How can we prevent cyber bullying

October 19, 2013

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Good afternoon:

On September 9th, 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick jumped to her death from a tower at an abandoned cement plant in Polk County, Florida. She committed suicide because she could no longer endure a vicious campaign of cyber bullying by two girls and their friends. The two girls allegedly started bullying Rebecca because they were jealous of her relationship with a 13-year-old boy. The bullying continued for almost a year and persisted even after the relationship with the boy ended.

The case has been in the news recently because police arrested the two girls on Monday and charged them with aggravated stalking. The 12-year-old girl has publicly admitted she was wrong and apologized to Rebecca’s mother, but the 14-year-old girl posted a comment on Facebook acknowledging,

Yes ik I bullied REBECCA nd she killed her self but IDGAF!!!!

The Polk County Sheriff has publicly chastised the 14-year-old’s stepmother because she denied knowledge of the bullying and defended the girl saying her facebook account had been hacked.

He said “she doesn’t get it,” and “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

He said he is considering charging her with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The stepmother was arrested yesterday and charged with two counts of child abuse for slugging two children. She claims that she was only attempting to break-up a fight between the two victims. The incident was captured on video.

Rebecca’s suicide has focused national attention on cyber bullying and internet stalking. Crane and I know something about that because certain members of the right-wing hate-machine have been stalking us for over a year. Some of our readers who have websites also have been targeted by obsessed and twisted haters.

People have different ways of dealing with the haters. I ignore them. Young people like Rebecca are more vulnerable and wound more easily. Teenagers lack maturity and can be especially cruel. In a culture where many people believe that it’s cool to be cruel, there can be little doubt that we will see more preventable tragedies like Rebecca’s.

The question is what, if anything, do we do about it?

Ironically, Mark O’Mara is in the news again for his effort to draft legislation that would hold parents accountable for cyber bullying by their children. The statute would create a duty to know what your kids are doing on line and criminalize a failure to prevent your kids from cyber bullying.

There are four major problems with this effort.

First, criminal laws traditionally prohibit certain acts accompanied by a particular mental state. One of the most basic principles of criminal law is that you have to know what you are doing when you commit a prohibited act. You do not have to know the act is prohibited, but you do have to know what you are doing when you commit the act.

Second, criminal laws traditionally do not create duties to supervise others and criminalize the failure to discover objectionable conduct and prevent it.

Third, many teenagers are more knowledgeable than their parents about using the internet and there are ways they can access the internet without their parent’s knowledge.

Fourth, are the police going to be monitoring internet activity to prevent cyber bullying and, if so, is that a good idea?

As a society, we have a tendency to respond to tragedies by enacting new criminal laws. However, criminal laws cannot solve all of our problems.

The importance of education and workshops in changing human behavior should not be underestimated.

What do you think?


Trayvon Martin’s Murder Forces Us To Confront Racism

December 27, 2012

Thursday, December 27, 2012

I realized the defendant was lying when I first read his narrative about the shooting.

Why?

Because I believe it’s extremely unlikely that an unarmed person would flee from a menacing stranger following him and, after successfully getting away, voluntarily approach, engage and attempt to beat that stranger to death with his bare hands.

That story is ridiculous. It made no sense to me when I first read it and it makes no sense to me now.

With two exceptions, I never have understood why anyone would believe that ridiculous story.

As a former criminal defense attorney and law professor, I certainly understand, support and believe in the presumption of innocence. I trained myself to think that way and always searched for the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case against my clients. I had no problem exploiting those vulnerabilities for the benefit of my clients. I suspect that most of the lawyers and law professors who have publicly supported the defendant did so from the perspective of presuming that he spoke the truth.

Since I no longer practice or teach law, I believe I can evaluate this case from a more objective perspective.

I cannot and will not presume that an obvious bullshit story is the truth.

I have reviewed all of the evidence released to the public to date and I have not found any evidence that supports the defendant’s story. Instead, his multiple inconsistent and contradictory statements conflict with the physical and forensic evidence. In fact, he has admitted that he shot and killed Trayvon Martin after he had him under control with a wrist lock. He said he pulled out his gun, extended his right arm, aimed to avoid shooting his left hand, and fired the single shot that killed Trayvon Martin. The terrified, prolonged and desperate shriek protesting the depraved execution that was about to occur finally and forever was silenced by the gunshot.

