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 Post subject: Thoughts on this?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2017 11:21 pm 
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https://reason.com/blog/2017/06/16/teen-found-guilty-of-manslaughter-for-te

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On the night of July 12, 2014, 18-year-old Conrad Roy III killed himself by inhaling carbon monoxide in a Kmart parking lot in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. His 17-year-old girlfriend, Michelle Carter, was miles away in Plainville. (*) Yet today Carter was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for Roy's death. She faces up to 20 years in prison.

Why? Because Carter had repeatedly texted Roy prior to his death, "you just need to do it." Bristol County Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz declared this illegal, even though there is no law in Massachusetts against encouraging suicide.

This was a bench trial, so the judge rather than a jury determined the verdict. His ruling threatens the very core of how our legal system approaches speech.

The law has traditionally treated some sorts of speech, such as defamation, as a type of nonviolent harm. And in some crimes, such as incitement or conspiracy, the law says speech can be a proximate cause of violence. But this ruling treats speech itself as a form of literal violence—as the immediate cause of death. As the American Civil Liberties Union put it in a statement, the prosecution's theory is that Carter "literally killed Mr. Roy with her words. This conviction exceeds the limits of our criminal laws and violates free speech protections guaranteed by the Massachusetts and U.S. Constitutions."

A month before Roy took his life in June of 2014, Carter had attempted to talk her depressive boyfriend out of killing himself. Roy had already attempted suicide before; when he considered another attempt, Carter texted, "I'm trying my best to dig you out." But by July Carter's texts had taken a turn for the perverse. She told him repeatedly that suicide was the only way out. On July 12th, when Roy got sick from carbon monoxide and stepped out of his car, Carter texted him to "get back in."

What motivated Carter to do this? The prosecution painted a picture of a teenager who wanted attention for her recently deceased boyfriend. The defense maintained Carter struggled from an eating disorder and depression and, at the time of Roy's death, was "involuntarily intoxicated" with antidepressants.

Neither scenario matters. Whatever her motives or her poor choices, the important legal question is whether her words actually caused Roy's death. And it was carbon monoxide poisoning that killed Conrad Roy, not Michelle Carter's messages.

Carter's punishment does not fit the crime. Involuntary manslaughter is a conviction for a negligent surgeon, for an abusive husband who unintentionally kills his spouse, for a drunk driver who accidentally runs someone down. A reckless text is not a reckless, swerving car. Words are not literal weapons, and the moral turpitude of Carter's comments does not change that.

Some legal experts have speculated that the judge's ruling was an attempt to convince lawmakers to pass legislation making people liable for their online speech. But even if such a bill were a good idea, you shouldn't convict someone for committing a crime that doesn't exist in the hope that lawmakers will someday pass a law to fit the crime. This isn't how our judicial system works.

Let's hope an appeals court strikes it down. As Reason's Elizabeth Nolan Brown asked when the charges were first brought, "Do we really want to charge teens as killers for reacting imperfectly to loved ones' pain and mental illness?"

(* Correction: This post originally stated that that Roy killed himself in Fairhaven, Kansas; in fact it was Fairhaven, Massachusetts.)


This is pretty troubling, IMHO. While I think it's pretty despicable to encourage someone to kill themselves, I'm pretty sure convicting someone for manslaughter for simple words is crossing a line.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2017 11:37 pm 
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For me, it hinges on "Would that young man be alive if she hadn't said those words."

I believe he would be. If she had been good, she would have tried to get him help. At the very bottom end, she was the proximate cause of his death and should be tried/sentenced appropriately. If she had it planned, "premeditation" could apply, but I don't know that a 1st degree murder could stick, nor whether or not there's premeditated manslaughter as a statute.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2017 8:52 am 
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She was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, and hasn't been sentenced yet, so there's no "punishment" yet to be able to judge if it fits the crime.

As I understand it, involuntary manslaughter is when you act like a douchebag and someone gets killed. Like, if you're driving recklessly. Or blowing **** up and someone walks by.

