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

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 @12:18PM (#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.

  • by Ice Tiger ( 10883 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @12:23PM (#44133497)

    Your tax dollars at work here people.

  • Old News?? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by randomuser2 ( 1626103 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @12:24PM (#44133507)
    The real shame here is that we're hearing about this now, after the kid's been in jail for 3 months. WTF?
  • Re:So much for... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @12:24PM (#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:Oh, Canada... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sponge Bath ( 413667 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @12:26PM (#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.
  • Re:So much for... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @12:27PM (#44133559)

    Yes Freedom is more important than general safety.

    When the government says you can't have or do X because it is unsafe. It allows them to take the next step and say the next thing is unsafe and you shouldn't do it.

  • by Synerg1y ( 2169962 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @12:31PM (#44133637)

    The teen's stupid, the woman's human waste, and... the authorities don't know what jk means. When he gets out I hope they sue for 1st amendment rights violations. Whoever issued that warrant is the real monster here.

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 28, 2013 @12:32PM (#44133651)

    It happened countless times. It shouldn't count as a fallacy anymore.

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

    by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @12:33PM (#44133675) Journal

    And yet he is still allowed to own guns... Because that freedom is so much more important

    Flamebait, but I'll bite:

    If he made a joke about drunk driving, do you think his driving privileges should be permanently revoked too?

    There's a *huge* difference between a credible threat leveled at a specific target, and just farting around. If you cannot tell the difference, kindly stop your internet service, burn your computer, and cancel your TV/cable/sat subscription.

  • Sad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by space_jake ( 687452 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @12:42PM (#44133825)
    Land of the sensational, home of the afraid.
  • Re:Oh, Canada... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sjames ( 1099 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @12:46PM (#44133917) Homepage Journal

    It's something this particular American and many more here on /. regularly call for an end to.

  • Re:Sarcasm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by intermodal ( 534361 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @12:47PM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Friday June 28, 2013 @12:52PM (#44134023)

    Fallacy: Slippery slope argument.

    How can you say that considering all the bullshit coming out of Washington, DC lately? The government always abusing their power? The NSA was able to get away with it for so long because of abuse of the PATRIOT Act. The TSA is constantly going way beyond their original purpose.

    The Slippery Slope argument is not only true but it is a fact.

    Actually, I can't think of when it's NOT true.

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

    by Antipater ( 2053064 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @12:54PM (#44134041)

    Freedom of speech does not absolve one from responsibility for the consequences of the speech in question.

    Depends on what consequences you're talking about.
    People around you thinking you're an asshole and never talking to you again? No, it doesn't protect you from that.
    Getting arrested and jailed? Yes, in fact, it does protect you from that; that's the entire meaning of the term.

  • Re:So much for... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Deep Esophagus ( 686515 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @12:54PM (#44134049)

    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 signs, because we know how the story turned out.

    Was the jail sentence an overreaction? Perhaps. By the time they got to that point they had probably sorted out whether he had a real problem or if he was just sarcastically responding to someone else's comment. But in a world where school shootings are entirely too common and too real, he's got to learn that you can't say stuff like that and not have any consequences. This isn't punishment for a crime he didn't commit; this is ensuring that he doesn't create panic and waste police time with more idiotic statements in the future.

    I'm not saying that they did the right thing. I'm just saying, it isn't so black-and-white. They can be too slow to respond and risk finding out the hard way that those "jokes" were a cry for help, or they can be too quick to respond and crack down on somebody for making an innocent, if tasteless, comment. I'm sure glad I never have to make that decision!

  • Re:So much for... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cybertears ( 778765 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @12:55PM (#44134061)
    I'd like to sponsor this initiative. Is there a project up on KickStarter?
  • Re:So much for... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vidnet ( 580068 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @12:57PM (#44134101) Homepage

    In a Twilight Zone revelation, the authorities do exactly what the people want them to do.

    They're showing a "tough and uncompromising stance on terror" which gets you public support. What if? Think of the children! (except the ones you jail, obviously). If he did happen to have something they could pin on him, they've "stopped a terrorist", gaining more public support.

