“I’m f***ed in the head alright. I think I’ma (sic) shoot up a kindergarten and watch the blood of the innocent rain down and eat the beating heart of one of them.”
This is a disturbing declaration. Understandably, one very concerned woman reported this comment to the authorities, which then arrested the person responsible and charged him with making terrorist threats.
Justice served, right? But what if I told you that the comment was made on Facebook by a teen who was joking with friends while playing an online game?
Coming right on the heels of the Newtown shooting, this was an ill-advised, even offensive, joke. However, I would argue that it hardly warrants a felony charges and an eight-year prison sentence, which is what 19-year-old Texan Justin Carter is now facing.
According to his father, Jack Carter, Justin followed the above comment with “LOL” (laugh out loud) and “J/K” (just kidding), indicating that he wasn’t serious. His mother has started a Change.org petition calling for his release, stating that no weapons were found during a search of Carter’s home.
Authorities originally believed that Carter lived within 100 yards of a school at his father’s house in Austin. However, Carter actually lives in New Braunfels.
The American Civil Liberties Union is monitoring the case, according to a recent CNN article.
Rebecca L. Robertson, legal and policy director for ACLU of Texas, stated of the case: “We are all concerned about safety in our schools, but that’s not what is at issue here. The First Amendment protects a person’s speech—even if that speech is in poor taste—as long as it is not a true threat.”
Carter had no idea that one poorly worded Facebook post could land him in this much trouble.
His plight should be a cautionary tale for teens and adults alike with regard to the use of social media. In today’s digital age, it’s important to remember that what you put online can be easily misconstrued—and is often permanently visible for the world to see. Make sure that you and your family are using social media responsibly—not posting comments, status updates, photos, or videos that could be used against you by law enforcement.