June 20, 2006



...A few weeks ago I was discussing the concept of responsibility with a colleague and we ended up in a conversation over how it’s interesting to see how certain segments of our populace will on one hand berate fast food chains and tobacco companies for offering unhealthy substances to consumers, ultimately blaming the corporation in question and removing responsibility from the consumer, but will simultaneously look to that same corporation for guidance in making healthy choices.
...McDonald’s offers unhealthy burgers and fries, but instead of saying, “Educate yourselves,” they cry, “What’s McDonald’s going to do to look out for me?” Instead of saying, “Put out that cancer stick,” they ask, “What is the tobacco company going to do about my smoking habit?” Why on earth would they look for solutions from the companies that they hate most?
...We concluded that it’s simply a continuation of the ongoing growth of what might best be called “passing the responsibility.” Now we can add MySpace to that list.
...The popular Internet networking site for teens and twenty-somethings is now the target of a $30 million lawsuit by a family whose 14-year-old daughter was allegedly sexually assaulted after going on a date with a 19-year-old man. The 14-year-old posted information about herself on MySpace, the 19-year-old allegedly took notice of her, began an e-mail and phone relationship with her, then picked her up at school one day, took in a movie and dinner, and later sexually assaulted her.
...Whose fault was it? Well, obviously it must have been MySpace. After all, corporations are supposed to watch out for us.
...The suit against MySpace says that the site doesn’t do enough to prevent things like this from happening, calling their security measures for children “utterly ineffective.” It’s easy for children—as well as everyone else—to lie about their age on the Internet, and MySpace isn’t any different. Their chief security officer said that they take “aggressive measures” to protect members and concluded in a written statement, “We encourage everyone on the Internet to engage in smart web practices and have open family dialogue about how to apply offline lessons in the online world.” That no doubt pissed off a few more anti-responsibility folks.
...I’ll be honest and say that it’s my opinion that 90 percent of MySpace users are the perfect example of what’s wrong in America. Is that the fault of MySpace? No. These people would have been obsessed with acting stupid, promoting their favorite cheap beer, dressing like whores and rap stars, and driving pimped-out Mitsubishis regardless of whether or not MySpace ever existed. MySpace simply provided the outlet to promote the stupidity on a larger scale; the people would have existed anyway.
...As for “protecting” their children, I cringe just knowing that there are parents who would sooner have a bunch of Website administrators look out for their kids as opposed to them. What exactly do they consider as being in the job description of parents?
...In this case, if the 14-year-old girl was willing to lie to get an account, was willing to go out for the evening with a guy five years older than her, and that the mom had absolutely no idea that her daughter was e-mailing and calling a 19-year-old, then there are things in this family that need to be dealt with more than a lawsuit against a Website.
...After reading the initial story, I scrolled down the page because this particular site allows for comments on the stories. It’s always fun to see what the public at large thinks. Most of them seemed to be echoing my sentiments, but a few stuck out like sore thumbs.
...One gentleman explained, “No parent can monitor their kids’ Internet usage and MySpace takes advantage of this.” One mother remarked that this suit “is a message to MySpace and other similar sites to buckle down on things.” She concluded by saying, “Sometimes the only way to change things is to hit someone’s pocketbook.” A second mom quipped, “Perhaps legal action like this suit will convince them that they must accept responsibility for how their business is used.” A third mom was angry because MySpace administrators wouldn’t delete her 12-year-old daughter’s account—even though she could have easily done it herself.
...Maybe we can sue parents who haven’t yet accepted the responsibility that comes with having kids.


Blogger Ms. B said...

Parents CAN monitor the use of the computer. All they need to do is make sure that the computer is in a common room of the house so that a kid can't be sneaky and play around on My Space, or waste homework time instant messaging their friends.

It's just easier to place the blame on someone else rather than deal with the bitching and moaning of a teenager who isn't getting his/her way.

June 20, 2006  
Blogger J.P. said...

It’s either that they don’t want to deal with the moaning or they don’t want to look like the “mean parent.” They want to be the cool mom or cool dad instead. As such, Cool Mom and Cool Dad will blame Bad MySpace.

I’m guessing that that’s why the mom who left a comment on the story didn’t want to delete her daughter’s account from home. She didn’t want her daughter to be angry at her; it was easier to complain about the MySpace people and save face with the kid.

I wonder if other businesses are paying attention to this story. Just think: If a married couple met at Borders or Barnes & Noble, and they end up going through a messy divorce, they can sue to have the bookstore pay for the legal fees. If something bad happens after two people meet in a bar after a few too many drinks, the bar can be sued (which has already happened a few times). If two co-workers have an affair and hurt their families in some way, the families can sue the employer for having provided the environment where the adulterers met. If two people have relationship problems after having been introduced via a mutual friend, the friend can be sued.

There’s potential here.

June 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi. I don't normally post public information, but the 19 year old man is my cousin Jesse. I'm from Stevens Point, Wis. where this took place and we are angry at the entire situation because the girl lied about her age. Yes, Jesse later knew her age and still had "consensual" sex with her and that's wrong, but I can't understand why this girl goes unpunished? He didn't force her to have sex. I know the law states she can't consent, but where were her parents through this? Jesse told the truth and admitted his wrongdoing, but this girl denied the evidence, even when it was openly posted on the internet. That is what angers me.

June 22, 2006  
Blogger J.P. said...

Not to pry, but are you referring to the guy who is mentioned later in the story, or in the main story? The only reason that I ask is because the American-Statesman had the accused listed as a “Pete” from Buda, Texas.

June 22, 2006  
Blogger amy said...

There are dozens of stories of these types of abuses going on in CT, where I'm living now, and many of the girls involved have been sexually assaulted by men/'boys' they met through MySpace. Also take into consideration the 16 year old girl from Michigan who flew to the Middle East to meet a 20 year old man on MySpace. It's not just about where it ends, but where it truly BEGINS with parental responsibility. When are we going to start throwing parents in the slammer for poor parenting? I know they can't be there 100% of the time, but they CAN instill morality and ethical behavior in their kids from an early age, which might prevent this type of shady behavior from happening to begin with. I'm not talking about religion, but morals - doing what's right, not lying, not sneaking around, not purposely playing with fire, etc.

June 24, 2006  
Blogger J.P. said...

Amy, you’ve touched upon something that—in my opinion, anyway—has unfortunately started to happen more and more: Too many people are lumping morals and ethics with religion, and therefore both concepts suddenly somehow become part of the fundamentalist movement. Then again, maybe they want them to be fundamentalist in nature so they then become free from having to be moral or ethical, even in a secular way.

Speaking of that 16-year-old girl from Michigan, I was told that she’s still upset over having to return to the U.S. because she’s “in love” with the guy.

Love bites.

June 27, 2006  

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