A teenager, Justin Carter, makes a completely fake threat (with a “just kidding” and “laughing out loud” to punctuate the statement) in the context of a multi-player online game. Article here and here. Even if not convicted, he’ll spend months (if not longer) locked up for the non-crime. (You can go to the web site to see the petition to free Justin Carter and to change the draconian anti-terror laws.)
While teenagers haven’t historically been given awards for their diplomatic skills or their worldly knowledge, I concur that his statements weren’t the wisest and his joke wasn’t very funny. But in his defense, he’s a teenager. He made a joke, and an obvious joke at that. No different than saying he would take over the world and impose anarchy or something of similar absurdity. Add to that that he explicitly stated he was kidding.
His words below, typed after being accused of being “insane” by one of the other players on the game:
“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.” [followed by “jk” and “lol”]
Again, I understand this is a violation of our sensitivities following various and atrocious school shootings here in the US. But being charged with making terroristic threats for what is obviously a joke is absurd. No one should be charged with a non-crime. Police resources are too valuable to be used/wasted in this fashion. Even if he is ultimately acquitted (which is far from certain), he will face years of psychological recovery, many thousands in legal bills, and other potential long-term damage from this. Is this really what our legal system has come to, terrorizing teenagers for making nonsensical comments?