Guy Who Encouraged People To Commit Suicide Online Banned From The Internet

from the seems-a-bit-extreme dept

We recently wrote about the disturbing case of William Melchert-Dinkel, a guy who would troll various online suicide forums, claiming to be a nurse, who would then encourage people to go through with their suicide plans, sometimes making suicide pacts with them. As we pointed out at the time, there's really no way to defend what this guy did. He's clearly a sick individual. But, we were concerned about him being charged with "assisted suicide" in Minnesota, where the law seems especially broad, and questionable on First Amendment grounds, because it outlawed just "advising" people on suicide.

In the latest on that case, Melchert-Dinkel has been ordered to stay off the internet completely while the case is ongoing. Like the lawsuit itself, an order like this, seems to raise a lot of questions. I could understand ordering him to stay away from any discussions about suicide, but a blanket internet ban, again, seems like it goes too far. Does it include a VoIP phone? With so much on the internet these days, can you really effectively bar someone from using the internet? We've seen courts that have regularly overturned such bans, claiming that they're unreasonably excessive.

While there's no way to defend what this guy did, so far this whole case seems to go in dangerous directions, both from the standpoint of free speech questions, as well as overly aggressive internet bans, due to one particular activity done on the internet.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    BulmaRO, May 27th, 2010 @ 12:13pm

    right..

    totally true he is just wrong in what he does.. but certainly its imposibble to have him out of the internet.. and a ban? please way to excesive.

    He may not be doing the right thing so to speak.. but he is not forcing anyone to commit suicide.. the individual has total control over doing it or not.

    besides.. doing stuff like this.. just make martyrs you know?, out of nowhere with streisand effect included you'll see more traffic on suicide.. and maybe even a slighly higher rate of suicide.


    but then again.. thats barely my opinion.

     

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    jjmsan (profile), May 27th, 2010 @ 12:21pm

    Which is harder?

    I think it comes down to which is harder totally cutting off access, which comes to yes he is on or no he is not; or trying to monitor his usage while he is on.

     

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    Andrew F (profile), May 27th, 2010 @ 12:22pm

    Jail?

    Well, it is a criminal charge, so I guess the standard is, would it be excessive to throw this guy in jail? And do they have Internet in jail?

     

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 27th, 2010 @ 12:23pm

    Re: right..

    If being suicidal were somehow a detriment to the survival of the species, wouldn't said tendency have been bred out of the populace by now?

    Since suicidal tendencies still exist, there must be some over-arching benefit to the human genome that we're just not seeing...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2010 @ 12:28pm

    A court can issue and order, and the subject of the order may choose to obey it or not.

    The thing for a person on the receiving end of such an order is that if it is violated and the violation is discovered the court has several remedies immediately at hand, not the least of which is holding the individual in contempt and incarcerating him/her.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2010 @ 12:42pm

    an internet ban is certainly better than spending the trial time in a federal butt slammin' holding cell, being bubbas playmate for the next six months. the guy should count himself lucky and accept the ban. for me, internet bans are no different from a judge ordering someone not to come within x feet of a location or person(s).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2010 @ 12:54pm

    VoIP does not equal over the internet. Sure, IP means internet protocol but IP runs on lots and lots of private networks. If I have VoIP service from my cable company, the IP part probably never really leaves their network. In fact, most VoIP occurs on private networks or on the network of a single ISP.

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), May 27th, 2010 @ 1:00pm

    Re: Re: right..

    "If being suicidal were somehow a detriment to the survival of the species, wouldn't said tendency have been bred out of the populace by now?"

    Are you suggesting that there's some positive benefit to cerebral palsy? If not, why hasn't that been bred out? Or Cancer, for that matter? How about really stinky flatuelance?

    There is anomalous data in everything to do with life.....

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2010 @ 1:01pm

    In France, we once had a similar problem, due to one of our law except it was a ban from the internet in case of piracy.

    What was first ruled about the law was the following :

    Internet is now a fundamental right, and as such, no one should be barred from using internet. Many things runs over the internet nowaday, including, but not limited to, emails and thus, eventual social life with people.

    It was something along those lines anyway.

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), May 27th, 2010 @ 1:02pm

    Once again....

    "we were concerned about him being charged with "assisted suicide" in Minnesota"

    Right, because it would seem that depraved indifference would be the statute here. 2nd Degree Murder is a better charge than assisted suicide....unless you're trying to make headlines, of course....

     

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    Ryan, May 27th, 2010 @ 1:02pm

    I don't see how it's possible to defend charging him with something. It's the same as the Lori Drew case - you're criminalizing being an asshole.

