So, I was bimbling around, trying to think of something to write about, and orlacarey links to a story about a 13 year-old girl who committed suicide because the parents of a girl she knew decided to create a false MySpace profile of a cute boy and build her up, then crush her hopes, because they thought she was saying mean things about their daughter.
You know, in a nutshell.
...Not to mention the overuse of the CAPS LOCK key.
I'm not mocking the emotional intent of these people (well, not much). But I am fascinated by how, as soon as something bad happens, all common sense and higher reasoning powers go out of the window. There ought to be a law? A law against what? There are already laws that cover most of what happened (though a jury or judge might not convict), and there are civil suit options as well. Additional laws are not needed. Even though there has been a reluctance to apply existing laws to the Deadwood of cyberspace, the fact remains that the Dakota territories were eventually assimilated. Worse, any time you try to make new laws for a specific situation, they rarely work as well as the existing laws that cover that issue.
Next, people feel that the "Internet should be regulated so it's safe!!!!". Good luck with that one. I guess some people think the New Age Illuminati (this link leads to a Chick Tract Bob found in the Men's Room in a Golden Corral that I found particularly hilarious) really is in charge, and that the "Internets" are actually controllable. Go back to AoL and play in a safe little cyber-theme park (metaphor courtesy of Dave Barry), and you'll be fine. MySpace has a certain amount of obligation to its users, but it is not responsible for the actions of those same nutcases. The blame (if any is to be applied - and if the story is in the least bit true, and not a hatchet job on "teh Intarwebs") lies at the feet of the people who committed the act, not the medium used to commit it. as one reasonably sane person in the comments said, "You don't sue GM when someone drives drunk and kills someone!". No - nor do you sue the alcohol company, though some people have tried.
But I think it is in the desire for vigilante justice that our magical thinkers truly shine. They didn't have any involvement in the matter, but boy, do they want revenge. An "eye for an eye"? Are you seriously suggesting killing the idiot neighbours' daughter (for that is the Law of Hammurabi)? Wow. They want names, and they want them now! They will spread them all over the 'nets! People should know what evil thing they have done! And they should be driven out of town! Feel shame all their lives for what they did? Who's got the tar? I have feathers!!!!
Assuming these people really did what the story says they did (the story and the quotes and the subsequent events are curiously fiction-like in the reading - seriously, read the article, and ask yourself if someone would actually say, as the neighbour mother apparently did, to a reporter that "...she did not feel 'as guilty' because at the funeral she found out 'Megan had tried to commit suicide before'."), and assuming they really are evil bastards, what business is it of strangers to dispense justice? That is what we have courts and judges and juries for, after all. If we feel that these things have outlived their usefulness I suppose we can vote them away, but I think most people would miss them somewhat the next time they end up on the wrong end of an arrest.
In fact, I find this "To Catch A Predator" mentality somewhat hypocritical in that everyone wants bad people punished for doing bad things until a relative or a friend (or even they themselves, who were so gung-ho on mandatory prison sentences a moment before) does bad things. Suddenly then, it's the law that's bad and oppressive, and their friend is just "messed up", or "going through a bad patch", and it's never because they're a criminal, oh, no.
Magical thinking demands that everyone be punished except you and your loved ones, even if the act wasn't a crime, but only pissed you off. It says that all laws are good, and civil liberties won't suffer. That everyone can be made safe forever more by "The Government" (who are apparently olympian beings that never overstep their limits). No-one will die! Everyone will be happy! Men in suits will remove all dangers from our lives!!!!!!
...And magical thinking also says that vigilante justice and a constant demand for new laws will never come back to bite you on your tarred and feathered (and incarcerated) butt.
Because, after all is said and done, and the Courts have failed us, and the Cops have stopped us from having any real fun, there's always God, the ultimate magical thinker, and He will make everything okay. Just to prove it, I leave you with a full quote from the comments that really needs no other commentary:
The Punctuation Police called; they want their keyboard back.