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Monday, August 07, 2017

Criminalizing Speech, Ignoring The Problem

Michelle Carter was sentenced to 15 months in prison last week for involuntary manslaughter for her role in the death of her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, because she told him via text to get back in the truck in which he was committing suicide via carbon monoxide.

Yes, it's a tragic tale, but I don't like the idea of criminalizing speech -- words aren't weapons -- and don't see what's accomplished by sending her to prison.

Moreover, in the reporting of the story, there hasn't been nearly enough discussion about the mental health problems both teens suffered from. If those kids had walked into school bleeding from their skulls, someone would have gotten them medical attention from the nurse or a hospital. But because something was wrong with their brain chemistry inside their skulls, and thus unseen, not enough was done to try to make them better.

Now they're both just two of the far-too-many who suffer from depression and similar disorders yet merely get swept under the rug because those in power won't make mental health a national priority.

Ironically, if and when Carter does go to prison, she'll find herself locked up with lots of other people who society threw away instead of working to repair -- from the mentally impaired to the physically addicted. The Venn Diagram circles of people suffering from both overlaps considerably with millions not getting the help they need.