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Such a Sad Story - Mo's Journal
November 28th, 2007
04:09 pm

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Such a Sad Story
It's in the New York Times and all over the internet. It happened last year but the names of the harassers have only recently been released. A woman in her forties named Lori Drew, with the assistance of an employee in her advertising firm, created a fake Myspace profile of a hot teenage boy, for the sole purpose of befriending and then hurting a seriously depressed 13-year-old girl named Megan Meier. Megan had been friends with Drew's daughter and the friendship had broken up. Lori Drew blamed Megan.

"Josh Evans" was Megan's online boyfriend for a period of weeks. He then told her that he heard she wasn't nice to her friends and he didn't like her anymore. "He" (and some real kids who joined in) called Megan names on Myspace and then Josh wished her a "shitty life" and said the world would be better off without her. Megan Meier hanged herself 20 minutes after reading "Josh's" last message.

The Drews and the Meiers had been friends and neighbors for years and Lori Drew did not disclose what she had done to the Drews' daughter in the wake of her death. The Meier and Drew families continued to socialize and the Meiers stored a foosball table that the Drews were giving their children for Christmas, so the kids wouldn't see it. Another neighbor, whose daughter had been in on the hoax, disclosed to the Meiers in the presence of their grief counselor that Josh Evans was really Lori Drew. The Meiers destroyed the foosball table and left it, in pieces on the Drew's lawn, leading Lori Drew to call the police to report the vandalism(!). In the course of giving her statement to the police, Lori Drew admitted that she had - in the person of Josh Evans - sent insulting messages to Megan Meier but said that she didn't feel too guilty because Megan was on anti-depressants and had tried to kill herself earlier.

Lori Drew committed no crime and have not been arrested, but oh how cruel! How could anyone think that was an okay thing to do to a thirteen-year-old child? Of course she didn't kill her and she couldn't have known that Megan would commit suicide. Clearly there was much more wrong than just this event for a child to take her life. But it was obviously - and predictably - agonizing to this girl to be treated like that. If it were another kid doing it, I'd think "she doesn't know any better, she didn't realize the effect of her words" but this is a grown woman. And to think that a history of depression in her victim makes it okay, lessens her responsibility? It's beyond my comprehension.

What does it say about the internet and anonymity? We don't need this cautionary story to know that there are people who misrepresent themselves online. Those of us who've been around a while have our war stories we can tell. A thirteen-year-old girl faced with a cute boy who likes her doesn't have our resources.

The Drews are now pariahs in the neighborhood and are in fear of violence against them. There have been a number of acts of vandalism at their house. The Meiers have separated and are getting a divorce. Megan Meier's father stayed in the house while her mother moved out, and their surviving daughter splits her time between them.

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From:niennah
Date:November 28th, 2007 09:48 pm (UTC)
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I have just been reading about this. It's utterly incomprehensible that an adult could possibly act in this way. What is wrong with this woman? And then to feel less guilty because Megan had been depressed anyway - it's utterly inexplicable! Since there is no legal recourse in this case, I am glad they are pariahs in their neighbourhood. They deserve to be.
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From:mofic
Date:November 28th, 2007 11:42 pm (UTC)
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I saw a post through metafandom asking whether this kind of thing could happen in "our" corner of the internet - the geek and nerd world. It's a good question. I may address it in a post...
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From:thinking_lotus
Date:November 28th, 2007 10:52 pm (UTC)
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What Lori Drew did was terrible and clearly there is something really really wrong with her. But I also agree with what the psych professor quoted in the second article said--that most kids when confronted with this sort of experience will not commit suicide.

Not that this means she's not to blame for what she did.

