Thursday, November 29, 2007

Who ARE These People? Redux

A Hoax Turned Fatal
Draws Anger but No Charges
The New York Times
Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A couple of days ago I wrote a post about fictional characters who seemed too horrible to be real. Guess what? The truth is stranger than fiction. Perhaps you have seen stories in the newspaper or on the internet about this bizarre and tragic incident. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?

To summarize: In October 2006 13-year-old Megan Meier committed suicide because a "boyfriend" named Josh with whom she had been flirting online started saying mean things to her in cyberspace. Other kids joined in the fray, sending obscene messages to a young girl who had already struggled with depression and self-esteem issues. The day that Megan killed herself Josh had written "The world would be a better place without you." That would be awful enough if it were the whole story.

It's not. Josh did not really exist. He was a made-up MySpace profile designed by an adult woman - a MOTHER, a neighbor of the Meier family whose daughter had once been friends with Megan. The woman, named Lori Drew, bragged about the prank to other kids in the neighborhood, saying she wanted to "mess with" Megan because Megan had had a falling out with her daughter. Her husband knew about the hoax, but did nothing to stop it. In my mind, that is just about as bad. There is something about this whole scenario that really has gotten to me. Incredibly, Lori Drew will not be charged with any crime. According to a spokesman for the Darden County, MO Sheriff's Department, what Lori Drew did "might've been rude, it might've been immature, but it wasn't illegal." We wonder why children bully each other and say cruel things and in extreme cases take firearms to school and use them. Yet the Lori Drews of the world are setting this kind of an example for how we are supposed to cope with disagreements, misunderstandings, and relationships. I know every parent makes mistakes along the way, but this is so far over the top I can't even articulate it. I fear we are a people who have lost our way. Lori Drew may herself be an extreme case, but clearly we have lost some standard for decency and civility in our society.

Here's what really blew my top: Before Megan's suicide, the Drews had asked the Meiers to store a foosball table that they had bought their kids for Christmas. When the Meiers learned that Lori Drew had been behind the cyber-bullying that triggered their daughter's death, they chopped up the foosball table with an ax and threw the pieces onto the Drew's driveway. OK, not the healthiest or most appropriate way to cope with strong feelings, but one can understand. Unless you are Mr. and Ms. Drew. They filed a complaint with the local police department about the foosball table. Words fail me.

I have no idea if any of these people are part of any faith tradition or spiritual community. Nor do I have any idea how I would minister to the Drews if I was their pastor. The church (or other house of worship) can often be a solace to people like the Meiers - we can share in sorrow, be present with people in their pain, and listen as they struggle for hope and meaning in the midst of unimaginable grief. But oh my gosh what would I say to a Lori Drew, especially since she by all accounts I have read is unrepentant? How could I even be in the same room with her, let alone be a bearer of grace? But when we get it right, people living in community hold one another accountable and over time develop some sense of what is appropriate and what is not. We meet people at their best and at their worst and remind each one that they are a child of God, forgiven and redeemed. What is going on that there are adult people who would anonymously bully a child just for the thrill of it? I am disgusted and deeply saddened by this. In my heart of hearts I believe that God loves Lori Drew (even when we ordinary mortals cannot). Maybe if someone along the way had given her that message she would not be so messed up today.

Everyone out there hug your kids extra tight tonight and pray for a saner, kinder, gentler world.

Reverent Reader


At 12/2/07, 8:03 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh. My. Gosh.
This is an amazing story.

I'm thinking that they don't have a spiritual community, because somebody along the way would have -- I trust -- chatted with them about baptismal vows. Or grace. Or something.

At 12/2/07, 8:51 AM , Blogger Reverent Reader said...

Hi JLEdmiston - I think you are probably right, but still have wondered about it. Read your post this morning about SBC's awesome news. I am delighted for him! Happy first Sunday of Advent.


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