Apparently not even sarcasm is safe anymore, as Texas teenager Justin Carter faces jail time for comments he made on an online video game forum.
According to the Huffington Post, the exchange that took place went like this:
“[S]omeone had said something to the effect of ‘Oh you’re insane, you’re crazy, you’re messed up in the head,’ to which [Justin] replied ‘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.” [SIC]
Another visitor to the forum saw the comment and reported it to authorities. After making what appeared to be an obvious joke (albeit one in extremely poor taste), the teen was arrested and has been in jail ever since. His trial began this week and Carter faces up to 8 years in prison if convicted of making a “terroristic threat.”
Whether you find his comment tasteless or not (and believe me, I do), Carter was obviously responding sarcastically to another user calling him “insane” and “messed up in the head.” He even used the abbreviations for “laugh out loud” and “just kidding” at the end of the statement, clearly indicating that it was a joke.
This entire debacle is nothing more than a complete waste of time and money for Texas officials. Sadly, incidents like this are becoming more common. Carter’s story is equally as ridiculous as some of the other incidents that have been occurring as of late:
- A 7-year-old in Maryland chewed a Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun. School officials claim that other students around him were traumatized and suspended the second grader. Now officials refuse to remove the incident from the boy’s permanent record. His parents are filing an appeal with the school system.
- A 13-year-old girl in Virginia was suspended from her school after acne medication had been discovered in her locker. She had forgotten putting the antibiotics in her locker eight months earlier, and was reported to administrators by two other girls. The suspension was due to the girl’s supposed violation of the school’s no-drug policy. And honestly — if 13-year-olds are going to be suspended for using acne medication, then all eighth graders should just be suspended as a pre-emptive measure.
- A 14-year old in West Virginia faced criminal charges after refusing a teacher’s request that he take off his shirt with an NRA logo on it. The teacher claimed that the logo (seen here) depicts violence because it contained two rifles within the image. After a two month ordeal, the charges against the student were finally dropped this week.
I have zero tolerance for zero tolerance policies, especially within a school system when children are concerned. These rules leave no room to determine the context of a situation, making blanket policies more harmful than helpful. Zero tolerance policies only benefit lazy school officials who would rather punish students than actually do anything productive to resolve issues.
There is absolutely no reason that a 7-year-old should have a suspension on his permanent record for playing with food. And speaking as a psychologist, students whose phobia of guns is so severe that they also fear anything remotely gun-shaped are the ones who need to be counseled — not the boy eating a pastry.
In the case of Justin Carter, the investigation should have been brief: authorities would have seen the context in which the statement was made, seen that the boy has no prior history of behavioral issues, and dropped the matter after (hopefully) giving the teen a stern warning about the dangers of making such a statement, regardless of how it was intended.
Instead, Carter is now on trial and facing a potential 8 year prison sentence if convicted.
This is not justice. It is political correctness brought to an absurd extreme.