Update: The Christian post reported that a full term prison sentence could be up to eight years for making a terroristic threat.
Nineteen-year-old Justin Carter has been imprisoned since March for a tasteless, sarcastic joke. In what country is this young man? Believe it or not, the United States. He was imprisoned in Texas for making an offensive joke in a country that is known for freedom of speech.
The entire dilemma started on Facebook when a friend with whom Carter had played video games described him as “crazy” and “messed up in the head.” Carter then responded to the friend, in a sarcastic tone, with “Oh, yeah, I’m real messed up in the head, I’m going to shoot up a school full of kids and eat their still, beating hearts.” To cover himself and ensure those who say his response knew he was joking, he added “lol” and “jk” for safety.
Austin police arrested the teen for his post, and charged him with making a “terrorist threat.” He could actually serve several years in prison for this offense.
According to reports, a woman in Canada saw Carter’s post on Facebook and reported it to Texas authorities as a concerned citizen. Despite a search of the Carter home that found nothing that would lead them to believe Justin Carter was a threat, he was taken into custody and has been incarcerated, without a trial, for almost four months.
Petition for Carter’s Release
In a petition asking for Carter’s release, Carter’s defense adds to the case against the state by noting, “The only item seized from his home was his personal computer. No weapons of any kind were seized.” Other legal advocates have pointed out there are literally millions of Internet postings that threaten violence, but apparently, Carter’s post was singled out even though he even indicated the post was sarcastic in nature by including “lol” and “jk” at the end of the text.
Justin’s father, Jack, describes his son as someone who doesn’t watch the news or read about current events, so he wasn’t even aware of some of the terrorist related actions taking place around the world. In a public interview, the elder Carter said, “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.”
Perhaps gaining knowledge of Carter’s situation will make more people learn to appreciate their freedoms more, but in the meantime, what will happen to Justin Carter? Only time will tell, but several groups are encouraging the public to voice their concerns and demand the teen be released from jail.