The point is, your irresponsible actions created a situation where someone needlessly died.

Her boyfriend expressed second thoughts in his texts and she kept pushing him to do it. She listened to him dying on the phone, and called no one. She pushed him to kill himself, and offered no help.

In my view "involuntary" is a bit easy. She intended for her actions to result in his death.

Never mind the fact that she's a piece of **** that's supposed to care about this guy, no matter how you read this she contributed greatly to his death.

**** her.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2017 10:17 am 
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Also, if somebody is suicidal, their capacity for further emotional stress is already diminished. She preyed upon somebody with mental illness.

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on this?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2017 11:57 am 
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Her weapon was words.

I figure this will be overturned, same as Lori Drew's case.

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on this?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 18, 2017 11:13 am 
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I would say this kind of thing should probably turn on the question of whether or not the victim's depression and suicidal ideation constitute sufficiently diminished mental capacity to render him legally incapable of making his own rational decision about whether or not to kill himself. For example, if you talk a person with severe mental disability into stepping in front of a train, it's pretty uncontroversial that you're guilty of a crime - most likely 1st degree murder, actually - because that person isn't legally capable of rationally weighing the decision, understanding its consequences, and choosing a course of action. Same deal here, I think. If the victim was sufficiently far gone that he could no longer make rational choices for himself on the relevant question - i.e., whether or not to kill himself - then she's guilty of murder, in my opinion. Given that (i) his desire to commit suicide appears to have come from pure depression rather than intolerable physical circumstances, (ii) depression definitely diminishes one's ability to rationally evaluate things, and (iii) he was so close to the edge that he probably could have been involuntarily committed in most states, I'd say there's a good argument for that here.


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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on this?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 18, 2017 2:49 pm 
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I find her behavior disturbing, but I do not see how it violates the statute in question. I do not know if it is a trend in actual convictions, but it seems that of late, there is a great deal of enthusiasm in the public for prosecuting and convicting offenses that don't exist just because it seems like they should exist.

I would not object to a law that made her behavior illegal (narrowly worded), and I don't have much sympathy for her, but I won't be upset if it is overturned, either.

I would also point out that she was 17, and apparently wanted to play the "grieving girlfriend" after he died. Given her age and apparent inability to understand why this was unacceptable, I am not entirely sure about her mental state either. I also am not too keen on legal doctrines that require lay people to know and understand the mental stability of others. Just because a psychologist says "his mental state was x" does not make it reasonable for an untrained person to necessarily know that.

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on this?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 18, 2017 5:00 pm 
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RangerDave wrote:
Given that (i) his desire to commit suicide appears to have come from pure depression rather than intolerable physical circumstances, (ii) depression definitely diminishes one's ability to rationally evaluate things, and (iii) he was so close to the edge that he probably could have been involuntarily committed in most states, I'd say there's a good argument for that here.


RD - this functionally creates a situation where an individual can't really know if they are committing a crime until experts are brought in to evaluate the circumstances. That's seriously problematic.

Anyway, this seems pretty clear cut to me. She intentionally created a situation that would likely result in someone's death. That seems clear cut involuntary manslaughter to me. That she intended the death to occur makes it possibly murder IMO, though I recognize that would be hard to sell.


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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on this?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 18, 2017 5:00 pm 
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Diamondeye wrote:
I would also point out that she was 17, and apparently wanted to play the "grieving girlfriend" after he died. Given her age and apparent inability to understand why this was unacceptable, I am not entirely sure about her mental state either.


Well, there's that.


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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on this?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 18, 2017 11:33 pm 
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I could wax philosophical, :suicide: but at the end of the day you're either willing to accept that people get to say mean things, :suicide: hold opinions you disagree with and voice those thoughts out loud, :suicide: or you're not. :suicide:

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on this?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 12:01 am 
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Arathain Kelvar wrote:
RD - this functionally creates a situation where an individual can't really know if they are committing a crime until experts are brought in to evaluate the circumstances. That's seriously problematic.