No one is going to believe that the defendant uttered that inhuman shriek with a loaded gun in his hand.

I feel obliged to remind my former colleagues that the presumption of innocence does not require them to blindly accept a liar’s story and actively defend that liar by supporting his effort to demonize an innocent victim and his parents. I am offended, horrified and disgusted by the unrelenting attacks on Trayvon, his family and their supporters. I have no respect for anyone who participates in or supports those attacks, including members of the mainstream media who publicize them, and by so doing, legitimize them.

Enough is enough.

We do not need or want to hear any more lying racist Zimmermans polluting the news.

The Trayvon Martin murder case is much more than a set of hypothetical facts to be discussed in a classroom. It is a real case involving real people and I think our responses to this tragedy reveal much about ourselves as individuals and as a society.

For example, in order to believe the defendant’s story, one would have to believe that Trayvon Martin acted like a stereotypical Black Gangsta thug in a Hollywood action movie. Would any Caucasian person believe the defendant’s story, if the person he killed were Caucasian?

Is it not easier for Caucasians to believe his story because the victim is Black?

I believe we would not have heard about this case, if Trayvon Martin had been a Caucasian kid. The defendant would have been arrested and jailed that first night. He would have been charged with second degree murder and prosecuted without any of the publicity and controversy that we have seen.

The most important lesson of this case is that racism is alive and well in our nation. The defendant’s characterization of Trayvon Martin presents each one of us with a litmus test. Those who accept and believe what he said are failing the litmus test and seriously need to ask themselves why they were so willing to believe such an obvious lie.

Those who continue to believe the defendant in the face of overwhelming evidence that he is a liar may be beyond help.

We live in a racist society and nothing will change unless we admit that we do and we commit to ending racism. As always, the self is the place to start changing society.

Trayvon Martin will not have died in vain if his death becomes the rallying point for a systematic, determined and prolonged effort to once and for all eliminate racism in our society.

Unless we succeed, we will remain a racist and failed society.


Cyber Bullies Still Seeking Dee Dee to Harass and Intimidate in Trayvon Martin Murder

December 15, 2012

Saturday, December 15, 2012

I write today to resolve a disagreement between BettyKath and others regarding whether certain racist individuals who rabidly support the defendant, let-his-name-be-forgotten (LHNBF), committed the crime of witness tampering under Florida law when they participated in an internet doxing scheme to identify, target, defame, harass, humiliate, intimidate and ultimately terrify W8 (AKA: Dee Dee), a witness against the defendant.

The disagreement concerns whether proof of witness tampering requires proving that the person harassed or intimidated was a witness. For reasons that follow, the answer is “No.”

Dee Dee is not her true name. The prosecution assigned her that name to protect her identity and her privacy from the media and people like the defendant’s rabid supporters, who routinely use character assassination to destroy anyone who dares to disagree with and criticize them.

She was Trayvon Martin’s girlfriend and she was talking to him on her cell phone when the defendant followed, confronted and assaulted Trayvon, knocking him and his cell phone to the ground. Moments later he killed him with a single gunshot wound to the heart. In fact, she had been talking to Trayvon off and on for about six hours that day and during the half-hour or so before the defendant assaulted him, Trayvon told her about a menacing creepy stranger following him in a vehicle. He told her the man scared him. He ran to get away from the man.

The defendant, who did not know that Trayvon was talking to anyone on his cellphone when he attacked him, claims self-defense. Even though he was carrying a gun and Trayvon was unarmed, but for a can of iced tea and a bag of Skittles, the defendant told the police that Trayvon approached him, punched him in the nose, stunning and knocking him to the ground. Trayvon then straddled him as as he lay on his back and rained down savage punch after savage punch to his head, MMA-style. Trayvon grabbed both sides of his head and viciously slammed the back of his head time after time against a cement sidewalk until he thought his head would explode. On the verge of losing consciousness, he started to scream for help, but Trayvon stifled his cries and began to suffocate him by placing both hands over his bloody mouth, bleeding broken nose, and began to press down. Hard.

