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When Facebook posts lead to prison
July 8, 2013 1:23 PM   Subscribe

In February, 18-year-old Just Carter was talking about League of Legends on Facebook. “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.
What happened next has been the subject of a recent spate of stories from, among others, the Huffington Post, National Review, the World Socialist Web Site, and NPR. A woman in Canada saw the post and called the police in the Austin area. Carter, who lives a few miles from a school, was arrested, charged with a 3rd degree felony of making terroristic threats, and put under $500,000 bail. He has been in jail since March.

Carter was offered a plea deal of 8 years in prison, which he refused.

According to Carter's father, he has received abuse on multiple occasions while in jail, and has been placed in solitary confinement on suicide watch.
"He's very depressed. He's very scared and he's very concerned that he's not going to get out," Jack Carter, Justin's father, told CNN on Tuesday. "He's pretty much lost all hope."
A petition for Carter's release has gotten over 92,000 signatures.
posted by pdq (179 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Eat their still, beating hearts."

That is so obviously snark that I can't believe this kid was arrested. Too bad snark detectors weren't part of those Homeland Security grants to state and local law enforcement.
posted by jpe at 1:27 PM on July 8, 2013 [27 favorites]


YIKES.
posted by JHarris at 1:28 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's a non specific threat, though. I don't get how that's a crime.

It's like if I say "I am going to murder someone!" That's not a crime. The LOL and the JK are red herrings.

This is Robin Hood Airport all over again.
posted by inturnaround at 1:29 PM on July 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


Too bad snark detectors weren't part of those Homeland Security grants...

jpe, I think the ADE-651 was tasked to handle that mission.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:29 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Man, it's too bad they couldn't come up with a bond solution. He probably would be looking at better case disposition options if he wasn't already in jail, sadly.
posted by planetesimal at 1:29 PM on July 8, 2013


Remember, the terrorists hate us because of our freedoms.
posted by scody at 1:31 PM on July 8, 2013 [117 favorites]


If I lived in Austin, I suspect my username would get me the cell next to his...
posted by evilmidnightbomberwhatbombsatmidnight at 1:31 PM on July 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


America, a country so powerful it's afraid of its own shadow.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:32 PM on July 8, 2013 [75 favorites]


A similar story, albeit involving a New York comedian instead of a kid, Fight Club instead of League of Legends, and the Apple Store instead of school, from This American Life: The First Rule of the Apple Store: Don't Talk About the Apple Store.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:33 PM on July 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


He shouldn't be looking at ANY fucking case disposition options.
The only case here should be throwing everyone who put him in jail in jail.
posted by Flashman at 1:33 PM on July 8, 2013 [38 favorites]


There are few things I hate more than the "Internet Culture" belief that putting "just saying" or "jk" or whatever nullifies any horribleness. Like seriously, I spend a great deal of time and effort in my day-to-day life trying to bring some empathy to my online world.

So it with that all in mind that I say: holy butts being in a Texas prison for five months (plus 8 years?) for that comment is horrifying, and barring something we haven't heard about it's just an incredible overreaction.
posted by jess at 1:33 PM on July 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


This is why I'm uncomfortable with the whole "If you see something, say something" campaign.
posted by audi alteram partem at 1:34 PM on July 8, 2013 [26 favorites]


There's a shit ton to get outraged about here, but let's not lose sight of the repugnance of offering a terrified 18-year-old a plea deal of spending 8 years in prison for something he said on Facebook. One would hope that a jury would have the common sense to release Carter, but according to this disturbing Frontline documentary, 95% of all cases resulting in felony convictions never reach a jury.
posted by googly at 1:34 PM on July 8, 2013 [46 favorites]


In a better world the DA who allowed these charges to be filed would be drummed out of office at the next election. In our world, "tough on terrorism" seems to mean "soft on thinking." There ARE ethics rules against filing criminal complaints that are blatantly not supported by the evidence. When there is clearly no specific threat against anyone, as in this case, one would hope that those rules would come into play. But a DA has to go pretty damned far to be sanctioned, and in Texas? Forget it.

I don't know how good the judges in Austin are. My suspicion is that this case will have to go to trial, because a judge will decide that the question of whether this person was joking or not is a factual determination that can only be settled by a jury. And in the mean time, this kid rots in jail.

One final thought: there are all kinds of sentencing enhancements for crimes that take place within a certain radius of any school, park, child care facility, etc. In some towns, it is literally not possible to (for example) be in possession of drugs without triggering those enhancements. The fact that this guy lives a couple of miles from a school, and that anyone at all thought this was relevant, is preposterous. Who doesn't live within a couple of miles of a school?
posted by 1adam12 at 1:34 PM on July 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


This is the kind of thing that pushes people towards libertarianism, I think - the idea that you could be charged with a crime and have prosecutor, a judge, and a jury composed entirely of idiots who have no idea what's actually going on.

This guy doesn't actually live in Austin, but some nearby city - it's entirely possible to think that if this were to go to trial the judge, and the jury would be just as stupid as the prosecutor.

If you were watching the Trayvon Martin trial, there was a moment where the prosecution was asking a witness about the people she was following on twitter. Turns out he didn't know the difference between followers and people you follow, the witness wasn't sure either and no one else seemed to know. It was a minor thing, but who's to say that you couldn't end up with a jury where no on knows what 'j/k' means and might think you made up that definition post-facto.

Hopefully this case will have a well-funded defense. But imagine if this never got into the news, and you ended up stuck with a public defender?
Carter was offered a plea deal of 8 years in prison, which he refused.
What was the thought process that lead to offering 8 years as a deal? The maximum penalty they were going to charge him under was 10 years. And he actually wrote "jk" at the end of it - how would prosecutor thing they could get a conviction at all? Especially since even if the threat was real, it wasn't specific at all?
It's like if I say "I am going to murder someone!" That's not a crime. The LOL and the JK are red herrings.
Uh, no - they clearly indicate the fact that it was intended as a joke, so there isn't even any room to say it was ambiguous.
posted by delmoi at 1:35 PM on July 8, 2013 [15 favorites]


I heard about this on NPR and they didn't really frame in such a charitable way. His dad sounded so distraught tho, and that made me think there was more to this than the angle Morning Edition was pushing, which made this all sound much more sinister on the part of Just Carter.

I really dislike that I cannot trust NPR anymore.
posted by sio42 at 1:36 PM on July 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


delmoi, where I live at least getting "stuck" with a public defender if you can't afford your own lawyer is a significantly better option than retaining some cut-rate shyster in a cheap suit. Some of the private attorneys advertising themselves as criminal defense lawyers couldn't argue a motion to save their lives, but a PD has to argue motions, select juries, and try cases all the time.
posted by 1adam12 at 1:38 PM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


As a rule I don't really do internet outrage, but I CAN'T EVEN. Some highly educated human person -- several of them! -- made the affirmative decision to arrest then charge and now try this kid. I want to have been a fly on the wall in those meetings. Who is pursuing this? What's wrong with their heads?
posted by eugenen at 1:40 PM on July 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


This is surreal. Thank goodness I only snark on MetaFilter and not on real-life social media platforms.
posted by furtive at 1:41 PM on July 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


God, this is terrible. And even worse is that there will almost certainly be no negative repercussions for the people abusing their power to do this.
posted by Justinian at 1:41 PM on July 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


Honest to God, if this were happening to me I'd probably come out of it as exactly the person they mistakenly thought I was.
posted by charred husk at 1:41 PM on July 8, 2013 [37 favorites]


Just for clarity, the WSJ link has a different version of the quote than the father's paraphrase:

"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," the 19-year-old wrote Feb. 13 on a public Facebook page in response to a taunt by one of his friends..

Ms. Carter said police records and the criminal indictment of her son omit a crucial detail: According to Mr. Carter, he later posted "j/k," shorthand for "just kidding," during the Facebook conversation. The district attorney's office hasn't turned over the full conversation, which Facebook removed...


Still completely absurd, especially if the defense team apparently still hasn't been able to see the full conversation.
posted by mediareport at 1:42 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


NOTE TO SELF: Remove phrase "multi-state killing spree" from online vocabulary
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:42 PM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Fucking evil. And you'll note that the actual criminal in this whole affair, the prosecutor who chose to go ahead with felony charges, has not been and will not be named, much less punished. Any civil suit will be thrown out under the absolute prosecutorial immunity to all civil claims rooted in their official conduct.

Lovely, right?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:43 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wikipedia article: Terroristic threat: "Prosecution of young men for non-specific, humorous, or sarcastic threats against unspecified persons has led to a call for legal reform."
posted by seemoreglass at 1:43 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


A similar story, albeit involving a New York comedian instead of a kid

Wow, he sounds like a real charmer:

Joe Lipari - I kind of took it and paraphrased it a little bit, and my [Facebook] status was... and I'm reading it here, Joe Lipari might walk into it Apple Store on Fifth Avenue with an ArmaLite AR-10 gas-powered semiautomatic weapon and pump round after round into one of those smug, fruity little concierges. This may be someone you've known for years, someone very, very close to you.

Of course, violent threats aside, not homophobic. At all!

Ben Calhoun - Just so you know, I did ask Joe about his use of the word fruity here. And he told me that no, it was not homophobic. He was just trying to describe the guy's demeanor.

Guess TAL is still bitter about that Daisey embarrassment.

