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Issue #1611      September 18, 2013

Free Justin Carter

This story of what has happened to Texas (USA) teenager Justin Carter is almost too dreadful to believe. But in February this year Justin Carter was jailed for making a bad joke on Facebook.

According to his dad, while Justin was playing a video game “Someone 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’ [all sic].”

Even though it was a clearly a joke – underscored by the shorthand for “laugh out loud” and “just kidding” – a woman who saw the post reported Justin to the police. For this Justin was arrested and jailed for making “terroristic threats” and faces $500,000 for bail and up to 8 years in prison!

His dad told CNN: “He’s very depressed, very scared, and ... He’s pretty much lost all hope.”

Justin’s mother Jennifer Carter wrote the following about the chain of events:

“My son, Justin Carter, was arrested on February 14, 2013 (yes, Valentine’s Day) because of a sarcastic comment he posted on Facebook about a computer game which was then taken out of context by a complete stranger! Please sign my petition to help release my son, Justin.

“My son has been in jail for months because we can’t afford to pay the half million dollar bail money. It took a month before he was even questioned and he spent his 19th birthday behind bars. To this day, Justin has not had a trial. No weapons were found during a search of his apartment, and so we’re really confused and heartbroken that our family is being violated like this.

“While stuck in jail, Justin has been assaulted a number of times. He has been locked in solitary confinement for weeks. I urgently need your help.

“Justin’s a good kid. He wouldn’t hurt anyone, let alone a child. What I understand happened is that he was in an argument on the League of Legends website, which continued on a Facebook page, and someone on Facebook called him crazy and messed up in the head.

“So he responded in a sarcastic tone by saying something along the lines of ‘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’. His response may have been in bad taste, but it was written in a non-threatening way that didn’t translate well online. None of his friends or family would even question his intention as anything other than a poor choice of words. Things got out of control, but my son is not a felon and terrorist as he’s currently being charged!

“The authorities’ over-reaction is ruining Justin’s life. And it’s setting a dangerous example trying to punish kids who often say strange things that I believe are protected under freedom of speech. The justice system’s abuse of Justin is wasting time and money that could otherwise be spent to help people who honestly need it!

“I hope you will sign this petition. I’d like Justin to be released. And I would like a more reasonable law to be put in place so this doesn’t happen to anyone else again.”

Update: “We still need your help. Thanks to an anonymous donor, Justin is now out on bail. I’m happy to have him out right now, but my son is still facing a felony terrorism charge and years in prison if found guilty. I have said all along that his Facebook joke was made in poor taste and understand why it raised some concern, but Justin has no prior record and he was clearly not actually threatening anyone. Please sign and share to continue supporting Justin’s campaign. We need to make sure he’s not labelled as a terrorist simply for making a Facebook comment. Thank you.” Jennifer Carter.

Please sign the petition to Justin – we’ll deliver it to his family, and also to the people who are persecuting him. So far 214,584 supporters have signed this petition. Please join us.

Sign the petition to Justin Carter: “Justin, please know that thousands of people across the country are horrified by what you’re going through, and will stand with you and try to make things right.”

See change.org petitions

Next article – Culture & Life – Life, demagogues and phoneys

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