That is when he felt Trayvon’s hand start to slide down his chest toward his hip causing him to suddenly remember something quite important that he had somehow forgotten. That would be his loaded gun concealed in a holster inside his pants behind his right hip. Yes, that would be the same gun that was pressing into his back as he lay on his back being pummeled to death.

The defendant told the police he did what any reasonable person would have done in the same situation. He reached back, pulled his gun out of his holster, extended his arm, aimed to make sure that he did not shoot his left hand, and pulled the trigger.

Despite the defendant’s incredibly detailed and bloody account of Trayvon’s savage and vicious assault that came within inches of killing him, Trayvon did not have any blood on the cuffs and lower sleeves of the two sweatshirts he was wearing and the only DNA detected in his fingernail cuttings was his own.

High resolution close-up photographs of the defendant’s face and the back of his head taken by police at the station house approximately four-and-one-half hours after the murder do not support his story, and he declined several offers to be transported to the ER for a medical exam. That is not surprising as his nose appears to be straight and unbroken with only slight swelling near the bridge. Two small capillary cuts on the back of his head did not require stitches or bandages and the defendant never exhibited any confusion or appeared to be in any pain at any time at the station house.

Even though the defendant’s claim of self-defense is contradicted by the physical evidence, including blood and DNA analysis, Dee Dee’s testimony is important to the case because, if true, it establishes that the defendant was the aggressor who menacingly pursued Trayvon first in his vehicle, and then on foot into the area behind two buildings of town homes where he confronted and attacked Trayvon as she was talking to him on her cell phone.

Dee Dee has been the subject of considerable speculation as to her true identity and loathsome character assassination on the internet by the defendant’s rabid supporters. I need not recount specifics because they have said everything you can imagine and worse to ruin her life and break her, destroying her character and her credibility.

Yes, they are that depraved and worse because she almost certainly is a child.

They mistakenly targeted two teenagers named Dee Dee, in Miami and Miami Gardens where Trayvon lived, and subjected them to their unique form of branding only to discover that neither girl was the Dee Dee they were looking for.

These internet thugs are salivating with excitement, sharpening their knives and still searching for the “real” Dee Dee.

Well, guess what. They better stop and lawyer up because they are in a helluva lot of trouble. Legal trouble that destroys lives.

That would be their lives.

Florida Statutes > Title XLVII > Chapter 914 > § 914.22 – Tampering with or harassing a witness, victim, or informant; penalties provides in pertinent part:

(1) A person who knowingly uses intimidation or physical force, or threatens another person, or attempts to do so, or engages in misleading conduct toward another person, or offers pecuniary benefit or gain to another person, with intent to cause or induce any person to:

(a) Withhold testimony . . . from an official investigation or official proceeding;

(c) Evade legal process summoning that person to appear as a witness . . . in an official investigation or an official proceeding;

(d) Be absent from an official proceeding to which such person has been summoned by legal process; or

(f) Testify untruthfully in an official investigation or an official proceeding,

commits the crime of tampering with a witness, victim, or informant.

[Emphasis supplied]

Note that intimidation of “a person” to induce “any person” not to testify constitutes witness tampering.

Question: How much trouble are these internet terrorists in?

Answer: Plenty pilikia.

(2) Tampering with a witness, victim, or informant is a:

(d) Felony of the first degree, punishable by a term of years not exceeding life or as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, where the official investigation or official proceeding affected involves the investigation or prosecution of a first degree felony or a first degree felony punishable by a term of years not exceeding life.

(3) Whoever intentionally harasses another person and thereby hinders, delays, prevents, or dissuades any person from:

(a) Attending or testifying in an official proceeding or cooperating in an official investigation;

or attempts to do so, commits the crime of harassing a witness, victim, or informant.

(4) Harassing a witness, victim, or informant is a:

(e) Felony of the first degree, punishable by a term of years not exceeding life or as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, where the official investigation or official proceeding affected involves the investigation or prosecution of a felony of the first degree punishable by a term of years not exceeding life or a prosecution of a life or capital felony.

I have no sympathy for the people who have sought and continue to seek to destroy the “real” Dee Dee and I hope the State of Florida traces these internet terrorists back through their proxy servers and ISPs to their lairs and prosecutes them for first degree witness tampering and witness harassment.


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