Recently Michelle Carter, a 20-year-old woman from Massachusetts was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for encouraging her boyfriend to commit suicide. He ultimately did so by poisoning himself in his truck with carbon monoxide and she is now on the receiving end of a 15 month jail sentence.
In court, Carter wept as Bristol County Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz read the sentence and explained his ruling.
“She admits in … texts that she did nothing: She did not call the police or Mr. Roy’s family” after hearing his last breaths during a phone call, Moniz said. “And, finally, she did not issue a simple additional instruction: Get out of the truck.” (via CNN)
There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this case. Many, including and most obviously young Conrad Roy’s parents, believe that Carter should be responsible in some way for her boyfriend’s death.
In the couple’s text exchanges, Carter can be observed openly and explicitly encouraging Roy (who suffered from chronic depression and anxiety) to commit suicide. Friends say Carter was obsessed with the idea of being a “suicide widow” of sorts. She liked the idea of receiving sympathy and attention from having lost someone so close to her.
The question here isn’t about whether or not Carter could have and should have offered help to the suicidal young man. The real question at issue is whether or not she is legally responsible for his suicide.
As I was reading CNN’s report on the ruling, one sentence in particular stood out to me. It gave me chills.
She stood to receive the ruling, which could set legal precedent for whether it’s a crime to tell someone to commit suicide.
The precedent is what we should all be concerned about. Currently in this country, the extreme left-wing is working to obliterate free and offensive speech in any way possible. From inciting chaos on college campuses when comedians or conservative speakers are scheduled to appear to celebrities like Lena Dunham very publicly contacting airline administrators to “report” an uncomfortable (and unprovable) conversation from two “transphobic” employees…we have never been so close to succumbing to Orwell’s terrifying vision for the future of free thought.
In the future this precedent could be stretched and manipulated in ways that might affect more than the Michelle Carter’s of the world. For instance, in social media interactions – particularly as of late – exchanges can become very heated, extreme and even cruel. Too often the partisan divide causes people to devolve into spewing very hateful things. What if a PETA supporter becomes so angry with a fur-lover that, in a fitful, momentary rage she tweets at said person to “Go kill yourself, you monster!”? What if that person eventually does kill themselves? Is the PETA supporter responsible? Under this precedent will charges be brought against her?
Carter did a hell of a lot more than just one mean tweet, but we are currently witnessing just how slippery the slope of social justice can get. From marriage, to sexuality to gender identity – we are discovering that acquiescing to one simply paves the road for the others. It is never-ending. Do we really want to start down this path? Where will it end? Might there come a day when a Lena Dunham is walking behind you as you fire off a tasteless joke and suddenly you find yourself on trial?
You may laugh and say, “Oh, that’s quite a stretch from the Carter case!” but don’t forget that we were told all the gay marriage movement wanted was equality under the marriage laws. Their demands would not effect religious establishments or expression of those beliefs. And yet we’ve seen pastors fined for simply reading the Bible’s scriptures on sexuality and harmless bakers ruined for simply choosing not to bake a cake for a gay wedding. If you had told anyone on the left 10 years ago these things would be a reality they would have laughed hysterically and told you to calm down.
I don’t trust the current trajectory of American culture to handle this type of precedent responsibly. There are too many angry, bitter, self-righteous social justice warriors out there and they cannot be depended on for rationality.
There is also the issue of personal responsibility. People can be cruel. Should my childhood bullies be put on trial if I decide to commit suicide? What about the man who broke my heart or racist neighbor who told me my child and theirs could never be friends?
Suicide is a personal choice. A choice. It is an inherently selfish choice because it can only be made by one person…you. Making someone else responsible for that is dangerous and it depends on feelings. By that I mean prosecuting something like that would depend on how “mean” or “despicable” we feel a comment may be. That is not a foundation I want to see underneath the law of the land.
Please don’t think I am defending Ms. Carter. To be blunt, Carter is a bitch and so is karma. She is suffering the consequences of her own callous and stupidity. She certainly should not expect the compassion she so infamously denied her own boyfriend.
The rest of society, however does not deserve to be judged under the precedent set by this tragic case. Once we start making other people legally responsible for the choices we make for ourselves, that slippery slope turns into a sheer cliff, and the jagged rocks at the bottom are sure to pierce us all.
*What do you think? Does Michelle Carter deserve jail time? Leave your thoughts in comments below.