Earlier this week you may have read that a woman was convicted of manslaughter for encouraging a young man to take his life via text message. As put by Quintus Curtius, “[m]any voices wrongly saw this case as some sort of “free speech” issue; but closer examination of the facts paints the case in a very different light.” Namely, what she did went far beyond the pale, and her words crossed the line into criminal conduct. Words can have more of an affect than just a hurt feeling.
Over the years, my views on the First Amendment have evolved. When I first started practicing law, I’d describe myself as a total purist, and everyone should be able to say anything they want without any redress. To quote Marc Randazza, combat bad speech with good speech.
As I continued to practice and I saw more things, I started to believe that speech should not be completely unlimited, as words can have an impact on people’s careers, and this week even their lives.