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Teenage League of Legends Player Jailed For Months For Facebook Joke 743

Posted by Soulskill
from the a-very-unwise-joke dept.
Kohath writes "Eighteen-year-old Justin Carter of Austin, Texas was arguing with a friend on Facebook about League of Legends back in February. After being called 'insane,' he responded with 'Oh yeah, I'm real messed up in the head, I'm going to go shoot up a school full of kids and eat their still, beating hearts.' Below that, he wrote 'lol' and 'jk.' He was arrested March 27, 2013 and has been in jail since that time. A hearing to review his case is scheduled for July 1, 2013. His parents have launched a change.org petition to convince the authorities to release their son."
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Teenage League of Legends Player Jailed For Months For Facebook Joke

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  • So much for... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Friday June 28, 2013 @11:18AM (#44133409) Homepage Journal
    ...freedom of speech.

    He wasn't actually making a direct threat at any place or thing...just shooting off his mouth.

    Sad that you can be arrested for just a general saying of something.

    • Re:So much for... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ganjadude (952775) on Friday June 28, 2013 @11:24AM (#44133509) Homepage
      thought crimes?? I mean seriously everyone knows that if you are going to do something stupid like that, you dont post about it, you dont joke about it, you just do it. Its never the ones who say things like that you need to worry about its the ones who are silent to watch out for.

      Im most likely moving to austin in the next few months, not a fan of hearing this though
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Well, that's not always the case. [cnn.com]. And when hindsight reveals that a killer had joked or made facebook posts or otherwise gave warning signs about the destruction to come, and police write it off as just some kid harmlessly blowing off steam, the public invariably crucifies them for failing to follow up on the warning signs.

        So... they're damned if they do, and damned if they don't. Yes, in retrospect it's easy to see which ones really were just harmless sarcastic jokes and which ones were obvious warning

        • Re:So much for... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by pixelpusher220 (529617) on Friday June 28, 2013 @11:58AM (#44134133)
          "the public invariably crucifies them for failing to follow up"

          Two wrongs don't make a right...
        • Re:So much for... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by SecurityTheatre (2427858) on Friday June 28, 2013 @12:06PM (#44134273)

          The public is wrong for crucifying them for not arresting the 50,000 or so teenagers who, each month, make a crass joke about violence on the Internet.

          That doesn't make them justified to arrest this kid, unless we're seriously short on information and he was clear that he owned a bunch of guns and planned to use them.

          I don't have a problem if this anonymous Canadian lady perhaps called his parents and told them... nosy as hell, but not life destroying.

          But phoning police is absurd.

        • by ganjadude (952775)
          depends on how he looks at it when he comes out. What happens when he comes out and thinks to himself "well, everyone thinks i was gonna shoot up a school, everyone treated me like i was gonna shoot up a school, i might as well shoot up a school so at least i did what i was accused of doing"
        • Total cop out (Score:5, Insightful)

          by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot@keirste ... minus physicist> on Friday June 28, 2013 @12:11PM (#44134371) Homepage

          No, they are MOST CERTAINLY NOT "damned if they do and damned f they don't". There is a big difference between doing an ACTUAL INVESTIGATION, and arresting someone without any critical thought or due process.

          If any actual critical thinking was applied here, this kid would not be arrested.

          No one has a problem with the police investigating threats. They are not "damned if they do". The problem starts when they just go off arresting people without any thoughts on if, you know, they actually meant whatever was being written.

        • And when hindsight reveals that a killer had joked or made facebook posts or otherwise gave warning signs about the destruction to come, and police write it off as just some kid harmlessly blowing off steam, the public invariably crucifies them for failing to follow up on the warning signs.

          Sure, some people often suffer from jerky-knee syndrome, but one (non-specific) joke/comment doesn't really constitute "warning signs".

        • Re:So much for... (Score:4, Informative)

          by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Friday June 28, 2013 @12:42PM (#44134801)

          And when hindsight reveals that a killer had joked or made facebook posts or otherwise gave warning signs about the destruction to come, and police write it off as just some kid harmlessly blowing off steam, the public invariably crucifies them for failing to follow up on the warning signs.

          Educated people, such as doctors or statisticians, have a term for this: "low specificity". It basically means you can't take a single symptom as a reason to throw somebody in jail/prescibe a treatment until you also have other symptoms to back your hypothesis up.

        • They really should do some actual investigating before just locking him up. If he had plans for bombs, or bombs, or some sort of credible weapon, then yeah you can arrest him. Until then, keep an eye on him. They do shit like this blowing things out of proportion, while some crazy person is really planning on doing it, but they don't do their jobs. It should have been pretty easy to get a search warrant for his premises and then to have actually searched them.

          School shootings aren't really that common,

        • Re:So much for... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by interkin3tic (1469267) on Friday June 28, 2013 @01:39PM (#44135591)

          the public invariably crucifies them for failing to follow up on the warning signs

          Do they really? I see exponentially more outrage at the war on drugs, the patriot act, PRISM and TSA than I do at law enforcement letting the odd criminal slip by. Law enforcement seems to withstand YEARS of complaints about racial profiling and jail for nonviolent offenders, yet they have to utterly destroy this teenager because they might be questioned if he were to have done something?

