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.