Difference between revisions of "Censorship"

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  ''“It is in the character of very few men to honor without envy a friend who has prospered.”''
  ''“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”''
  <span style="float: right; color: cornflowerblue">― Aeschylus, father of tragedy</span>
  <span style="float: right; color: cornflowerblue">― Proverbs 31:8–9</span>
<div style="text-align: center; font-weight: bold">In loving memory of pro-choice communities' members whose choice made us stronger.</div>
<div style="text-align: center; font-weight: bold">In loving memory of pro-choice communities' members whose choice made us stronger.</div>

Revision as of 14:32, 19 February 2020

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

― Proverbs 31:8–9
In loving memory of pro-choice communities' members whose choice made us stronger.

Losing someone is difficult. Every now and then, a family who has lost their loved one desperatly tries to tie a meaning to their loss. They persuade legislators to pass bills whose purpose is limiting the freedom of speech. Such bills are unlikely to be enacted for the following reasons:

(Sweeney, 2017) argued that no one should be convicted of encouraging or aiding an act that no longer is a crime. Since suicide is no longer illegal in the United States, encouraging suicide is not “inciting or producing imminent lawless action.” For the same reason, encouraging suicide does not fall under the “speech integral to criminal conduct exception.” Since a statute prohibiting encouraging suicide is not covered by an exception to the First Amendment, it must instead pass strict scrutiny. Under strict scrutiny, a content-based restriction can still “proscribe protected speech if it can show... that the law (1) is justified by a compelling government interest and (2) is narrowly drawn to serve that interest.” The narrowly tailored requirement would be the most difficult for such a statute to meet in seeking to survive strict scrutiny. A significant problem with any legislation intending to prohibit encouraging suicide is that it runs a substantial danger of being overinclusive and criminalizing otherwise innocent conduct.

Preventing suicide is a government interest; however, restricting speech is not the least restrictive method of achieving it. Because of the hollow that restricting speech will created when professionals won’t be able to talk or communicate with those who need help to live, such statues will cause loss of more lives rather than saving them. Furthermore, the overinclusiveness and boradness of such statues will put an end to medical professions, especially mental health, altogether. Suicide Wiki is filled with lawful documents—written in a subtle language—including police reports, coroner reports, scientific papers, medical literature, and newspapers that educate, if not encourage, individuals to commit suicide.

The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution demand that “no person shall... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” (Adside, 2019) argued that a conviction based upon a virtual-presence theory is unconstitutional, as it is void-for-vagueness. He suggested states that decide to criminalize suicide encouragement should consider issues to avoid vagueness difficulties and recommended two reforms that should be implemented by legislatures—not courts. Paradoxically, those reforms can convict (under certain scenarios) law enforcement and medical personnel.


Suzanne Michelle Gonzales

When Suzanne Michelle Gonzales left her Red Bluff, California home to go away to college, she was a bubbly 19-year-old with a quirky personality and a smile nobody could forget. She won a full-ride to Florida State University. But something happened when she went away to school: she became depressed and turned to the Internet, where she found a welcoming community of suicide newsgroups (ASH). Through the online groups, Gonzales found a permanent way to end her pain of depression. On 23 March 2003, she mixed a lethal dose of potassium cyanide[Archive] and tap water, checked its acidity with a pH meter, and drank it in a Tallahassee motel room. She delightfully robbed herself from her own life—something that others couldn’t stand it.

Federal legislation was crafted[Archive] in response to Suzanne's suicide after she got instructions on the Internet. “I would be more than happy, overjoyed if this bill was passed into law and that it was never used, [because] it was a deterrent,” said Mike Gonzales, whose daughter's death is behind House Resolution 853—also known as the Suzanne Gonzales Suicide Prevention Act of 2009. U.S. Rep. Wally Herger, R-Chico, introduced the bill February 9 after a previous version failed in committee.

The Gonzaleses, who say they've identified the person responsible, became frustrated when Florida police and lawyers told them they had no recourse but a civil lawsuit, something they couldn't afford. In the course of their campaign for HR 853, Mike Gonzales said he'd heard concerns the law would limit free speech, an allegation both he and Herger reject, in their mind.

“I don't think this really adds anything to make it a crime to assist somebody to commit suicide,” said Peter Scheer, a lawyer and journalist. State laws already address assisted suicide, Scheer said, and Herger's bill would not trump those statutes. “It's not any more of an Internet bill than most of the millions of federal statutes that are predicated on use of interstate commerce,” Scheer added, noting that communication by text-messaging, telephone, e-mail, letters and other means also is covered. “This law looks like it was written in 1969,” Scheer said. “There's absolutely nothing in there that would date it after the invention of the personal computer.” Calling the law “superfluous,” he said it's unlikely to pass.

The bill's aim[Archive], according to a website set up in Suzy's honor, is “to prohibit the use of the Internet as a tool to provide an individual with information on how to commit suicide if the information will likely be used in a suicide. Violation of this law will result in a fine and or a maximum five years in prison. If a violation results in a death, the maximum violation increases to possible life in prison.” The bill was named the Suzanne Gonzales Suicide Prevention Act of 2007, or “Suzy’s Law.” More than a decade has passed since Suzy’s Law was first introduced, but it has yet to gain traction in Washington. The Gonzales family has tried to keep the bill alive by getting it reintroduced every few years, including in 2009 and 2011.

Suzanne Gonzales' posts: [1] [2] Obituaries: [3] [4]

Shawn Alexandra Shatto

Following a battle of depression, on 22 May 2019, Shawn Alexandra Shatto (username: Kakabushi) murdered herself by proxy; that is, a half of herself killed the other half by proxy (commonly known as suicide)–and she was given the choice. The choice came from Sanctioned Suicide forum that comfort her on her voyage. Shawn’s parents, Chip and Jacqueline Bieber of Newberry Township, grieved over their loss of their daughter. Being horrified of their daughter's choice, the Biebers went to the state Capitol on 19 September 2019 to urge state lawmakers to pass legislation that would impose stiffer penalties on people convicted of aiding or encouraging when at the time of the offense the person who committed suicide is under 18 years of age or has an intellectual disability.

