Author Topic: Should convincing someone of a bad idea lead to prosecution?  (Read 122 times)

Online Coveny (OP)

Should convincing someone of a bad idea lead to prosecution?
« on: September 09, 2017, 10:56:28 PM »
Intent is very important when it comes to prosecuting someone, but should that be enough to overcome giving advice that costs someone their lives? Day after day I see people posting articles against vaccination, or promoting cures for cancer that either do nothing or makes things worse. For this I’m going to assume these individuals believe they are giving good advice, and their intent is to help the individual they are giving the advice too.

For years, I’ve used this example. If I have a fly on my chest and your intent is to help me and kill the fly, but instead you kill me. This is an exaggeration, but the concept is still the same. Should good intent supersede harmful advice/action.

Just this year Michelle Carter was sentenced to two and half years for encouraging her boyfriend to kill himself. The law seems to finally be moving in the direction of the results rather than the intent.

So at what line do you believe anti-science need to cross before the intent can be ignored, and the individual is punished for the results?
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Re: Should convincing someone of a bad idea lead to prosecution?
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2017, 11:02:31 PM »
Intent is often too difficult to ascertain with any real confidence. If they were charged with something like negligent homicide, or something, I think intent might have to be considered irrelevant.
God Not Found
"Never criticize someone unless you've walked a mile in his shoes. Then when you criticize him at least you'll be a mile away - and you'll have his shoes."
Ray Magliozzi
"Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted at all."

Re: Should convincing someone of a bad idea lead to prosecution?
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2017, 11:25:11 PM »
So at what line do you believe anti-science need to cross before the intent can be ignored, and the individual is punished for the results?
Obviously, spreading rumors and misinformation has a negative impact on society.  We saw that with otherwise non-existent measles outbreaks due to people not vaccinating their kids because they were influenced by anti-vaxxer ideology online.

But the question of doling out prison sentences to people who give bad advice is a tricky one.

First off, the people dispensing the bad advice usually have no idea that it's bad advice.  (If they were smart enough to know better, they wouldn't be passing it off as good advice)  The harm is often well-intentioned, not malicious.

Secondly, who is truly to blame, the fool or the fool who follows him?

If I tell you that a seatbelt will snap your neck in a car crash (knowing full well that they don't) and you don't wear a seatbelt and get seriously injured in a crash, isn't that mostly on you for being fool enough to believe me?

The law does crack down on some forms of fraud - Hydra's cancer-curing codfish oil would certainly be illegal.  But Hydra's Health and Wellbeing codfish nutritional supplement implied to maybe help with cancer (this product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease), that's legally a-okay.

You wouldn't prosecute a guy just for wanting people to feel healthier (and shipping them the pureed codfish eyes they crave for a small fee), would you?
« Last Edit: September 09, 2017, 11:28:09 PM by Hydra009 »

Online Coveny (OP)

Re: Should convincing someone of a bad idea lead to prosecution?
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2017, 11:40:08 PM »
Obviously, spreading rumors and misinformation has a negative impact on society.  We saw that with otherwise non-existent measles outbreaks due to people not vaccinating their kids because they were influenced by anti-vaxxer ideology online.

But the question of doling out prison sentences to people who give bad advice is a tricky one.

First off, the people dispensing the bad advice usually have no idea that it's bad advice.  (If they were smart enough to know better, they wouldn't be passing it off as good advice)  The harm is often well-intentioned, not malicious.

Secondly, who is truly to blame, the fool or the fool who follows him?

If I tell you that a seatbelt will snap your neck in a car crash (knowing full well that they don't) and you don't wear a seatbelt and get seriously injured in a crash, isn't that mostly on you for being fool enough to believe me?

The law does crack down on some forms of fraud - Hydra's cancer-curing codfish oil would certainly be illegal.  But Hydra's Health and Wellbeing codfish nutritional supplement implied to maybe help with cancer (this product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease), that's legally a-okay.

You wouldn't prosecute a guy just for wanting people to feel healthier (and shipping them the pureed codfish eyes they crave for a small fee), would you?

So no punishment at all for the harm they caused even if that harm causes death? Michelle Carter didn't "do" anything but she still got 2.5 years for encouraging someone to kill themselves. How is encouraging someone to do something which leads to their death no also in some way punishable? Seems like there should be some line there somewhere.
Developing ForDebating.com that I hope to populate with intelligent critical thinkers. You can follow updates at https://www.facebook.com/fordebating

Re: Should convincing someone of a bad idea lead to prosecution?
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2017, 11:46:17 PM »
So no punishment at all for the harm they caused even if that harm causes death? Michelle Carter didn't "do" anything but she still got 2.5 years for encouraging someone to kill themselves. How is encouraging someone to do something which leads to their death no also in some way punishable? Seems like there should be some line there somewhere.
You're right, there should be some kind of line, but damned if I know where to draw it.

