12/07/07 — Parental shocker: Should mother face scorn for Internet scheme? You bet.

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Parental shocker: Should mother face scorn for Internet scheme? You bet.

Law enforcement officials say there is little they can do about the actions of a former friend’s mother that ended in the death of Megan Meier.

Lori Drew did not pull a trigger or otherwise coerce the 13-year-old to take her life. She did not even type the final, cruel messages from the fictional Josh Meyers.

She did, however, set up the fake MySpace page and enlist the help of a young female employee to start a ficticious relationship with the young woman and was aware of the deception that was being perpetuated.

The reason for Mrs. Drew’s actions? Her daughter and Megan had had a falling out and she wanted to see what was being said about her daughter on the Internet.

That’s right, a 40-some-year-old woman set up a fake Internet presence to monitor a 13-year-old’s communications.

And it was during that monitoring that Mrs. Drew’s accomplice decided to create a fake boyfriend to befriend and woo young Megan. Later, he would unceremoniously dump the teenager, typing that the “world would be better off” without her.

The distraught young woman decided then to hang herself in a closet in her home.

Now, the Drew family is facing a barrage of scorn of its own, with neighbors suggesting they move and making no bones about the fact that they find Mrs. Drew’s actions reprehensible. She has had to close her advertising business.

And that might be all the penalty that Mrs. Drew could face — at least in criminal court.

Legal experts say there is no firm rock to stand on when it comes to guilt or innocence. Mrs. Drew really cannot be blamed for the teen’s actions. She did not type the words and there is no law against her setting up a MySpace account.

But then again, maybe that is not the point.

What Lori Drew did was irresponsible and incomprehensible. A 40-year-old ought to know better — and should have been a better example for her own daughter on how to handle conflicts with others.

To gang up on a 13-year-old seems pretty low.

Lori Drew probably won’t face the kind of charges she probably deserves — at least not in criminal court. She will probably go on with her life, without learning a single thing about what is right, what is wrong and what is classy. She will probably never face up to the consequences of her actions or realize how her decisions helped lead to an avoidable tragedy.

But does she deserve the reception she is getting from her neighbors? The Drews have a right to live where they choose — and there is no excuse for any sort of violence against them. The innocent members of the family should be able to feel safe.

But the Drews’ neighbors have rights, too.

They are allowed to express their displeasure with Mrs. Drew’s actions and to let her know they do not accept her explanations. They do not have a right to harm her or her family or property.

Megan Meier’s death is a tragedy. How sad a 13-year-old was so ready to believe that she was not worth keeping around.

But Lori Drew is someone who should take a good, hard look at herself — as should anyone else who thinks that this sort of behavior has any sort of justification.

Adults are expected to be the voices of reason in teenage disputes — not to perpetuate them.

Published in Editorials on December 7, 2007 11:40 AM