What, precisely, is MySpace selling? Or more appropriately, giving away? For the most part, MySpace is free for users. One puts up a MySpace page, which acts as an internet billboard. On the page, one can list one's interests, put up pictures, write a blog, etc., in essence a personal website. One can also ...
(My coworker just made a funny: "...driving under the influence of what? Of denial?")
Anyway, back to MySpace. Does MySpace have a duty to insure true and accurate information on user sites? Consumer Protection Acts prohibit unfair and deceptive business practices. Essentially what MySpace is doing is similar to "personal ads" in newspaper classifieds. Are newspapers liable for deceptions placed in personal ads in their paper? Yet, MySpace goes beyond what classified personal ads offer, in that they provide a set of tools for interacting online. So, is the telephone company responsible for deceptions or misrepresentations made during fraudulent phone calls?
I think the parents of the abused teens are going to have a difficult time proving liability on the part of MySpace.
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Once again I'm reminded of how pragmatic and centrist I am. I was reading Susan Estrich's blog over at Fox News. Estrich is a liberal democrat who was Michael Dukakis' campaign manager. In this piece she bemoans the quality of public discourse over the Internet. She's getting flamed by liberals to the left of her. This is what I can't stand about far left liberals any more than the far-right wing: polarization. What ever happened to digging in and finding common ground? I have lived long enough to form an opinion as to who is responsible for this sorry state of affairs. I believe it began with Lee Atwater and continued with his homonculus, Karl Rove. They pushed liberal hot-buttons into critical overload. Liberals are just as truculent and intractable as neocons. Essentially what her readers were doing to Susan Estrich was faulting her for being politically incorrect, simply for receiving a paycheck from Fox News.
Personally I like Susan Estrich's opinions no matter where they're posted. I enjoy hearing her point of view--just as I enjoy hearing the point of view of Bill O'Reilly from time to time, Keith Obermann, Jon Stewart and in very small doses, Pat Buchanan. I find Ann Coulter too intellectually defective that I cannot bear to read much of her. That said, I have read a few of her columns, along with those of Maggie Gallagher, William Buckley, George Will and others. And though I will never vote for any Republican for the rest of my life due to the evil that they have wrought with this particular administration, I am not a true believer in any political philosophy. What we need to do in this contentious, polarized society is find common ground.
This is what Hilary Clinton has tried to do in her years in the Senate. To fault her for trying to work with and achieve common goals with Repuglicans (sorry, that's a Freudian typo) is to engage in the most self-defeating politics. For liberals to stand on the narrowest of principles is to engage in the same posturing that Operation Rescue's Randall Terry did over the Terri Schaivo debacle, when he demanded that Jeb Bush stand on principle, sacrifice his political career, place himself above the law and prevent the feeding tubes from being removed.