Hold Your Fire

Readers sound off on policing of the internet, the Catholic church and Wash. U.

Megan Meier

Feature, November 29, 2007

Vigilante Warning
A point well made: I enjoyed reading Keegan Hamilton's story, "Broken Lives on Waterford Crystal Drive," but his penultimate paragraph seems dangerously oversimplified. He wrote: "If some harm were to befall a member of the Drew family or their property as the result of their personal information being posted in an anonymous comment on a blog, it would be nearly impossible to find someone to hold legally responsible."While it is true that Web sites and ISPs have immunity under the Communications Decency Act for third-party content, it does not necessarily follow that it would be "nearly impossible" or even difficult to identify a legally responsible party. If someone attacks a member of the Drew family, that attacker is plainly responsible for the attack, even if he was inspired by blog postings. In other words, all the normal laws governing real-world attacks still apply. Because it overstates the effect of CDA protections for Web sites and ISPs, real-world vigilantes might think they are less traceable or culpable for targeting the Drews for harm.
Joseph J. Wang, Sunnyville, California

News Real, November 22, 2007

Cop Out
Get a clue, Wash. U.: Washington University Police Chief Don Strom's statement that "his antennae on alcohol use are up," in Kathleen McLaughlin's story "Taser Show," is an outright laughable lie. The university's police are a joke when it comes to this matter. I live on the south side of Forsyth Boulevard between Big Bend and one of the frat houses down the street. On numerous occasions we get the displeasure of watching and hearing countless, obviously underage students walking to and from one of their parties.

This spring, during one of the frat house parties where people were just standing around in my yard and throwing their cups in it, I decided to call the police. A few minutes later I saw some University City police rolling down the street and then eventually pulling off to the side of the road near my house. Not even one minute went by after that when a Washington University police car pulled right in front of where the U. City police had parked. The Wash. U. police officer got out and proceeded to act like he was in charge of the scene, even though he was completely out of his jurisdiction. It was obvious that the university police had their scanners tuned in to University City's radio frequency. This way they can rush to the help of their precious little rich kids so that they won't get in any trouble. It seems to me that Washington University's police department motto should be "Protect our rich kids and screw the public."
Eric Hernlund, University City

News Real, November 8, 2007

An ex-Catholic speaks out
Yes to Women Priests: If you attended the ordination of the two women priests written about in Kristen Hinman's "The Church Ladies," you saw the best example of interfaith relationships in St. Louis. I figure no one has the copyright on God, and I find it ironic that I, a former born "Catholic" — and now a "Jew by Choice" — would need mention that the foundation of most of our beliefs remind us to treat others as we would want to be treated; love our neighbor as ourselves. This goes for respecting our neighbor's beliefs as well. When the Church declared Womenpriests to be a separate church, they actually gave up any right to complain about where they were ordained. So why all the threats? Did you know that CRC spent their first years renting space across the street in the First Unitarian Church in the Central West End, performing Jewish weddings and bar and bat mitzvahs inside that very church, going about its work with holy intent? Wasn't it our time to repay the courtesy? St. Louis, a deeply rooted faith-oriented city, is usually respectful of the differences. I look forward to getting past this unfortunate display of a reversal of all we in St. Louis strive to achieve in our quest for interfaith interaction, and pray that those who can't be part of the solution step aside so that we at CRC may continue our interfaith efforts that have brought us to work together with our community thus far.
Michele C. Long, Dittmer

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