Michelle Carter was convicted in a Massachusetts juvenile court of involuntary manslaughter for “pushing” her boyfriend Conrad Roy to commit suicide in 2014. The entire case rested on text messages sent by Ms. Carter in which she encouraged him to take his own life. Specifically, when Mr. Roy exited the vehicle in which it appears he was attempting to commit suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning to seek fresh air, she sent him a text message instructing him to get back into the truck.
Ms. Carter was said to have encouraged Mr. Roy’s suicide in an effort to garner the attention that would come with being a grieving girlfriend. Clearly, this young lady is a pathetic human being and frankly, I have no sympathy for her. Encouraging a troubled young man that was reaching out to her in a time of desperate need to commit suicide is a disgusting, reprehensible, and immoral act. She will have to answer to her conscious and God for her actions.
In my opinion, justification might exist to also hold her accountable in a civil action for wrongful death. However, as she was a minor at the time, an award of damages would be against her parents. It might seem like an unfair shake for Ms. Carter’s parents, but they are somewhat complicit. It is, after all, the parent’s duty to raise their child to respect human life. Furthermore, Ms. Carter’s self-interested disregard for the obligations she might have to Mr. Roy to provide some degree of support or help, even if just informing an adult who can better address the situation, is a prime indication that her parents over-indulged her as a child and neglected their duty to teach her the value of caring for those who place their trust in her.
However, this case was not a civil case, it was a criminal case. It was heard by a juvenile court as Ms. Carter was 17 at the time Mr. Roy commit suicide and juvenile courts have a fatal flaw; you are denied the right to a jury trial and the verdict is instead decided by a single judge. No jury would have reached a verdict of guilty on the charge of involuntary manslaughter in this case, not even in a liberal district of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
There are a couple of damn good reasons why no jury would or should reach said verdict too. Ms. Carter’s actions did not cause Mr. Roy’s death, it was Mr. Roy’s own actions that directly caused him to lose his life. Ms. Carter’s role in Mr. Roy’s life implies that she has a duty to not only behave much differently than she did, but also that she should do everything in her power to prevent him from taking his own life. However, this is merely an implied duty that is essential to any relationship between two individuals based upon trust and affection. Trust is the key word as it pertains to that implied duty, as the relationship is built upon the idea that a human being will care for, respect, and protect another by virtue of their own desire to do so, and trust that the other will do so in return. Trust, as in there is no law that makes the implied duties mandatory, but two individuals agree to do so based on a mutually shared affection.
More importantly, Ms. Carter’s actions are protected by her right to free speech. While the things she said to someone she was supposed to care about are most certainly cruel, selfish, and immoral, they are still protected by the rights afforded to her under Amendment I of the United States Constitution. The most poignant description of the consideration we must make, especially when the situation involves children which I’ve ever heard was given in the form of two consecutive questions asked by Australian comedian Steve Hughes. “When did sticks and stones may break my bones [but words will never hurt me] stop being relevant? Isn’t that what you teach children for God’s sake?”
We should rightfully chastise and condemn Ms. Carter, but we should also recognize that Mr. Roy neglected the duty of protecting one’s self. He neglected this duty in both the literal sense in that he took his own life, and the figurative sense in that he should not continue to place his trust in the sociopath which he thought cared about him. One could of course argue that he was clearly not in a state of mind which left him able to manage his personal relationships effectively, but that would only suggest that sadly enough, Mr. Roy’s parents are also somewhat complicit in his death.
In fact, I see four distinct failures on the part of Mr. Roy’s parents that suggest that they are partly to blame. They failed to take drastic enough action to get him the help he needed after a previous failed suicide attempt. They failed to recognize that he was still struggling to cope with life. They failed to teach their son what a healthy relationship is and how to avoid and/or end toxic relationships. And finally, they failed to teach their son to have enough self-respect to recognize that his life is valuable. They were not charged for failures which are near-equal to Ms. Carter’s, even if less immoral in nature. However, they didn’t escape punishment entirely, as it’s safe to say that they’ll suffer for these failures as they grieve the loss of their son.
This case troubles me and it should trouble all Americans. This girl, though conceivably deserving of punishment, is going to be sentenced for involuntary manslaughter for saying something mean to her boyfriend. The Bill of Rights is under assault people and the snowflake culture has now pervaded the judiciary so things could get much worse and fast.
Perhaps Bo Burnham should consider eliminating this song from his performance…