    You can't arrest somebody for being an asshole. If you could, everyone in New York would be on death row.

    - Cops and Robbersons

     

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    Bradley Stewart, May 27th, 2010 @ 1:04pm

    There Are A Lot Of

    goofy people on the internet. There are a lot of goofy people listening to these goofy people on the internet and taking them seriously. Though what this individual did may have had awful consequences I don't believe he should be kicked off the internet completely. Just listen to all the nutty corporate television and radio show hosts. Should they be tossed off television and radio? Even though I can't stand them they have a perfect right to blather on even though they sound to me as crazy a bed bugs.

     

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    Qabal, May 27th, 2010 @ 1:07pm

    Re: Re: right..

    There are some pretty valid arguments that suicide fulfills a role in ensuring the survival of genes by encouraging those most likely to reduce the chances of group survival to remove themselves from the equation. (http://psychology.wikia.com/wiki/Evolutionary_psychology_and_suicide).

    Just keep in mind that people's issues with suicide aren't inherent, they're cultural. Many cultures have a reverence (or at least cultural appreciation) of suicide. We happen to come from a judeo-christian culture, which places a strong negative cultural taboo on the subject. Many others do not, especially when couched as 'self sacrifice' (suicide with a purpose).

     

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    Atari911, May 27th, 2010 @ 1:15pm

    Re: Re: right..

    That would make sense if we lived in a world were selective breeding through competition existed. But we don't. Behaviors and traits that would normally be killed off in nature are not in a less harsh environment that we (or must of us) live in.

     

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    PaulT (profile), May 27th, 2010 @ 1:15pm

    My take on this is that it's just an enforcement measure. It might be difficult to prove that he personally used a computer or other internet device at the time it accessed one of those forums - think of all the difficulties we've been discussing about accurately prosecuting IP infringement. By implementing a blanket ban, it becomes easier - he accessed the internet? Instant violation, no matter what he was doing.

    Under ordinary circumstances, I'd say this was definitely a cruel and unusual punishment, but under the circumstances he deserves it. Unlike "pirates", he did something to directly affect peoples' lives (and basically committed murder by proxy IMHO) and deserves punishment. I would hope that if he just used a mobile phone with internet capability or VoIP then they might be more lenient about prosecuting a violation of the ban on internet access, but I have zero sympathy for this type of sicko.

    Actually, the most disturbing thing I'm taking away from this is that there are forums devoted to people considering suicide. People need help, of course, but with the trolls and other idiots on every other forum on the net, I can't imagine how dangerous a forum for suicidal individuals must be.

     

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 27th, 2010 @ 1:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: right..

    Cerebral Palsy is caused by brain injury/abnormality. Cancer is caused by a series of specific mutations, stinky flatulence is caused by intestinal flora--what is the cause of being suicidal?

    None of these is a valid comparison.

     

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 27th, 2010 @ 1:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: right..

    "That would make sense if we lived in a world were selective breeding through competition existed. But we don't. Behaviors and traits that would normally be killed off in nature are not in a less harsh environment that we (or must of us) live in."
    "Survival of the fittest" has never stopped being a factor, we've simply redefined "fittest."

     

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    nasch (profile), May 27th, 2010 @ 1:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: right..

    That would make sense if we lived in a world were selective breeding through competition existed. But we don't.

    So you can breed with anybody you want, as often as you want? Must be nice! ;-)

     

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    Overcast (profile), May 27th, 2010 @ 1:28pm

    Lotta' stupid ways to waste time on the internet - but I think this one takes the cake.

    But heck... some people would think it's a good idea: www.waragainsttheweak.com

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), May 27th, 2010 @ 1:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: right..

    "So you can breed with anybody you want, as often as you want? Must be nice! ;-)"

    Hell, all I have to do is wink at a girl, and BAM!....pregnant....

     

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    Dave, May 27th, 2010 @ 1:32pm

    And where were the moderators?

    This person trolling the forums is akin to some idiot standing in the lobby of a rehab clinic telling people where to score some "stuff". You would kick him off the premises.

    It is the responsibility of a forum to monitor and police its members. I have moderated a car site of all things and a troll like this would survive about 10 minutes before being banned down to the MAC level.

     

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    Luke, May 27th, 2010 @ 1:41pm

    Dad?

    That's cause you've got wicked 'force' skills. You can also choke someone by pinching your fingers together so that winking thing shouldn't really be a surprise.

    Oh wait, maybe I'm thinking of that other dark helmet guy.

