A virtual war began on the World Wide Web when charges were dropped against two popular high school boys suspected of raping an underage girl and videotaping the incident, then leaving the girl for dead.
Angered by the dismissed charges, then incensed by the public attack on the victim and her family, people have taken to their computers with Facebook, Internet, Twitter, and more to publically humiliate and expose the young men involved, as well as a supporter of the boys who called the victim a “skank” on twitter.
It began when the Missouri teen, high school freshman Daisy Coleman, and her 13 year old friend snuck out at night to meet high school senior Matthew Barnett and his friends. Daisy and her friend were plied with alcohol and medical records prove rape. Witnesses stated Barnett had sex with her while his friend Jorden Zech videotaped them. Then they dumped her on her lawn in freezing weather. Daisy’s mother found her child when Daisy was able to scratch the front door.
Barnett and Zech have strong ties to the small community. Barnett’s grandfather, Rex Barnett, is a Missouri Republican “icon” according to the press. Zech’s family owns a popular restaurant in the town. The charges were dropped months later, despite medical reports, law enforcement records, and witness testimony. Many in the community turned on the Coleman family, from harassing the children to their home mysteriously destroyed in a fire. Much support has been garnered for Barnett and Zech, including an adult demanding an apology from the victim. A friend of Barnett and Zech called Daisy a “skank” on twitter, hash tagging #jordanandmattarefree.
When this story hit the news, people across the world began to rally around the victim. It is not just sympathy for the victim’s attempts at suicide or her mental health issues that seem to be a result of the alleged assault. There is anger toward a legal system that all too many times seems to protect the perpetrator and blame the victim, and the difference in treatment of criminals when they have political ties. So people are going to battle...online.
Barnett will be attending the University of Central Missouri, and a Topix went into place with his picture, links to the numerous articles, and warnings to females “a rapist is at your school.” A blog was set up called “Justice for Daisy” to include a petition to demand her case be re-examined.
One comment on a website’s story coverage reports: “100's of millions of us, can use many of the same tactics against the Barnett family. I strongly advise against anything illegal…but we can drive them out of their jobs, colleges, and possibly their homes. Rex's State Legislature page is still available and I managed to get the following info: Representative Rex Barnett, Email: email@example.com, 708 West Lincoln, Maryville MO 64468.”
There is also a call to “get Matthew kicked out of college …Write to UCM and tell them what think of an University that has America's most infamous rapist in the student body” along with a list of UMC emails and a request for courteously.
The girl who tweeted the victim is “a skank” is a Kansas University pre-med student. “Who wants a doctor that thinks rape victims get what they deserve… I wonder if her sorority is proud to have her as a member?” posts another “Daisy supporter.”
The hacker group Anonymous has stepped in, announcing on the www: “We have heard Daisy's story far too often. We heard it from Steubenville, Halifax and Uttar Pradesh. In some cases, it was too late. Both Amanda Todd and Rehtaeh Parsons, girls not much older than Daisy, took their own lives after the adults, the police and the school system, failed to protect them. If Maryville won't defend these young girls, if the police are too cowardly or corrupt to do their jobs, if justice system has abandoned them, then we will have to stand for them. Mayor Jim Fall, your hands are dirty. Maryville, expect us...We Are Anonymous.”
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