 above you: "I'm a little creeped out by people using this story to exorcise their own high school demons." But Franzeska doesn't appear to be a regular poster, so I'm sorry if it all seemed to pile on you.

In rereading your post I think the problem was that there were several ways to read it. It wasn't indicative of whether or not you thought it was someone's 'fault' that they were still invested emotionally in their past. I was a bit riled by Franzeska and read it as a condemnation of that sort. If it was meant otherwise, I apologize again.

What T. W. says is correct, especially for people of my generation. I've often complained that the current youth culture devalues actual sadness, causing people to shrug off bad experiences and only speak about them in a heavily qualified manner: "I'm going to be emo for a bit but..." or "I'm not usually such a whiner but..." There's a cultural pressure to 'get over things' that prevents some people from really working through issues, and makes people afraid to admit when past or present hurts affect their lives.

I'm not accusing you of trying to exert that pressure. I'm just saying that I'm always on the watch for it, to the point where I may be seeing it even where it does not exist. I'll try harder.

#819 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 08:26 PM:

It doesn't help that there is an epidemic of misery out there that drains even the most empathic person dry. Sympathy fatigue is spreading so we set the bar higher as to what is worthy suffering for our notice. Those in pain are having to compete for recognition against each other in a trauma hierarchy but also against the surplus of drama llamas crying wolf for attention that they often get accused of being.
About every 5 years there is a tragedy that gets the bullying elephant notice and then it is forgotten again. Society really has this thing about sweeping it all back under the rug as soon as the evening news is done hand wringing for the night.
I must be picking at my scars again. Damn this subject. Just when I thought I had gotten all my demons neutered.

#820 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 09:41 PM:

So many of us who had traumatic childhoods of one kind or another are carrying damage that can't be healed. We can route around it, but it doesn't really go away. The people who hurt us are never going to be brought to account, and they're never going to understand what they did and why it was so awful. Most of them are carrying their own burdens anyway, nursing their own Morgul wounds.

And what's worse, we look around and see the same shit happening now all over again. It feels like nothing gets better and nobody learns and every year there's a new batch of walking wounded. And the toxic social patterns that lead to it are not only not being solved, they're encouraged and nurtured and glorified by the culture in power.

To say "this sucks" is to lend a new dimension to the concept of understatement.

Sometimes all we have against all this is to know that we're not alone in our broken-ness. We revisit our pain and retell our stories in light of these new horrors because it's the only chance we have of coming to terms with what we've been through. We can't fix it or undo it, but we can be lights and voices to each other in the dark.

#821 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2007, 10:01 PM:

Nancy @#806: I thought paralysis around malice was a very rare reaction, possibly related to the moderate social dysfunctionality I've got. This is self-diagnosed--it seems like an Aspergerish sort of thing, but milder than Aspergers.

Perhaps Non-Verbal Learning Disability, which roughly fits your description (despite the clunky name). Certainly, the autistic spectrum does extend "below" Aspergers.

I have a similar response, I like your "universe is going wrong" phrase, but I suspect it may be more about us simply not having a proper "repertoire" of responses for such situations.

Like you said, going around just hurting people doesn't make sense to people like us, and we have trouble dealing with stuff like that.... On the other hand, I can be very fierce in a discussion or argument -- that is, verbal aggression!

#822 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2007, 09:56 AM:

Jim@307: "Most ships do, but few boast of it."

OK, I was curious and asked my friend who's a lifer in the navy. He asked a couple of old timers around the base. None of them knew what the heck this one was about. So, now, he's curious too.

Any hints?

#823 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2007, 10:09 AM:

Xopher @ 817... étonnez les mondains

mondain, adjectif
Féminin aine.
Sens 1 Relatif à la haute société. Ex Une réunion mondaine. Synonyme snob Anglais (réunion mondaine) society gathering
Sens 2 Qui aime les habitudes, la vie, les divertissements de la haute société [Sociologie]. Ex Elle est très mondaine. Anglais (être très mondain) to be a great socialite

#824 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2007, 10:12 AM:

Greg #822: Any hints?

Going to be at Arisia or Boskone? Remind me and I'll tell you then.

(That line in my #307 was actually a breech of message board etiquette: a remark meant for exactly one person.)

#825 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2007, 02:33 PM:

re 820: I'm not interested in bringing anyone from my childhood to account. If nothing else, I have enough to be angry at for hurting me now that I can't afford to be angry at the unchangeable past.

And I don't think that things haven't changed. My kids have gotten much more support about the teasing issue than I did, and I see that arising from a great change in school policy and accompanying attitudes. Of course, the school people aren't omnipresent nor omnipotent; they can't catch everything.

And also, of course, humanity hasn't changed. Kids are often vicious creatures, and even if one batch is whipped into shape, there's always the next one.

