“The Facebook Comment That Ruined a Life”

by Walter Olson on February 14, 2014

Eighteen-year-old guys have been known to say stupid things online, especially when engaged in displays of flaming and one-upmanship. Criminal-sentence kind of stupid? “I guess what you post on Facebook matters,” says Justin Carter of San Antonio, jailed after an all-caps flourish about how he was ready to “shoot up a kindergarten.” [Dallas Observer]

P.S. A related Missouri story from last year.

{ 2 comments }

1 VMS 02.16.14 at 9:16 am

The DA needs to use some prosecutorial discretion. It’s almost always the silent ones that actually carry out terrorist acts, and not the loud mouths that are merely venting. A conversation with the kid by law enforcement would probably have been sufficient. This country is so screwed up. Prosecuting this guy is akin to suspending fourth graders for “making” a pop-tart gun in school and actually pointing it at someone. Of course the remedy for the pop tart gun situation is to pass a law that makes it illegal to discipline a kid for doing so.

2 En Passant 02.19.14 at 1:10 am

I have postponed commenting on this case in order to think about it a while.

I agree with VMS above that the DA certainly should not have prosecuted. I reviewed all the reasons I could muster why the DA should prosecute. None make sense.

Mr. Carter’s comment was obvious sarcasm in a fast paced conversation with another youngster. If Mr. Carter had instead written “I’ma think my head gonna ‘splode”, would the Canadian twit have called emergency services to report a medical emergency? Would any emergency operator have taken him seriously once advised of the conversational context? I don’t think so.

Saying “I think I’ma SHOOT UP A KINDERGARTEN” is no less obviously juvenile hyperbole. But it offers an ambitious prosecutor an opportunity to grandstand politically, so she charges full speed ahead regardless of the consequences for innocents.

Everybody involved in bringing this prosecution deserves ridicule at best. All of them — from the Canadian moron who called the Austin police; to the Austin cop who wrote the most tendentious and fact-free police report possible; to the Austin Regional Intelligence Center bureaucrats who raised the alarm because Mr. Carter lived near a school; to the jailers who coerced a “confession” and permitted Mr. Carter to be raped in jail; to Comal County District Attorney Jennifer Tharp who decided to count coup by prosecuting a kid for an offhand remark, and who doesn’t want the jury to hear the conversational context of the remark.

I would would use stronger words to criticize them, involving tar, feathers and transport out of town on a rail; or rope and handy trees. But the officials involved would probably try to prosecute for “terrorist threats” anyone who voices the criticism they actually deserve. So, I’ll just say they all deserve at least ridicule.

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