Yet Another Teen Making Stupid Jokes On Social Media Now Faces Years In Jail

from the not-this-again dept

It’s getting ridiculous just how frequently this sort of thing is happening. We had the so-called Twitter joke trial in the UK, in which Paul Chambers was arrested and tried for making a joke on Twitter about airport closures in which he (very obviously jokingly) “threatened” to blow the airport “sky high” if it wasn’t reopened by the time he had to fly. We had the story of Joe Lipari, who was arrested for paraphrasing Fight Club on Facebook in expressing his annoyance with employees at his local Apple store. More recently, we wrote about high school kid Cam D’Ambrosio who was arrested and held without bail for making “terroristic threats,” where those “threats” turned out to be some immature boastful rap lyrics that, when actually put in context, didn’t actually suggest any threats at all.

The latest one involves Justin Carter, a teenager in Texas who made a joke on Facebook where he and some other kids were hassling each other over the video game League of Legends. One of the kids said something to Justin along the lines of, “Oh you’re insane, you’re crazy, you’re messed up in the head.” In response, Justin said:

‘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.

In context, there is nothing surprising or odd at all about this conversation. It’s how teenaged boys communicate. They get on each other and mock each other and the response was actually pretty reasonable. One kid called him insane, and he responded by effectively mocking the claim that he was insane. And then immediately followed it up with lol and jk to cement the fact that he was kidding — which should have been obvious to everyone anyway, even without the caveats.

But… apparently it was not obvious to the police, or to some very confused woman in Canada who called the police.

Justin Carter was arrested the next month and has been jailed since March 27. He’s charged with making a terroristic threat and is facing eight years in prison, according to his dad.

It turns out that Justin’s mother actually posted a comment on our last story about Cam D’Ambrosio, which I didn’t see until just now, explaining much of his story as well, and linking to a petition trying to get her son released from prison.

Once again, this situation is insane. We’ve reached a point where media hype and moral panics are leading law enforcement to seriously overreact to anything they think is a threat. We have no problem at all with law enforcement checking in on situations like this, but they should quickly realize what it is and move on. To arrest someone for such a joking comment on Facebook, and then to keep him in jail and legitimately claim that it was some sort of “terroristic threat,” is shameful and suggests that law enforcement is more interested in building up their “stats” than actually making sure that justice is served and the public is safe.

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Comments on “Yet Another Teen Making Stupid Jokes On Social Media Now Faces Years In Jail”

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silverscarcat says:

Don't mean to sound heartless...

And, yes, it is terrible that this is happening, but…

People need to avoid posting stuff to social media, ESPECIALLY Facebook and Twitter.

You have the paranoid, delusional soccer moms who are all “won’t someone PLEASE think of the children!” that spend their time on Facebook.

You want to communicate with someone online, use private messaging, at least then it’s less likely to get seen unless someone brings it to someone else’s attention quickly.

Dave Xanatos (profile) says:

Re: Don't mean to sound heartless...

I don’t think the correct response is to constantly censor ourselves so we won’t be thrown in jail because of reports from paranoid, delusional soccer moms.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say the correct response is to fix a system that throws people in jail for sarcasm, and to stop listening to the aforementioned soccer moms.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Don't mean to sound heartless...

I’m going to go out on a limb and say the correct response is to fix a system that throws people in jail for sarcasm, and to *stop* listening to the aforementioned soccer moms.

Mebbe first oughta take a hard look at how much of problem this is. Could be a big problem is TV just making up stories.

Now, I don’t want to call KVUE reporter Shelton Green a liar. But could be he got fooled by a story he didn’t check out carefully enough. Why the heck is this kid’s dad on rampage ?to warn other parents and teenagers that statements made on social media websites can land them in jail? ?

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas ? An Austin man wants to warn other parents and teenagers that statements made on social media websites can land them in jail.


Why isn’t this kid’s dad more worried about getting his own kid out of a messed-up situation? I don’t get the motivation here.

This story sounds like a plant.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Don't mean to sound heartless...

What a jerk this dad is.

Why is the dad all concerned about helping ? one person to understand that social media is not a playground? ?

Why isn’t the dad all concerned about getting a halfway decent first amendment lawyer for his kid?

What has been reported doesn’t come close to Watts v United States. Whether the DA is an idiot or not. Whether the trial court judge is an idiot or not. There’s no way that the facts as reported stand up to serious scrutiny.

