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Texas Teen Has Been in Jail for Months Over Bad-Taste Facebook Joke Taken for "Threat"

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This particular idiocy just came to my attention today, via a KHOU.com Houston report from earlier this week:

Justin Carter was 18 back in February when an online video game "League of Legends" took an ugly turn on Facebook. 

Jack Carter says his son Justin and a friend got into an argument with someone on Facebook about the game and the teenager wrote a comment he now regrets. 

"Someone had said something to the effect of 'Oh you're insane, you're crazy, you're messed up in the head,' to which he replied '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,' and the next two lines were lol and jk.," said Carter. 

"LOL" stands for "laughing out loud," and "jk" means "just kidding," but police didn't think it was funny. Neither did a woman from Canada who saw the posting. 

Justin's dad says the woman did a Google search and found his son's old address was near an elementary school and she called police. 

Justin Carter was arrested the next month and has been jailed since March 27. He's charged with making a terroristic threat and is facing eight years in prison, according to his dad. 

Daily Caller reports police reaction:

Authorities noted that recent school shootings like the one in Newtown, Connecticut have caused them to evaluate all potential threats seriously. Newtown was still fresh in their minds at the time of Carter's arrest.

"In light of recent situations, statements such as the one Justin made are taken seriously," said an Austin police detective in a statement.

Reason on a case earlier this month–one where grand jury ultimately failed to indict–of a kid's Facebook writings getting him arrested, in this case "violent" rap lyrics.

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  1. Neither did a woman from Canada who saw the posting.

    If you see something, say something.

  2. We really need an alien invasion or something to help us get some perspective. I can see taking crazy kids more seriously now than in the past, but that’s maybe investigating or checking the background of the kid, not imprisoning him. I mean, come on.

    1. Seriously, everything gets you thrown in jail these days. It’s insane.

      1. How else are prison stocks so supposed to go up?

    2. Can you imagine what a boost it is to a cop’s career to be able to say “I stopped the next Sandy Hook!”

      1. How they got to fifty terrorist incidents stopped finally makes sense to me. Here’s one.

    3. Reminds me of a fire-fighter friend during the 1st anthrax scare. Little old lady in a working-class neighborhood in Houston reports a “suspicious letter”, triggering a callout of my buddy’s engine. The head guy on the call listens to the lady for a couple of minutes and says, “go get that ‘decontamination gel’ we have right on the dashboard, spray some in a bucket with a gallon of water and dip the letter in it. The only thing on the dashboard was a thing of Dawn dish-soap.

      This should have been the same. Knock on the door, “listen kid, some bint called us out about your Facebook status. Tone it down some, huh? Or at least defriend so-and-so.”

      1. Do people really set their Facebook settings to public? Only my friends and their friends can see my posts. How did “some Canadian woman” get wind of this?

        1. She was this kid’s “girlfriend” that none of his friends know.

          1. “Her name is Alberta/ she lives in Toronto/ my girlfriend who lives in Canada”

        2. She probably had friends in the NSA

        3. He’s posting it on the LOL Facebook page – everyone else who posts there can see each other’s posts.

  3. I posted this article in the comment thread earlier. No h/t? Not that I’m worried about it or anything.

  4. “LOL” stands for “laughing out loud,” and “jk” means “just kidding,” but police didn’t think it was funny. Neither did a woman from Canada who saw the posting.

    Justin’s dad says the woman did a Google search and found his son’s old address was near an elementary school and she called police.

    The Canadians hate us for our freedoms.

    1. And I hate them back because of Cytotoxic.

      1. Not Brian Boitano?

        1. Did he convert to Canadianism?

          I hate them for Nickelback and Justin Beiber. But appreciate Michael J. Fox and Alex Trebek. Can we stop importing their musical artists? Working Man is one of my favorite songs, but I’d give it up if we had to cast a wide net to keep out their shit.

        2. Don’t fuck with Brian Boitano. If he were here right now I’m sure he’d kick an ass or two. He doesn’t take shit from anyone.

  5. Neither did a woman from Canada who saw the posting.

    Why was this crazy old broad cyberstalking that kid, and why does she remain at large?

    1. Forget it Brooks, it’s Canuckitown.

  6. I think this brings up an interesting question.

    Not in this case specifically, since it’s obvious the kid wasn’t making an actual threat, but theoretically, when do statements stop being free speech, and become actual threats punishable by law?

    I’d personally say, “never”. Until you’ve actually done something, there is no crime. But that ignores the idea that perhaps you actually did cause harm to someone by making them terrified to leave their house, etc.

    So what say you all? And nothing gay.

    1. I thought torts did a good job with that.*

      *So long as there’s loser pays – you should have to prove there was harm before a judge, or it gets tossed.

    2. I think we have a credible threat doctrine already. Ascertaining means, motivation, and opportunity to carry out a specific action would be a good start.

    3. I’d say it should become criminal when it rises to the level of assault. I think merely uttering words that can be interpreted as a threat shouldn’t always be criminal. But I’m OK with the traditional definition of assault. If you make a threat with the ability and intention of carrying it out, that should be a crime, even if you have not yet physically harmed anyone.

    4. They should become actual threats punishable by law if a) carrying out the threads would be illegal and b) a reasonable person would believe that you have the intend to carry out the thread very soon and c) you actually have the means to carry out the thread.

  7. Since the woman has had the kid imprisoned for expressing his right to free speech, has she not terrorized him?

    Put her in jail, utilizing the NDAA provision for indefinite detention, since she’s obviously one of them. (/goddamnit)

    1. Someone should charge her with bullying, see how she likes it in prison.

    2. Throw in a cyberbullying charge too.

  8. “Free speech” means people should never have to hear things which make them feel uncomfortable or unhappy.

    1. I think this is a serious question, Brooks. Since even minarchists generally admit that actions which cause harm to others should be punished, where is the line drawn?

      In other words, how does one decide whether or not some sort of mental/emotional damage has been done to someone? Do we only count physical damage? The existence of PTSD is enough to show that there is such a thing as non-physical damages, IMO.

      1. “In other words, how does one decide whether or not some sort of mental/emotional damage has been done to someone? ”

        In this particular case, she chose to harm herself. No one forced her to read anything.

        On the whole? Prove real damages. Real mental trauma is accompanied by real life disruptions of some kind.

  9. police didn’t think it was funny. Neither did a woman from Canada who saw the posting.

    Fucking “Cuntnuck” should mind her own fucking business. That’s the worst thing about Facebook: it means the busy bodies can fuck with people in another country. Before they could only make their neighbors lives miserable.

    1. Nah. The worst thing about Facebook is learning how stupid all your friends are about politics.

      1. I’m better at the internet than 99% of them. So they pretty much hate that I have a credible article to refute their stupid assertions about “people are saying” some stupid shit that nobody is saying.

        1. I gave up on it completely sometime before the last election.

    2. Cuntnuck is my new favorite slur for Canadian women! So thanks for that.

  10. I need a “dislike” button for that alt-text.

  11. I think League of Legends is to blame here.

    That game can get you RAAAGED.

  12. Don’t remarks like this happen constantly online?

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