#826 ::: M. K. Hoff ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2007, 02:54 PM:

I think its sad of course, a grown person doing this to a younger girl.....but there were no laws broken....first of all, the girl was not old enough to have an account with myspace and if her parents allowed her to then they should have monitored it better. What kind of parents would let a 13 yr old girl have an internet relationship and watch it turn bad??? And do nothing about it???? I think the girls parents should feel bad because they could have told her that was enough and canceled her membership. There was no law broken only a lesson learned. And the mother didnt kill the girl, and neither did myspace. She did it herself. And whos to say it was only due to the messages??? I think a good look at this is all that needs to be done. NO LAWS....thats just silly!!!!

#827 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2007, 03:23 PM:

*chants "DNFTT, DNFTT" quietly*

#828 ::: Laura ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2007, 03:32 PM:

Contact the Drews here.
Remember that maliciousness gets us nowhere and only makes us hypocrites if we stoop to that level.

However, they asked to involve the community and they can have what they wished for.

Lori apparently works for the local Chamber of Commerce, having influence over a community
http://www.stpeterschamber.com/home/memdir/index.html?uid=6140&company=&firstname=lori&lastname=drew&pull1=&pull2=&pull3=&keyword=&submit=detail

And since she seems to enjoy writing, her correspondence is here
http://www.lawrenceconnor.com/lori_drew.html

#829 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2007, 03:43 PM:

Remember, boys and girls, hungry trolls*† make for a happy Abi.

-----
* including without limitation drivebys, repeaters of content already posted, and anyone with an unhealthy appetite for goats
† On either side of the discussion

#830 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2007, 03:44 PM:

Welcome to our two first-time posters.

We ask that you read the thread, to discover that your positions have both already been discussed and discarded.

Weeks ago.

#831 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2007, 03:52 PM:

You're right, of course, Jim.

MK Hoff, Laura, welcome to Making Light. As James Macdonald said just above, you might want to read this thread before posting on it. Many of the views you're so keen to put forward have already been discussed. This is not to say that you may not have new and interesting perspectives to bring to the discussion, but you have done so yet.

Do either of you, by any chance, write poetry?

#832 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2007, 03:54 PM:

Abi... Define unhealthy appetite for goats. Is it like Gene Wilder's for sheep in All You've Ever Wanted to Know About Sex...?

#833 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2007, 03:55 PM:

Correction: you have not done so yet

#834 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2007, 11:37 AM:

Redarding #826: Someone wrote a note similar to the MK Hoff note above to the administrator a private discussion list on online predators of which I am a member. The list administrator had just been interviewed on Fox about the Megan Meier case.

My sense is that whoever is posting/sending these is doing damage control for the perpetrators and may have some direct involvement in the situation.

#835 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 04:41 PM:

Ah, buggrit.

No charges will be filed against Lori Drew for her harassment of Megan Meier. According to the SMH:

St. Charles County Prosecutor Jack Banas said the fake MySpace page was not created by the mother of one of Megan's friends, as has been reported.

He said the page was created by an 18-year-old employee of that mother, though the mother knew about the page.

The messages were being sent by the 18-year-old and by the neighbour's daughter.

#836 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 04:52 PM:

mcz: She admitted to the police that it was created at her behest. I don't see what difference that makes.

#837 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 05:03 PM:

Neither do I, Xopher. Neither do I.

#838 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2007, 05:49 PM:

Dan Layman-Kennedy @#820:

Amen, brother.

I can say, though, that sometimes things improve incrementally. I stuck my neck way, way out, some years back, and pointed at the elephant in the room and made everybody else look at it. I lost a lot in doing that, but I gained more, and the next generation is growing up protected, from that particular elephant, anyway. I'm okay with the price I (still) pay*, because it's like a subscription fee for the better life I've been able to build in the wake of all that.

I know that's vague as hell, but I don't generally talk about it public. If you come from my figurative country, or its near neighbors, you'll understand.

*That is, the price I pay for having broken the cage. I'm emphatically not okay with what the years spent in the cage have cost me. Like I said, incremental improvement.

#839 ::: oldnumberseven ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2007, 03:38 AM:

Thought some of you chaps might find this interesting; the person posting on the meganhaditcoming.blogspot.com now claims to be Lori Drew. The post was made Dec 3 2007, entitled 'I'm Lori Drew' I doubt it is the Lori Drew in question though, more than likely the work of someone who really wants to rile people up. Currently there are 1896 comments and I have not read any of them.

#840 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2007, 09:34 PM:

It was in the op/ed section of the paper today.

Not sure where writer is getting facts, just relaying the essay.

http://www.kansascity.com/277/story/393149.html

Not sure if it's behind the paywall because I'm a paid subscriber.

