Readers Write: Teens can't really erase Internet regrets; A new era of colonialism

Letters to the Editor for the December 23, 2013 weekly magazine:

What is the use of an 'eraser law' such as California's that only allows teens to delete Internet activity that hasn't been retweeted, reposted, or otherwise dispersed online?

Kenya has a right to question the ICC's 'fairness' toward Africa, because of the enduring history of colonialism. As US retirees move to Latin America, that history may just be repeating itself. 

Can teens really erase Internet regrets?

Regarding the Monitor's View of Dec. 2, "Erasing a teen's misdeeds": This statement – "For technical reasons, the law does not extend to copies of content that end up elsewhere" – should have been a primary focus of the editorial.

What is the use of an "erase" button that can only delete something that hasn't been reposted, retweeted, shared, been captured in a screen shot, or any of the myriad ways content gets dispersed online? Teens' growing use of Snapchat – an image-sharing app in which photos supposedly disappear in seconds – suggests they already know that digital posts are easily copied and rapidly distributed. Moreover, the "eraser law" covers only California; the Internet is by nature global.

David Kleeman

former president, American Center for Children and Media

New York

A new era of colonialism?

I was struck by an ironic connection between two articles in the Dec. 2 issue: the Focus article on African cases before the International Criminal Court ("Is world court fair to Africa?") and the cover story on US retirees moving to Latin America in search of good, affordable living ("The new Sun Belt").

I spent three years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya, and I have worked with refugee resettlement programs for the United States and the United Nations, and in Uganda. I saw the result of colonialism firsthand. In Kenya, the British and the Indians brought there during the colonial period each had their own communities, businesses, and clubs. Neither group mixed with Kenyans, usually hired for subservient positions such as drivers and maids.

Kenya has a right to question the International Criminal Court's "fairness" toward Africa, because of the enduring history of colonialism. After reading about US retirees moving to Latin America, it seems to me that history may just be repeating itself. My guess is that people who are retiring and moving to other less-developed countries will in turn become modern colonial powers in some sense. Countries welcome their money now but may later resent that the new residents do not mix with "the locals."

Carol D. McRoberts


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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

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