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View Poll Results: Is coaching and advising a successful suicide protected by free speech?
Yes. 6 33.33%
No. 11 61.11%
Maybe (explain). 0 0%
BP should be held liable. 1 5.56%
Voters: 18. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 06-08-2010, 10:44 PM  
Direckshun Direckshun is offline
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Interesting "Free Speech" Question

I'll even set up a poll.

There's a story making the rounds right now that there was a dude in England who, via online chatrooms, was coaching and instructing people into committing suicide. He had succeeded with 11, from different points all over the world. I'll post a link when I find the story.

He's since been arrested.

The question here, I guess, is whether this guy's conversations count as free speech, or if coaching/encouraging/advising people to commit suicide -- and then they do it -- should be protected by free speech.

Leave aside the international issues. Just pretend this issue happened here in the ol' US of A and thus is being considered under the First Amendment.

Thoughts.
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Old 06-08-2010, 10:46 PM   #2
Direckshun Direckshun is offline
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The story.

http://www.ktla.com/news/landing/ktl...,5453428.story

Nurse Accused of Assisting Suicides Over the Internet
Police say he confessed to offering suicide method advice, such as medications and rope-tying techniques.
KTLA News
3:49 PM PDT, June 8, 2010

FARIBAULT, Minn. -- A former nurse accused of going online and encouraging depressed people to kill themselves has been ordered to stay off the Internet while his criminal case is pending.

William Melchert-Dinkel is charged with 2 counts of assisted suicide.

The married father of two is accused of coaxing 18-year-old Nadia Kajouji of Canada and a British man, 32-year-old Mark Drybrough, to commit suicide.

Police say he met both in online suicide chat rooms.

Mark Drybrough hanged himself in his apartment.

His sister, who found the body, said she also found e-mails from Melchert-Dinkel on Drybrough's computer.

"You can easily hang from a door ..." Melchert-Dinkel allegedly wrote in one message.

Nadia Kajouji jumped off a bridge and was found six weeks later.

According to court documents, Melchert-Dinkel admitted to police he had made online suicide pacts with 10 or 11 individuals located all over the world.

He would go on chat rooms under the aliases “cami,” “Li Dao” or “falcon_girl,” and introduce himself as a female nurse.

Police say he confessed to touting his medical background, while offering suicide method advice, such as medications and rope-tying techniques.

The criminal complaint said he told investigators he encouraged "dozens" of people to commit suicide and "characterized it as the thrill of the chase."

He also estimated he had actually helped up to five people kill themselves.

Minnesota authorities began investigating in March 2008 when an anti-suicide activist in Britain alerted them that someone in the state was using the internet to manipulate people into killing themselves.

That woman, Celia Blay, 65, first tried to persuade police in her own country to pursue Melchert-Dinkel, but charges were never filed.

Melchert-Dinkel worked at various hospitals and nursing homes over the years, and was cited several times for neglect and being rough with patients, according to the Minnesota Board of Nursing.

Melchert-Dinkel faces 30 years in prison if convicted.

He is due back in court June 29.
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Old 06-08-2010, 10:52 PM   #3
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KCNitwit tells people to kill themselves all the time. He goes on Bulletin Boards and professes to know everything.

He is safe cause no one listens to him.
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Old 06-08-2010, 11:21 PM   #4
BucEyedPea BucEyedPea is offline
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It's being an accomplice to a homicide.
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Old 06-08-2010, 11:26 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BucEyedPea View Post
It's being an accomplice to a homicide.
I suppose that depends on your view of the right to die.

I don't particularly see the free speech issue here. Is he trying to make a first amendment defense? Even still, he'd be at odds with any laws on the books prohibiting suicide as an accessory to the crime.
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Old 06-08-2010, 11:46 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BucEyedPea View Post
It's being an accomplice to a homicide.
I believe homicide is the "killing of another human being" whereas the self destruction is "suicide". So, you can't be an accomplice to an act that hasn't been committed. I suppose, if you want to get creative, you could argue the person has committed some type of homicide, but, technically, the person would be an accomplice to a suicide if the suicide was genuinely of the person's own motivation.
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Old 06-08-2010, 11:55 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Direckshun View Post
I'll even set up a poll.

There's a story making the rounds right now that there was a dude in England who, via online chatrooms, was coaching and instructing people into committing suicide. He had succeeded with 11, from different points all over the world. I'll post a link when I find the story.

He's since been arrested.

The question here, I guess, is whether this guy's conversations count as free speech, or if coaching/encouraging/advising people to commit suicide -- and then they do it -- should be protected by free speech.

Leave aside the international issues. Just pretend this issue happened here in the ol' US of A and thus is being considered under the First Amendment.

Thoughts.
It depends on how the state views suicide. If suicide is viewed as a crime, then advising someone how to commit a crime can be prosecuted. But, if one is indirectly explaining how to commit suicide (such as song lyrics, or casual conversation), then that act is legal under free speech.

-HH
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Old 06-08-2010, 11:56 PM   #8
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Obviously details are lacking, but it sounds to me as though this guy is doing the online equivalent of yelling "jump" to a guy on a ledge. The guy sounds like an asshole, not a criminal.
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Old 06-09-2010, 12:08 AM   #9
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If you entice someone into suicide, is it a crime in itself (like urging someone to jump, pull the trigger, hand them the bowl of antifreeze), manslaughter, or some sort of harassment thing?
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Old 06-09-2010, 06:14 AM   #10
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How is this different than bullying someone verbally and driving them to suicide? The same precendants should matter IMO.
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Old 06-09-2010, 06:50 AM   #11
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Is it still illegal to assist someone in committing suicide? If so, you have no "freedom of speech" where this is concerned, you are aiding them which is illegal.
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Old 06-09-2010, 06:51 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donkhater View Post
How is this different than bullying someone verbally and driving them to suicide? The same precendants should matter IMO.
I guess it depends on your intention. Did you MEAN for them to kill themselves...of course, if you didn't then I suppose some would argue for Involuntary Manslaughter or something...but at the end of the day, the person who kills themselves bears some responsibility here...
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Old 06-09-2010, 07:13 AM   #13
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He absolutely has the right to say it, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't face consequences if he's encouraging HARM to others.

Freedom of Speech isn't his violation. Actions detrimental to others is.
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Old 06-09-2010, 07:16 AM   #14
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I don't see how this is a free speech issue at all.

The first amendment says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances".

I'm not an attorney, but I always thought that the right of free speech deals primarily with preventing the government from going after people who criticize the government. Is my definition too narrow?

I think all we have here is a douchebag encouraging people to kill themselves, and I don't see how that can be construed as constitutionally-protected free speech.
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Old 06-09-2010, 07:18 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigChiefFan View Post
He absolutely has the right to say it, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't face consequences if he's encouraging HARM to others.

Freedom of Speech isn't his violation. Actions detrimental to others is.
I don't believe anybody asked if freedom of speech was his violation. The question is whether or not freedom of speech protects him from consequences.
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