Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Should “Consent” Be a Defense to Murder?


The proprietor of a Japanese how-to-commit-suicide WEB site has been arrested for murder, apparently for killing a woman who asked to be murdered. From the story:

Saito, a 33-year-old electrician in Ichihara, Chiba Prefecture, opened the bulletin board site in June 2006 under a handle name. He posted such messages as "I will help you commit suicide" and "I will undertake whatever job, legal or illegal."

He was arrested in July on suspicion of violating the Narcotic and Psychotropic Drug Control Law and was later indicted. On Wednesday, Saito was arrested on suspicion of murdering Sayaka Nishizawa, 21, in April in Kawasaki's Takatsu Ward.

Through the Web site, Nishizawa asked Saito to kill her and paid him 200,000 yen for the job, police said. On April 12, Saito gave her 20 to 30 sleeping drugs to end her life and wrapped a plastic bag around her head to ensure she was dead, police said.

I should note that this is the method of "suicide counseling" that has often been used by our local suicide purveyors. (The illustration above is of the infamous "Exit Bag" sold by a Canadian assisted suicide group.) But let's leave that aside for the moment. Should her consent be a defense?

That is certainly the rationale behind euthanasia in the Netherlands and was Kevorkian's excuse for murdering Thomas Youk. I recall also a few years ago, a German case in which a man advertised that he was willing to murder and eat anyone who wanted to be murdered and eaten. (Here's Debra's take on that 2004 case.) He got a taker and was not charged with murder due to the consent issue. Sick, I know. But when I was in law school, I was taught that consent is not a defense to murder. Should that change? If not, we had better change our current course.


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