I'm not saying it's right, but people get fired for much, much less with Facebook comments that are essentially announcements in what has become a quasi-public space. Getting fired is one thing, but making violent threats is probably crossing a line, in that you can't just go outside in the real world and do the same thing there, either.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:44 PM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


America, "Land of the free."
posted by Dr Ew at 1:45 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I know a cultural backlash against over-use of irony has been building for a while now, but I didn't realize we'd reached the point where we're imposing jail time for it.

Seriously, this reflects really badly on our justice system... Is there more to the story we're not getting here? Or are we really this stupid now? We'll defend the rights of corporations to spend as much on political influence as they want, but we bring the full force of the law down on the head of some clueless 18 year old for making a joke in really poor taste? Good lord we are so screwed up.

This is the kind of thing that pushes people towards libertarianism, I think - the idea that you could be charged with a crime and have prosecutor, a judge, and a jury composed entirely of idiots who have no idea what's actually going on.

Except that Libertarianism heavily emphasizes the role of the court system. In Libertarian thought, the courts are supposed to be the go-to mechanism for people seeking legal remedy, as opposed to having all those nasty government regulatory systems getting in the way. Even Libertarians believe in the court system. It's where they think most disputes and social conflicts should be resolved, as opposed to using the legislative process. I've long wondered if that's why so many attorneys lean Libertarian--it's great for business.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:48 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm now remembering the songs my classmates and I wrote in fifth grade, most of which related to killing our least-favorite substitute teachers. To my knowledge, we have all gone on to become productive and non-murderous citizens.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:49 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Guess TAL is still bitter about that Daisey embarrassment.

For clarity, that TAL story predates the Mike Daisey story. It's from 2010, and the Daisey incident occurred in 2012.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:50 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


We have lost our frickin' minds.
posted by rtha at 1:52 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd like to apologise on behalf of Canada for the dumbass that caused this.
posted by windykites at 1:52 PM on July 8, 2013 [14 favorites]


Part of me wants to question some confusingly odd or missing details of the "case," as it's being reported.

The other part of me feels like this is merely another example of this Twilight-Zone-like permanent nightmare/alternate world I think I slipped into about 11 years ago.

RIP 1st Amendment. Say hi to the 4th Amemdment and all those other ones up in Heaven.
posted by NorthernLite at 1:52 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wonder if the same zeal would be applied to people threatening to bomb abortion clinics.
posted by seemoreglass at 1:53 PM on July 8, 2013 [65 favorites]


Jesus America, can we go one day without seeing several stories about how utterly batshit upside down railroading paranoid privileged soul-crushing life-destroying your society, culture, and government has become?

I mean, holy hell. How do you even put on pants in the morning?

Surely any jury would see the absurdity of this in five seconds, right? RIGHT?? I'm guessing that's why they offered a plea "deal"*. So now the family just has to go bankrupt to go to trial to keep their son out of jail.

*Good for them for turning it down...plea deals are how most people get railroaded by the legal system. You'd like to think he told them to shove it up their asses, in those words, but I guess too much lip is how he got into this asinine situation.
posted by dry white toast at 1:53 PM on July 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


And you'll note that the actual criminal in this whole affair, the prosecutor who chose to go ahead with felony charges, has not been and will not be named,

i suggest you read the linked articles more closely
posted by pyramid termite at 1:54 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is similar to the Twitter Joke Trial in England, where a man was fined £985 for jokingly threatening to blow up an airport. Most folk--including the airport itself--understood that the comment was not an earnest threat. But the case was pursued on the barest of grounds, and still took two years to have it overturned. The stakes seem to be much higher in this case, however.
posted by Jehan at 1:54 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, armchair lawyers, which of the following applies? 'Cause I'm missing it.
Sec. 22.07. TERRORISTIC THREAT. (a) A person commits an offense if he threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with intent to:
(1) cause a reaction of any type to his threat by an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies;
(2) place any person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury;
(3) prevent or interrupt the occupation or use of a building, room, place of assembly, place to which the public has access, place of employment or occupation, aircraft, automobile, or other form of conveyance, or other public place;
(4) cause impairment or interruption of public communications, public transportation, public water, gas, or power supply or other public service;
(5) place the public or a substantial group of the public in fear of serious bodily injury; or
(6) influence the conduct or activities of a branch or agency of the federal government, the state, or a political subdivision of the state.
posted by swift at 1:54 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Surely any jury would see the absurdity of this in five seconds, right? RIGHT??

If so, it's five seconds after months in jail already. And if found not guilty, not only will he have lost months of his life to jail with no recompense, the charge is stigma enough and will stay on his record to show up in background checks, so he never gets to live down his mistake! Hooray, justice.
posted by jason_steakums at 1:55 PM on July 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


In a better world the DA who allowed these charges to be filed would be drummed out of office at the next election. In our world, "tough on terrorism" seems to mean "soft on thinking." There ARE ethics rules against filing criminal complaints that are blatantly not supported by the evidence. ... I don't know how good the judges in Austin are.
The problem is this is some small town in the middle of nowhere (it's like 40 miles out of Austin, not really a 'suburb' - it's looks isolated on google earth)

And what's worse, in the US you can only get your verdict overturned if there's a flaw with the trial process not if the conclusion was wrong - so as long as the prosecutor doesn't fuck up on some process issue, if the defendant is convicted due to insanity/ignorance of the jury the verdict is going to stand unless they get a pardon or something like that.

And, this is Texas where executive to ameliorate judicial excess is pretty uncommon.

Oh and the judges are elected as well.

There are few things I hate more than the "Internet Culture" belief that putting "just saying" or "jk" or whatever nullifies any horribleness.

Offensive jokes are not a crime. Saying "I hope you get AIDS and die, lol" is not the same as injecting someone with a syringe full HIV+ blood.
delmoi, where I live at least getting "stuck" with a public defender if you can't afford your own lawyer is a significantly better option than retaining some cut-rate shyster in a cheap suit.
Good for you? They are hardly known for their efficacy overall, not because they're bad lawyers but because they are typically way under paid, overworked and not given nearly the same resources as the prosecution. A high quality lawyer paid for through crowdfunding would obviously be better then a public defender from the same city where the local prosecutor doesn't even know what "j/k" means.

I mean, it seems hard to imagine that if the prosecutor is this dumb the public defender could be much better.
Guess TAL is still bitter about that Daisey embarrassment. -- Blazecock Pileon
Amazing how they were able to predict their future bitterness about something that was going to happen in 2012 all the way back in 2010
posted by delmoi at 1:55 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wonder if the same zeal would be applied to people threatening to bomb abortion clinics.

Yes. If you post a message on Facebook saying that you're going to blow up a clinic, and someone reports it to the police, you will get in trouble. Indeed, my one bit of discomfort with this is that, of course, if the kid had been a crazy person who shot up the school, the cops would be getting immense amounts of flack for not having responded to the obvious signs on Facebook. (Or not? Did Adam Lanza have similar signs? Details of Newtown beyound its central horror have faded.)
posted by Going To Maine at 1:56 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Remember, the terrorists hate us because of our freedoms.

They must hate us a lot less these days, I imagine. My still beating heart goes out to this kid.

I'm trying to imagine what it would be like if someone recorded my death cries directed at little 12-year-old shits on XBOX Live.
posted by phaedon at 1:56 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you post a message on Facebook saying that you're going to blow up a clinic, and someone reports it to the police, you will get in trouble.

There is however still quite a distance between getting investigated for such remarks (which I could construe as pretty reasonable, depending on their nature) and spending five months in jail for no further reason.
posted by solarion at 1:58 PM on July 8, 2013 [17 favorites]


Yes. If you post a message on Facebook saying that you're going to blow up a clinic, and someone reports it to the police, you will get in trouble
NO JOKES PEOPLE!!! NO JOKES EVER!
posted by delmoi at 1:59 PM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


i suggest you read the linked articles more closely

I just read through them again. Where do they mention a name? The closest it comes that I could find was NPR saying that a call to the DA's office was not returned.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:59 PM on July 8, 2013


I'd like to apologise on behalf of Canada for the dumbass that caused this.

Yeah, any news on this person? Who is it? Have they come out against the arrest or in support of it or anything?
posted by dobbs at 2:01 PM on July 8, 2013


NO JOKES PEOPLE!!! NO JOKES EVER!

You're misconstruing. I'm not saying that that's right, I'm saying that it seems to be the world we live in. If you make a comment about causing violence on social media, humorous or otherwise, but possibly construable as a threat, and someone reports it to the police, you will probably be investigated. Saying that you're going to bomb an abortion clinic would fall under that line.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:02 PM on July 8, 2013


What's so remarkable here is, judging from what we've seen, the kid really didn't ever say he was going to kill anybody. What he said was that he is not crazy enough to do something like that, using a well-established, conventional mode of irony to make the point.

You know, inability to parse irony really is one of the first signs of a decline in mental function, and one of the warning flags for autism.

Anybody who can't read the irony in this exchange, from the context, might consider having a conversation with a medical professional qualified to evaluate brain disorders. I'm not kidding.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:03 PM on July 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


so where is our elected President in all of this? Hope he can Change this.
posted by shockingbluamp at 2:04 PM on July 8, 2013


Wait - they're jailing people for morbid humor, now? I think I'm going to need to apply for political asylum. They'll just hang me.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:04 PM on July 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


If so, it's five seconds after months in jail already. And if found not guilty, not only will he have lost months of his life to jail with no recompense, the charge is stigma enough and will stay on his record to show up in background checks, so he never gets to live down his mistake! Hooray, justice.

