Two and a half years years ago I mentioned on this blog a woman who was in jail for kidnapping her preschool-age kid (who was still missing, and the mother refused to disclose any information about its whereabouts). The child was on Charley. Specifically, my aforementioned blog entry talked about the mother’s lawyer, who contacted me and threatened to sue me for libel/defamation/whatever, because I had stated on my website what he himself admitted his client had done: namely, take and hide her child in contravention of the family court order. I laughed him off of course — either he didn’t know the law or he assumed I didn’t — and he never contacted me again.
The mother had accused the little kid’s father of abusing the child, and said she had no choice but to take her away, to protect her. A lot of abducting parents make those kinds of claims. As far as I was concerned, the kid was missing and needed to be found, and the mother had broken the law. I didn’t know whether the father was a child abuser or not; it’s not for me to figure those things out. But, I thought, since Mom had openly violated a court order, the burden of proof was on her to show she had been forced to do what she did. That’s what’s known as an affirmative defense.
Anyway, the kid was eventually found and I listed it on my resolved page and forgot about it. This all happened, (a rough guesstimate) like five years ago.
Well, Mom wrote to me earlier this week and asked me to remove any and all mentions of her child’s name from my site. She said she had been able to prove the father had in fact abused the kid, and the father had admitted as such in court while under oath. She said she had custody of the kid, who was going by a different name now, and she didn’t want her child to have reminders of the past on the internet for other people to maybe find out.
I was a bit wowed by her email. In situations like this, when people write me asking me to remove names or other information, they are often very rude and hostile and accusatory. But this mother sounded quite sane, and she was very polite. I decided to honor her request, in large part because she had asked me nicely.
So I removed the kid’s name and wrote back to the woman saying I had done so. I added the usual caveats of “it’s not going to disappear from Google right away” and “if it looks like the name is still on my website, reload the page and it should disappear.” She wrote back thanking me for doing as she asked and taking her child’s feelings and welfare into account, and she added that she admired the work I was doing for the cause of missing people in general.
I wish other people would behave as this correspondent did. I am not out to ruin anyone’s life or reputation, and I like to make people happy, and I can certainly be reasoned with, if only people would bother to try.