So why isn’t the dad more worried about getting a decent first amendment lawyer for his kid? Why isn’t the dad more worried about kicking ass in court?

Why is the dad all concerned about helping ? one person to understand that social media is not a playground? ?

Ninja (profile) says:

Because terrorists always post on the usual channels and leave shitloads of traceable evidence while walking calmly in public places. It’s okay if some woman is paranoid but law enforcement should be able to distinguish what’s clearly a juvenile joke from a serious threat. Except that law enforcement is even more clueless and paranoid than the woman nowadays.

Shameful. But not unexpected from a Police State.

yaga (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s not a police state, it’s an idiot in Canada, an idiot with some power in New Braunfels, TX and an even bigger idiot of a district attorney. Now this case has nothing to do with being a police state and everything to do with a couple of idiots that don’t want to admit they are idiots and release the kid. They are going to ride this to a conviction so they can then say they were right for doing what they did, or go down in flames.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Crap -- I can't find it.

The dicta of the Bow Street Runners, I think as written by John Fielding acknowledged that the police must always remain part the people rather than a separate strata. That it must always be recognized that the officer is a job, not a title.

This was, of course, lost to history, much like the purpose of lawyers to serve justice, rather than money.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I wonder if this falls into the category of “Too Smart to be a Law Enforcement Officer” where only people with lower IQ’s are allowed entry into law enforcement (There are some exceptions)? I guess the law enforcement officer from Harold and Kumar Escape Guantanamo Bay was used to as a reference guid.

Vincent Clement (profile) says:

Thought police in full control.

Have an EFF sticker on your laptop? No government job for you.

Make fun a lesbian in a comedy club? You just violated her rights.

Fly a plane from California to the east coast? You must be a drug smuggler.

Make a stupid comment about killing a group of people as a joke? Go to jail as a terrorist.

Make freely-available information easier to access? Get charged with enough charges to be jailed for 30 years.

And on and on it goes.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Absolutely if this is the world we are going to live in, the terrorist groups have already effectively and thoroughly trampled our way of life.

We reeeeally need this old generation to die off as fast as humanly possible so we can go to work on the monumental task of getting the world back on track.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

We reeeeally need this old generation to die off as fast as humanly possible so we can go to work on the monumental task of getting the world back on track.

This sentiment is expressed by every generation, and nearly every time it works out the same: by the time the young guard achieves positions of power, they are the old guard that needs to die off.

I suspect that’s because this isn’t really an age-related or generational issue. It’s an issue of entrenched bureaucracy and what happens when people who desire power finally achieve it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Old people eventually die, but the bureaucracy always remains, ready to force the next generation into being its slaves, such has been the way since ancient times.

What we need are not younger people, but smarter people, people who are smart enough, and bold enough to tackle the bureaucracy head on.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The terrorists won the war on terror the first time an innocent person was strip-searched after 9/11.

Their objective was not to conquer by military force, but rather to make us fight ourselves (as the above poster said), to inspire fear and terror, that’s why we call them terrorists.

They accomplished these goals practically the next day…

We are deluding ourselves if we think we are doing anything right now except exactly what they want us to do.

The terrorists, and every other enemy of the U.S. are laughing at us right now, for in our fear and terror, we have lost the freedom has been a defining characteristic of our nation since its inception. We have lost the freedom that men and women fought for and died defending for nearly 300 years, and we lost it practically overnight.

Jason says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Absolutely if this is the world we are going to live in, the terrorist groups have already effectively and thoroughly trampled our way of life.”


9/11 was twelve years ago. We can’t blame the terrorists for this. We have effectively shat upon our way of life our damn-selves!

Ruben says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

9/11 was twelve years ago. We can’t blame the terrorists for this. We have effectively shat upon our way of life our damn-selves!

Indeed, (the success of)terrorism is at least partly to blame for where we sit today. In order to defeat terrorism, you have to not let it effect you in any way. Yet ever since 9/11, (preventing) terrorism has been scapegoated every time there’s someone flying off the hinges when someone makes an ill conceived joke or takes a picture of a gov’t building.

I’d say that this is an unqualified success for the terrorists. What we’ve done to ourselves in the name of “protecting” ourselves from terrorists is far beyond even the wet dreams of Osama.