Until the case is overturned and an apology is issued, I vote that the rest of the country dubs New Braunfels to be The Land of Cowardice and that the charging DA should be crowned the King of All Cowards. Plaques and statues should be made to praise both his own abject spinelessness and his willingness to allow harm to come to youth. There could also be a lovely poster showing the DA in New Braunfels wearing urine-soaked pants, meekly holding a Constitution over himself like a tiny tarp, piteously mewing, "I would rather a thousand Constitutions burn than I should have to f-f-fear a t-t-teenager for even a s-s-second!"
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:04 PM on July 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


If you make a comment about causing violence on social media, humorous or otherwise, but possibly construable as a threat, and someone reports it to the police, you will probably be investigated.

True, but to get from "investigated for" to "charged with," there ought to be some sort of logic and evidence in between...
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:04 PM on July 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Saying that you're going to bomb an abortion clinic would fall under that line.

Maybe if there was an actual line, and it was drawn consistently in one place, not defined at the discretion of thousands of different local law enforcement officials with different agendas all over the country. But our system isn't top-down. Local prosecutors and judges get to draw the lines wherever they want.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:06 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


so where is our elected President in all of this?

Is this sarcasm? The President isn't exactly involved with local prosecutorial decisions.
posted by Justinian at 2:06 PM on July 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


You know, inability to parse irony really is one of the first signs of a decline in mental function, and one of the warning flags for autism.

Armchair psychology is probably not helpful for figuring this out.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:09 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


But our system isn't top-down. Local prosecutors and judges get to draw the lines wherever they want.

That's not really true. The Supreme Court has incorporated the First Amendment against the States, and the Supreme Court has also said that the relevant test for the limits of freedom of speech is the imminent lawless action test. Texas cannot go over the Supremes' heads on this issue. Unfortunately for Justin Carter, he'd have to appeal several times to get the Supremes to find this law to be an overbroad violation of freedom of speech.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:10 PM on July 8, 2013


It's not like there's much to figure out. It's a "gotcha" prosecution. The kid did something that police/prosecutors can claim is illegal with a straight face, so they get to throw him in jail and ruin his life because it boosts their numbers and makes everybody involved look tough on crime.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:12 PM on July 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


CS Monitor reports that an attorney has agreed to take the case pro bono, possibly this guy.

Very surprised the ACLU or similar group hasn't yet agreed to help out. In any case, I hope there's eventually a civil rights lawsuit that keeps Mr. Carter stocked with "violent video games" (found in his residence omg!) for the rest of his life.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:12 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is like the perfect storm of tone-deafness, asshattery, and prosecutorial dick-swinging.

Because what is the ONE THING that under NO CIRCUMSTANCES a law-enforcement agency will do? Back down. Never, never, never. No matter how wrong, how misguided, how inept. No matter the cost in innocent lives and reputations. Never Back Down.

That's fucking ENGRAINED in these assholes -- there is no mistake so large that it cannot be covered up, paid off, waited out, or shot in the back of the head and dropped across the state line.

The penalty for being wrong is LESS than the penalty for LOOKING WEAK.

Cops do not make mistakes. To suggest that cops make mistakes is obstruction of justice. Obstruction of justice is a CRIME, citizen! Are you a CRIMINAL? How dare you even suggest such a thing. Now get down on the floor and put your hands behind your back and bark like a motherfucking dog.

SO ANGRY
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:12 PM on July 8, 2013 [70 favorites]


There are days when, no matter how messed-up things might have seemed back then, I count my blessings that I got to live a substantial part of my life in pre-9/11 America. I feel sorry for kids growing up for whom this paranoid and fearful state is all they've ever known.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:13 PM on July 8, 2013 [29 favorites]


Today's Penny Arcade comic and newspost are all about this.
posted by dobi at 2:13 PM on July 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


Wait - they're jailing people for morbid humor, now? I think I'm going to need to apply for political asylum. They'll just hang me.

Citizen, please travel to your nearest safety checkpoint and explain your comments.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:13 PM on July 8, 2013


A lot of our law depends on good-faith and people having a reasonably broad consensus about most things (reasonableness tests in law are all basically dependent on people sharing common ideas about what is or isn't reasonable). I'm not sure anyone ever anticipated how fragmented our culture might become or how unreliable concepts like "reasonableness" and "common sense" can become when the culture is so heterogeneous.

Blazecock Pileon: It's not armchair psychology, it's a defense of irony. People are allowed to use irony. Irony is a legitimate form of expression, in addition to being required for normal healthy brain function. That irony was being used in this case should be obvious to anyone who isn't mentally impaired. It's text book irony: someone accused him of being crazy, so the kid said something crazy as a way of suggesting that he isn't. You don't need to have studied critical theory or anything to get it.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:14 PM on July 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


huh, I guess those dozens of school shootings didn't happen after all
posted by badstone at 2:15 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thank goodness I only snark on MetaFilter and not on real-life social media platforms.

Once again, it points out that if you have a default "EVERYBODY SEES IT" site on the Internet, literally everybody sees it and you get in trouble for stupid shit. Seriously, 8 years of jail for THAT?! Good god, actual murderers probably get less jail time than that these days. Ridiculous.

But seriously, people, avoid the social media.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:15 PM on July 8, 2013


From the article: Unfortunately for Justin his comments came only two months after dozens of youngsters were killed in a massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut back in December of 2012.
“Justin was the kind of kid who didn't read the newspaper. He didn't watch television. He wasn't aware of current events. These kids, they don't realize what they're doing. They don't understand the implications. They don't understand public space,” said Jack Carter.


If Justin spent that much time online there's no way we was unaware of Sandy Hook. Plus, you can't have it both ways. He's 18 years old, if he was treated as a child somewhere his father would probably be all "He's 18! He's an adult! He should be allowed to...." But now, suddenly, he's "just a kid." He doesn't understand "public space." ?? Dad is ascribing adolescent behavior/concepts to a person old enough to sign a legal contract, buy a gun, and join the military.
posted by Oriole Adams at 2:15 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


or maybe I just missed how hilarious they were
posted by badstone at 2:16 PM on July 8, 2013


This happened to a kid I knew in an MMORPG I used to play. He was complaining about a class he was doing bad in, we were all joking, telling him how to skate through; doing what needed to be done to pass.

He says he'd rather blow up the school than do the work. We all laugh, but a guildie was listening ( reading our text.)

They inform the admins, report him, and like an hour later he has cops at his door. We quit that particular group of gamers since they obviously had no clue about hyperbole.

Kid was given a stern talking to by the cops but no arrests.

We are programmed by media and politicians into believing our world is full of "sharp corners" and dangerous people, maybe even your neighbor! Close your eyes and accept your fate.
posted by Max Power at 2:16 PM on July 8, 2013


or maybe I just missed how hilarious they were

He's not in jail for having bad taste in jokes.
posted by jason_steakums at 2:16 PM on July 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


or maybe I just missed how hilarious they were

We don't throw kids in jail for being socially awkward and making tasteless jokes. Sorry. But there's no wiggle room for me on that point.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:17 PM on July 8, 2013 [17 favorites]


If so, it's five seconds after months in jail already. And if found not guilty, not only will he have lost months of his life to jail with no recompense, the charge is stigma enough and will stay on his record to show up in background checks, so he never gets to live down his mistake! Hooray, justice.

And this makes me realize two things.

First of all, why the hell does it show up that you were charged with something if you weren't convicted? That kind of shit should pretty much only show up on like, FBI background checks and clearance investigations. The fact that just anyone can pull that up with a simple background check as part of the hiring process is pretty fucked. Just being accused of something should not fucking brand you for life.

That said, this one seems like it wouldn't be awful to spin after college. I wasn't convicted, I made a joke on Facebook and someone freaked out. At trial they realized it was goddamn ridiculous and the jury shitcanned it. Doesn't seem super destructive to me if you made it as far as the interview.

That said, this also scares the fucking shit out of me. I spent my entire teenage years on 4chan, various irc channels, message boards, and other places snarking it up to the max. I said and did some stuff that makes me groan looking back on it.

How close did I come to stepping in this bear trap? Why the fuck is this even one in the first place?

I hope this becomes international news and the town and DA are a fucking laughing stock causing them to drop the charges. Publicly shame them.

Oh, and I also see no point in finding out who the woman that reported it is, or shaming her. Anyone can(and possibly should) call the cops if they see something disturbing that seems like a threat. It's up to the cops and everyone else involved in the system to decide if its properly an issue or not.

She basically called the plumber saying "I think my pipes are leaking". A sane plumber would have said "oh, it's just condensation" but they had to go and say O MY GOD RIP THEM ALL OUT.
posted by emptythought at 2:18 PM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Basically, cops. They don't need a reason anymore.

Encrypt your shit and watch what you say. This is the world we live in now.
posted by tracert at 2:19 PM on July 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


If Justin spent that much time online there's no way we was unaware of Sandy Hook. Plus, you can't have it both ways. He's 18 years old, if he was treated as a child somewhere his father would probably be all "He's 18! He's an adult! He should be allowed to...." But now, suddenly, he's "just a kid." He doesn't understand "public space." ?? Dad is ascribing adolescent behavior/concepts to a person old enough to sign a legal contract, buy a gun, and join the military.

