Jailbait Switch

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In his new London Times legal column, Reason Contributing Editor Walter Olson poses a question about the $30 million lawsuit against MySpace by the parents of a 14-year-old girl who met a 19-year-old boy there and later had sex with him: What if the two had met in a coffee shop instead? Wally also mentions a detail about the case I had not heard before: The boy is contemplating his own suit against MySpace, holding it responsible for letting the girl lie about her age and thereby putting him in a compromising situation.

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  1. Is anyone ever responsible for their own actions any more?

  2. It’s clearly time to blame Canada.

  3. I don’t want to be responsible! I’m too busy to be responsible. Let the government be responsible for me. That’s why I pay taxes.

  4. i’m not sure that a coffee shop could be used interchangeably with myspace. you could say that the purpose of one is to sell coffee while the purpose of the other is specifically to connect people with one another.

    i think a better question would be whether you could sue your friend for setting you up on a blind date with someone who misrepresents him/herself.

    either way, the very idea is absurd!

  5. Ah, teenage whores who are pissed at their rich daddies. What would life be without them?

  6. Is anyone ever responsible for their own actions any more?

    Obviously, the question is who is responsible for the combined actions that occurred among multiple parties in this case. Do corporations never have take responsbility for anything?

  7. Do corporations never have take responsbility for anything?

    Yes, there are several things for which corporations must take responsibility. But sex between two teenagers isn’t one of them.

    I’m going to the Hit and Run gathering in New York this Saturday, to hang out with a bunch of people I NEVER would have met if this chatboard didn’t exist. Hypothetical situation: let’s say one of the other partygoers (a comment-board regular, no less) attacks me. Do you think Reason should bear any legal responsibility for that, Dan?

  8. Do corporations never have take responsbility for anything?

    Yes, there are several things for which corporations must take responsibility. But sex between two teenagers isn’t one of them.

    I’m going to the Hit and Run gathering in New York this Saturday, to hang out with a bunch of people I NEVER would have met if this chatboard didn’t exist. Hypothetical situation: let’s say one of the other partygoers (a comment-board regular, no less) attacks me. Do you think Reason should bear any legal responsibility for that, Dan?

  9. Here is my recent post on a similar topic:

    Why myspace will die

    Think about the children! With the rash of stories about teenage misadventure on myspace, including this one written by my girlfriend, and legislators threatening action against social networking sites, is it time for Rupert Murdock to start worrying?

    Sites like facebook, myspace and friendster, suffer from the same problem as the original napster, centralization. These companies are blamed for what users are doing on their networks because they are the one central point that facilitates the connection between all peers.

    If you contacted me by leaving a comment on this blog post, and you happened to be an axe murderer, no one is going to blame my hosting provider when I?m killed. Aplus Hosting isn?t NewsCorp. They don?t have deep pockets or political enemies, and make a poor target for a family values crusade.

    Kids are fickle, facebook is hot and myspace is not, and visiting friendster is like taking a date to a hospice. Being the flavor of the month is a transient state if the biggest sites bow to pressure and kids feel limited in any way, expect them to move on.

    You might think I?m crazy predicting the downfall of myspace, recently ranked as the nets top destination. However this is a crowded field with many competing products, and keeping the interest of the ritalin set isn?t easy. If the current top social networking sites start limiting what users can do and who they can contact, they?ll implode.

    What I imagine will replace them are many smaller more generic sites that allow you to have your own web page. They will have a social networking aspect but it will be an optional widget you add onto your page. These widgets, will allow cross-linking between networks. If all you have are smaller sites that allow people to have web pages, if the networking thing isn?t even part of your application, if everything is open, all you really have is the web itself. No centralization, no one to shake down.

    http://www.thesindicate.org/2006_07_01_archive.html#115327403945704000

  10. Americans think that they are entitled to their day in court regardless. I say BS, this suit should be immediately dismissed.

