Michelle Carter didn't kill with a text

Ms. Carter also struggled with mental illness. Her lawyers claimed antidepressant drugs influenced her behavior; though the prosecution preferred to cast her as a callous narcissist who craved the sympathy of her peers and believed a suicidal boyfriend would earn her a popularity boost.

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RECENT COMMENTS

rob hull 11 hours ago
She coaxed him to his death.
Melinda PAngles 11 hours ago
This is not an issue of “free speech”; it is unfortunate that the OpEd writer has reduced this to legal technicalities. This is a desperate,…
Mike 11 hours ago
Was utter wickedness part of the finding of guilt? Michelle Carter killed with many texts, willfully and wickedly when she told Conrad to…
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In either case, Ms. Carter’s conduct was morally reprehensible. But — at least until today’s ruling — it was clearly legal. While some states criminalize the act of convincing people to commit suicide, Massachusetts has no such law. Moreover, speech that is reckless, hateful and ill-willed nevertheless enjoys First Amendment protection. While the Supreme Court has carved out narrowly tailored exceptions for literal threats of violence and incitement to lawless action, telling someone they should kill themselves is not the same as holding a gun to their head and pulling the trigger. Nor is it akin to threatening to kill the president, which is specifically prohibited by law — and in any case, only considered a felony if done ”knowingly and willfully.” (Merely expressing hope that the president dies isn’t enough.)

Judge Moniz’s verdict is a stunning act of defiance against this general principle. By finding Ms. Carter guilty of involuntary manslaughter — rather than some lesser misdeed, such as bullying or harassment — the court has dealt a blow to the constitutionally enshrined idea that speech is not, itself, violence. That’s cause for concern.