Maybe true, maybe not. You can be pretty oblivious despite spending a lot of time online, or even despite being a nominal adult. That said, given the disparity between the described text in the WSJ article and the father's reports, it seems possible that he's smoothing at least some of the content for media appeal. (Was that "j/k lol" on the next line?) That said, still probably not a great reason for him to be in jail.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:20 PM on July 8, 2013


I'd like to apologise on behalf of Canada for the dumbass that caused this.

No, reporting that comment was the right thing to do. It's the responsibility of the police and possibly a judge to determine if the threat is genuine or not.

a kid I knew in an MMORPG...says he'd rather blow up the school than do the work... was given a stern talking to by the cops but no arrests

Se, that's how it's supposed to work... if law enforcement is doing their job properly.
posted by CynicalKnight at 2:22 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


huh, I guess those dozens of school shootings didn't happen after all

This is exactly why we need strict joke control legislation, comedian registration, and humor waiting periods. You never know when our beloved institutions may come under attack from sarcasm. Won't somebody think of the children?!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:22 PM on July 8, 2013 [20 favorites]


That irony was being used in this case should be obvious to anyone who isn't mentally impaired.

I do know that people can more easily parse irony in real life, because the conversation takes place in a situation where ironic statements can be clearly understood. The person is known as a joker, etc.

On a website, where we often don't have the same situational benefit, where we don't always know who is typing on the other end, it is very easy for people to take comments on face value.

I (generally) disagree with a system that allows people to be incarcerated for words typed into a screen. That's not American.

That being said, I think it can be, at times, very difficult to communicate nuance, irony, etc. via ASCII. That doesn't really reflect on the mental health of anyone reading said communication. It's just a fact about how limited computers are in communicating one's state of mind, and how limited people are to how they can interpret others' words. I don't think armchair psychology is too helpful for understanding or rectifying this.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:22 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


First of all, why the hell does it show up that you were charged with something if you weren't convicted? That kind of shit should pretty much only show up on like, FBI background checks and clearance investigations. The fact that just anyone can pull that up with a simple background check as part of the hiring process is pretty fucked. Just being accused of something should not fucking brand you for life.

Certain charges can be expunged from your record - which charges are eligible varies by state, and you sure better be able to afford the time to jump through legal hoops and the fees to pay along the way. Expungement basically comes across as a sweet magic reset button for people with the means and education and luck to pursue it and a giant middle finger to everyone else. It's almost worse than not having the option at all.
posted by jason_steakums at 2:27 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


LOL(MISCARRIAGEOFJUSTICE)BUTTS
posted by blue_beetle at 2:27 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


That being said, I think it can be, at times, very difficult to communicate nuance, irony, etc. via ASCII.

Which is probably why he said lol and j/k.
posted by swift at 2:29 PM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also related: Cameron D'Ambrosio. This seems to be a trend.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:30 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


the prosecutor who chose to go ahead with felony charges, has not been and will not be named, much less punished.

"The prosecutor in Mr. Carter's case, Comal County District Attorney Jennifer Tharp, declined to comment."
posted by cashman at 2:31 PM on July 8, 2013


The prosecution will show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant did not, in fact, laugh out loud.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:34 PM on July 8, 2013 [34 favorites]


The prosecutor in Mr. Carter's case, Comal County District Attorney Jennifer Tharp, declined to comment.

She probably didn't want her words to be taken out of context and misconstrued to paint her in the worst possible light.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:38 PM on July 8, 2013 [40 favorites]


when you use Facebook, when you use Twitter, when you go out there and make comments on news articles, and the things you are saying can and will be used against you

Or vice versa.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:38 PM on July 8, 2013


The prosecution will show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant did not, in fact, laugh out loud.

"Does the defense really expect us to believe that it's just a coincidence that 'lol' and 'jk' could also stand for 'lots of lacerations' and 'just killing'? The prosecution rests."
posted by jason_steakums at 2:41 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Can't the president just pardon him and be done with it? It would take him five seconds to sign the thing. Or are pardons only for people who have actually committed a crime?
posted by pracowity at 2:41 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Which is probably why he said lol and j/k.

Probably. But that really isn't a sufficient indicator. It is quite possible to write "I'm going to shoot up a kindergarten! j/k lol." and then still go shoot up a kindergarten. I'm not saying that the police should have overlooked the slang, but I'd expect them to actually work from the larger context of the posts.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:41 PM on July 8, 2013


Pardons are for turkeys and campaign donors, not people falsely accused of actual crimes.

(Thanks, cashman. Somehow I totally glossed over that link in the FPP.)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:44 PM on July 8, 2013


But Jonathan Blodgett, the Essex County district attorney who oversaw the Massachusetts case, defended his office's actions. "It's easy for some to dismiss a Facebook post or a text as a joke,"

You'd think so, but here we are.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:48 PM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Aaaaggggggh. Sometimes America's justice system is so fucked up it makes me want to [give hugs to] a [friendly person].

Self-censored JUST IN CASE. Though I'm extra-glad now that those middle school teachers I told murder jokes to never turned me in. I was definitely the sort of kid who profiles as a future psychotic, so they could've got me good.
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:01 PM on July 8, 2013


Does Texas have for-profit jails/prisons? If they do this makes perfect sense.
posted by johnpowell at 3:11 PM on July 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


"Can't the president just pardon him and be done with it? It would take him five seconds to sign the thing. Or are pardons only for people who have actually committed a crime?"

In theory sure, Nixon was preemptively pardoned for all of the crimes he may have or may have not committed within a defined period of time, thus by so far unchallenged precedent there would be nothing constitutionally stopping Obama from at least attempting to do so. However, that is really really not what the pardon power is for, and if the prosecutors objected I imagine the case would turn into a very interesting constitutional question that our current ass backwards Supreme Court would decide terribly.

The President's ability to sweep away crimes absolutely should not be for a popularity contest reach around the justice system, but for situations where some fucked up nuance to how our system works leads to someone getting shafted. This kid's last year not withstanding, the justice system has not yet gotten a chance to fuck up in a way that has any business triggering this oh so delicately unguarded way for the executive to rampage through the judiciary.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:13 PM on July 8, 2013


When law enforcement assesses a risk... what do they actually DO?

In medicine, if you ask your doctor if you're at risk for a blood clot, or breast cancer, or whatever, there is usually some cut and dried metric -- score one point for age, two points for family history, etc, add it all up, and the resulting number puts you in a risk category.

Does law enforcement have something similar? Because it surely would be fucked up if "risk assessment" came down to whether or not the cop liked the looks of you.
posted by selfmedicating at 3:17 PM on July 8, 2013


The more proper venue for a pardon request would be the governor's office, since he's being prosecuted by the DA under state law. But, even setting aside the question of whether the executive should intervene in a case that will probably be laughed out of court, leading to an injury of "only" a few months in prison....that means petitioning Rick Perry.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:17 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Certain charges can be expunged from your record - which charges are eligible varies by state, and you sure better be able to afford the time to jump through legal hoops and the fees to pay along the way. Expungement basically comes across as a sweet magic reset button for people with the means and education and luck to pursue it and a giant middle finger to everyone else. It's almost worse than not having the option at all.

Yep. And if you really wanted to sit down and figure out exactly how to look at the data, and how to phrase it i'd bet you could make a compelling argument for that entire avenue of expungement being constructively racist.

How so? Pretty much that most poor people who end up in court(and therefor, usually, in jail) are not white. Plenty of those people are charged but not convicted, although this isn't even getting in to the shit sandwich of plea deals let's just keep moving here.

What's the difference afterwards between the middle class+ white kid who gets his DUI in college that didn't stick because of his parents good lawyer expunged Vs the poor not-white kid who didn't?

That shit shows up when the second kid tries to get a job pretty much anywhere. And a lot of job apps ask you to disclose if you were ever charged with a crime, etc etc or just do checks for that sort of thing. The shitty thing here is that almost all rung 1 on the ladder retail/food service jobs are corporate now, and all those corporations just have a big automatic system that churns through everyones info if they apply.

Guess who isn't getting hired? And guess who ends up back in the system again when they end up stealing food out of desperation or some shit?

The system works.

The more proper venue for a pardon request would be the governor's office, since he's being prosecuted by the DA under state law. But, even setting aside the question of whether the executive should intervene in a case that will probably be laughed out of court, leading to an injury of "only" a few months in prison....that means petitioning Rick Perry.

And it also doesn't un-charge the kid or take it off his record. He's already halfway fucked here.

Basically, cops. They don't need a reason anymore.

This type of thing really bothers me. Where the fuck is the line for entrapment? They pretty much peer pressured the guy in to betting way more than the wanted to and intended to(and i bet alcohol was involved, and i bet they were buying him drinks. I mean come on it's a sports betting thing. everyone's drunk).

The lines of consent here are incredibly blurry, and it seems like yet another case where no chargeable crime would have been committed without police involvement. It's coercion at best, and some sort of weird law enforcement version of weird PUA date rape kinda shit at worst. "Hey, you consented to illegal thing! 1000 nos and a yes means yes!"