     

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  23.  
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    Sean T Henry (profile), May 27th, 2010 @ 1:42pm

    Re:

    Depending on the personality of this individual (Is he charismatic?) and how good he is at convincing people to commit suicide it could be a good thing to have him in jail. Place him with repeat offenders of violent crimes and maybe he can do some good.

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), May 27th, 2010 @ 1:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: right..

    "Cerebral Palsy is caused by brain injury/abnormality. Cancer is caused by a series of specific mutations, stinky flatulence is caused by intestinal flora--what is the cause of being suicidal?"

    Causes of suicide:

    1. Mental Disorder presents in cases of successful and attempted suicide in roughly 90% of cases:
    A. Mood Disorder - Chiefly environmental causes
    B. Substance Addiction - Both psycho-social and
    hereditary causes
    C. Schizophrenia - Both psycho-social, but primarily
    hereditary causes

    2. Genetics - Genes are established to be a primary player in determining suicidal tendencies, both for the mental illness factors listed above, as well as other factors. Genetics factors in for somewhere between 30%-50% of suicide cases.

    3. Sociol and socio-ecnomomic factors are the only true "just chose to do it" causes of suicide, and account for less than 10% of total suicide cases.


    In other words, it's a variable in which the preponderance of cases are not simply choice, but usually factor in some form of gentic relationship, not at all unlike the variables I described above, which you summarily dismissed....

     

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    chris (profile), May 27th, 2010 @ 1:50pm

    Re: Which is harder?

    I think it comes down to which is harder totally cutting off access, which comes to yes he is on or no he is not; or trying to monitor his usage while he is on.

    i think it comes down to the fact that you cannot enforce such a ban.

    are you going to lock him in a cell for the rest of his life? 24/7 surveillance? sure you can probably see if he has broadband by pulling his cable/phone bill and make sure he's not dialing up by tapping his home phone, but can you keep him out of every public and private place that might offer him internet access?

    in the end the ban doesn't matter because it cannot be enforced.

     

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  26.  
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    senshikaze (profile), May 27th, 2010 @ 1:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: right..

    how? alot of people survive in America through sheer force of the American Government's will (see: social projects).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2010 @ 1:56pm

    What? 4chan is banned now?

     

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    senshikaze (profile), May 27th, 2010 @ 1:56pm

    Re: Dad?

    no, no, you got the right guy. the other one was a poser.

     

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    J Hopkins (profile), May 27th, 2010 @ 2:06pm

    Should we?

    The question is what should we do? I agree with courts for the simple fact that if you are trying to prosecute someone, trying to say what he was doing was criminal in some way, you can't allow him to be in a position where he can continue his ways. Especially if when fact that what he did is even in punishable. The simple fact is he knew he was wrong, we all know what he did is wrong. Especially with all of the litigation going on about bullying these days he really is lucky that he has only been banned from the internet. I believe the internet is a right. However, like all rights if you abuse them, or use them in a way that is detrimental to others they can be taken away from you. Preying on people in a weak mental state is wrong now way around it. If there was suspicion whether he did it or not that is one thing. Innocent until proven guilty but we know he did it, we are just trying to find a suitable punishment for it.

     

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 27th, 2010 @ 2:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: right..

    Yes, I see you've illustrated my point. Thank you.

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), May 27th, 2010 @ 2:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: right..

    Was your point sarcasm?

     

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 27th, 2010 @ 2:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: right..

    Seriously?
    To provoke some serious discourse upon the nature of suicide (and the possible function of suicide) within human society.

    Besides, if even "normal" (in quotes 'cause I've never met one) people are committing suicide, then perhaps it's simply a part of who we are--something that comes with being human.

     

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    Pwdrskir (profile), May 27th, 2010 @ 2:37pm

    Cultural Honor

    Japanese and other Asian cultures regard honor above all else and committing suicide due to the lack of honor is common place in these cultures today.

    “Suicide has never been criminalized in Japan. Japanese society's attitude toward suicide has been termed "tolerant," and on many occasions a suicide is seen as a morally responsible action.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_in_Japan

    Cyber bullying laws are not the answer, Trolling laws are not the answer. This guy did nothing more than exploit a weakness, which happens everyday, all day long. People are going to put themselves out there, some with positive and some with negative results. You can’t legislate against people “being mean and nasty” to others.

    As the world’s economies worsen over the next 10 years due to excessive debt, I would argue that more people will be investigating suicide. I predict the EU countries will have an upswing in suicides as they are forced to change their way of life. This single guy is just the tip of the iceberg and as more people in the US and EU lose their houses and futures, there will be more people like this guy who will come out of the woodwork.

