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Still think it isn't a problem that suicide is legal?

Two years ago I wrote this post about the striking down of a Georgia law that made it a crime to advertise for assisting someone's suicide. The judges reasoned that advertising for assisting suicide couldn't be illegal since suicide isn't illegal in Georgia. Strangely enough (and to my mind, inconsistently) they said that the Georgia legislature could outlaw actually assisting a suicide but couldn't outlaw advertising one's assistance, unless the advertisement actually got takers and the assistance actually took place!

Now we have a case in Minnesota where a perverted male nurse talked people into committing suicide and broadcasting it to him by webcam because he enjoyed watching. (You really cannot make this stuff up.) Minnesota has a law against assisting suicide (unlike Georgia) but also includes in the law "advising" or "encouraging" suicide. It is these words, and this fiend's conviction, that the MN state Supreme Court has just struck down on First Amendment grounds. (Reminding us that state courts also can make use of the federal constitution to justify their rulings.)

The case has been returned to the trial court to see whether any of the accused's actions rise to the level of assisting a suicide.

Now look at this bit in the WSJ article:

Certain speech is beyond the protection of the First Amendment, such as fraud, incitement of a violation of the law and speech that plays a key part in a crime. The Supreme Court rejected the state’s contention that Mr. Melchert-Dinkel’s words fit into those exceptions.

Suicide isn’t illegal in Minnesota. So Mr. Melchert-Dinkel’s speech couldn’t have incited a crime or been integral to criminal conduct, Justice Anderson wrote.

So once again we see that the fact that suicide isn't illegal is used to argue that bringing about someone else's suicide is "protected speech." In this case the justices were kind enough to leave standing the state law against assisting (thanks so much, gents), but if this particular evil man chose merely to press and urge people to commit suicide, even deceiving them (as he did) into believing they were entering into a suicide pact with him, and didn't "assist" them in any other way, he is supposed to get off scot free. Where exactly "advise" falls, I'm not sure. The Hemlock Society offers how-to advice on committing suicide. Would that be allowed by the courts to count as assisting? Who knows.

I say it again: We need to recriminalize suicide. As far as I know, it would be easy enough for any state legislature to set a punishment that was actually therapeutic for the suicidal person and that was exactly the sort of thing that can now allegedly be imposed upon a person who is found to be a danger to himself. For example, the penalty could presumably be court-ordered anti-suicide counseling and having to stay in touch with a psychiatrist to make sure the suicidal behavior did not re-emerge. Recriminalizing suicide need not mean that people who attempted suicide would be thrown in jail. It would simply remove the legal ambiguity that currently surrounds acts of self-harm (they're not illegal, but unlike a harmless legal act such as baking a cake, if you try to commit suicide, you can, allegedly, be forcibly stopped from doing it and even locked up if you persist), because this legal limbo status causes absurd rulings like those in Georgia and Minnesota.

We see again in this case that the fact that suicide itself is already officially legal has legal consequences, and they aren't good ones.

Oh, and by the way: Someone argued in the comments thread on my old post that the Georgia attorneys weren't able to show that any "harm" was caused by advertising for assisting suicide. Well, you can't say that here: At least two people committed suicide in fake "suicide pacts" with this pervert. So, harm? Yes, real harm.

But never mind. He was just exercising his First Amendment rights.

Comments (2)

The bit by bit workings of this disaster, along with that of the gay 'marriage' one, and a host of others (pedophilia, funny money, etc) show one thing that people just don't want to hear or heed: things are connected. You cannot say "let's just ignore" this or that or the other evil, and think that it will be a self-contained little cancer that never escapes its pocket. (Publicly) Unhampered pre-marital sex leads to cohabitation leads to degradation of marriage leads to rampant divorce leads to gay 'marriage' and psychotic children and poverty and failed schools etc. Turning a (legal) blind eye to suicide leads to pro-death counsel leads to assisted suicide leads to advertising for death leads to grandpa deciding he "mustn't be a burden" on the family leads to helping grandma off the cliff whether she wanted or not and forthright murder for convenience and for fun. Unrestrained entitlement programs lead to overspending leads to debt financing leads to habituation in spending beyond your means leads to economic chaos and ruin and poverty and slavery, as well as rampant lying by politicians, falsifying by gov. officials and economists, etc.

Society is connected in so many ways of culture, custom, habit, etc, that playing hooky with one aspect affects other aspects whether you want it to or not. Deciding to change one component without looking at all the ways you can SEE the connectedness, and then reflecting on the fact that usually there are all sorts of connections that you don't readily see but are there just the same, is really a kind of hubris. It's the kind of hubris that leads activist judges to feel free to smash a 5000 year custom to bits because it gets in the way of one distinct good. It's the kind of overweening pride that makes modernists and post-modernists think they can just remake society and man to be whatever they feel like.

The gradual decriminalization of suicide took place long enough ago that the connectedness of this to what we are now seeing was _somewhat_ less obvious than it has become, but I still think the handwriting was on the wall. Probably the assumption in the minds of lawmakers was that suicide could be decriminalized for compassionate reasons while keeping the genie in the bottle, because *of course* the law would still recognize that it is permissible to prevent people from committing suicide and to punish those who urge, aid, and abet it. I would guess that, had this test case come up, say, forty years ago, the result would have been different. According to La Wik: "By the late 1980s, thirty of the fifty states had no laws against suicide or suicide attempts but every state had laws declaring it to be a felony to aid, advise or encourage another person to commit suicide. By the early 1990s only two states still listed suicide as a crime, and these have since removed that classification." So this judicial reasoning is, as so often happens, applicable to _many_ state laws of long duration.

But I think this extension of "free speech" rights to "advising or encouraging another to commit suicide" should have been foreseen at least as comparatively recently as the 80's, when many of the laws against suicide appear to have been taken off the books.

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