  11. Another thing about mypsace is the fact that a large percentage of the “people” on there aren’t even people, they’re bands, pets, and businesses. The bar I work at has a myspace page that we use to promote it. How could one validate that identity?

  12. Do corporations never have take responsbility for anything

    This is so dishonest.

    They take responsibility for lots of things. The things that are their fault — things they cause. The things they can control and would be reasonable expected to control. How is it MySpace’s fault that two people decided to meet up and have an affair? With reasoning like yours, anyone who makes any kind of product/service that allows people to socialize / interact should be held liable if anything bad happens to any of the participants.

    Should H-N-R be forced to verify everyones identity and age before allowing people to post in case someone does something illegal?

    Two people meet at a bar, and a rape occurs after they leave together, should the bar get sued because they provided an avenue for these people to meet without adequately screening for rapists?

    If a woman goes to one of those speed date things, and hooks up with an abuser who winds up killing her in a fit of craziness — should the people who sponsored it and the people who provided a facility for people to meet new people be sued ?

    Don’t people have a responsibility to keep themselves out of bad situations, and not mis-represent themseleves or deceive?

    Or should life be structured in a way that everyone and everything is verified everywhere you go so as to never introduce risk?

    Should every bar and cafe and social club have to run criminal background checks on their patrons to avoid liability?

    Dan, where do you draw the line? Aren’t people responsible for their actions and their bad decisions — like agreeing to meet with an anonymous stranger on the internet in a non-public / unsafe place?

    Instead of just answering my question with a dishonest rhetorical trick, why not try and give a rational explanation of why you feel that personal responsibility and accountability should be heavily enforced on corporations, but not on individuals who make bad decisions and why those individuals should get a free pass or be allowed to blame someone else for their bad decisions.

  13. Or should life be structured in a way that everyone and everything is verified everywhere you go so as to never introduce risk?

    No way. Without risk, how is a hardworking litigator supposed to make a buck or 2 million?

  14. Sued if you do, don’t and everything in between.

    Of course, if MySpace did try confirm people’s identities, they would inevitably be hit by suit claiming invasion of privacy or identity theft.

  15. I don’t understand how you could prove damages in this case, unless they were planning on an arranged marriage with cash considerations and the daughter’s “purity” was required.

  16. Obviously, the question is who is responsible for the combined actions that occurred among multiple parties in this case. Do corporations never have take responsbility for anything?

    Dan, can you post specific actions that a corporation can take that would prevent dumbass teenwhores from ever again meeting randy older guys on the Web, and also prevent aforementioned teenwhores from sneaking out to meet their admirers and correspondents?

    Because I gotta tell you, I’m at a loss. I can’t think of anything a Web forum owner can do that would effectively prevent encounters between determined-but-rock-stupid teenwhores and the men who want to lay hands on them.

    What’s your plan, Dan?

    (P.S.: Keep in mind that Natalee Holloway, disappeared teenwhore “it” girl, didn’t necessarily even use the Internet to chat with her destroyer beforehand. How do you plan to get the government to stop casual encounters in meatworld between stupid girls and their predators?)

  17. I don’t understand how you could prove damages in this case, unless they were planning on an arranged marriage with cash considerations and the daughter’s “purity” was required.

    Simple: anytime an under-18 female has sex, it’s a horrible terrible psychologically scarring experience, not something she did because she wanted to. Women wake up on the morning of our 18th birthday to discover that a sex drive has formed overnight, like Athena popping out of the head of Zeus. Before then, however, we never ever have dirty thoughts.

    Anyone who tells you otherwise is a pedophile.

  18. What if myspace required a $1 fee paid by credit card to sign up. That way, in theory, someone 18+ knows about the signup.

  19. Dan’s plan will undoubtedly contain regulations and requirements for service that will result in the service becoming cost prohibitive for users. Then he’ll say that it isn’t a limit on personal freedom and responsibility because the regulations affect only corporations rather than individuals.

  20. Dan’s plan will undoubtedly contain regulations and requirements for service that will result in the service becoming cost prohibitive for users. Then he’ll say that it isn’t a limit on personal freedom and responsibility because the regulations affect only corporations rather than individuals.