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), May 27th, 2010 @ 2:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: right..

    Ah, gotcha.

    My boss bought pizza for lunch, and I've been in a minor food coma ever since. I'm starting to think I'm going to shit my shwartz soon...

     

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    The Groove Tiger (profile), May 27th, 2010 @ 4:45pm

    So, this guy can't order a pizza online? He can't email his mom telling her about the case? He can't email his lawyer? What if he has to go to the Justice Department website? Can they ban him from using the phone? Would he have to contact his attorney via smoke signals?

     

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    The Groove Tiger (profile), May 27th, 2010 @ 4:56pm

    Re: Should we?

    "I believe the telephone is a right. However, like all rights if you abuse them, or use them in a way that is detrimental to others they can be taken away from you."

     

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    Karl (profile), May 27th, 2010 @ 5:02pm

    Re:

    "Three generations of imbeciles are enough."
    - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Buck v. Bell

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2010 @ 7:15pm

    the internet is a tool an object, you have no right to the internet

     

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    The Groove Tiger (profile), May 27th, 2010 @ 10:48pm

    Re:

    Medicine is an object. So is food.
    You have no right to food?
    How about pen and paper. Do you have right to paper (you know, freedom of expression?), I mean, paper is an object, and a pen is a tool. Maybe someone who wrote letters to people to get them to kill themselves could be forced to never touch a pen, or a typewriter. Yeah, it's not like they'll need it to maybe write a check or anything?

    All objects, all tools.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2010 @ 4:18am

    Plenty of people don't have access to the internet, through poverty, bad circumstance, whatever.

    The internet is not a right. Stop treating it like it is. I don't want this guy on my internet.

    And suicidal advice may not be covered by the first amendment. There is plenty of speech that isn't. Like slander.

     

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    Kyle, May 28th, 2010 @ 7:09pm

    Good Lord! How can you defend this satanic piece of manure with "free speech"?

    I think that this guy should be in prison tonight and not walking the streets. He is the most evil man.

    Free speech is a noble concept for sure, but I think it is a bit of a stretch to let this maggot hide behind first ammendment rights. Free speech advocates think that we should be able to say anything. I don't agree. There must be reasonable limitations. For example, is it okay to encourage a blind person to walk over a cliff? No! Is it okay to seek out people who are in trouble and encourage them to take their lives just for your amusement? No! Is that what America's founding fathers had in mind when they talked about free speech? Hell No! Free speech means that you can express your political beliefs etc., not harm/target vulnerable people.

    Please look at this tv documentary prepared by Bob McKeown who is a former Dateline NBC reporter. He tells the story from Nadia's vantage point. You will see what an evil person you are defending.


    http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/2009-2010/death_online/

     

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    nasch (profile), May 28th, 2010 @ 8:00pm

    Re:

    Nobody is defending him. I don't even think anybody is saying that what he did should be protected speech. The problematic aspect of this story is that the law in question is really broad, and could ban many things that rightfully ought to be protected.

    Also keep in mind that there is no law against being evil, only against specific acts. There are evil things people do that violate no law.

     

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    kyle, May 29th, 2010 @ 12:35am

    Yes, I take your point that there is no law against being evil, but there was indeed a very evil act committed. To be frank, I see this incident as a kind of *murder*. I don't think that Ms. Kajouji was in her right mind when she jumped into the river. Dinkel was a nurse and was aware that Kajouji was clinically depressed and not thinking rationally due to insomnia, etc. He knew very well what he was doing. Dinkel was the last person to talk to her, and his intention was to kill her. You know, if you think about this case, you can see that Mr. Dinkel sought out Ms. Kajouji because he knew that she was clinically depressed. He calculated that she would be an easy victim. He developed a *plan* to manipulate her into taking her own life. He succeeded in that plan. He got exactly the outcome that he was hoping for. I honestly don't understand why they don't charge him with capital murder. That is really the crime that he has committed.

    Melchart Dinkel has also told authorities that he pretended that he was a woman to make it harder for people to identify him. This demonstrates his awareness that he was doing was wrong. He also disclosed the motivation for what he did, saying that he did it for "THE THRILL OF THE CHASE". For me, that statement really says it all.

    Listen, by proscecuting people like this, nobody is going to take away any American freedoms. That's not even on the menu. It's about whether it is okay for criminals like Mr. Dinkel to go on the internet, seek out people who are in trouble and then manipulate them with the intention of doing them harm.