It appears the Drew's life has become a living hell. I'm not totally positive that I feel sorry for them because aiding/abetting in the death of a child is so wrong. Being a bully is also so wrong, especially if it's and adult abusing a child.

#841 ::: paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2007, 09:58 PM:

That should be "it's an adult abusing a child."

#842 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2007, 10:50 AM:

Re #839:

From CNN today:

Details of the case emerged last month, and the story drew international attention.

Since then, the Drews have been besieged with negative publicity, and Meier's death prompted her hometown of Dardenne Prairie to adopt a law engaging in Internet harassment a misdemeanor.

Now, elected officials say the law's first use could be to prevent possible harassment against the Drews.

"I would say that would be a possibility, that they could be the first," Mayor Pam Fogarty said Friday. "A law is a law is a law. You can't discriminate."

Briscoe said the Drews have not asked police to look into the blog postings.

St. Charles County Prosecutor Jack Banas said he heard about the postings through the news media and asked the sheriff's department to investigate. advertisement

Banas said he had no idea if someone might be charged under the Dardenne Prairie measure. He explained any charges he brings are under state law, not under local ordinances.

The prosecutor said Internet harassment and stalking are crimes in Missouri under state law, but noted the sheriff's department is still investigating if a crime has been committed.

#843 ::: oldnumberseven ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2007, 05:04 PM:

James D. Macdonald, I saw that story on the ap wire earlier today. Here is an excerpt and the link to the whole story. I can not believe that there are laws on the books about adults preying on children and yet there are no charges in this case. What rot.

By BETSY TAYLOR, Associated Press Writer
Sat Dec 8, 7:38 AM ET

ST. LOUIS - A woman linked to an online hoax played on a 13-year-old girl who committed suicide and has been vilified for it may be the subject of a deception — someone on the Internet is posing as her and blogging about the case.

Lori Drew's attorney said Friday that she is not the writer. The St. Charles County sheriff's department is investigating who is behind the blog postings on Blogger.com to see if a crime has been committed, a spokesman said.
The family believes the postings are an effort to damage its reputation following the death of the Megan Meier.
"Any Internet message that purports to be a member of the Drew family is being managed by an impostor and undoubtedly is being done for the purpose of further damaging the Drews' reputation," the family said in a statement.

Story

#844 ::: anonymous ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2007, 05:47 PM:

i tried a dozen times to post this last month. i deleted them all because it hurt too much to think about high school and what almost happened. (yes, i have scars on my wrist. i'm stupid. i didn't know the right way to slice the vein.) i am talking to my son about things like this, just in case he knows someone who's going through something horrible. someone needs to help kids like megan.

#845 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2007, 08:20 PM:

anonymous, have you considered some counseling? Bad things are always hard to think of, but if it still hurts you this much, you might want to get some help.

#846 ::: Art ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2007, 08:31 PM:

The part of the story that always gets me is where the Drews had the gall to file a complaint with the police over a foosball table.

After working through a multitude of news reports, the "Smoking Gun" site's police reports & the various statements by the principals (including the various attorneys), I'll state right up front that my gut tells me that Lori Drew is NOT being framed or set-up. Seems quite clear that she had/has so little remorse, and so little humanity that she was more concerned about property-damage than the death of a human being she herself admitted to having at least some culpability for.

But as an old (long-retired) news-guy, there's a little something nagging at me--

It may seem nitpicky, but I still can't find a police report or any other source material that explicitly documents the Drews filing a complaint against the Meiers for damage to the foosball table.

The most relevant so far, INCIDENT REPORT 06-8024 -- taken by Officer Edwin Lutz, dated 11-25-2006 1418 {=timestamp of 2:18pm perhaps?} -- would seem by timeline and matching quotes to be the one everyone is referring to. Yet there is nary a mention of a foosball table. The TYPE OF INCIDENT is labeled INFORMATIONAL REPORT, and the only complaint she seems to be making is that the Meiers wouldn't talk with them even after repeated "banging on the door" by the Drews. In fact, the report even say the Drews wanted to document the tension "IN CASE" {my caps} "any of her property is damaged".

So is there another very similiarly worded complaint of damage to the foosball table shortly thereafter that I haven't found posted yet? Or was that part of the story inaccurately portrayed?

Thanks in advance to anyone who can point me to source material that can lay that nit to rest for me.

#847 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2008, 04:37 PM:

From CNN:

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- A federal grand jury on Thursday indicted a Missouri woman for her alleged role in perpetrating a hoax on the online social network MySpace against a 13-year-old neighbor who committed suicide.

Lori Drew of suburban St. Louis allegedly helped create a false-identity MySpace account to contact Megan Meier, who thought she was chatting with a 16-year-old boy named Josh Evans. Josh didn't exist.

[...]

Drew was charged with one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization to get information used to inflict emotional distress on the girl.

[...]


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