  21. What if myspace required a $1 fee paid by credit card to sign up. That way, in theory, someone 18+ knows about the signup

    Of course MySpace or any site could do this. Lots of sites require some kind of credit card authorization or whatever. (Don’t a lot of porn websites do this to verify age or something??)

    For me though, I wouldn’t sign up for something like this. I like the anonymity I get from being online. If I have to give a credit card, and billing address that will most likely be sold to marketers — no thanks.

    It’s getting so that there is very little you can do in life without having to identify youself and verify your identity — all because people’s definition of liability is: not doing anything and everything humanly possible to make sure people are never put in a situation where they need to make good decisions for good outcomes.

    Sad

  22. So, myspace enables people to find and meet teenage girls?

    Disgusting!

    So, how do I sign up?

  23. Ha! I didn’t even know about Myspace until I saw this column. That means Reason is responsible too. I haven’t screwed up yet, but just you wait.

  24. “I’m going to the Hit and Run gathering in New York this Saturday, to hang out with a bunch of people I NEVER would have met if this chatboard didn’t exist. Hypothetical situation: let’s say one of the other partygoers (a comment-board regular, no less) attacks me. Do you think Reason should bear any legal responsibility for that, Dan?”

    Jennifer,
    Are you trying to put thoughts of kinky pseudo-rape in to the impressionable geeky minds of the male “students of Objectivism”, not to mention the odd Randroid that can be found on Hit&Run?
    They might get the idea that like Dominique, it’s what you really want.

    Talk about opening yourself up for an attack!

    PS: Isn’t a Feral Genius blog entry overdue?

  25. Jeebus, people. Don’t feed the fucking Dan T[roll].

  26. Niether Reason magazine or any of its affiliates shall bear any responsibility for the age, attractiveness, non-annoyingness, non-psycopathness, or any other characteristic claimed by any posters on Hit and Run(hereafter H&R) or any other Reason affiliated medium. Such information is provided by third parties and Reason does not verify the accuracy of that information. Any persons believing or acting on the assumption of such claims do at their own risk.

    H&R shall not be held responsible if posters identifying themselves as “Reason Online Legal Department” are in fact not affiliated with Reason or have no legal credentials or are not in any sense a department.

  27. Jennifer, Are you trying to put thoughts of kinky pseudo-rape in to the impressionable geeky minds of the male “students of Objectivism”, not to mention the odd Randroid that can be found on Hit&Run? They might get the idea that like Dominique, it’s what you really want.

    Another fun fact: my boyfriend (who will be coming with me) is 6’3″, proportionately bulky, and generally a nice guy except that he gets these fits of scary insane berserker fury whenever he sees me the slightest bit upset. Also, on special occasions like gatherings of Internet friends, he is wont to carry this ornate walking stick I bought him, which has a large and heavy brass head.

    Just in case Number 6 is right about the psycho factor, I would like to deliver a secret personal message that only you can read; nobody else on the Internet can see it. Seriously, dude, this is only showing up on your computer. I have a program that lets me do that, only it’s too complicated to explain here. Anyway, ready for your private message that nobody else can see? Here it is: even if I really want it, I really don’t want it from you.

    PS: Isn’t a Feral Genius blog entry overdue?

    Yeah. The one I wrote for last night just didn’t work, and I was too tired to make it do so. I suppose I should get off of this blog and work on my own, huh?

  28. Done. Probably not the best of all possible posts to make in light of Number 6’s comment, but I’d already planned to post it this morning. Besides, who knows but the world may end tonight?

  29. Jennifer,
    There seems to be a significant portion of your 9:30 PM post that is not showing on my computer.
    Curious.

    Oh! You must have that new program that allows for personally directed messages too. I’ll see if I’ve got mine configured correctly with a message for just for you.

    Enjoy the NY H&R shindig, take notes and blog all about it for those like me on the left coast who cannot make it.

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