Suicide baiting now legal in Minnesota
Those who have watched the William Melchert-Dinkel case from the beginning are either celebrating or despairing right now. While most everyone agrees that this nut job’s actions were immoral, some argue his actions should be legal. That now includes the Minnesota Supreme Court. Last Wednesday, they reversed the lower court conviction of Melchert-Dinkel claiming his constitutional right to freedom of speech had been violated. Urging suicide in Minnesota has now become a legal free speech right!
Dubbed “the suicide nurse,” William Melchert-Dinkel had been convicted in 2011 of encouraging two victims he met online to kill themselves. Posing as a suicidally depressed nurse, Melchert-Dinkel would often first offer sympathy to his victims and then suggest step by step instructions on how to complete the deed. Often, he made suicide pacts with his victims. The chat room predator — himself a father of two teenage girls, no less — revealed he loves “the thrill of the chase,” being especially fond of watching people die by hanging, his favorite fetish.
Melchert-Dinkel will still be prosecuted in a lower court on his appeal, but only for the crime now of “assisting” in the suicide deaths of 18 year-old Nadia Kajouji from Canada and 32 year-old Mark Drybrough of England. Presumably, if the suicide nurse is exonerated on the charge of assisting in those deaths, he can safely return to his lethal webcam hobby — the predatory stalking of the suicidally depressed. We still do not officially know how many victims are notched onto his webcam. He estimates 10.
Yet the highest court in the state of Minnesota has defended his right to do what he loves, chat about the proper length and thickness of ropes suitable for hanging success. How fortuitous for him that the Minnesota Supreme Court has struck “encouraging and advising” off their state’s Right to Life Statues this March. Before that, it was a crime to “encourage, advise, or assist” anyone to commit suicide, just like it still is in some form or another in 49 other states. Ten states regard encouragement of suicide as manslaughter, most others as a felony, and only one as a pastime. Only three states allow “assisted” suicide and only by a licensed doctor.
Minnesota must love trendsetting, though. Their supreme court is hollowly marching forward, holding its banner high for free speech rights in front of a predator with behavior so despicable even his lawyer Terry Watkins will not defend it.
“We certainly are not condoning the actions in any way, shape, or form,” Watkins advises. “We are simply saying that as troubling as the speech may have been, it is protected.”
There are already several common sense exceptions to our First Amendment rights. Defamation of character — both slander and libel — child pornography, obscenity, and sedition against the government are well-known exceptions. In this instance, though, speech used to incite violence (clear and present danger) or provoke a crime are the exceptions being argued. While the act of suicide, itself, is not criminalized, those who have previously urged another’s suicide have committed a crime.
What the Minnesota Supreme Court actually struck down was that criminality. If Minnesotans in the future want to designate a chat room as their predatory territory to encourage suicide — have at it! If Minnesotans happen to see someone in crisis standing on a bridge or building ledge — what recreational luck! Go for it! Do a flip! The Minnesota Supreme Court has championed your cause and licensed your fun!
Free speech, indeed. My royal, royal boohiney. Do we pretend we do not understand the difference between free speech and criminal behavior? I do not know how many bothered to read Rice County Judge Thomas Neuville’s thoughtful 42-page ruling in the 2011 conviction, but I did, having become hypersensitive to baiting and bullying issues since the death of my son, Dylan Yount.
I have avidly followed the Melchert-Dinkel case because it is quite unsettling to learn that other bereaved folks, like myself, might experience the same complicated grief I have endured since the February 16, 2010, death of my son in Hallidie Plaza, San Francisco, when no one intervened to stop a suicide baiting. The suicide baiting had been an impromptu open season on a man so psychologically confused he had to be convinced for over an hour before he jumped to his death in full view of 24 grinning and laughing police officers standing all around. What kind of world are we creating?
The Minnesota Supreme Court’s 2014 ruling is a national disgrace. Minnesota will not allow physician-assisted suicide but will allow suicide baiting? WTH? What chop logic! Clearly the Latin sui means one, not many. Has Minnesota ushered in the legality of participatory murder or participatory suicide?
Suicide baiting is nothing but a bloodsport game as barbaric as the uncivilized gladiator games played in the Rome’s ancient Coliseum. It is as if the Minnesota Supreme Court has yelled, “Let the games begin!” while society has become the modern Nero — fiddling — while Rome burns if we simply accept such a outlandish decision without a fight.
I remember when I first began locating the various blogs and forums written about Dylan’s death, around 400 in all. I kept finding references to a “bus” of screaming passengers. At first I though these passengers must have been screaming from the horror they were witnessing in front of the Forever 21 building while their bus had been stuck in traffic on Market Street, running parallel to Hallidie Plaza.
It would be December 2010 (according to my dated hard copy) before I discovered Sexpigeon’s blog, and it would be even later when I would be shocked all over again by a rave review about Sexpigeon’s work. The “famed blogger and hilarious caption-smith” was moving from San Francisco to NYC, I discovered, “soul-numbingly depressing” news for readers who had not yet been able to “pore over his brillance” (google SFist come back soon sexpigeon).
Although one can google Sexpigeon’s original blog and accompanying picture just by keying in the great photo/journalist’s name and his first sentence, the entire body is so short I can share it in four sentences. In his “brilliant” blog Sexpigeon said, “A man jumped out the window. From the lofts above Forever 21 to the pavement outside the Bank of America. Everyone on this bus is grinning meanly, tittering, blaming the economy, wondering aloud if that building is even tall enough to, you know, succeed.”
So Dylan had not yet jumped. So the passengers on the bus would have violated no law in Minnesota. What violence will we see there now? I do not know when death became such entertainment, but I do know how courts can enable the growth of such depravity.