          Lets not make excuses for them. They crushed him like a bug for a trifling offense because they could.

        • He wasn't making a threat in jest. He was making a joking interpretation of the word "insane", which had been wrongly applied to him. The point was to underscore the absurdity of the insult. And underscore it he did, with a bright highlighter across the entire state of Texas and the sadistic government operations that go under the banner of "law enforcement" there.
        • by Dahamma (304068)

          Was the jail sentence an overreaction? Perhaps.

          Perhaps?? It was't even a *sentence*. He hasn't even had a trial yet. According to the article the police didn't even question him for a MONTH after they arrested and imprisoned him, and now over 4 months later he's still sitting in jail for a silly comment on a Facebook page. This is not only "overreaction", it's practically Guantanamo, Texas.

          What if someone on slashdot cut and pasted the quote into a post but forgot to use quotation marks? There is no

      • Re:So much for... (Score:4, Informative)

        by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday June 28, 2013 @12:05PM (#44134247) Homepage Journal

        I have a cousin who spent ten years in prison for posession; not sure what drug or what amount, but considering your username I'd move to Colorado or Washington State if I were you (possession of small amounts is a civil offense with a small fine here in Springfield). Texas is the closest thing to Singapore the US has when it comes to laws.

        Seriously, you should stay out of Texas. Ever heard Uneasy Rider? [youtube.com]

      • by Quila (201335)

        By this criteria, half the 13 year-olds on XBox Live should be in jail.

    • Alec Baldwin (Score:5, Interesting)

      by transporter_ii (986545) on Friday June 28, 2013 @11:37AM (#44133757) Homepage

      Contrast that to Alec Baldwin, who was making a direct threat: Alec Baldwin Melts Down On Twitter, Threatens To 'F*ck Up' Reporter

      http://gawker.com/alec-baldwin-melts-down-on-twitter-threatens-to-fuck-604856776 [gawker.com]

      I wonder if the rich still have their rights?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by operagost (62405)
        Dunno. The elite are confusing me this week. They applaud the shutdown of Paula Deen, a financial and emotional supporter of Obama, because she may have said the "N-word" 20 years ago; but this is like the third time Baldwin has made a bigoted statement and he's still working. I guess it's because the President isn't in any of the groups he's attacked (yet).
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by rubycodez (864176)

          what's really funny is that Obama, by his own words in autobiography, used racist words and held racist beliefs couple decades ago, moreover went to a church that taught hate and racism from the pulpit. so should Obama lose his job?

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      If he plays his cards right he can retire before he's 20. As you noted, this was a gross violation of his civil rights. With the right lawyer, he'll be a rich man when he's grown.

  • Sarcasm (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 28, 2013 @11:20AM (#44133447)

    A teenager being sarcastic? No way that *never* happens.

    • Re:Sarcasm (Score:4, Insightful)

      by intermodal (534361) on Friday June 28, 2013 @11:47AM (#44133923) Homepage Journal

      This is just the perfect thread to remind everyone that text has no tone. And a perfect time to remind everyone that we need to stop letting this kind of nonsense by law enforcement go unchallenged. There's nothing about that statement that implies seriousness, and in fact the eating of hearts makes it even more obvious that there is nothing to justify what they've done here.

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday June 28, 2013 @11:21AM (#44133457) Homepage Journal

    The statements “lol” and “jk” — meaning “laughing out loud” and “just kidding” — indicate that Justin’s statement was entirely sarcastic, said his father.

    But a Canadian woman who saw the post looked up Carter’s Austin address, determined that it was near an elementary school, and called the police.

    Fucking Canadians...

    • by ganjadude (952775)
      so let me get this right. someone from another country some 2K miles away from the situation at hand decided to meddle in something that was not their concern?
    • Re:Oh, Canada... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sponge Bath (413667) on Friday June 28, 2013 @11:26AM (#44133543)
      What she did was stupid, and the result of being a nosey busybody, none of which is unusual. What the authorities have done is madness and dangerous.
  • Uhhh what? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Friday June 28, 2013 @11:22AM (#44133467)

    A Change.org petition? Do people still think those have any relevance to the people they petition? Has a Change.org petition ever had any meaningful effect?

    • by Synerg1y (2169962)

      Yes, they made national news.

    • by gweihir (88907)

      Au contraire! These petitions are very valuable to identify malcontents, troublemakers, politically unreliables and other enemies of the state and all that is good and proper. When they begin to round up all these dangerous criminals in the not too distant future, the list generated will come in very handy.

  • by Ice Tiger (10883) on Friday June 28, 2013 @11:23AM (#44133497)

    Your tax dollars at work here people.

