Teen Who Made A Dumb School Shooting Joke On Snapchat Ordered By Judge To Not Play Violent Video Games

from the and-no-rap-music-either dept

As predictable as the sun rising in the east, whenever a tragedy occurs, such as the recent school shooting in Florida, entirely too many people trot out their favorite whipping posts and put on a public show. One of those whipping posts is violent media, with video games for some reason taking on a particularly large portion of the backlash. We’ve already seen grandstanding politicians jump into this fray, all the way up to America’s current Dear Leader, but it isn’t only at the highest levels that this occurs. In the suburbs of Chicago, a 16 year old recently made a dumb comment in the wake of local threats of a school shooting that was essentially him being exasperated about all the commentary on his preferred social media channels.

A 16-year-old sophomore at Lake Park High School in west suburban Roselle has been arrested and charged after making “specific threats” against the school, authorities said Tuesday. According to DuPage County prosecutors, the youth had become “annoyed” by ongoing social media chatter regarding a Friday threat that had closed the school’s two campuses but ultimately was deemed not credible.

In response to the talk about the closing, the youth posted a clip on Snapchat of himself playing a violent video game and wrote, “Y’all need to shut up about school shootings or I’ll do one.”

To be clear, this was a stupid thing to do. It would have been stupid in any climate, but it was particularly dumb given the recent shooting in Florida. That said, when police searched the boy’s home, he did not have any weapons, his parents did not have any weapons, and he was released the next day. In other words, this was a 16 year old saying something stupid, which is practically the official profession of 16 year olds everywhere.

That didn’t stop a judge from charging him with a felony and ordering him to not play violent video games.

The judge also ordered him to turn over his phone to his parents and banned him from playing violent video games.

“You can play all the Mario Kart you want,” [Judge] Anderson told the teen.

While this certainly doesn’t rise to the level of inhumane treatment of a child, it’s nonetheless obviously dumb. This smacks of a judge that has his preconceived ideas about what is to blame for all these misfit kids taking up space on his jurisdictional lawn.

Why those in positions of authority choose to use that authority against entertainment mediums is beyond me.

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Comments on “Teen Who Made A Dumb School Shooting Joke On Snapchat Ordered By Judge To Not Play Violent Video Games”

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Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Layers of stupid that are not game related but game triggered

Since I read the headline yesterday, I have been wondering why the Judge didn’t order the kid to stop making stupid jokes?

I mean, the video game doesn’t pose any kind of threat (it’s a game), but the stupid joke got the police to do a stupid investigation and make stupid charges, which the judge stupidly compounded by accepting the stupid premise that video games might cause people to be stupid and do stupid things.

Angel (profile) says:

How is this even enforceable? I mean the kid probably has friends right? I’m sure he’ll be playing games at his friends house; You can’t police children 24/7. If this was my kid, I would be completely irritated that this judge just made my parenting job about a hundred times more difficult.

Also blaming video games, because of course there was never any violence prior to their existence….

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Also: How does the judge define “violent”? I mean, it’s easy to point at games like DOOM or Dark Souls and say “that’s what I mean by violent”, but the dictionary definition of “violence” is not limited by whether blood/death is the end result. Would a game like Street Fighter V count because its entire premise is “realistic one-on-one fighting”—and if that counts, would Smash Bros. Melee, since it falls in the same genre but otherwise features no blood or “realistic” violence?

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Violence in video games.

I wonder also if it matters if it’s direct violence (e.g. first-person or third person violence in which the player presses a fire button.)

Would Real Time Strategy count in which you send your company of tanks and infantry to engage the enemy barricade? And if so, wouldn’t Chess count?

Y?Y?Y? says:

Re: Re: Re: Violence in video games.

Video games aren’t violent at all.
They’re pixels ramming into pixels.
There’s no gore.
There’s no blood.
There’s no dismemberment.
There’s no death, murder, mayhem…
It’s just pixels.
Same as the black-and-white cartoons that those moronic congress-critters and judges fapped to when they were children.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

How is this even enforceable? I mean the kid probably has friends right? I’m sure he’ll be playing games at his friends house; You can’t police children 24/7.

Simple. It’s the sword of Damocles hanging over his head. One (other) stupid kids mentions he was playing or sells him out when getting into trouble and Bam! Lock him up!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Yeah, this had me wondering, what the fuck counts as a violent video game? He explicitly okay’d mario kart in which you crash into people, throw exploding turtle shells, and some times turn into a giant bullet.

Does it not count as violent because no one is shown dying? Does it not count because there are no actual guns? What about Splatoon? Is he allowed to play that because you only shoot paint? Or is he disallowed because they have paint guns? What about a fighting game without fatalities where people just get knocked unconscious?

Barring any other reasons this order would be unconstitutional, that order seems like it’d be unconstitutional out of sheer vagueness.

