Friday May 4, 2012

The threats alleged to have been made against Meredith Nilan and her family in connection with a pending hit-and-run case are appalling and reflect the wild speculation and hate speech the case has generated on the Internet. The right of free speech has been amplified by the Internet and social networking but the responsibilities that come with that right have been left behind in the rush to post whatever nonsense comes to mind.

Pittsfield police have brought charges of making harassing telephone calls and threatening to commit murder against a Las Vegas man with Cheshire connections. The calls, as described in the police report, were harrowing, and as Meredith Nilan's mother Lynne told The Eagle, they put a voice to what has been said about her daughter and her family on the Internet. Many of these comments can be found on topix.com, where writers can log in their grievances without regard to accuracy or the impact of their rants on those targeted.

The caller allegedly threatened a specific course of action if he was not happy with the outcome of the case. In our judicial system, the courts are the final arbiter, and defendants enter with a presumption of innocence. People can express their opinions but should reconsider if they have nothing to offer but insults and inanities.