Questions about accountability and illegality of virtual rape

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2009-01-01
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Sander, Melissa
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Jeffrey L. Blevins
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Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication
The Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication offers two majors: Advertising (instructing students in applied communication for work in business or industry), and Journalism and Mass Communication (instructing students in various aspects of news and information organizing, writing, editing, and presentation on various topics and in various platforms). The Department of Agricultural Journalism was formed in 1905 in the Division of Agriculture. In 1925 its name was changed to the Department of Technical Journalism. In 1969 its name changed to the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications; from 1969 to 1989 the department was directed by all four colleges, and in 1989 was placed under the direction of the College of Sciences and Humanities (later College of Liberal Arts and Sciences). In 1998 its name was changed to the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication.
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Virtual rape is not a new phenomenon in virtual communities, as Julian Dibbell’s 1993 article pointed out, but it is beginning to gain attention in some scholarly circles. Of the articles specifically covering virtual rape, most focus on whether or not virtual rape is “real” while some attempt to isolate its social construction. Only one scholar to date has argued the legality of the offense, but limited the discussion only to consensual virtual rape. With this in mind, this thesis is focused on defining non–consensual virtual rape, comparing and contrasting it to other types of online deviance such as cyberstalking, sexual harassment, cyberbullying, flaming, etc., contextualizing the distinction between rape and virtual rape, and applying First Amendment dialogues and arguments to determine its current legality in the United States. Since virtual rape is considered speech or expression, this thesis concludes that it is currently protected by the First Amendment, but that with proper “digital DNA” as evidence, victims may seek retribution in civil court against the aggressor and possibly against the owner of the virtual environment in which the virtual rape occurred.

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Thu Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2009