I am also troubled by the online vigilantism aspect of it.
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From:mofic
Date:November 28th, 2007 11:40 pm (UTC)
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Oh I certainly agree that she didn't make the child kill herself and that she couldn't have predicted she would. Still, it's not only amazingly cruel but her lack of remorse is pretty astonishing. I mean, generally people who are blameless feel regret and guilt after a suicide, in the if-only-I'd-noticed-the-signs way. That someone who was outright cruel to the child in a calculated way could be so callous is shocking to me. That the police were brought in because of the damage to the foosball table is amazing!
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From:thinking_lotus
Date:November 29th, 2007 12:04 am (UTC)
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Yeah, she's definitely missing something that one would think makes us human, you know? To do it in the first place, and then the way she reacted to it. I repeat: something really really wrong. Scary wrong.

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From:xtricks
Date:November 28th, 2007 11:14 pm (UTC)
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It's horrible and, at the same time,I worry about the knee jerk aspect of it all. They passed a law banning online 'harassment and bullying' after the story became public and, honestly, that troubles me. Also, the woman who did this has some kind of problems herself - like the inability to recognize concequences.

IMO - the appropriate, non-litigious(sp) actions are being taken by the community in question, the woman and her family is being shunned. Since her name is public and this is the age of the internet, when/if they move, I'm sure the story will continue to follow them for years. We seem, often, to forget that having a law and taking someone to court is not the only way to deal with wrong acts. Ostracism, as we all probably know from growing up (and many communities use 'officially'), is an extremely effective tool in social control.
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From:mofic
Date:November 28th, 2007 11:37 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, I agree. I'm fine with the shunning. I think it's mostly appropriate. I mean I feel sorry for their kid, but I can't imagine being friendly towards someone who did something like this and is seemingly so unrepentant.

I'm much less comfortable with the harassment and vandalism the Drew family has been subject to. I'm not talking at all about the Meiers destroying their foosball board - that was a very natural expression of anger. But the people throwing things in their windows, jamming their cell phones, yelling "Murderers!" - it seems to me these have to be disturbed people who get their jollies doing things like that and like having someone they can feel justified in hurting. And I worry that that justified feeling will prevent them from thinking about why they need to find some stranger to hate, yk?
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From:lilacsigil
Date:November 28th, 2007 11:51 pm (UTC)
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This is an unspeakably cruel thing to do to a child, whether or not that child is depressed and commits suicide. Like you, I would not have been surprised by a young teenager behaving like this - little girls are often cruel, and it's not okay, but it's not pathological, either - but an adult doing this is horrific. To feel better about the suicide because the girl had a history of depression is just revolting. She couldn't have known Megan would die, but she certainly knew, and enjoyed, that she was harming a vulnerable child.
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From:mofic
Date:November 29th, 2007 03:48 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, she had to know how hurtful she was being.

Because I'm painfully aware that there are two sides to every story, I've really tried to think of some possibilities that would make Lori Drew's actions a little less reprehensible. All I can come up with is:

- She says that she started the "Josh Evans" thing to see if Megan was saying mean things online about her daughter. Maybe it truly did start off as purely protective - albeit very wrong-headed - gesture and it got out of hand.

- Reporting the destruction of the foosball table to the police seems so extremely callous and over the top, but perhaps at that point the Drews were in fear of violence (since it seems like there were a number of hostile retaliatory acts from neighbors before that) and felt they had to go to the cops and tell them the truth in order to get protection.

That's all I've got and they're both pretty lame. If they were scared, they could have talked about why without pressing charges on the foosball thing. If Megan *was* saying mean things about their daughter it hardly justifies what they did to her. And most of all, if there were anything that reduced the viciousness of the attack or Lori Drew's responsibility it would have been in that police report. She said a lot of self-serving (and not very accurate, apparently) things in the report, but the best she could come up with on why she wasn't guilty was that Megan was already depressed and had previously attempted suicide! The latter, apparently, is not true but how she could think that made what she did less awful is really incomprehensible.
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From:barenakedrachel
Date:November 29th, 2007 02:19 am (UTC)
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Wow. That's unbelievably horrid. Wow. I'm pretty speechless, actually.
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