URLs du Jour


Proverbs 25:28 is just a simile. But very apt.

28 Like a city whose walls are broken through
    is a person who lacks self-control.

I have three words: President Donald Trump.

■ The big news in these parts, as noted by Sarah Rose Siskind at Reason: Teen Found Guilty of Manslaughter for Texting Suicidal Boyfriend. First the facts:

On the night of July 12, 2014, 18-year-old Conrad Roy III killed himself by inhaling carbon monoxide in a Kmart parking lot in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. His 17-year-old girlfriend, Michelle Carter, was miles away in Plainville. Yet today Carter was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for Roy's death. She faces up to 20 years in prison.

Why? Because Carter had repeatedly texted Roy prior to his death, "you just need to do it." Bristol County Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz declared this illegal, even though there is no law in Massachusetts against encouraging suicide.

Then the comment:

Carter's punishment does not fit the crime. Involuntary manslaughter is a conviction for a negligent surgeon, for an abusive husband who unintentionally kills his spouse, for a drunk driver who accidentally runs someone down. A reckless text is not a reckless, swerving car. Words are not literal weapons, and the moral turpitude of Carter's comments does not change that.

Some legal experts have speculated that the judge's ruling was an attempt to convince lawmakers to pass legislation making people liable for their online speech. But even if such a bill were a good idea, you shouldn't convict someone for committing a crime that doesn't exist in the hope that lawmakers will someday pass a law to fit the crime. This isn't how our judicial system works.

Well, it's not how it's supposed to work. But in Massachusetts…

■ At NRO, David French is also nonplussed: A Sad and Terrible Verdict in Massachusetts. And I think he gets at the real issue here:

[…] there are real First Amendment implications with this verdict. Carter’s actions were reprehensible, but she was sharing with him thoughts and opinions that he may have found persuasive but had the capacity to reject. A legal argument that renders otherwise-protected speech unlawful because it actually persuades would blast a hole in First Amendment jurisprudence.

Remember that as we go.

■ Via Ann Althouse, Elie Mystal at Above the Law comments:

If “free will” is to mean anything, you cannot “suicide” a person to death. You can murder someone, you can accidentally murder someone, you can pay someone to murder someone for you, you can set up a criminal organization under which murders occur on your behalf, you can even set up conditions so inherently unsafe that you are criminally responsible for anybody who happens to die. But you can’t kill a person who kills themselves. The self-killing breaks the causal chain between your actions, however reprehensible, and the death.

Until today.

Or as her headline puts it: "Being A Bitch Is Now A Criminal Offense, Apparently".

■ OK, a lot of people think the verdict is misguided and stupid. Except there's Issie Lapowsky at Wired, who kinda thinks it's neat. Among her justifications:

[…] according to Danielle Citron, author of the book Hate Crimes in Cyberspace, there are 21 crimes that have to do explicitly with speech—things like threats, extortion, aiding and abetting, and conspiracy. None of these types of speech are protected by the First Amendment. “If the First Amendment’s a house, where inside speech is protected, threats can’t walk in the door. Neither can extortion. Neither can solicitation of a crime,” Citron says. In other words, not all speech is covered by the First Amendment's proverbial roof.

Yes, there are "unprotected" varieties of speech, and invoking the First Amendment won't get you out of legal trouble. But (as I commented at Wired) here's the thing: despite Lapowsky's attempts to imply otherwise, these are all well-known exceptions. And this case doesn't match any of them.

There's a "progressive" effort to degrade First Amendment protections for the vague and ever-expanding category of "hate speech". I suspect that progressives (like those at Wired) are cheering this verdict, since it makes that project a little easier. As French noted, remember, it would "blast a hole in First Amendment jurisprudence."

■ Katie Tubb at the Daily Signal makes sense: Subsidizing Nuclear Is No Strategy for Long-Term Success, noting legislation in Congress to jimmy the tax code to the (continued) benefit of nuclear power. Check out this link-filled paragraph:

To help the nuclear industry, politicians must do the hard work of getting to the roots of its problems—eliminating all energy subsidies, eliminating policies and regulations that favor certain energy technologies and resources over others, tackling regulations that put undue expense on commercial nuclear plants for no meaningful health or safety benefits, streamlining decommissioning, and taking nuclear waste management seriously.

In fact, Ms. Tubb makes so much sense that I expect that few, if any, of her recommendations will happen in my lifetime.

■ Aaaand @JonahNRO's G-File is out: The Reality-TV Presidency

As I’ve talked about a bunch, the mainstream media MacGuffinized Barack Obama’s presidency, making him the hero in every storyline. With Trump, they’re covering the White House like an episode of Big Brother or MTV’s Real World. By encouraging officials to gossip and snipe about each other and the boss, they too are playing the game. Much of MSNBC’s and CNN’s coverage feels like it should be called “Desperate Housewives of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”

I don't watch reality TV at all, but Jonah's theory here is all too plausible.