  • Old News?? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by randomuser2 (1626103) on Friday June 28, 2013 @11:24AM (#44133507)
    The real shame here is that we're hearing about this now, after the kid's been in jail for 3 months. WTF?
  • by Yosho (135835) on Friday June 28, 2013 @11:27AM (#44133555) Homepage

    Really, how could he get away with saying something like this:

    eat their still, beating hearts.

    That is entirely the wrong place to put a comma. How could a heart be both still and beating? If you really have to have some kind of punctuation there, "still-beating heart" would be acceptable.

  • his crime? (Score:5, Informative)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Friday June 28, 2013 @11:29AM (#44133585) Journal
    In case anyone wonders what crime he could be accused of with those words, from the article: "Authorities charged him with making a terrorist threat. If convicted, he will face eight years in prison."

    I also found this bit from the article hilarious: "“Justin was the kind of kid who didn’t read the newspaper,” said [father] Jack Carter. “He didn’t watch television. He wasn’t aware of current events. These kids, they don’t realize what they’re doing. They don’t understand the implications. They don’t understand.”
    • Re:his crime? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Andrio (2580551) on Friday June 28, 2013 @11:50AM (#44133981)
      "Authorities charged him with making a terrorist threat. If convicted, he will face eight years in prison."

      Greetings, humans. I am a traveler from another world, trying to study your civilization. You humans are a strange race. In all my travels I've never seen a single race capable of such altruism and beauty as humans. And yet, conversely, I've also never seen a race capable of such evil and ugliness. One wonders your future: will both sides even out, resulting in mediocrity? Or will one side triumph out over the other, either blessing--or cursing--the entire galaxy and all life as a whole?

      Such a peculiar species.

      Another mystery, which has been solved just now, was the bizarre and disproportionate punishments and reactions to certain speech, such as this pre-adult being arrested for an obviously ficticious statement of no malicious intent. But I understand now! If something gets labeled "terrorism", then regular laws and common sense do not apply! Authority figures are allowed to do anything they want, arrest anyone they want, or attack anyone they want. All that is needed is the "terrorist" label.

      I don't see the sense in this personally. In fact, it seems awfully silly. But then again, it's your civilization--you should be free to explore your own destiny. I'm just here to observe. (This statement won't be interpreted as terrorism will it?).
  • Sad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by space_jake (687452) on Friday June 28, 2013 @11:42AM (#44133825)
    Land of the sensational, home of the afraid.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 28, 2013 @11:46AM (#44133891)

    This is the age when the humorless will finally get their revenge.
    Be aware, we are on to you!

  • by Cito (1725214) on Friday June 28, 2013 @12:00PM (#44134149) Homepage

    I'm gonna go shoot up a school, perhaps bomb wall street and throw M80's at the white house

    jk

    jk = just killing

    • by DrGamez (1134281)

      Boy I sure hope someone doesn't decide to call the cops on you 4 months from now.

      I type this as a joke but now, looking at this story again... I actually really hope nobody decide to call the cops on you - because apparently what you have typed is now a clear legitimate threat?

      I don't want to live on this planet anymore.

  • which city? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by orgelspieler (865795) <.w0lfie. .at. .mac.com.> on Friday June 28, 2013 @12:19PM (#44134481) Journal

    So is this kid from Houston or Austin? I've read it both ways. One of my wife's co-workers had a problem with the pizza delivery guy. Her husband made some choice comments to the little jack-ass. Later that night the cops came a-knockin'. Threw the guy in jail. The little bastard pressed charges of making a terrorist threat. This was in Houston. So no big surprise with this story. The only shocking thing is that we didn't hear about it three months ago.

    HPD and friends have a history of shitty things like this. Just last Christmas an off-duty sheriff shot and killed a shoplifter in a Walmart parking lot. He claimed they were trying to run him over. I got pulled over for going 35 in a 35, because it was "almost time" for it to be a school zone. They arrested hundreds at a parking lot for trespassing even though some of them were actually eating at Sonic or shopping at Kmart.

  • by wile_e_wonka (934864) on Friday June 28, 2013 @12:38PM (#44134741)

    For once I actually RTFA, because I couldn't think of a crime this kid could have been charged with. He is charged with "making a terroristic threat."

    Then I wondered what that means, feeling a bit surprised that this kid's actions could be interpreted as a terroristic threat (though, I think we can all agree that sometimes summaries on /. and descriptions in news can be innaccurate, which may very well be the case here), so I found this summary of the common elements of the crime of "making a terroristic threat":

    http://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/making-a-terrorist-threat.html [legalmatch.com]

    Basically, my conclusion is that, yes, we should all be afraid--This is getting into "thought crime" territory.

  • by ChromaticDragon (1034458) on Friday June 28, 2013 @01:18PM (#44135317)

    Why is this chap still in jail?

    I've read the articles. Maybe my Google-Fu is weak today. But I cannot find anything that explicitly states why either he was denied bail or the bail was set ludicrously high.

    Having to go to court for this is silly enough. But did a judge seriously deem this teen so much a threat as to deny him bail? I'd really like to know because it would seem to me a judge is who should have added some sanity to this issue.

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