    If they had done nothing and nothing happened, no one would have cared either way. If they had done nothing and something happened, there would be public outrage, mass firing and countless inquisitions.

    Arresting him was the logical thing.

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

    by magarity ( 164372 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @12:57PM (#44134103)

    And yet he is still allowed to own guns... Because that freedom is so much more important

    Both freedom of speech and freedom to bear arms are explicitly enumerated in the constitution so what's your point, exactly? Other than his free speech is being trampled upon?

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

    by pixelpusher220 ( 529617 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @12:58PM (#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 gnick ( 1211984 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @01:05PM (#44134267) Homepage

    I'm curious as to what 'crime' he made by expressing himself this way.

    I think the problem is a little more complicated than that.
    1) Somebody got a phone call from an idiot saying that they believed someone was making a threat.
    2) This person realizes that there is no threat, BUT, if the kid for some unrelated reason commits some act of violence and the media finds out that a warning was ignored, they'll have a field day and the person will be crucified.
    3) So, the person who received the phone call passes along the fact that they got it and it's in somebody else's lap who, using the same logic, feels the need to at least make a show of taking some sort of action.
    4) Spirals out of control and we get a ridiculous arrest over a stupid, but innocent, sarcastic comment.

    Welcome to the modern age...

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

    by SecurityTheatre ( 2427858 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @01:06PM (#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.

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

    by SJHiIlman ( 2957043 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @01:09PM (#44134337)

    and I am also free to take the consequences of my action.

    Then countries such as North Korea must have as much freedom of speech as the US... but there are consequences for exercising the right. That's all. Just consequences.

  • Total cop out (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brunes69 ( 86786 ) <slashdot&keirstead,org> on Friday June 28, 2013 @01:11PM (#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.

  • by syntaxterror7 ( 2688969 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @01:29PM (#44134615)
    If we have a right, the government can not just claim "saftey first!" and subjugate that right, just because they say. If they can then we never had any rights to begin with and we have a larger problem
  • Re:So much for... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by IronChef ( 164482 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @01:36PM (#44134693)

    We've already institutionalized "no joke" zones at airports. Unfortunately, it is only a matter of time before there are more such restrictions.

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

    by DrGamez ( 1134281 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @01:39PM (#44134743)

    There should be no remorse for what was said. Out of all the countless conversations that get monitored and picked up, what this kid said amounts to saying "I will blow up the President with a billion nuclear bombs." It's just a completely ridiculous statement, especially when it's followed up with a "lol", "jk".

    This is not a threat to shoot up a school, this is - if anything - some kind of morbid joke that highlights the ridiculousness of the earlier accusation that he was insane.

    Poe's Law.

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

    by PRMan ( 959735 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @01:43PM (#44134813)
    Nope, just in jail for 4½ months for making a joke post immediately followed by LOL JK. But no sentence...
  • Re:So much for... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drakaan ( 688386 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @01:46PM (#44134877) Homepage Journal

    I think a stand-up comic making this same joke might make people uncomfortable, but wouldn't be jailed for it. That's one of the (many) problems with arresting people for thoughtcrimes...there's no way to be objective about humor.

    If "lol...j/k" isn't enough to indicate that a statement shouldn't be taken seriously, then what is? What's on the government-approved list of acceptable metaphors for "batshit crazy"?

  • by AmazingRuss ( 555076 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @02:03PM (#44135119)

    Well, you're going to have to figure out some way to make kids not be stupid then. After thousands of years of failure, I don't think you will have much luck on that score.

    A more prudent approach would be to make adults accept the fact that kids are stupid.

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

    by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @02:14PM (#44135271) Homepage Journal

    I already replied to this thread, so I can't mod you up. I'm going to agree with you and disagree with the other respondents. When people make comments like he did, there is at least limited probable cause for investigation.

    No, there isn't. Can you show me any statistical significant link between making jokes like this and committing the crimes?

    If you note the ONE guy who went postal who also posted stuff online, that's not a statistical significant link. He also carried a red backpack. Should everyone carrying a red backpack be investigated then?

