Has anyone heard/read this story yet? About the teenager who made some “sarcastic remarks” while conversing at Facebook back in February and has been arrested and held in jail since March? Here’s a recap that I found H E R E.
In the state of Texas, a 19-year-old man named Justin Carter sits in prison, ruthlessly stripped of his freedom for making an offensive joke. After a Facebook friend with whom he played video games described him as “crazy” and “messed up in the head,” Carter replied – sarcastically, one imagines – “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.” He added “lol” and “jk” for good measure. For this he was arrested by Austin police, charged with making a “terroristic threat,” and thrown into prison. He may languish there until the start of the next decade.
Carter’s joke was witless and flippant – typical, in other words, of late-teenaged men. By no means was it criminal. Nevertheless, a woman in Canada, who inexactly described herself as a “concerned citizen,” saw from afar what Carter had written and shopped him to Texas police. Police acquiesced to her request, searching the family’s house in the process – and finding nothing. “They really want my son to go away to jail for a sarcastic comment that he made,” Jack Carter, the boy’s father, said. Apparently so: He’s been incarcerated since March without trial.
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Have we lost our freedom of speech in this country completely now?
I am torn about this issue. On the one hand, I agree he should never have worded his comments like he did, especially in this day and age of terrorism all around us. Yes, this young man needs to learn a hard lesson, however, throwing him in jail (apparently his family cannot afford the $500,000 bond they asked for, $50,000 of which would have to be paid out) doesn’t seem to be a good solution for him. They investigated him and found no evidence of an intent to do those things, it was just a remark, after which he had inserted an “LOL” and a “J/K” (just kidding?) so that readers would know it was not meant as serious. That’s the trouble with writing things online… you just never know.
But the thing that scares me most is that, after typing out those words, and after an investigation into his life with nothing having been found, he is still in jail now, 5 months later, with no hope of getting out. Now what if someone else had, say, used his computer and typed in words like that? How can they actually prove that this young man did it (unless of course he confessed to it which he probably did), but it’s so easy to post things anonymously online that I just can’t see jailing someone where no other evidence was found.
Am I missing something?
I know – when something happens, like Newtown, CT, we all wring our hands and wonder why someone didn’t spot it in that killer beforehand… so now we jump onto every little thing – but can’t there be some common sense in cases like this one?
I just don’t know what a good answer would be. What do you think?
To me, jail seems severe. Community service would seem a much better idea, although he hasn’t been convicted of anything yet, so there is no penalty as yet. He is assumed innocent yet has been incarcerated in a jail now for 5 months. I just saw his mother on TV this morning, and she just can’t believe it. They just don’t know what to do next.
A conundrum in this mixed-up world….