During the days of vigilanteism in Montana it was not to be taken lightly. The participants were so effective the Sate Police honored them by having their motto emblazoned on their badge. 3-7-77 - 3 feet wide, 7 feet deep and 77 inches long - for the graves of those they hung. Swift and sure if not always just.
Let us hope we frequenters of the Internet are not following in their footsteps though it seems we may be. I wrote not long ago of the tragic results of cyber stalking and bullying done by adults to a 13 year old child. A bogus account was set up on MySpace by the parent of a teen to learn what another was "saying" about her daughter. They were even neighbors. The "creation" was a sweet talking boy friend who turned nasty and cruel. The end result for the impressionable insecure young girl was suicide. No crime, however, had been committed. I cannot disagree that a suicide comes from a variety or reasons; but this action certainly added to the child's duress.
I called for the tightening of the laws. As ugly as that story was, it seems to be getting worse.
Now self appointed avengers are after the perpetrator. According to an editorial by Barbara Shelly of the Kansas City Star, these folks have published the name, address, phone numbers and photos of the accused family. They have fled their home, their daughter is living away from them for her own safety; they've had to close their business.
Part of me wants to cheer them. The despicable behavior of that "mother" deserves something more than a pass! But not this.
It opens the door to frightening prospects. It too is cyber bullying and stalking. As the column points out they have reduced themselves to the same level. It also signals to any crack pot out there that has a grievance against any one of us they have carte blanch to go after us.
Internet regulation will come sooner than later if this escalates. The article urges parents to protect their children from "fantasy lives" by getting involved in their real one.
The same might apply to we adults too, though most of the bloggers I know also have real lives and live them quite fully. That is not necessarily protection against those "out there" who would do us harm. I reiterate it is why many of us choose near or complete anonymity.
For you state legislators who are out and about looking for fodder for upcoming sessions - enforceble laws against cyber stalking and bullying might be worthy.