Yeah, I guess I should have made it clear that I'm assuming she knew the severity of his condition. I think criminal liability should only attach if the perpetrator knows that the victim has a severely diminished mental capacity.


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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on this?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 12:13 am 
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Corolinth wrote:
I could wax philosophical, :suicide: but at the end of the day you're either willing to accept that people get to say mean things, :suicide: hold opinions you disagree with and voice those thoughts out loud, :suicide: or you're not. :suicide:


That ignores the diminished capacity issue, Coro. I'm fine with people saying mean things and voicing opinions I disagree with. I'm not fine with people talking elderly people with dementia into signing away their life savings, manipulating mentally handicapped people into doing humiliating or harmful things to themselves for the lulz, etc. because of the diminished capacity of the target to rationally evaluate the situation and provide informed consent. Likewise, I'm not entirely on board with people talking severely depressed people into killing themselves, again because of the diminished capacity of the target.


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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on this?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:03 am 
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RangerDave wrote:
That ignores the diminished capacity issue, Coro. I'm fine with people saying mean things and voicing opinions I disagree with. I'm not fine with people talking elderly people with dementia into signing away their life savings, manipulating mentally handicapped people into doing humiliating or harmful things to themselves for the lulz, etc. because of the diminished capacity of the target to rationally evaluate the situation and provide informed consent. Likewise, I'm not entirely on board with people talking severely depressed people into killing themselves, again because of the diminished capacity of the target.


I think "diminished capacity" is something that ought to be referred to very sparingly, and with a great deal of caution as to the ability of the supposed perpetrator to recognize diminished capacity, and whether capacity is diminished ought to be viewed with an eye to not ascribing diminished capacity just because a case appears sympathetic. We are all sympathetic to the young man in this case; that does not mean it is reasonable to expect another person of his age to recognize that his capacity is diminished - assuming that, in fact, it was.

In this particular case, I am not convinced it is reasonable to expect a juvenile - which she was at the time of the incident, and who exhibits signs of a lack of a lack of emotional maturity herself - to recognize or understand what severe depression is or how it works.

If we are going to have a law against talking people into killing themselves, it ought to be based entirely on the actions of the perpetrator - i.e. a distinct and clear pattern of attempts to induce another to harm or kill themselves, and not on the capacity of the victim which the perpetrator may not be equipped to evaluate. The perpetrator should be responsible for their own actions, not for guessing at the mental state of another.

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on this?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:53 am 
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Diamondeye wrote:
In this particular case, I am not convinced it is reasonable to expect a juvenile - which she was at the time of the incident, and who exhibits signs of a lack of a lack of emotional maturity herself - to recognize or understand what severe depression is or how it works.

This seems like an argument that ignorance and age should excuse her from culpability. If there's a case to be made, her age and ignorance should mitigate the punishment, not the culpability.

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on this?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 12:56 pm 
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Screeling wrote:
Diamondeye wrote:
In this particular case, I am not convinced it is reasonable to expect a juvenile - which she was at the time of the incident, and who exhibits signs of a lack of a lack of emotional maturity herself - to recognize or understand what severe depression is or how it works.

This seems like an argument that ignorance and age should excuse her from culpability. If there's a case to be made, her age and ignorance should mitigate the punishment, not the culpability.


Age should definitely limit culpability - this is why we have the concept of a "juvenile" as opposed to an "adult" in the first place, and why we have special age protections for the elderly. This is compounded by the question of whether this law even applies. If there is legitimate avenue for trained lawyers to argue that point, it is hardly reasonable to expect a teenager to know the answer.

As for ignorance, we are talking about ignorance of fact, which is not the same as ignorance of the law. Ignorance, or mistake, of fact, is a significant element of culpability in many cases. Ignorance of the law might even apply in this particular case, just because it is an open question as to whether the MA Involuntary Manslaughter statute was properly applied. This question is likely to be resolved on appeal.

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on this?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 1:57 pm 
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I'm way more first amendment about this than any of you. Want to blame someone, blame the parents of the snowflake. In my mind, they're as guilty as anyone, which is to say, nobody but the boy put his head in the noose. The burden of our mouths weigh only on our own shoulder, in the end. Not doing or even saying something - I'd say - is more of a punishment.