This kind of shit needs to get smacked down. Hard.
posted by emptythought at 3:24 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


No, reporting that comment was the right thing to do. It's the responsibility of the police and possibly a judge to determine if the threat is genuine or not.

This is bullshit as well. This is why we're in this situation. Everyone looked at this and no one wanted to take responsibility to ask, "Why are you wasting my time with this fucking bullshit?" Instead, this person reported it, the cops "did their jobs," the prosecutor brought it before a grand jury and they indicted. At what point in this process would you inject common sense? I guess if we really hold out hope we can dream the parole board won't make him serve his whole sentence.

There are certain states I've decided to never visit again. Texas is number one on this list. Arizona is second followed by South Dakota. I wish the sane people would move away and leave these states to the batshit crazy people.
posted by cjorgensen at 3:27 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


.
posted by stoneweaver at 3:28 PM on July 8, 2013


I'm horrified. This is so sickening. What kind of police state are we becoming?
posted by agregoli at 3:30 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


huh, I guess those dozens of school shootings didn't happen after all
Under one of the lesser known sections of the Patriot Act, denial of terrorist attacks is now prosecutable as Aiding and Abetting. badstone, using your MeFi profile info, I have notified your local police.
posted by evilmidnightbomberwhatbombsatmidnight at 3:31 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


No, reporting that comment was the right thing to do. It's the responsibility of the police and possibly a judge to determine if the threat is genuine or not.

This is bullshit as well. This is why we're in this situation. Everyone looked at this and no one wanted to take responsibility to ask, "Why are you wasting my time with this fucking bullshit?" Instead, this person reported it, the cops "did their jobs," the prosecutor brought it before a grand jury and they indicted. At what point in this process would you inject common sense? I guess if we really hold out hope we can dream the parole board won't make him serve his whole sentence.


Maybe slow your roll here? You know absolutely nothing about the person who reported this beyond "Canadian woman". If she read that post and was freaked out, she should have the ability to go to the police and say "I was freaked out by this". While this thing seems ridiculous, blaming the person who reported it without any understanding of why they did so seems unfair.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:43 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


God damnit, it's not even hate-speech. The most vile hate-speech targeted at races, sexes, or nationalities gets a free pass but make a vague threat, if ostentatious(ly absurd), that could maybe, kinda-sorta be construed as being directed towards someone's children, the privileged little sinless angels with souls as pure as snow, because *insert honestly awful shooting that happened somehwere that you heard about on tv*, and you get to go directly to, do not pass GO, jail.

Damnit kid, if you get outta there I hope you get to kick some serious butt in civil court somehow. If you don't, well... Jesus I'm just without words.
posted by RolandOfEld at 3:45 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yes - blaming someone for something they say without any understanding of why they did so seems unfair.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:45 PM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


jpe: ""Eat their still, beating hearts."

That is so obviously snark that I can't believe this kid was arrested. Too bad snark detectors weren't part of those Homeland Security grants to state and local law enforcement
"

Apart from being obvious snark, law enforcement should know how to spot a logical impossibility. Hearts can't be both still and beating, thus, this is not a realistic threat.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:46 PM on July 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


What's crazy is that until very recently, photos and comments about beating, raping and killing women were totally acceptable to facebook and (one assumes) a not-insignificant portion of the public users. These double standards exist everywhere in our society today but they will never not be absolutely fucking appalling to me.
posted by triggerfinger at 3:47 PM on July 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


That's okay. Once my orbital battlestation full of mindcontrolled lackeys is complete, and I take over the world, I will brutally punish all on the idiotic side of this equation.

Seriously, though, SO surprised my Twitter profile hasn't had a complaint to the cops yet.

I like science, movies, the Internet, and the possibility of world domination.
posted by Samizdata at 3:51 PM on July 8, 2013


I'm now remembering the songs my classmates and I wrote in fifth grade, most of which related to killing our least-favorite substitute teachers. To my knowledge, we have all gone on to become productive and non-murderous citizens.

I feel like I experienced the very first wave of CRAZY PARANOIA about this stuff. Just around the time of Columbine, some goth kids in my grade were arrested and forced into community service because they wrote a website about an army of sentient traffic cones attacking our high school vice principal.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:55 PM on July 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


huh, I guess those dozens of school shootings didn't happen after all

I could be wrong, but I am pretty sure there haven't been dozens of school shootings, but if I am wrong I would like to see your numbers, unless you are counting dozens shot during the handful of school shootings. It's also a moot point, since even if there was a school shooting every day it shouldn't preclude people from commenting about such shootings or even joking about them.
posted by cjorgensen at 3:55 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


some goth kids in my grade were arrested and forced into community service because they wrote a website about an army of sentient traffic cones attacking our high school vice principal

Please tell me that they are now all employed making awesome movies and comics and stuff like that. Sentient traffic cones? How awesome is that.
posted by rtha at 4:04 PM on July 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


Unless it was the Coneheads Movie. Somebody should have been arrested for that.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:06 PM on July 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


A woman in Canada saw the post and called the police in the Austin area.

Harper voter?
posted by klanawa at 4:12 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


What makes me really, really tired in my soul is realizing how many people, from the dingbat who reported it down through the arresting officer and the prosecutor and the judge who arraigned the young man - how many people had to look at this situation and say, "Yup, kid needs to go to jail."

It's like the Andromeda Strain of legal asshattery.
posted by Mooski at 4:13 PM on July 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


This is the kind of thing that pushes people towards libertarianism, I think - the idea that you could be charged with a crime and have prosecutor, a judge, and a jury composed entirely of idiots who have no idea what's actually going on.

It is possible to be a liberal/progressive/whatever and still in favor of civil liberties. It was actually the norm until 2008.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:14 PM on July 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


This is bullshit as well. This is why we're in this situation. Everyone looked at this and no one wanted to take responsibility to ask, "Why are you wasting my time with this fucking bullshit?" Instead, this person reported it, the cops "did their jobs," the prosecutor brought it before a grand jury and they indicted. At what point in this process would you inject common sense? I guess if we really hold out hope we can dream the parole board won't make him serve his whole sentence.

For what it's worth, i completely agree with you even though you're getting some backlash. Correct me if i'm wrong, but we're on the same page that the woman did nothing wrong reporting it, but like my plumber analogy they should have told her to calm down and go home.

The problem is that everyone is so goddamn afraid of waving away the one instance where something really does happen that they're willing to waste tons of these peoples time, and possibly fuck up a few of their lives because 1000 false positives/false alarms are better than one false negative.

And fuck that. I'm completely with you on that. This reminds me far too much of interactions with my high schools staff/administration where everyone was not only in constant fear of signing off on something/dismissing something and having it getting taken over their heads or laterally to another teacher/office person/etc who would then ask "Wait, you asked blabla and they said you were allowed/weren't/this wasn't a problem? We're gonna need to talk to them" which invariably would lead to someone signing off on something and then getting smacked down for saying it was ok, or wasn't ok, or whatever later on. I watched teachers get fired and shit over little harassment claims blown off and things like that.

You ended up with microcosm of knee jerk reactions where everyone was more concerned with covering their own asses and preventing even the possibility of some situation that could embarrass them than just like, actually handling their fucking shit, making judgement calls and living with the possibility that they might be wrong once in a while because they're human.

At the same time, i can't totally blame them. Can you imagine how fucked this police department would be on a national news level if they dismissed this report and the kid shot up a school? We'd probably be lambasting them as another case of worthless cops in the US and not even realizing that this was the shitty alternative.

This is of course ignoring how obviously this wasn't a meaningful threat, but you can see how they're entirely driven by that fear. As is everyone else involved. It's fucking crap but there is a giant, planet sized weight on the shoulders of everyone involved here who could have, and probably really wanted to just go "why are you wasting my time with this fucking bullshit?" because the 1/1,000,000+ chance of it being real would create such immense blowback.

I don't know what to say here, but even if this gets thrown out and justice is served here i bet some sad guys in the system will be sitting there going "God, i wish we could have just not done this bullshit but what if we hadn't and..."

It's a shitty situation for all involved.

sorry, you're right, hundreds, not dozens: http://www.stoptheshootings.org/

now tell me some of those hilarious rape jokes the internet is so famous for!!


wait.

REALLY?

So yea, wait, you're saying that you think this was a reasonable reaction to assume that even if someone is blatantly joking it should be investigated to the fullest and they should be thrown in jail until it can be absolutely proved it was "just a joke, man?"

Not to even get in to how offensive i think it is to be comparing this to rape jokes.

I feel like I experienced the very first wave of CRAZY PARANOIA about this stuff. Just around the time of Columbine, some goth kids in my grade were arrested and forced into community service because they wrote a website about an army of sentient traffic cones attacking our high school vice principal.

I was around for this too. A kid i know who was a total "master trolle" type got matrix shades, a trenchcoat, and a duffle bag full of like.. nerf guns and toy strobe light grenades and the tiniest leatherman and went to school one day. He was expelled from school and eventually had to move out of state, and i think it was mostly because of it. He was like.. 9?

I remember specifically that he actually did it just to see what they would do, to "piss them off". They did get really pissed off and very little logic or reason was involved in the process of expelling him and gigantic shitstorm in created while they were all slapping eachother on the backs for stopping the next columbine killers "practice run" or some shit.
posted by emptythought at 4:19 PM on July 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


[A couple comments removed, please cool it.]
posted by cortex at 4:22 PM on July 8, 2013


This is the kind of thing that pushes people towards libertarianism, I think

In Texas, ground zero for almost every libertarian socioeconomic lab experiment this country is trying out on an unwilling populace?
posted by zombieflanders at 4:25 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Holy......