TheLastCzarnian (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You forgot the flip-side.
Flagged by another government as a terrorist? No one tells anyone about it.
Make terristic comments on an Jihadist web site? All is cool. The NSA knows who you are, but they need to get to “the big guys” so they leave you alone.

The idiots in the government are too wrapped up with the “big arrest” that makes national news. They totally avoid opportunites to warn local authorities and communities about the possible threats in their midst, while law enforcement overreacts to the little they are alerted to.

Has anyone ever looked into the average IQ and education of a law-enforcement officer? The 3 that I know barely passed High School, and one became an FBI agent!
It could be that the reason that the police seem so stupid is because, well, they are.

AB (profile) says:

Re: Re:

And having the FBI break down the kid’s door should have been more then enough to leave him shitting himself. Follow that up with a quiet warning and you would have a citizen so uptight you could use him as a flag pole.

Taking it to this level not only wastes national resources but is so far past reality that any lesson will be completely lost. Heck, it might even have the opposite effect and turn him into a bitter rebellious ‘terrorist’ criminal.

Anonymous Coward says:

it’s got nothing whatsoever to do with ‘media hype and moral panics’. this and all similar examples are being used as a way to scare the crap out of people and give the overreaching desires of some police and security services the justification to arrest people and make out that they are heroes and have saved the city or country, if not the entire planet from being blown apart or overrun by God knows what, or God knows who from God knows where. it makes them feel good and makes them sound good even though in reality what they did was lock up a kid from using his mouth too much at the wrong time! if he has been in jail since March and especially if he is still in jail now, the authorities ought to be ashamed of themselves! funny how they have no trouble finding and imprisoning people under these sort of circumstances but cant seem to get ‘real criminals’ to be so stupid! that fact on it’s own says what, do you think?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

He needs a really good attorney to not only defend him but also to hold the police, DA, and the judge accountable for their actions. I see a large civil suit in the future for this case and I’m sure there are lots of good attorneys out there that would be more than happy to take up this task.

Anonymous Coward says:

“League of Legends”

Oh, that makes it all clear.

The LoL crowd are stupid beyond redemption. Fortunately, they are also pathetically wimpy.

Heck, they consistently give up* in the game once you turn up the heat, instead of taking it all the way like a man, no matter how bleak the situation looks.

So I wouldn’t fear anything from them, other than being annoyed to death. That, and being called gay.

* LoL is a team game. Two teams go up against each other. There is a surrender option, but the majority of the team must vote positively for the surrender to take effect. The effect is immediate loss of the game, obviously. It’s a form of rage-quitting, but the team must be as much of a pathetic loser as you, and agree to rage quit with you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Don't believe this

From the article:

?If I can just help one person to understand that social media is not a playground, that when you go out there into social media, 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,” added Jack Carter.

Why does the kid’s dad sound like he’s running a media campaign here? I mean, I could kinda understand he’s under a lot of pressure ?worried about his kid? and in the circumstances he says some weird things.

But this doesn’t sound weird?it sounds phony.

It would sound alright if his kid was already dead. And the dad was going on a crusade against teen-age drinking or something. But that’s not the situation here.

This story rings false to me.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Don't believe this

I dunno… if I had an 18yr old nerdy kid (he had to be somewhat nerdy to play LoL no?) in jail for 2 mo. for doing absolutely nothing, I’d be screaming from the rooftops.

If the kid was in either his freshman year of college, or his senior year of highschool, getting thrown in jail and missing the end of the year is pretty harmful, both emotionally and academically.

You sound more phony than the father does.

Anonymous Coward says:

What the hell happened to the days when you scare the hell out of someone (cop threatening to arrest you), explain what COULD happen and why what they did was wrong, then letting them off with a warning.

Plus when the hell did we start listening to Cananananadins who call in about domestic American teenage boy terrorists?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Law enforcement and DAs live in mortal fear that that teenager they thought was no big deal will later be the next Columbine or Sandy Hook.

Since there are few to no costs to the DA or LEO to pursue the case, and a big public downside, like doctors afraid of malpractice suits, they practice “defensive prosecution.”

Jasmine Charter (user link) says:

He's an idiot...

The kid is an idiot. Most people are idiots.

People post things on social media like they’re in private chatting with their friends. IDIOTS. Everything is stored, sorted and available for whatever law enforcement agency feels like hassling you at the moment.

