IS HURTFUL SPEECH FREE SPEECH?
Recently, a Massachusetts woman was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and faces a sentence of probation and up to 20 years in prison for encouraging her boyfriend to commit suicide. Michelle Carter, 20, and her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, met during a Florida vacation in 2012. Their relationship prospered over text message and through phone calls, but the two only saw each other in person a handful of times. Over the next couple of years, Roy and Carter struggled with depression and Roy contemplated suicide. Through a barrage of text messages, Carter began encouraging Roy to commit suicide. In July of 2014, Conrad Roy III’s body was discovered in his pickup truck that was filled with carbon monoxide. Many of the text messages between the teens were used by both parties during the trial.
Were Michelle Carter’s words protected by the First Amendment?
Students taking this course will explore the major tenants of the First Amendment:
Right to freely exercise religious beliefs
Right to Free Speech
Right to Freedom of the Press
Right to Peaceful Assembly
Right to Petition of Grievances