If that family doesn’t have the resources to fight that order in court/can’t get some one pro bono to fight/doesn’t have time, as the kid, I’d see if I could find a publicly list phone number for the judge or his office and phone him up every time I wanted to play a game to ask him if it counted as violent, and if he or his assistant started to sound annoyed, just be like "you could always rescind the order, but unless you do, I’d be risking further punishment playing any game you didn’t explicitly approve."

Anonymous Coward says:

Another unconstitutional prosecution

And no call out from TD on it?

The kid did nothing illegal… O right, I keep forgetting, according to TD congress and states are allowed to make laws the trump the Constitution without 3/4 states ratification.

And people wonder why the Constitution is treated like trash by the government.

Valkor says:

Stupids all the way down


-capable of persuading people that something will happen or be successful.”


-clearly defined or identified.”

Dear Judge,
Based on these two pieces of evidence, your dismissal of the case could have been two words: “For real?”

Seriously, I tried to find more information on this. I want to believe in people. I wanted to find the piece of information that made me say “Oh, I guess that does make sense.” I couldn’t. He used a “hashtag” about a post-apocalyptic video game. He posted a video of playing a video game, and people are reacting like it’s Columbine.

For the love of God, don’t read the comments on the Chicago paper stories. The most useful thing I found was that the helicopter parents are out in force. On second thought, do look up other stories and read the comments, especially about the school being shut down over the non-credible threat. The kids in this area were soiling themselves over rumors and are demanding that the police do more to protect them. WHat is wrong with these people?

This is what happens when you See Something and Say Something, but don’t Think Something. This kid who is charged with two felonies, something so serious that the judge basically sent him to his room as punishment, is probably the most sane one in the story. I would probably be committing felonies too.

Anonymous Coward says:

I Really Want To Know How They'll Enforce This

–The judge also ordered him to turn over his phone to his parents and banned him from playing violent video games–

Is the local corrections facility going to search his house for them? I feel bad for the kids but I’m morbidly curious how the enforcement of "no violent games" goes.

Anonymous Coward says:

I think maybe some of you, including the author, are missing an important point.

The threat was made with a violent video game. He didn’t just post a dumb comment, he posted a picture of himself playing a violent video game with a dumb comment attached over it.

I certainly don’t think that playing the game had any cause towards his behavior. And I don’t think that any implication of that was intended by the judge.

I think it may have been intended more as a punishment that befits the crime. “You made a stupid threat while playing your game, so you don’t get to play your game anymore.”

Whether that’s any legally better, I’ll leave up to the lawyers and presumably the jury.

Daydream says:

You know, when I played Just Cause 2 a while back...

After a while I started feeling a bit iffy about it, because all of the generals you can assassinate in the game, have their own neat little bios in the map menu.
A bunch of them are blatantly corrupt, complete monsters, unpleasant jerks, but a number of them are innocent of any serious wrongdoing, and a few are downright heroes and protectors of Panau’s civilians. Or so it says in their bios.
And that, well, made it not fun to kill them. I started off double-checking bios to make sure that the colonel I had found was a bad guy before assassinating them, but then I started thinking, what if the nameless soldiers around all the time are innocent too?

So, I started a new game, and went about trying to avoid killing soldiers when possible and blowing up occupied vehicles and otherwise being destructive but pacifist. I still liked collecting all of the pickups scattered around the world, so it was still a good game.

Why am I bringing this up? Because a violent video game with a few lines of ‘these are normal people’ made me want to play near-pacifist, but reading all these stories on Techdirt about police violence and twisted laws coming from Congress and copyright cartels and so-on so-on, I regularly fantasise about slaughtering police officers, murdering greedy prosecutors, and shooting corporate whatchamacallits and patent trolls and et-cetera.

You know, just giving my perspective on what makes me think violent thoughts. It’s not the video games, that’s for sure.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Practicing restraint in video games.

In Star Wars: Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight there was a considerable following who liked following the Jedi code (A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack) and would avoid conflict whenever possible. It was extra useful (and funny) that an early force power allowed the Jedi to snatch weapons away from foes. And Stormtroopers in that game just didn’t know what to do without their blasters.

While many games indulge in violence simply for the fun of blowing things up or for wish fulfillment, there are a number of games that explore the natural consequences of violent recourse. As an artistic medium, games have gone a long way since (the grossly misinterpreted) prostitute-beating strategem in GTA3 that was the centerpiece in Jack Thompson’s activism career.

John85851 (profile) says:

But movies are okay

The judge ordered the kid not to play violent video games, but violent movies are just fine. Watch all the James Bond or gangster or military movies you want.
Oh, and the kid shouldn’t listen to “violent” songs also.
And just to be safe, the kid shouldn’t read violent comic books either. Let’s not give the kid any ideas from reading a Batman comic book.

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