You ended up with microcosm of knee jerk reactions where everyone was more concerned with covering their own asses and preventing even the possibility of some situation that could embarrass them

I'm just realizing this as well. I caused one of these panics. I wonder how much of an exaggeration it is to say I could have been right there with him.

Totally forgot about this but when I went to pickup my cap and gown for graduation (seniors got out a week or so early so class was still in for Juniors and below) I also went by the Physics classroom to say goodbye to one of my cooler teachers. She told me to snag the mobile I made from when the class was studying torsion and moments and forces and torques. You see we had brought small, lightweight objects from home and combined them with string and oak dowels and a ruler to create a mobile of balancing forces. I took mine and went about my merry way saying goodbye to the teachers I enjoyed knowing while I was there.

In the meantime I was taking this damn knotty mess of string and wooden sticks and small toys I'd brought in apart because, obviously, it was unwieldy as all hell and I was carrying my cap and gown too. As I went around campus I figured what the heck, I'll just leave the toys around for someone else to take home, so I put one on the water fountain as I walked past, one on a window sill, one on a magazine rack, and I went home. I came back a few weeks later to get my diploma, instead of the piece of paper they handed everyone when we walked/graduated wtf, and started talking to another AP english teacher of mine that I mostly hated but we had a real respect for each other because she actually pushed me and, even though I pushed back, I appreciated her for it. Somehow we got around to the subject that they had locked down the school, put everyone on alert, and brought in the cops and bomb dogs a few weeks ago.

"Wow, what happened?" said I.

"They were concerned that there was a shooter or bomber on campus because they found hints placed in strategic locations around campus."

"You mean like notes or threats?" I queried.

"No, someone had planted little green army men and action figures in locations that suggested an attack."

me: "......"

her: "What? Do you know who might have done it?!?"

me: "uh, yea I did it. *explains situation*"

her: "............... don't tell anyone else you did it. Damnit RolandofEld, you would have been expelled."




. for the kid that was almost me I guess.
posted by RolandOfEld at 4:41 PM on July 8, 2013 [34 favorites]


Yeah, this whole situation's got me thinking of highschool right after Columbine too, and how it was the dumbest goddamn thing. And then real life after 2001 became pretty much exactly that writ ridiculously large.
posted by jason_steakums at 4:46 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


They're coming for you, RolandofEld. Now! Damnit, you weren't supposed to tell anyone. Now there's nothing we can do to protect you. Run. RUN!!!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:51 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Now there's nothing we can do to protect you. Run. RUN!!!

If it makes this thread any less bleak and shitty, I just pictured you as some crazy mishmash of Stallone/Schwarzenegger pushing me into a jungle entreating me to beat feet like my life depended on it. Pretty awesome actually.
posted by RolandOfEld at 4:55 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


While this thing seems ridiculous, blaming the person who reported it without any understanding of why they did so seems unfair.

Seriously? I guess if it was this woman's first day on the internet I'll cut her some slack. Make sure no one tells her about fark or reddit or 4chan or her phone will wear out calling the cops.

What if I don't really care what her motives were? Her intent doesn't much matter to me, even if she truly felt she was about to save lives from impending violence. This would be the most charitable interpretation of her actions, and one that firmly establishes her as an idiot (given the evidence). Anything less than genuine concern is totally unacceptable, and again, even that just proves she has no sense of irony or discrimination.

I honestly can't come up with any motivation for her actions I can agree with. What she did is not a good thing.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:55 PM on July 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


I'm firmly on the side however of saying that what she did is irrelevant. People report things for whatever reasons every day. The reasons don't matter, let's say she was legitimately concerned and it was entirely in good faith.

The fact that she reported it is immaterial. Everyone else involved in this process had the job to take the complaint and evidence, consider it, and decide whether or not it was worthwhile. It's completely plausible that she reported it essentially as "I'm concerned by this, and i want the proper authorities with the knowledge expertise and access to all the information to figure out whether this is an issue or not"

It was there job to take one look at it and say "this is crap", not hers to be afraid of the system being run by morons. The onus is on the police and the prosecutor to decide whether this is a valid complaint.

"See something, say something" isn't a shit rule. It's the job of the people you say something to figuring out whats wheat and whats chaff.

That's why i feel blaming her is wrong. Even if she just thought it was a joke in bad taste and was couching it in the plausible deniability of "but what about the childrenz!" and is a complete evil fuck, the problem still isn't primarily with her. We give these people the power to throw others in jail and conduct investigations with the understand that they'll be operating at a higher level than that in theory.

So yea, the value of what she did is irrelevant. This is a combination of button presses on a soda machine causing it to catch fire. It's not the person who pushes the buttons fault.
posted by emptythought at 5:40 PM on July 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


Dillinger in Public Enemies: "I can hit any bank I want, any time. They got to be at every bank, all the time."

The Bureau of Pre-Crime is a bankrupt idea housed in a psych hospital. If Americans actually cared about what kills and maims Americans, they'd drive the speed limit and fund EMTs and trauma centers better.
posted by morganw at 5:51 PM on July 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


"See something, say something" isn't a shit rule.

In the context of the American security state post-September 11, I don't think it makes sense to consider whether or not "see something, say something" is a "shit rule." It doesn't exist as "rule" apart from the near-paranoiac levels of pseudo-security policy and security theatre that plague the US and, I fear, do more harm than good.

This isn't to blame the concerned Canadian citizen more or less than the police, prosecutor and courts. I don't care about blame. I do believe she had just as much ability and moral, if not professional, responsibility to acknowledge the context of the communication. If individuals do not acknowledge their responsibility in participating in systemic injustice, the system itself cannot be reformed. An ostensibly democratic society is not a soda machine with a manufacturer whom we can sue or petition for a recall.
posted by audi alteram partem at 6:00 PM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


emptythought, I agree with everything you just wrote. I think this was a total breakdown from the get go and should have been stopped by someone reasonable at some point. I never attacked this woman specifically. People attributed that to me, but I attacked the process. Someone should have interjected some sanity into this at some point.

There are entirely too many stories like this. I would just like the headline to read "Canadian Woman Disregards US Constitution: Texas Tells Her To Mind Her Own Business." Seriously, as often as I get mad at Texas, the one thing they generally do better than most other states is to protect the rights of the individual.

They failed this time.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:02 PM on July 8, 2013


Or better yet no headline because the cops took one look at the Facebook post and never returned her call.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:11 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


delmoi: "This is the kind of thing that pushes people towards libertarianism, I think - the idea that you could be charged with a crime and have prosecutor, a judge, and a jury composed entirely of idiots who have no idea what's actually going on."

Perhaps, although I pursued that political philosophy for several years and ultimately found it lacking. It points a finger at the problem by focusing on ideology, which has its value, but solutions which fail to address systemic issues and the need for comprehensive, long term reform are not going to solve any problems. The visceral hatred found throughout the ideology for the institutions which are by design best qualified to help the least privileged or powerful puts a big red line between that belief system and my own. The problems highlighted by this case aren't going to be solved by libertarianism.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:49 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


"See something, say something" isn't a shit rule.

But it is the reason I, as an odd looking adult male, won't go into the kids' section of a Goodwill without my girlfriend. Profile picture aside I often look like a fat Ted Kaczynski. I'm surprised "See something, say something" hasn't landed me in jail by now.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:54 PM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Jesus, this is heartbreaking stuff. Absolutely insane and terrifying.

I live outside the US and am somewhat ignorant of the media over there. Can anyone give me some anecdata on just how much attention and debate this case is seeing? Is this 'all over your TV and newspapers' -type coverage or does your average person in the street not even have a clue?
posted by Broseph at 6:55 PM on July 8, 2013


That's not really true. The Supreme Court has incorporated the First Amendment against the States, and the Supreme Court has also said that the relevant test for the limits of freedom of speech is the imminent lawless action test. Texas cannot go over the Supremes' heads on this issue. Unfortunately for Justin Carter, he'd have to appeal several times to get the Supremes to find this law to be an overbroad violation of freedom of speech.
Sure, but that won't apply until the case gets to trial, or perhaps not even until it's appealed. That's the problem. The supreme court can say "X" and it might actually apply to a case until it's been in the system for years - during which the person may spend incarcerated.
He's 18 years old, if he was treated as a child somewhere his father would probably be all "He's 18! He's an adult! He should be allowed to...." But now, suddenly, he's "just a kid." He doesn't understand "public space." ??
This idea that people suddenly become mature, responsible adults at 18 is obviously ridiculous to anyone over the age of 25.
so where is our elected President in all of this? Hope he can Change this.
Legally, I don't think the president can do anything about people charged with violating state, instead of federal laws.
posted by delmoi at 6:57 PM on July 8, 2013


Broseph, I follow a lot of free speech blogs, first amendment blogs, legal blogs, worked the last 13 years for a newspaper in a non-jurnalist capacity, am a news junkie, and this is the first I have heard about this case. I may have just missed this though. It happens. I am fairly certain it's not to the level of the man on the street though.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:59 PM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


But it is the reason I, as an odd looking adult male, won't go into the kids' section of a Goodwill without my girlfriend. Profile picture aside I often look like a fat Ted Kaczynski. I'm surprised "See something, say something" hasn't landed me in jail by now.