Lawmakers are idiots too. Zero tolerance means zero intelligence.

Let’s look at this realistically…

Did he threaten someone specific – no
Did he have a plan – no
Did he have the means to carry out the (non-existant) plan – no
Could an idiot in a hurry realize he was joking – yes

The fact is… we live in a world of idiots. If you don’t take precautions, YOU are an idiot.

Don’t joke around in writing – ANYWHERE. Not even your private emails are safe anymore and most likely your cell phones aren’t safe either.

So… just use a little common sense.

Sadly… as Ben Franklin said in the 18th century… Common sense isn’t that common. And it’s gotten less so in the last 3 hundred years.

James (profile) says:

"Why should I worry?"

This is another data point in the argument against, “I haven’t done anything wrong. Why should I care if the NSA monitors my every utterance and online post?”

And for the Dad-haters – maybe, just maybe, the Old Man is hoping that others will learn, by the example of his son’s incarceration, of the dangers of posting “casual” threats.

Used to be, if you were in a “bad part of town,” you’d keep your mouth shut about the way someone was dressed or how hot a woman looked – the local denizens might just inflict some instant justice on you for your freedom of expression.

Now, the thugs wear suits (or uniforms) and use the courts, rather than their fists.

Anonymous Coward says:

“‘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.”

He should have said it like so.

“‘Oh yeah, *SARCASM I love it* I’m real messed up in the head *SARCASM* , I’m going to go shoot up a school *SARCASM I hate guns.* full of kids and eat their still, beating hearts*SARCASM I’m a vegetarian* ,? and the next two lines were lol *Laughing out loud” and jk *Just kidding*.”

special-interesting (profile) says:

What we have here is a large red panic button. You know. The same huge, 3 ft round, red button drawn so cleverly in a Gary Larson cartoon with the caption underneath; ?I wonder what this button does?? Its normal that we don’t push it until we come to a situation that we do not understand or fear.

This directly effects even kids and ordinary citizens who joke, parody or comment explicitly on current events or affairs. Its probably a crime in itself that the overreactions of these mistaken/misguided officials are not criminal offenses in themselves.

Yes. We are pointing to the panic button pressed by clueless, careless and obviously ignorant government officials, explicitly highlighting, law enforcement officers. More explicitly is the history of such a large and overly used panic button given out to overly terrorist sensitive officials at every level.

Peabody; Set the wayback machine for circa 2000 sept 11th (Bullwinkle) when Bushy Boy needlessly? pushed the panic button. This act literally stopped US commerce dead in its tracks for way over a week at untold trillions of lost business. While, the rest of us cleaned up the mess he, and his vice, cowered in deep armored bunkers. Safe?

None of this was necessary. (as especially these very same scenarios were written in books long before with some countermeasures described.) Of course this is only for those paying attention to commerce and democratic values. (an, unfortunately, great minority) US economic decline was unfortunately just beginning. (trillions lost is… lost!)

In the eye of many forevermore will the nickname Bushy Boy be never forgotten. Bush, Bush Jr. and W were erased from memory as disgrace. A legacy buried amidst the rage expressed in future wars and secret national security projects that might be a psychological crutch to make up for being scared.

Once one panics, the normal response is to, try and make up for it by justifying ones actions. Terrorists make a great disguise to bury ones fears in. It sounds rational and gets even normal citizens/voters to consider it as plausible. Plausible enough to violate Constitutional Rights?

Of course. One may be forgiven for panicking once, or twice, over some extreme incident or provocation. When one does not stop panicking then there is cause for psychological concerns about the obvious impact, of actions taken under, duress. Chronic medical reasoning comes into effect.

For the recored; A panicked individual almost never admits the affliction. Defensive maneuvers are normal. Fear is something that destroys everything about oneself/the-individual. The big question; Would Bushy Boy destroy an entire American Culture, economy and nation because of his own fears and the medically obvious psychological responses?

History suggests the panic button was not pushed once, but many/multiple times. This would feed right into the hands of a waiting, also paranoid, bureaucracy which would do nothing but expand upon the likely gullible fears of the current president.

>Push the panic button; Spend unremittingly on US security programs and waste billions on creating huge useless new agencies and departments. All of which would violate the Constitution.

>Push the panic button; Go to war. (Twice! Does that count as two pushes of the panic button?) Waste untold trillions while telling the public it would only cost billions. (like that was any reason to go to war?) Effectively lie about the actual reason (claims of WMD) to go to war.