     

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    kyle, May 29th, 2010 @ 6:55am

    Yes, I take your point that there is no law against being evil, but there was indeed a very evil act committed. To be frank, I see this incident as a kind of *murder*. I don't think that Ms. Kajouji was in her right mind when she jumped into the river. Dinkel was a nurse and was aware that Kajouji was clinically depressed and not thinking rationally due to insomnia, etc. He knew very well what he was doing. Dinkel was the last person to talk to her, and his intention was to kill her. You know, if you think about this case, you can see that Mr. Dinkel sought out Ms. Kajouji because he knew that she was clinically depressed. He calculated that she would be an easy victim. He developed a *plan* to manipulate her into taking her own life. He succeeded in that plan. He got exactly the outcome that he was hoping for. I honestly don't understand why they don't charge him with capital murder. That is really the crime that he has committed.

    Melchart Dinkel has also told authorities that he pretended that he was a woman to make it harder for people to identify him. This demonstrates his awareness that he was doing was wrong. He also disclosed the motivation for what he did, saying that he did it for "THE THRILL OF THE CHASE". For me, that statement really says it all.

    Listen, by proscecuting people like this, nobody is going to take away any American freedoms. That's not even on the menu. It's about whether it is okay for criminals like Mr. Dinkel to go on the internet, seek out people who are in trouble and then manipulate them with the intention of doing them harm.

     

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    nasch (profile), May 29th, 2010 @ 10:49am

    Re:

    I honestly don't understand why they don't charge him with capital murder. That is really the crime that he has committed.

    I don't know for sure, but that is probably not the crime that he committed. I can't imagine the DA had the option and a strong case for murder, and decided to go with this other law instead. If they didn't charge him with murder, it's probably because what he did is not described by Minnesota's (if I remember the state right) murder statute.

    Listen, by proscecuting people like this, nobody is going to take away any American freedoms. That's not even on the menu. It's about whether it is okay for criminals like Mr. Dinkel to go on the internet, seek out people who are in trouble and then manipulate them with the intention of doing them harm.

    No controversy there. But what do you think about the law? Is it possible to charge someone for giving any advice about suicide, or only someone who advises another that they ought to commit suicide? Is it well-written and focused, or overly broad and possibly unconstitutional? That's really a much more interesting question here, because obviously what he did was wrong and we don't want him or anybody else doing that anymore.

     

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    guest, Jul 1st, 2010 @ 5:53pm

    for all those people who are trying to defend, or say that he only advised people. lets say one of your kids, or parents or cousins or whatever were suicidal, would you rather have people like this idiot giving them advice on how they should kill themselves or have people who try to talk them out of it, i call them decent good people. this person should have a VIP spot in HELL!

     

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    nasch (profile), Jul 2nd, 2010 @ 7:36am

    Re:

    for all those people who are trying to defend

    I don't recall anyone defending this guy's actions, only pointing out potential 1st Amendment problems with this legislation.

    this person should have a VIP spot in HELL!

    Which of course has nothing to do with what the courts should do to him. He must be judged according to the law, not according to what we think should happen to him in the next life.

     

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    tanya, Jul 6th, 2010 @ 6:05pm

    suicide

    I know a man that is pretty top gun in our town but he is a real sicko he tried to get my son to shoot himself and now I find out that he also tried to get an ex student of his (karate or such) to kill himself with a sword its like he wants to see someone die our pdept would never believe it but this guy is so manipulative his mother still takes care of him and he is 36 but now he has manipulated my daughter she is 21 she will not speak to me or her brother and is seeing this person I am so afraid for her I know he is going to hurt her or make her hurt herself.his mother is a well known physcologist and baby's him its really kinda weird please help me

     

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    shitfuck, Aug 17th, 2010 @ 9:25am

    poopy popsicle

    You should all kill yourselves.

    Trust me, I'm a nurse.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    identicon
    Giovanni, Dec 6th, 2011 @ 7:08pm

    Ridiculous

    This is ridiculous. How can not having empathy be illegal? I'd say this is infringement of the first amendment right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression. Just because some people do not share the same morality as the majority, that doesn't mean they should be punished. They're not harming anyone. If someone kills themself over someone else's words, you have to wonder how long they would have lived anyway. What's next? If someone advises me to stop paying my mortgage, and I stop paying it, will they share liability for the debt with me? This is just another case of people shoving their personal morals and beliefs down everyone else's throat. Typical of Americans.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    identicon
    CJ, Feb 3rd, 2012 @ 12:14pm

    suicide

    Absolutely the right thing to do. Ban him for life.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    identicon
    Arden, Mar 7th, 2012 @ 2:41pm

    where can I find online suicide services? any web addresses I can browse? it's important.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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