Michelle Carter Morally Incorrigible, But What’s the Crime? [OPINION]
Michelle Carter lost her appeal to remain free while her legal defense appeals her ground-breaking Massachusetts case.
Michelle Carter's attempt at coercing the suicide of a local boy, Conrad Roy III of Mattapoisett, is an international sensation of a story for two reasons. For one, people want to know how a mind such as hers works. The second point of keen interest is the legal expert debate. What exactly is on the books of Massachusetts state law for which she can be lawfully incarcerated without impeding her access to the First Amendment freedom of speech?
It has been called by the Massachusetts court as "involuntary manslaughter," but is it rightfully applied?
Some legal experts see this case as a kind of a 'tweener, a gray area between laws on the books today.
For example, a person can be charged for continuously harassing someone. Typically, charges are brought up when failing to obey a court order to cease-and-desist from all contact following a complaint.
There are also cases when someone has been anonymous while mentally torturing or terrorizing a target and arrested after a provable campaign of multiple acts are documented.
There is nothing unconstitutional about those charges, as acts such as those violate the civil rights of another.
Can someone be charged and imprisoned for doing no more than stating their convincing and strong opinion that the person they are communicating with should end their life? It seems so, if the charges stand.
This will likely go to the Supreme Court of the United States, as it is the first of a kind and will certainly not be the last, given the public's access to social media with text records.
Can someone (outside of professional mental healthcare) lose their freedom for encouraging another adult to take his or her own life?
I say yes, there should be laws on the books to punish such a morally sinister agenda, but I am not certain Carter did this at a time when the laws precluded her from doing so.
Don't get me wrong; I have no sympathy as she sits in prison. I read her contributions to the actions taken by Conrad Roy to take his own life. She prodded him and chastised him until he agreed to go through with it. In fact, if you read the texts between the two, she appears to have convinced him that there was no other option at all.
She then appeared to have some moral clarity knowing how wrong it was, after the fact, when she denied ever doing any of this before she was shown the undeniable evidence. She showed up at Roy's services, sobbing while feigning shock and disbelief, knowing her role, of course.
There is a kind of monster lurking behind those eyes of hers. A true sociopath? I'll leave that up to the experts. A true crime? The legal experts are debating this as much as you and I are, in the arena of public opinion.
So far, the Massachusetts courts have stated clarity: 15 months behind bars at the Bristol County House of Correction.
Ken Pittman is the host of The Ken Pittman Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @RadioKenPittman. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.