>Push the panic button; We’re broke! (not publicly claimed at the time) Publicly spoken; ?We need a national stimulus plan to stimulate the economy!? Of course what was not spoken was that the war in Afghanistan and Iraq had bankrupted the US government and they needed to keep spending so their black-box/defense contractors (be) happy.

Black box contractors… now where did all that, national stimulus plan, money go? Not the US economy thats for sure. Unless you consider all the [redacted] spending on NSA national security operations let alone the [black box] private contractors. (In support in foreign warfare?)

(mantra) No money was spent on a extremely profitable (however risky) space program, no national Interstate highway system, no railway system and not even a very questionable health-care program however wasteful. (etc.) National investment strategy? (…) None!

Revenge? Bushy Boy… What are you thinking? Does national economics mean anything? What does a vector mean to you? Where are you headed and do you want to lead America,as a whole, with you? Bleah.

>Push the panic button (again); Keep spending on NSA nonsense. Huge amounts in extremely constitutionally questionable programs. Things that Stalin, KGB, Stazi and Hitler would be proud of. If we are talking that Constitutionally correct law is good…

Then Bushy Boy is waaaaayyy out there in nutso land. Very bad. Way out of American Cultural values.

So we end the Bushy Boy presidential term with the TSA, DHS and the newly empowered NSA. (and whatever classified nonsense) And. Obama takes over But, where does he lead?

A police state is, presently, not undeniable. Under any administration. Where are the elected judges who care about and claim constitutional values in their campaign election speeches? (Who’s listening?)


So… we have Justin Carter arrested and in jail for… the insecurities of a past president? What form of Constitutional justice is that? Texting an inappropriate message is not in any way ?reasonable cause?.

Is this analysis wrong in any way? (many points, and button, pushing was missed, am sure)



silverscarcat. Its so wild, terifing and yet understandable that the soccer mom will freak out once its their kid being accused of some weird imagined terrorist threat. These days even throwing a firecracker is connived into some wild threat to mankind.

Dave Zanatos. Yes its the random reports from ?soccer moms? that are the most dangerous. They are a panicky bunch. Soccer moms are a danger to democratic society?

Andy; ?But if we give in to that then the paranoid, delusional soccer moms will win? Yes! Its a shame that these very same delusional soccer moms will have their houses/cars/belongings confiscated when their sparkling kid/son/daughter will be accused of drugs. (delusional is a good term here)

All personal messaging should be encrypted especially amongst friends. Some shared (10k+) key would be best. Its kind of normal once u think about it. Its unfortunate that most people don’t think.

AC, Vincent Clement and Urriel238; Its good when police officers surrender their badges and guns when their shift is over. When they are normal citizens they better empathize with constitutional norms.

Hohn Fenderson; ??We reeeeally need this old generation to die off as fast as humanly possible so we can go to work on the monumental task of getting the world back on track??

Most WWII veterans are, currently, dieing of shock and remorse for dieing and fighting freedom… in vein. (!!?!) (…) All that they fought for is being lost in front of their eyes. Its a horror of liberty that goes beyond speakable atrocities.

The great problem is voter apathy; ?We vote for party A or B because…?? we don’t know any better?

AC; ?The terrorists, and every other enemy of the U.S. are laughing at us right now, for in our fear and terror, we have lost the freedom has been a defining characteristic of our nation since its inception. We have lost the freedom that men and women fought for and died defending for nearly 300 years, and we lost it practically overnight.?

Very well put. Actually, we gave it away in panic an fear? Who do w we consider ?strong? leaders; Ones who profess skill, power and maneuvering over ones who claim Constitutional mastery?

Loki: ?But without these arrests, confiscations and seizures, how else are the NSA, FBI and such going to be able to have claimed having stopped over 50 potential terrorist plots??

Anonymously Brave; It is likely that Justine Carter will be included as the 51 terrorist threat thwarted by the NSA in their next report to Congress.

Anonymous Coward says:

well, some believe ( like i did) that police protects peace and order and people… wrong; police forces protect government and those with power.
Now the next is true also: it is people who give those in power the same (power).
The point of the comment ( to the “woman from Canada” and the likes): stop turning into TV cockroaches and start investigating about who commits all those terrorist acts (not kids).

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