I've seen people trashtalk each other with one person sometimes suggesting that the other person kill himself.  Hell, I've suggested to certain godspammers that show up here that they should take a long walk off a short pier.  Should I go to the nearest police station and turn myself in?
« Last Edit: September 09, 2017, 11:48:00 PM by Hydra009 »

Offline Baruch

Re: Should convincing someone of a bad idea lead to prosecution?
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2017, 01:26:58 AM »
Law procedure is very approximate.  The hard evidence even is approximate, even DNA and fingerprints.  Labs get that wrong all the time, mostly because people are incompetent, not because of malice.  The people who are malicious ... I would contend are actually insane, and to punish them we are punishing the insane.

I work in medical patient data.  We hold ourselves to high standards, but we still mess up.  When we find an error, we move heaven and earth to correct it, hopefully before it hurts someone.  Lack of data, or confusion of data, can be just as dangerous to diagnosis and treatment, as false data.  I have never known anyone to deliberately put false data in a patient record, or make it more confusing, or delete data.  However even when cleaning up a data mess, sometimes you create an even bigger mess ... that you have to detect and correct also.

In murder there are three degrees in murder, but also three degrees of manslaughter.  If a medical procedure injures or kills a patient, the doctor has malpractice insurance for that.  Similarly the medical practice as a whole.  Supposedly 100,000 people in the US die each year due to medical malpractice ... but I can't see how they can accurately gauge that.  If anyone dies in the hospital ... is that malpractice?  And yes, one can be liable for negligence, as well as actions done.

So for example, in the medical community, if your grandmother says ... use horse lineament for your sprain ... and you are still not fit to climb a ladder afterward, and you fall off and break your neck ... is your grandmother liable?  This is why I an not wanting to be a judge or jury.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2017, 01:29:03 AM by Baruch »
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Online Coveny (OP)

Re: Should convincing someone of a bad idea lead to prosecution?
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2017, 02:36:24 PM »
While this debate could cover areas that don’t lead to deaths, for now I’m just trying to discuss where death occurred. On the point of Michelle Carter what if her intention to end his suffering? There are numerous cases where assisted suicide and mercy killings were prosecuted. Also with Michelle there is the aspect of free speech. How many times have you heard someone say something like “you should kill yourself” or wishing some form of death on another person. So, was the amount or persuasiveness of those statements that caused her to go to jail? Is it ok to say “The world would be a better place without you” once or twice… but at three times … that’s just too much? Or maybe it’s too much when you start listing their failures or maybe even how the world would be a better place without them, or that pain would end. And what about the type of pain as well? Pain from a breakup vs pain from a terminal illness are different situations.

Also, when there are accepted best practices and they aren’t followed we have no problem prosecuting people like Medical Malpractice. I think everyone agrees Doctors intentions is good but the results were bad and cost someone their life. Generally, though it’s only a loss of money, and takes repeated offenses before the doctor loses their license and no they are no longer able to practice medicine. There are rarely criminal charges brought against them, and they don’t serve any time in jail even if they are the cause of multiple people’s deaths. So, there is some precedence that recklessness and stupidity led to people going to jail regardless of intent.

But how incompetent, misguided, stupid, or reckless do you need to be? Does anyone have suggestions or ideas on where those lines should be drawn?
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Offline Baruch

Re: Should convincing someone of a bad idea lead to prosecution?
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2017, 03:56:26 PM »
The State has determined for example, that assisting someone in suicide is illegal, unless the State is the one doing it, of course.  The State determines what is legal, not us.  So trying to convince someone to die ... even by negligence on the part of the suggester (failing to suggest the patient stays alive), or death by negligence on the part of the patient (failure to take available meds), is illegal as well.  Negligence and action are both culpable.  When in the grip of the State apparatus, all are subject to discipline ... they are not free.  The only question is ... is the State unaware or passive toward you, or aware and active toward you.

Now if you mean .. theoretical morality .. I am divided on that question.  Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

There are laws against a financial advisor deliberately giving bad advice to a client, but it is hard to prove intent.  Financial advisors are supposed to be licensed ... same as others offering other professional services.  The punishment is two fold, in theory you might be disbarred from your profession, or you might be subject to criminal or civil suit.  But it doesn't happen often, con artist victims being the simps that they are ;-) ... and enforcers being as worthless as they are.

