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Author Topic: Silly question about law, suicide, and SOPA/PIPA/OPEN/ACTA  (Read 433 times)
ZeronHitaro
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« on: January 25, 2012, 04:24:10 AM »

I know this might come off as a bit stupid sounding but I have to ask somewhere; as this question's been floating around my head for a few days and I know very little about law or politics to even begin formulating an answer. (I ask here since people are both generally knowledgeable and less likely to bite your head off for asking a bad question.) >//<; So please allow me to wax theoretical for a moment and forgive the general ignorance on my part.

P.S: I confess I may get my terms wrong; this is the best my research into this question has granted so far.

Let's say in theory all the legislation in the title comes to pass. Social networking sites, art hubs, ect. will all basically erase themselves from the internet; as there is no way any single group or individual can monitor the sheer number of people passing through any one site at any one given time and censor all forms of copyright material that may be posted 24/7/365. I think we can universally agree, even without spending time going through the hows/whys/whos, that this would be a major psychological blow to a great number of people across the world.

People spiral into suicidal depression over smaller things on a semi-regular basis. Loss of a job, loss of a singular friend or lover, hard times, ect. It's pretty much undeniable that in the wake of such legislation all of these things can and will happen in tandem to multiple individuals (inflated in some cases by the addiction some members of society have regarding the internet). It is also undeniable (because of the sheer number of people this will effect) that an uncertain number of them will enter suicidal depression and that amongst those number a smaller portion will follow that path through to its tragic end.

Now allow me to make an analogy and tie this all together.

Say you pick a gun up, knowing full well it is loaded, and fire it in a general direction. If the bullet fired from that gun strikes and kills someone you are guilty of Manslaughter. If you attempt fire it into a crowd and the gun fails to discharge, without intent to kill any specific individual, that's Attempted Manslaughter.

SOPA/PIPA/OPEN/ACTA are loaded guns (by virtue of the end results I describe above) and their passing would be firing them in the 'general direction' of the internet; a crowd of millions of people from around the world.

So my question is; why aren't the members of the American government who are trying to pass these things guilty of Attempted Manslaughter?
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Hathen
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« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2012, 05:03:25 AM »

There's a line drawn somewhere between when someone is culpable and someone isn't. If lawmakers and such could be held responsible for such far-reaching effects of their proposed legislation it'd be like putting someone in jail because they caused someone to commit suicide through saying something really, really mean.

As a general rule it's also a bad idea to predicts things beyond what a law will directly effect (at least in the realm of law) because then you're venturing into arguing from ignorance. I could just as easily say that cutting someone suicidally depressed off from the Internet will force them to leave their house for the first time in a long while, causing them to face things that may dissuade them from their plan.
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ZeronHitaro
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« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2012, 05:10:42 AM »

That's a pretty solid answer. Personally I was thinking such a thing is more an 'immediate reaction' rather than 'far reaching' though. If, in theory, the internet suddenly 'died' culture in the long term would move on and adapt like it always does. It's more the sudden aftermath I was thinking of. Probably a fault in my analogy when I was thinking of it in those terms.
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Prime Mover
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« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2012, 02:45:06 PM »

Yeah, someone can't be convicted of a crime unless they themselves committed it. Doing something that may (or may not) lead to someone else committing a crime or accidental death is not grounds for prosecution under general circumstances. This reminds me of billboards along interstate highways. Statistics have proven without question that putting a billboard on a stretch of highway will result in a certain amount of highway deaths every year. However, the fault is still with the driver who allowed themselves to become distracted, not with the advertising agency.

This is one of the many instances where morality and legality don't mix. I can think of many highly amoral things you can do that are completely within legal perameters. Let's say some psychopath gets ahold of a suicide hotline phone list. Then they call each person, yells at them, and dares them to kill themselves. It would be VERY difficult to convict the person of anything, because the final decision and action was taken by the suicidal person, not the creep who called them. I dunno, there may be some laws on the books for very special case scenarios, and I know there are many laws about interacting with children.

But the shutting down of social networks is no different then the placement of billboards on a highway. Yes, we know that it WILL lead to death, but in every individual case, the death can't be blamed on the shutting down of the network.
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