We have previously discussed the often unhinged reaction to jokes and postings referring to violence by authorities. It is certainly understandable and commendable to take such postings seriously, but even when all available evidence points to a juvenile exchange or bad joke, the cases seems to go into autopilot with prosecutors and police insisting on absurd charges. That appears to be the case of Texas teenager Justin Carter who has been held for over four months due to a single sarcastic posting on Facebook for “terroristic threats.” This case shows, once again, prosecutors and police showing no judgment or logic in the handling of such cases.
Carter’s nightmare began with Justin and a friend were arguing on Facebook with someone else over the online video game “League of Legends.” Someone said Justin was insane and he responded in juvenile jest with “I’m fucked 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.” His family says that he followed that with “LOL” and “J/K.” However, a woman in Canada called police and a week later a search warrant was issued.
Prosecutors then brought charges without showing any discretion and this void of logic was followed by a judge who set bail at $500,000.
There is no reference to a single piece of evidence supporting a claim that there was any intent to commit an act of violence. Yet, this young man is being held for months on an absurd bail amount in a case based on what appears to be juvenile banter. The concern is that we now have this massive counter-terrorism system funded by billions of dollars each year and employing thousands of investigators and prosecutors. There have been relatively few serious cases to feed and justify this system. When any case enters the system and “terrorism” is mentioned, it seems to go on autopilot. No one wants to be accused of being soft on such crimes.
If there is more to this case, someone needs to identify it. As it stands, this sounds like a cruel joke on a teen who has been languishing in jail for a sarcastic joke.
A hearing to reconsider Carter’s bail is set for July 16.