And on the flip side, nobody can report someone acting suspicious without risking the destruction of that person's life over a misunderstanding. Nobody wins! Not even law enforcement in the long term, what with the fundamental mistrust of their entire institution at a slow simmer and heating up ever so slowly to a boil.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:01 PM on July 8, 2013


[One comment deleted; let's keep the focus on the case/issues, not make it personal.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:10 PM on July 8, 2013


This idea that people suddenly become mature, responsible adults at 18 is obviously ridiculous to anyone over the age of 25.

This idea that people suddenly become mature, responsible adults at 25 is obviously ridiculous to anyone over the age of 41.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:22 PM on July 8, 2013 [14 favorites]


I live outside the US and am somewhat ignorant of the media over there. Can anyone give me some anecdata on just how much attention and debate this case is seeing? Is this 'all over your TV and newspapers' -type coverage or does your average person in the street not even have a clue?

Broseph, I follow a lot of free speech blogs, first amendment blogs, legal blogs, worked the last 13 years for a newspaper in a non-jurnalist capacity, am a news junkie, and this is the first I have heard about this case. I may have just missed this though. It happens. I am fairly certain it's not to the level of the man on the street though.


Given that the incident described by This American Life took place back in 2010, it seems easy to assume that the general policy of investigating reports of suspicious Facebook postings has been on the books for some time in different states. This particular case has been a minor headline getter, but it may not be the report of a new phenomenon so much as the reporting of a particular example of a (rare?) phenomenon that has existed for some time.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:29 PM on July 8, 2013


Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish: “[…]setting aside the question of whether the executive should intervene in a case that will probably be laughed out of court[…]” [Emphasis added]
Just as a point of anecdata, I've got a friend down for life for something nobody with any sense—not the judge, not the cops, not most of three juries, and not the family of the alleged victim who paid for his defense—thinks he did. After his third trial ended in another mistrial, the judge told the prosecutor he didn't want to see the case in his courtroom again.

So the DA waited until the judge died before bringing my friend to trial for the fourth time. Finally securing both a conviction and a step up to the state Attorney General's office. That's our system: The majesty of equal justice under law turned into personal politics and petty vendettas. God Bless America.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:33 PM on July 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


I wonder if he had actually had a gun stockpile, would he have had a better outcome? Like the NRA and all the teaparty people would they then support him against the charges?
posted by Iax at 7:33 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm ducking out of this thread. If you want to take me to task for something, or if you feel I need to clarify a comment or respond to you, please take it to memail.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:36 PM on July 8, 2013


I looked up "still" on dictionary.com. If he is highly intelligent he could have meant, not being motionless, but noiselessly.

Also the P-A webcomic from the day before seems relevant, in a more general sense, as well but it made me laugh: "Metamofo" ("Laughter is soap for the soul.")

Texas is making an example of this guy.
posted by saber_taylor at 7:49 PM on July 8, 2013


Broseph,

In the last few days stories about this had started popping up on a lot of sites. I was mildly surprised that it hadn't been posted to MF yet. News junkies who read a lot of politicy sites (HuffPo, NRO, etc.) might have seen it. But certainly not something your average news-watcher or paper-reader will have seen.
posted by pdq at 7:59 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Stop the terrorists.
For the children.
Zero tolerance.

The three horsemen of the americapocalypse all have a hand in this senseless case. As someone noted earlier, now the prosecutor and law enforcement are invested in it. It is amazing that this ham sandwich was indicted by a grand jury of sentient non-traffic-cones.
posted by Warren Terra at 8:27 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Texas is making an example of this guy.
Not that I'm a huge defender of Texas, but it's not "Texas" that's doing it, it's one person, County DA Jennifer Tharp who's doing this.

My guess is she's some sheltered person who'd never seen dark humor internet humor or something like that.

The problem is, you get 6 or 12 jurors with the same sheltered backstory, you can get a conviction.

Look at the West Memphis 3 for an example of that.
posted by delmoi at 8:38 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Holy shit holy shit holy shit!! You guys! I get it now!
Man, this has been bugging me for MONTHS! Waaaaay back in February, I woke up one morning, and I thought to myself "huh... I feel safer somehow! And...it feels like it's coming from Texas, of all places! I wonder if they just executed more mentally handicapped people!"
Now I get it! God, that's been like a pebble in my shoe the whole time! THANK YOU, TEXAS!
posted by GoingToShopping at 8:48 PM on July 8, 2013


[Yeah, folks, maybe let's skip the general Texas-bashing?]
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:55 PM on July 8, 2013


So you're saying... don't mess with Texas?
posted by jason_steakums at 8:56 PM on July 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


After Columbine, I had a friend get screwed in similar circumstances. I wrote a comment about it 11 years ago. Quoting myself from December 2002:

Post-Columbine and related school shootings, people are becoming more and more oversensitive to comments made by students, whereas teachers get away with (non-literally, please don't arrest me) murder. It's messed up. And to assume that all of the parties involved are going to care about things like context and motive and intent....well, that's just naive.


I am sad that this came true.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:21 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Count me in as another kid who got hoist by my snarky petard post-Columbine. If I hadn't also been a national merit scholar and class salutatorian, I'd have been expelled for sure.

For a drawing of Evil Super Mario preparing to saute Toad.

but I actually jumped in to say that "still" in "still-beating heart" means "continues to beat." As in, I will eat this heart even as it continues to beat. /pedant
posted by like_a_friend at 10:28 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The three horsemen of the americapocalypse all have a hand in this senseless case. As someone noted earlier, now the prosecutor and law enforcement are invested in it. It is amazing that this ham sandwich was indicted by a grand jury of sentient non-traffic-cones.

Simple. All those horsereasons are meticulously constructed to make the process of pillorying anyone who comes out against their application nearly automatic. Challenging any of them is practically suicide unless you're a deft debater ready to really throw down and call out the bullshit of the person employing them. And they'll try every trick in the book to make you seem not only foolish and misinformed, but like you don't care about whatever horseman you're challenging which is really easy to turn into "see, this guys an asshole who doesn't care about the children/our safety!"

You're really setting up for a paddling if you challenge them, as even the average person is pre-loaded and disposed to defend them. And even if they do a half assed job at it in say jury deliberation, it'll likely be the entire Goddamn room against you if you choose the toughest row to hoe like that.

That's how those 3 horsemen work. And that's why they're so insidious. They're like the fucking Borg, adapting to every weapon you attack them with after a few shots.

So yea, it doesn't surprise me it got by "non traffic cones". I bet plenty of people in the room had "but what about the childrenz!" Responses to everything anyone tried to challenge it with. And it's all just another layer of the type of ass covering I was talking about earlier.

Because no one wants to be the one who champions against safety of the children's or for letting potential school shooters go or whatever. It's just too easy to be painted as either a devils advocate tiresome asshole, or just an asshole.
posted by emptythought at 11:57 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


In North Carolina shortly after Columbine a high school student put "the end is near" as a screensaver on a computer in the computer lab. He was charged with Communicating Threats which is a class 1 misdemeanor and carries a maximum sentence of 120 days in prison. Because of his record, the defendant actually couldn't receive any active time. He was only eligible for supervised probation with a 45 day suspended sentence.

Despite the fact that he wasn't even eligible for active time for this misdemeanor, he was placed under a 100,000 dollar bond. He did manage to bond out.

Misdemeanors in North Carolina are tried in District Court in front of a judge. A defendant has an automatic right to appeal the case to Superior Court for a jury trial. Joshua Mortimer, the defendant, was found guilty in District Court by a judge who in open court on the afternoon of September 11th, 2001 said to a Vietnam vet making his first appearance in court for his dwi that day, "We should have taken out Saddam when we had the chance." Mortimer appealed.

A jury of twelve also found Mortimer guilty in Superior Court. The prosecutor was a 32 year old ADA who became the elected DA two or three years later. Mortimer appealed to North Carolina Court of Appeals.

The Court of Appeals found there was insufficient evidence as the threat was not communicated directly to anyone and the threat did not allege any specific conduct. In short, the Court said if we don't know who he is threatening or how he is threatening them, there can't be a crime.

So the conviction was reversed. Of course, Mortimer had been permanently banned from all schools in the county in addition to jail time before he posted bond, legal fees, and general suffering. I would provide a bunch of links if I weren't on my phone, but here is one.
posted by flarbuse at 12:31 AM on July 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


This seems like an inevitable consequence of having elections for roles in your judicial system. So many times I read about justice gone wrong in the US and ambitious prosecutors are behind it.

Is this one of those impossible constitutional reform things?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:32 AM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
J/k
Lol
posted by fullerine at 1:28 AM on July 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


Joe's spleen, the very concept of electing any part of the judiciary is barking mad.
posted by wilful at 2:41 AM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


My guess is she's some sheltered person who'd never seen dark humor internet humor or something like that.

She's doing it to cover her arse so she can talk about the safety of the children. I would guess she will talk in terms of preventing another Columbine and getting justice, and teaching this guy a lesson. When you have a justice system that has elected officials, expect electioneering in justice.

Seriously, this is one, among many, of the hidden costs of widespread gun ownership. Not just the attacks on kids, but the paranoia from the police, government officials and ordinary citizens that they will become the victim of a violent crime.