Make something of this and a flock of folks will virtually come in, claiming it's not all that bad, making excuses, etc. Always folks take a stand just to see themselves standing. Let this be and the guilty will hear their own voice, and no excuses.

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on this?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:24 pm 
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If this had happened in Washington, Oregon or Vermont, it would be assisted suicide right?

RD: I have a funny feeling you are a proponent of compassionate end of life care.

Why is this girl any different than Jack Kervorkian?

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on this?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:34 pm 
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Hopwin wrote:
If this had happened in Washington, Oregon or Vermont, it would be assisted suicide right?

RD: I have a funny feeling you are a proponent of compassionate end of life care.

Why is this girl any different than Jack Kervorkian?


Kevorkian didn't assist people that weren't already under a fatal diagnosis.

Assisted suicide /= What this girl did.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 4:09 pm 
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I'm not really sure how this isn't a clear-cut case of abuse.

Quoth the Screeling, "If there's a case to be made, her age and ignorance should mitigate the punishment, not the culpability."

Also, couching the girl's actions as an "imperfect reaction" is absolute idiocy.


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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on this?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2017 2:30 am 
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People have a right to be assholes so long as they don't violate rights.
She violated no rights, there were no threats and no coercion present.

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on this?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:11 am 
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Müs wrote:
Hopwin wrote:
If this had happened in Washington, Oregon or Vermont, it would be assisted suicide right?

RD: I have a funny feeling you are a proponent of compassionate end of life care.

Why is this girl any different than Jack Kervorkian?


Kevorkian didn't assist people that weren't already under a fatal diagnosis.

Assisted suicide /= What this girl did.


It isn't?

https://www.buzzfeed.com/rosebuchanan/m ... euthanasia

All pain, whether physical and emotional, is processed in the mind. If it is ok to end one type of suffering, why not the other?

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:13 am 
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FarSky wrote:
I'm not really sure how this isn't a clear-cut case of abuse.


Abuse requires some fiduciary or other duty of care to exist in the first place. A girlfriend or boyfriend you are not living with has no such legal relationship, especially when they are a juvenile.

If you and your friend who you don't live with get in a fight over a baseball game, and you beat his ***, it may be assault and/or battery, but it isn't abuse.

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on this?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:16 am 
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Diamondeye wrote:
Screeling wrote:
Diamondeye wrote:
In this particular case, I am not convinced it is reasonable to expect a juvenile - which she was at the time of the incident, and who exhibits signs of a lack of a lack of emotional maturity herself - to recognize or understand what severe depression is or how it works.

This seems like an argument that ignorance and age should excuse her from culpability. If there's a case to be made, her age and ignorance should mitigate the punishment, not the culpability.


Age should definitely limit culpability

I agree, but your argument seemed to be that it should excuse culpability, not limit it. Perhaps I misread.

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on this?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:19 am 
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Hopwin wrote:
Müs wrote:
Hopwin wrote:
If this had happened in Washington, Oregon or Vermont, it would be assisted suicide right?

RD: I have a funny feeling you are a proponent of compassionate end of life care.

Why is this girl any different than Jack Kervorkian?


Kevorkian didn't assist people that weren't already under a fatal diagnosis.

Assisted suicide /= What this girl did.


It isn't?

https://www.buzzfeed.com/rosebuchanan/m ... euthanasia

All pain, whether physical and emotional, is processed in the mind. If it is ok to end one type of suffering, why not the other?

Physician assisted suicide laws, at least to the extent I've read of them, require a fatal diagnosis and a definite prognosis usually measured in months. Sort of like hospice.

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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts on this?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:34 am 
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Screeling wrote:
Physician assisted suicide laws, at least to the extent I've read of them, require a fatal diagnosis and a definite prognosis usually measured in months. Sort of like hospice.


https://www.buzzfeed.com/rosebuchanan/m ... euthanasia

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