  • by ChromaticDragon ( 1034458 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @02:18PM (#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.

  • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @02:31PM (#44135515) Journal
    Slippery slope is a fallacy only when there is no evidence that the slope exists.

    It's well produce proven that government will in fact stretch any powers they are given to the limit. As example, the US federal government was given the power to regulate commerce between the states. Based on that power, they made it illegal to grow vegetables in your home garden, for you to eat. There's nothing interstate about that, and no commerce, but nevertheless govt did that under the interstate commerce clause.
  • Re:So much for... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by NouberNou ( 1105915 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @02:37PM (#44135573)
    Yea, learn to read idjit. Access to. You make the entire gun debate a walk in the park for anti-gun people, so just shut up and sit in a corner and let reasonable people debate.
  • Re:So much for... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pixelpusher220 ( 529617 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @02:38PM (#44135583)
    So if someone tells a woman 'Fuck You' he should be charged with rape? Context matters and it's exquisitely clear from the quoted context he was being sarcastic.
  • Re:So much for... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @02:39PM (#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.

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

    by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @02:42PM (#44135651) Homepage
    Exactly. Makes this whole mess even more offensive to justice.
  • Re: So much for... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by knight24k ( 1115643 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @02:45PM (#44135683)
    I hate getting into a gun control debate on this thread and replying to an AC to boot but.... what massive killings? Out of a nation of 300 million we have approx ~15k gun deaths annually. Granted, any death is tragic but I would hardly call it massive compared to other causes of death. The majority of these are criminal with accidental and suicides thrown in. Even if you make the case that all of the suicides would have been saved (good luck making that case), criminals will still be able to get weapons since they are...(wait for it) criminals.

    The UK tried this in 97. In the 5 years after their gun ban violent crime doubled, violent crime with handguns (not including air weapons) quadrupled and handgun murders doubled (Home Office Statistical Bulletin Jan 2003). It took them another 7 years to get their crime back down to where it started in the first place. All this for a nation that had an annual gun homicide rate of 50 in 1997. As it is, today they estimate there are in excess of 5 million illegal guns on the streets of the UK (as reported by the UK press) and that 1 in 5 Brits know how to get a gun if they need one. This is gun control working? Also keep in mind the UK is an island, has 1/10 the population of the US and even they cannot control guns effectively. Exactly how are we to do it when we can't even keep illegal drugs out (and that is a whole different can of worms).

    Guns are not the problem. We have a violent society and we are no longer properly identifying and caring for our mentally ill citizens. We need to fix the cause not the result.
  • Re:So much for... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Applekid ( 993327 ) on Friday June 28, 2013 @03:16PM (#44136045)

    Right, so the slippery slope in the gun control debate is that the constitution only allows for a well-trained militia to keep their guns, but gun-owners have forced it to become anybody's right regardless of training or participation in a militia. The government is trying to go back up the slope (with mandatory ID and criminal record checks), but they just keep sliding back down.

    No, the constitution recognizes the need for a regulated militia and the right of the people. Otherwise:

    1. It would be self contradictory, since regulating your militia is, in turn, regulating arms, which the text says shall not be infringed
    2. It wouldn't be located next to the third amendment, which also puts the freedom of the people over soldiers of the union
    3. It would be unique, as the fifth amendment also refer to the militia as external to the people
    4. It would be misplaced, as rights specifically granted to a government entity (states) that wasn't already addressed in the articles is all the way in the back at amendment ten
    5. It would be redundant, since the military is already presumed to exist as in Article 2

    Anyone can argue whether they like it or not, but the fact is the second amendment, quite clearly, refers to the right of the people. Anyone claiming otherwise is mistaken at best and selectively manipulative at worst.

  • Re:Total cop out (Score:4, Insightful)

    by void* ( 20133 ) on Saturday June 29, 2013 @09:59AM (#44141827)

    "They have a responsibility to arrest him and see what his intentions were" is one of the scariest statements I've read in this thread.

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