On particular professions, examine professional codes of ethics online.  That is how they are defined.  State bar association or AMA or Licensed Engineer bureau.

Going to jail however doesn't prove truth .. only guilt.  Ritual purgation of evil from our midst, using Medieval Christian Common Law and Ancient Roman Civil Law.  Bring back trial by combat and trial by ordeal ;-(
« Last Edit: September 10, 2017, 04:00:40 PM by Baruch »
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Online Coveny (OP)

Re: Should convincing someone of a bad idea lead to prosecution?
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2017, 04:55:56 PM »
Oh I'm definitely of the mind that legal doesn't make right. I've just brought up legal cases as examples of the merit of the discussion in general as I foresaw some who would say intent > all. I think most people do feel like intent is important, but I also think the results of the actions can be more important than the intent. I'm not so sure about where the line should be drawn on any of the various aspects.
Developing ForDebating.com that I hope to populate with intelligent critical thinkers. You can follow updates at https://www.facebook.com/fordebating

Offline Cavebear

Re: Should convincing someone of a bad idea lead to prosecution?
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2017, 12:49:30 AM »
Oh I'm definitely of the mind that legal doesn't make right. I've just brought up legal cases as examples of the merit of the discussion in general as I foresaw some who would say intent > all. I think most people do feel like intent is important, but I also think the results of the actions can be more important than the intent. I'm not so sure about where the line should be drawn on any of the various aspects.

So far as I understand it, opinion is not illegal, intent matters, and action is actionable.  Meaning, you can express the stupidest opinion you have and be safe, what you are trying to accomplish with that opinion matters to the law, and doing something about your opinion, like preventing others from acting on their own views, can subject you to legal action.
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!

Offline Baruch

Re: Should convincing someone of a bad idea lead to prosecution?
« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2017, 01:05:58 AM »
Oh I'm definitely of the mind that legal doesn't make right. I've just brought up legal cases as examples of the merit of the discussion in general as I foresaw some who would say intent > all. I think most people do feel like intent is important, but I also think the results of the actions can be more important than the intent. I'm not so sure about where the line should be drawn on any of the various aspects.

In law I think (not being an attorney) ... actions merit first, then intent usually modulates that.  Is it murder or manslaughter?  And it modulates punishment.
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Offline Cavebear

Re: Should convincing someone of a bad idea lead to prosecution?
« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2017, 02:20:40 AM »
In law I think (not being an attorney) ... actions merit first, then intent usually modulates that.  Is it murder or manslaughter?  And it modulates punishment.

Good agreement, thank you.
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!

Online Coveny (OP)

Re: Should convincing someone of a bad idea lead to prosecution?
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2017, 10:55:08 PM »
In law I think (not being an attorney) ... actions merit first, then intent usually modulates that.  Is it murder or manslaughter?  And it modulates punishment.

And yet a doctor who kills numerous patients won't see a day in jail. The people who support the anti-vax movement that has brought back illness that have killed children will see no jail time. We have started to punish parents who don't take their children to the doctor even though their intent is that god will save them, but it's not across the board, and we still let parents prevent lifesaving treatments on religious grounds with no punishment.
Developing ForDebating.com that I hope to populate with intelligent critical thinkers. You can follow updates at https://www.facebook.com/fordebating

Offline Baruch

Re: Should convincing someone of a bad idea lead to prosecution?
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2017, 12:17:03 AM »
And yet a doctor who kills numerous patients won't see a day in jail. The people who support the anti-vax movement that has brought back illness that have killed children will see no jail time. We have started to punish parents who don't take their children to the doctor even though their intent is that god will save them, but it's not across the board, and we still let parents prevent lifesaving treatments on religious grounds with no punishment.

Be prepared to be disappointed in life.  People suck.  Get sucking, sucker ;-)

Maybe you are obsessed with punishment ... are you Hades?

If I were a conventional theist, I would be happy to see all you burn in Hell ... does that count?
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Offline Cavebear

Re: Should convincing someone of a bad idea lead to prosecution?
« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2017, 03:42:25 AM »
And yet a doctor who kills numerous patients won't see a day in jail. The people who support the anti-vax movement that has brought back illness that have killed children will see no jail time. We have started to punish parents who don't take their children to the doctor even though their intent is that god will save them, but it's not across the board, and we still let parents prevent lifesaving treatments on religious grounds with no punishment.

Anti-vaccine parents should see jail time for both public health threats and child abuse.
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!