Saturday, October 06, 2012

ABC 20-20 reports on a graphic stalking case from Georgia, then asks if we are all guilty of it

ABC 20-20 last night, in an episode called ‘Stalker”, told a complicated and terrifying story. Back to that in a moment.  The most important segment was the last one, where Chris Cuomo discusses the idea that we are all “stalkers” (at least 30% of us) in following ex-es and “non Friends” on Facebook and Twitter. (Of course, all modern social media platforms give users the ability to restrict who can see various portions of content, but not everyone wants to use it.) 

Minor episodes of following celebrities have been in the news for years.  About ten years ago, a woman was told by a New York City court to stop showing up where George Stephanopoulos hangs out.   In 1986, when I was on jury duty in Dallas, another potential juror thought I was “following him”.  Unusual incident, maybe the “roach problem”.

But the main story on ABC was terrifying.  The main link is here. (I’m not giving embeds right now because I’m getting scripting errors from ABC on IE9 in Windows 7 (not getting errors in any other environments;  I recommend Chrome and Safari for Blogger viewing in general, and particularly for any ABC News sites or show videos.)

The case goes back to the 1990s, a trial of Waseem Daker, who acted as his own defendant on a late trial for the murder of a flight attendant and attack on her son.  Earlier, the whole episode had started with persistent stalking to the flight attendant Lottie Spencer. He had spent ten years in prison for that, and when he got out, went after her and the son, Chris Smith. 

Chirs Cuomo has said that "stalking" is troubling legally because safety may demand police intervention when the perpetrators really hasn't yet "done anything".

Dailymail in the UK has another account of the case (in Georgia) here

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