Legal, Laws, and Regs

Bad Laws

Tomorrow Judge George Wu is presiding over a session regarding the requests for dismissal of the misdemeanor convictions against Lori Drew and the mistrial on one count. I’ve been working for some time now on a longer writing about Lori Drew and Megan Meier that I hope to publish as soon as we see where this particular play ends. In the meantime my state passed a modification to our state’s harassment laws reflecting the events surround Lori Drew and Megan Meier. The newly modified law has been invoked seven times since its passage in August.

I thought I would share my state’s harassment law with you. As you read it, think back on the interactions you’ve had with others in the past. Ask yourself: how many people do you know could be criminally charged based on this law? Include yourself, if appropriate.


565.090. 1. A person commits the crime of harassment if he or she:

(1) Knowingly communicates a threat to commit any felony to another person and in so doing frightens, intimidates, or causes emotional distress to such other person; or

(2) When communicating with another person, knowingly uses coarse language offensive to one of average sensibility and thereby puts such person in reasonable apprehension of offensive physical contact or harm; or

(3) Knowingly frightens, intimidates, or causes emotional distress to another person by anonymously making a telephone call or any electronic communication; or

(4) Knowingly communicates with another person who is, or who purports to be, seventeen years of age or younger and in so doing and without good cause recklessly frightens, intimidates, or causes emotional distress to such other person; or

(5) Knowingly makes repeated unwanted communication to another person; or

(6) Without good cause engages in any other act with the purpose to frighten, intimidate, or cause emotional distress to another person, cause such person to be frightened, intimidated, or emotionally distressed, and such person’s response to the act is one of a person of average sensibilities considering the age of such person.

2. Harassment is a class A misdemeanor unless:

(1) Committed by a person twenty-one years of age or older against a person seventeen years of age or younger; or

(2) The person has previously pleaded guilty to or been found guilty of a violation of this section, or of any offense committed in violation of any county or municipal ordinance in any state, any state law, any federal law, or any military law which, if committed in this state, would be chargeable or indictable as a violation of any offense listed in this subsection.

In such cases, harassment shall be a class D felony.

3. This section shall not apply to activities of federal, state, county, or municipal law enforcement officers conducting investigations of violation of federal, state, county, or municipal law.

Since I live in Missouri and am subject to this law, I have a change of policy at my place.

If you are 17 years of age or younger, you are not welcome to write a comment to my posts. I cannot run the risk that another person may respond to your comment in such a way that you won’t take offense. I can’t run the risk that I won’t be that person. Therefore to ensure that no one here “accidentally” commits a criminal activity, children under 17 are not permitted to comment. Personally, I’d rather you not read the site, either, as I’m sure to write something some day that the Missouri legislature will determine to be “harmful” to children.

If you want to comment anonymously, feel free. Note, though, that you must then be the nicest, sweetest, most agreeable person in the world. Plenty of joy-joy feelings, and as harmless as a newborn kitten. This isn’t for my sake— this is to protect you. After all, if you cause emotional distress to another person while commenting in my space anonymously, you’re in violation of my state’s harassment laws. I’m sure that California isn’t the only state that has a US Attorney or other prosecutor who wants to make a name for him or herself, and is willing to use the flimsiest excuse to do so, including going after anonymous commenters in a Missouri-based weblog. Especially when said US Attorney is under fire for other actions, and knows he or she is unlikely to keep their job once a new administration is in place.

Watch the birdie, not the hand!

I’ve also resolved to stop being critical of people like Mike Arrington, Robert Scoble, Dave Winer, et al. After all, my writing in my web space is a communication, and we know that it’s unwanted—I do believe each has indicated at one time or another that they find me distasteful. They may each have told me to go away, at some point. Therefore, any future writing about them, especially critical writing, makes me into a criminal.

Heck, maybe we should just all shut up, except to say how good everything is, and how peachy keen everyone is, and aren’t we all just so damn happy? Then no one will take any offense at anything we say.

Well, no one will take offense but those people who still think. And who writes laws to protect those who still think?

No one.

update The conference on the 29th was a status conference, which is usually held pre-trial. I’m assuming this may have to do with the mistrial. No idea when Judge Wu will rule on the dismissal requests, or if he’ll rule on the dismissal requests. He seems to prefer keeping this case in a state of limbo.


The prosecutor in the Lori Drew case has dropped the conspiracy charge. Judge Wu has set a court date for January 8th, regarding the requests for dismissal from the defense.