Keeping the Streets Safe

If you’re concerned about adware and pop-ups on the Internet, it may be time to move from concerned to scared.

Julie Amero is facing up to 40 years in prison for exposing her 7th grade class to a barrage of porn pop-ups. (Link) The charge is “impairing the morals of a child.”

It’s a shame for her that she didn’t just unplug the computer, but I deal with the less-than-savvy-on-computers all the time, and a lot of people wouldn’t think of what to do.

It does seem clear that she didn’t intend for anyone else to see the pics. But anyway, as PZ Meyers says on Pharyngula (Link), it’s not as though your typical 7th grader is really going to be damaged by glimpsing a naked body on an Web site. If I’d had the Internet at that age, I’d have seen everything they had. There were no morals to be damaged.

As it was, I had no Internet, so instead my buddies and I took every chance we could to look at nudie mags. Big deal.

The other thing is that even the prosecution apparently doesn’t claim that she intended for the kids to see anything. “One student claimed Amero ‘physically reached up and pushed his face away from her computer,’ when she noticed him looking at the computer screen….” (Link)

But it doesn’t matter what she intended. I don’t know whether she was surfing porn or not, but we’ve all been subject to tons of unstoppable pop-ups. The fact that she wasn’t able to stop it, and that therefore some kids saw it, isn’t worth 40 years in prison.

She probably won’t get that much, though. Sentencing isn’t until March, and I have a feeling she’ll get off lighter than she could. But still.

Meanwhile, I’m always wary of newspaper and blog accounts of legal battles. I wasn’t in the courtroom (much less the classroom), and I’m probably ignorant of lots of the details. I know that a witness for the defense was a computer expert who says that the adware started a barrage of pop-ups from a hair stylist Web site.

But there’s a lot I don’t know. I’m sure it’ll all come out in the end.

3 Responses to Keeping the Streets Safe

  1. JB February 4, 2007 at 12:13 pm #

    It’s so much fun to be outraged. I don’t want to know the truth. I’m afraid it’ll be the Gwynneth Incident all over again.

  2. BruceS February 5, 2007 at 11:05 am #

    If only she’d been using Firefox, and had the built-in pop-up blocker set. So much tragedy could have been avoided, and these urchins would still be moral, decent human beings with a chance of growing up to be productive citizens. All gone now. They’re all destined to become criminals and wastrels.
    Firefox has many advantages. For instance, you can tell it to block image files from specific servers. Once you get an image ad once, you tell the browser to never show another image from that ad server. After the first few days, pages load faster and the annoying distractions are gone. Unfortunately, advertisers have realized this, and put many ads in Flash now. Firefox needs to update the browser to include similar functionality for Flash.
    The extreme punishment bit reminded me of another. Back in the day, when Mississippi was one of the more lenient states with regard to Marijuana, possession of less than an ounce was a misdemeanor. An ounce or more, however, carried a sentence of 20 years, with no parole. Premeditated murder, OTOH, carried a sentence of “life”, which really meant 30 years, and the prisoner could be out in about 8 years. If you were caught with a lid of grass, you were better off killing someone if you could thereby avoid the pot rap.

  3. Anonymous February 8, 2007 at 1:20 am #

    Just … ridiculous. I wonder how their substitute teacher recruitment is going.

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