Sweet Peas Photography [!!!]/Flickr.com”]The Amanda Todd story has become a popular controversy these past couple of weeks, leading to discussion across the Internet on who is to blame for her suicide. Todd was a 15-year-old Canadian girl who was pressured by a stranger on the Internet to flash her chest during a webcam chat. In a YouTube video Todd made chronicling her journey, she explains with the use of note cards that a year later, she received a Facebook message from that same stranger, threatening her into presenting her body to him via webcam by promising that the images of her chest from their first exchange would be released to everyone that she knew. He knew her name, address, school and the names of her friends and family, and released her photos when she refused. The repercussions of the released photos included the development of anxiety and depression, as well as extreme verbal, physical and cyberbullying by Todd’s peers. Todd moved schools, but the stranger followed her and again shared the pictures with her new classmates, and the cycle repeated. She moved schools yet again, began experimenting with drugs and alcohol and began cutting herself. She attempted suicide twice before her death in early October of this year, according to abcnews.com.
With as much world-wide attention as her story is receiving, it’s not surprising that the vigilante justice group Anonymous picked up the story. Anonymous is a loosely associated group, sometimes referred to as “hacktivists,” that track down information on the web and use it to fight for what they believe to be justice. In Todd’s case, they reportedly tracked down the man responsible for Todd’s bullying, and have released his name and personal information to the world wide web, reported huffingtonpost.com. While Anonymous has put out statements that they have evidence against the Vancouver man they’re pointing at, and the man was brought into court on charges of sexual assault and sexual interference with a minor unrelated to Todd, he has not been charged for involvement in Todd’s case, according to huffingtonpost.com.
Regardless of whether this Vancouver man is involved with Todd, is it right for Anonymous to be distributing justice? Vancouver defense lawyer Eric Gottardi told CBC News, “The system isn’t supposed to convict someone before charges are laid. It’s not supposed to be judge, jury and executioner, all in the public forum. We have a justice system. It’s supposed to work, it does work.”
From an American standpoint, I have to agree with Gottardi on this. It is written in this country’s Bill of Rights that every person deserves the right to a fair trial, and it is impossible for a jury to be impartial if a suspect has already been declared guilty by the media. For anyone to be able to play “judge, jury and executioner,” as Gottardi said, is unconstitutional. Not because wrongdoers do not deserve to be brought to justice, but because they do deserve the same rights every other American is granted.
Anonymous and anyone else who wishes to see the man that made life such a challenge for Todd convicted has every right to bring forth any information they can find to the authorities, but to post it on the Internet where everyone can see and use it for their own purposes is unfair.
Samantha Bloom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org