York County Coroner Pam Gay said Shatto died from ingesting “an easily obtainable compound.” The coroner's office has ruled the death a suicide. Coroner Gay also said she had heard about such websites and that such things, as a macabre part of her job, shouldn’t shock her, but “it’s shocking to me.” “It’s a very disturbing case,” Gay said. “How can people do that and have a conscience and go to bed? It’s just disturbing.” Gay questioned why others online didn't do more to get her mental health help that she had refused herself.

Shawn’s parents described “it” a different way. “It’s sick,” her step-father said, using an ambiguous pronoun. “Not one person said there is another way,” Jackie Bieber, Shawn's mother, told the York Daily Record—implying that Sanctioned Suicide stands with mass shooting. “It's like a cult.”

State Rep. Dawn Keefer, R-York County, introduced the legislation, dubbed “Shawn’s Law,” in memory of Shatto. As expressed on a radio program, Keefer considered her bill as a first step that balances the desire to impose harsher penalties on people who defend choice with free speech rights. “We need to send a message to these disturbed people encouraging and guiding others to commit suicide,” Keefer said. “Our society will not tolerate these arcane and insensible actions.”

'Shawn's Law' was the second attempt to impose restrictions on pro-choice communities, but to no avail.

Obituaries: [5] [6] [7] [8] [9]


Callie Alix Lewis

Callie Lewis (username: Zanexx), 24, from Dover, was using an online suicide forum, sanctionedsuicide.net (the forum now appears under the Internet address sanctionedsuicide.com). Through the forum she was able to engage in discussions with other pro-choice members and obtain tips how to liberate herself from the oppression of mental health worker to avoid being sectioned under the Mental Health Act and how to perfect the methods of leaving her life that she had been considering. She was enabled by the tips provided through the forum to outwit the frustrated mental health prosecution thereafter leave behind her life. Leaving behind her own life annoyed entitled anti-choicers.

New censorship laws—namely, Regulation 28 report, otherwise known as a prevention of future death report, regarding pro-choice suicide forums—prevents reaching the light of those who continued their journey to us. This censorship law was came to attention on a jury hearing about the death of a Sanctioned Suicide's member Callie Alix Lewis who chose to not commit to life. Coroner Harding said, “[The website] enabled Callie to frustrate the mental health process, and provided her with information regarding the means with which she ended her life.” The truth is Callie was determined to kill herself. She twice extended her stay because her small, green, pop-up tent couldn't be used as a gas chamber for charcoal-burning suicide method, so she went back by train to return and exchange her tent.

Also cited was a lack of training and knowledge in relation to autism and suicide forums, as well as a lack of clarity and consistency regarding recording risk assessments, and a failure to report relevant information.

In her redacted report[1|2|3|4|5], Patricia Harding, senior coroner for the coroner area of Central and South East Kent, complimented the quality of contents on Sanctioned Suicide forum, albeit she later redacted the forum address[1|2|3|4], too. She did so under the pretense that it was her statutory duty. This was the second time Sanctioned Suicide received an admiration from a coroner.

Obituary: [10]

Anonymous Users

In another case, suicide of a man (although not a member of Sanctioned Suicide) brought to attention the stigma attached to freedom.

Last year more than 100 families claimed that online tutorials played a major part in the suicide of their loved ones, according to Papyrus. Papyrus chief executive Ged Flynn said, “Showing people methods of taking their lives makes it more likely that vulnerable people will do it. The Government needs to act now.” That was another exoneration attempt on the side of anti-choicers who offer no evidences, witnesses, or proofs.


Federal law enforcement and cyber experts have expressed “deep concern” about a pro-choice suicide website that helped to facilitate the recent death of a young West Australian. Australian Federal Police have blocked access to the site, in an unprecedented move, after a young man took his own life aided by the thousands of users active on the pro-choice suicide forum. They also want social media and search engine providers to take more responsibility. The young man’s father is understood to be strongly advocating for greater action to ensure no other family experiences such tragedy.

In a statement to The Weekend West, the AFP said it was made aware of the overseas-hosted website, which this paper has seen and is choosing not to name, in January. It included more than 288,000 forum messages from members discussing and aiding suicide and a “suicide wiki” portal. “The AFP is working with ISPs to redirect members to an AFP ‘stop page’, which will have links to direct vulnerable users to mental health support services.” ESafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant, who was also alerted to the website, said the office had “explored a range of options and reached out to international and domestic law enforcement partners” to have it blocked. Professor McGorry warned that “we could see more of these cases unless more is done to prevent Australians getting access to these sites”. Eminent child psychologist and cyber expert Michael Carr-Gregg said the Government needed to provide more resources and powers to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner so sites were taken down as soon as possible. Suicide Prevention Australia chief executive Nevis Murray said there should be a “national action strategy”. Mindframe suicide prevention program manager Marc Bryant said search engine companies needed to show international leadership on stopping access to the sites. “We join with others in calling for online search engine companies to take action and ensure digital environments are safe for everyone,” a Beyond Blue spokeswoman said.


  • Sean Sweeney, Deadly Speech: Encouraging Suicide and Problematic Prosecutions, 67 Case W. Res. L. Rev. 941 (2017) [Full Text: 1|2|3|4]
  • Charles Adside III, The Innocent Villain: Involuntary Manslaughter by Text, 52 U. MICH. J. L. REFORM 731 (2019) [Full Text: 1|2|3|4]