Justin Carter jailed for sarcasm

Jason Carter should be the poster boy for government abuse of free speech and expression rights. Photo: Change.org

CHICAGO, July 8, 2013 – Justin Carter was a typical Texas 18-year-old in February. He played online video games and connected with people on Facebook. During an argument on Facebook, over one of the games, a friend called him crazy and insane.

The young man replied back,  “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 lol and jk.”


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A woman in Canada came across the Facebook thread. Being the typical busybody, she did a Google search and realized Justin Carter lived near a school. (His actual residence and location near a school was later disputed.)

The Canadian busybody contacted authorities. Search and arrest warrants were issued. Justin Carter was arrested for making a terroristic threat. His bail was set at $500 thousand dollars.

Now 19, he is sitting in jail awaiting trial. He faces eight years in prison.

It should be remembered that Canada does not have free speech. It has controlled and regulated speech. Canada is not a free country, which is why the Canadian law abiding busybody got her knickers in a twist.

Evidently, neither the Canadian busybody nor the Austin police know that “lol” and “jk” stand for laughing out loud and just kidding, respectively. They apparently do not know the difference between sarcasm and clear and present danger either.

In these days of busybodies with tender sensitivities and over reactive authorities, nothing is simple, sensible, or safe. You now can be arrested and prosecuted for making offensive jokes, comments, or statements. The Facebook police are coming after you.

According to recent reports, the young man is not faring well in jail. His family claims he is depressed, has been injured, and that he has been placed in solitary confinement with no clothing. He is reportedly on suicide watch.

This is the United States of America. People have the right to be offensive, foolish, or even an offensive foolish jackass.The silliest, most offensive, tasteless, and undesirable people are protected by the United States Constitution.

Unfortunately, there has been little backlash over the arrest of Justin Carter.

The media, the so-called bastion of the First Amendment, have been silent. No screaming editorials demanding the young man be released have been written. They are sensitive to the tender sensitivity of the busybodies, who may just attack them. The social media lynch mobs, especially those so-called freedom lovers, have also been strangely silent.

The world is full of online busybodies who smugly defend their actions in the name of collective safety, security, and sensitivity. They troll the internet, like the Department of Homeland Security and the NSA, looking for crimes against sensitivity. When they come across these crimes, they call in the authorities.

In some places, the authorities take these crimes against sensitivity very seriously. Texas is one of those places.

If the authorities do nothing, then the busybodies turn into Internet lynch mobs creating blitzs that catch the attention of the media. What does that bastion of the First Amendment do? Why, they contact the authorities to see if charges are going to be placed? They fuel the fire the lynch mobs created.

Arresting Justin Carter was as silly, if not sillier, than his Facebook comments. It makes the Austin Police look like a bunch of Barney Fifes. It also calls into question their training, as police officers are supposed to be trained extensively on the Bill of Rights.

What is worse, the prosecutors, who are supposed to be trained attorneys, are taking this case seriously. They will try this young man and attempt to put him in prison. Evidently, law schools no longer train attorneys on the First Amendment.

It is not bad enough Justin Carter was arrested. Still being incarcerated is worse. It makes a mockery out of our supposed system of justice. It makes prosecutors and judges look like idiots. How can any attorney or jurist justify the incarceration of a person for making a bad joke? Under this reasoning, stand up comedy would be illegal. David Letterman and Jay Leno would be Public Enemies.

There is no such thing as giving up your individual rights to free speech and expression for the safety of the collective. In 1969, the United States Supreme Court ruled that free speech could not be curtailed unless there was an imminent and likely threat. (Brandenburg v. Ohio)

The First Amendment prohibits any law that bans free speech and expression. “No law” means no law. The only exceptions to free speech and expression are if there is an imminent likely threat and/or clear and present danger. An 18-year-old at home on Facebook presented no imminent threat or clear and present danger to anyone, except a sensitive Canadian busybody.

It is not illegal to advocate or express anything, including violence, murder, mayhem, or even terrorism. You can even advocate sedition, treason, and the overthrow of the government. What you cannot do is act on or be in an imminent position to act on your advocacy. You cannot advocate and be a clear and present danger at the same time.

Justin Carter should be the poster boy for government abuse of First Amendment rights. His case is a perfect example of shoddy police work, inept prosecution, and incompetent judicial conduct.

The only people who should be prosecuted are those who arrested, charged, and allowed Justin Carter to remain in jail under a dubious law. Unfortunately, they are immune.

In despotic countries there are political prisoners. In the new America we will have politically incorrect prisoners. People will be incarcerated because they offended the tender sensitivities of others. There may even be a Department of Homeland Sensitivity to monitor speech and expression.

Justin Carters parents have a petition on Change.org to get their son released. 

By the way, there have been no arrests or prosecutions of people who started Facebook pages and Twitter accounts advocating the murder of George Zimmerman or rioting if Zimmerman is is found not guilty of killing Trayvon Martin.

At least not yet.


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Peter Bella

Peter Bella is a retired Chicago Police Officer, freelance photographer, freelance writer, budding videographer, and passionate cook.  He aims to be the sharp stick that pokes and annoys.  The Middle Class Guy is a political column written from a center-right point of view.  While concentrating mainly on politics he will stray into culture, entertainment, sports, cooking, and humor from time to time, along with Memories of things Pabst.  All from a middle class perspective.

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