One day, someone will do the maths on what the economic cost is of gun ownership from arming and training the police right through to dumb stuff like this. It'll be in the billions and it's paid for by taxpayers. 2nd Amendment hardliners, many if whom have strong anti-government rhetoric are among the primary enablers of the militarisation of the police and increase in the cost of government as a direct result of accommodating gun ownership.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:40 AM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


No, reporting that comment was the right thing to do. It's the responsibility of the police and possibly a judge to determine if the threat is genuine or not.
When I see comments like this, I think what I need is a rubber stamp, emblazoned with the following:

Think back to the dumbest thing you did between the ages of 15 and 20. Now picture photographic evidence of the act in the hands of the sheriff of your backwater hometown. If that had happened, would you be out of prison yet?

Because my gut reaction is that for most of us, the answer is a resounding 'no.'
posted by Mayor West at 4:46 AM on July 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


Dick Cheneys 1% Doctrine writ small. After we justified invading Iraq to pre-emptively cover our ass, it is no surprise that behavior trickled down.
posted by butterstick at 5:04 AM on July 9, 2013


Since I left the US a year and a half ago, when people inevitably ask me why I moved to Holland my snarky TL;DR answer is, "for the hookers and pot, of course."

One of the real reasons is that I have two school age boys and am terrified of the existential threat the criminal justice system has become in the US.
posted by digitalprimate at 5:08 AM on July 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


I say we just throw the entire US population in jail. It'll be great for the economy.
posted by nowhere man at 6:11 AM on July 9, 2013


I wonder if the same zeal would be applied to people threatening to bomb abortion clinics.

Nah, that almost gets you elected mayor.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:36 AM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's like the Andromeda Strain of legal asshattery.

Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit drinking Sterno.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:00 AM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


2nd Amendment hardliners, many if whom have strong anti-government rhetoric are among the primary enablers of the militarisation of the police
I'm impressed by the rhetorical skill with which you swiftly moved from "the police are becoming horrible" to "therefore they should be the only ones armed".
posted by roystgnr at 8:45 AM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Perhaps if he goes to prison his mission in that time will be to become more than human.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:11 AM on July 9, 2013


what
posted by pdq at 11:24 AM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Who is pursuing this? What's wrong with their heads?

The same people who arrested a man in Henderson, NV when he refused to hand his home over to then so they could surveil the neighbor. Then went and arrested his relatives.

How far away can kristallnacht be?
posted by Twang at 1:58 PM on July 9, 2013


Jesus can we save the godwins law shit for some other time? it really feels like everyone is now riding our their hobbyhorses on "AMERIKKA IS A FASCIST STATE IN PROGRESS" and gun control and shit now when those are about as related as bald tires are to some drunk guy plowing his car into a convenience store.

The gun laws thing is related in at best a tertiary way. The rest feels like it's reaching pretty damn hard, and is almost a total derail.

that said,

When I see comments like this, I think what I need is a rubber stamp, emblazoned with the following:

Think back to the dumbest thing you did between the ages of 15 and 20. Now picture photographic evidence of the act in the hands of the sheriff of your backwater hometown. If that had happened, would you be out of prison yet?

Because my gut reaction is that for most of us, the answer is a resounding 'no.'


Yep, and this reminds me a LOT of the recent "drugs in context" thread which featured some great discussion of how "functioning" addicts who do drugs regularly but hold down a job look down on addicts who are often victims of circumstance as being "the bad ones" and like totally different man.

None of the high-horsers here, and honestly basically everywhere are any different from this kid except that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He's not "stupid", he's just like all those kids that got busted for possession smoking pot during highschool or college. You spun the wheel and you got a pass, he got nailed. Pretending you were smart, or really anything but lucky and in the right place at the right time is a complete farce.

People need to have some more empathy here, because this could just as easily have been i bet most of the posters on here. Especially when you include dumb teenage shit and not just internet sarcasm.
posted by emptythought at 2:31 PM on July 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm very frightened by this.


None of the high-horsers here, and honestly basically everywhere are any different from this kid except that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He's not "stupid", he's just like all those kids that got busted for possession smoking pot during highschool or college. You spun the wheel and you got a pass, he got nailed. Pretending you were smart, or really anything but lucky and in the right place at the right time is a complete farce.

People need to have some more empathy here, because this could just as easily have been i bet most of the posters on here. Especially when you include dumb teenage shit and not just internet sarcasm.


Yes. I'm writing song lyrics now that, if read by Americans, could get me arrested. I remember running into my high school early to delete an essay I wrote about the Columbine shootings that I knew could get me arrested. I'm honestly terrified of this happening to me.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:59 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I agree with emptythought to a point. Most of us have done things we could have gotten nailed for, and of course empathy is called for. But... there is a definite and obvious connection between this story and the observation/contention that the radical right, law enforcement types, and "tea party" style State elected officials are bulldozing us toward a more fascist style of government. This, I think, is the whole point of the story. That we shouldn't have to worry about being unjustly arrested and punished because over-reaching authoritarian-minded fools have taken over our system of justice, our municipal, state and federal governments... I for one, don't think references to Kristallnacht are particularly out of place these days.
posted by anguspodgorny at 5:36 PM on July 9, 2013


Was there an FPP about the high school rapper who was arrested for terroism charges for posting lyrics on social media? It seems like the same story, but this one is getting more traction because of the videogames angle.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:26 PM on July 9, 2013


high school rapper who was arrested for terrorism charges

In his case, the grand jury in Massachusetts refused to indict.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:57 PM on July 9, 2013


Social media: not even once.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 6:25 AM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


The same authorities are perfectly willing to tolerate bullying on Facebook which, unlike these stunts, result in real young people actually dying by suicide.

The issue at hand here is not the threat of harm. The significant aspect of these stories are the powers that the authorities have granted themselves to incarcerate us (Draconian), the process by which they granted themselves those powers (extra-legal), the circumstances under which they routinely exercise those powers (pretext), and the extent to which we regard those powers as legitimated by the "terrorist threat".

The "terrorist threat" is, in practice, the pretext under which they are bringing about the military state. Their victory is to have conditioned us into accepting the exercise of these powers as "normal" - an essential reconfiguration of an unwinding society ahead of that time when they will have to preserve docility with insufficient resource.
posted by falcon at 6:45 AM on July 10, 2013 [3 favorites]






Well done anonymous good Samaritan! What an incredible bail fee, is that normal?
posted by asok at 5:16 AM on July 12, 2013


> What an incredible bail fee, is that normal?

Only if there is some sort of flight risk or possibility of immediate violence, really. And, usually in those cases the bond is either not allowed or made even higher. It just seems like a mean-spirited punitive measure in advance of any real case.
posted by planetesimal at 5:30 AM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


A 500,000 dollar mensch. Sir or Madam, I salute you.

I wonder if it'd have been better for publicity of this case/insanity if the donor would have been publicly known. Something something furthering discussion something.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:13 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bail like that happens a lot on ridiculous cases like this where someone is drummed up as a "terrorist" or "potential school shooter" or someone who "made serious threats" or whatever.

If i could come up with the right search terms i bet i could make a list of 5-6 ones over the last year or two. There's definitely a pattern of it being abused in a "and now you're going go sit in jail and realize how bad you REALLY fucked up by taunting the bull of the system" and "this is going to help us sensationalize how bad you seem because it's a big scary number so you must be a big scary criminal even though we don't really have a leg to stand on here"

It's definitely abusive, but it still happens all the goddamn time.

Also, assuming this kid shows up to court whoever ponied up 500k is going to get it back. It's not like they tossed the money away. Which is really a big element(like the expungement thing discussed above) which is really fucked up and horribly classist about this system.

Pretty much, i doubt any bail bond shop would front that bond and his family would have to cough up a big percentage of it, probably something like fifth to seventy five thousand to front this which the family would then just have to walk away from. in a little town in texas that might be worth more than their fucking house. Meanwhile, a rich kids dad could just throw down the 500k and get it back later when their good lawyer made the entire thing disappear and got the charge expunged.

Starting to see the issue here?
posted by emptythought at 3:29 PM on July 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well, it's great to know I fought for the freedom to...wait, no, this is bullshit.
posted by corb at 8:15 AM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]




From homunculus's link (italics mine):
The last few months have been extremely hard on Justin, who, according to his lawyer, was regularly beaten by other inmates to the point where he had to be put in solitary confinement and placed on suicide watch.

Happily for Justin's family, an "anonymous good Samaritan" offered to donate the $500,000 in bail money so Justin could be released ahead of his court date.

"He's glad he's out. His family is ecstatic. He feels good. He is relieved. It's been an ordeal," Justin's attorney Don Flanary told NPR.

[...]

Justin does regret posting the comment, saying if he had it to do again he would have "thought a lot more about what I said and how permanent my writing is."

But he also wants his case to serve as a warning to others who are posting their every waking thought on social networking sites.

"I just want to make it clear that people should be very, very careful of what they say and it’s being recorded all the time if you say it on any website, anywhere," he said. " And you can get in trouble for something that’s not something you should get in trouble for. And I just want people to be warned."
This is America, in the 21st century.
posted by scody at 7:17 PM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I hope someone is working to get Justin out of the country as we speak. There is no way in the current climate for him to get a fair trial.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 8:18 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


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