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Free Justin Carter Now - The 19-year-old has been in prison since March for the crime of sarcasm.
National Review Online ^ | July 1, 2013 | Charles C. W. Cooke

Posted on 07/01/2013 11:48:53 AM PDT by neverdem

When defending the liberty of unsavory characters, I usually write of my native England. Not this week, alas. In the state of Texas, a 19-year-old man named Justin Carter sits in prison, ruthlessly stripped of his freedom for making an offensive joke. After a Facebook friend with whom he played video games described him as “crazy” and “messed up in the head,” Carter replied — sarcastically, one imagines — “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.” He added “lol” and “jk” for good measure. For this he was arrested, charged with making a “terroristic threat,” and thrown into prison. He may languish there until the start of the next decade.

Carter’s joke was witless and flippant — typical, in other words, of late-teenaged men. By no means was it criminal. Nevertheless, a woman in Canada, who inexactly described herself as a “concerned citizen,” saw from afar what Carter had written and shopped him to Texas police. Police acquiesced to her request, searching the family’s house in the process — and finding nothing. “They really want my son to go away to jail for a sarcastic comment that he made,” Jack Carter, the boy’s father, said. Apparently so: He’s been incarcerated since March without trial.

In free countries such as the United States, one is permitted to be a fool. The keystone of our virtuous departure from the damnable norms of human history is the axiom, so memorably put by Chesterton, that “to have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.” Americans may scream racial epithets, attack others’ deeply held beliefs, and communicate whatever vile and cretinous things pop into their heads. And they may do this not because they are “allowed to” by a state that grants privilege but because the state has never been granted the permission to intervene. The heirs to the constitutional settlement of the late eighteenth century are as entitled to its bounties as were its architects — idiot boys included.

In explaining to hostile parties the consequences of their positions, many of my fellow First Amendment absolutists stress that the price of maintaining the rights of those who deserve them is that silly or undesirable people will be protected by the Constitution, too. I object to this line of thinking, not only because it presumes to judge virtue, awarding our betters a claim to exclusive truth, but also because, as John Stuart Mill argued, free men must not be stripped of their right to hear what others have to say — however offensive.

Naturally, standards evolve. At one point in history, this caustic observation from comedian Richard Pryor might’ve been correct: “You can’t talk about f****g in America, people say you’re dirty, but if you talk about killing somebody, that’s cool.” Now, one suspects, the rule must be inverted. Either way, Americans enjoy unique latitude to discuss dark and queasy topics, topics that range as far afield as the killing of other human beings and the violent overthrow of the established order. It is likely that neither murder nor insurrection will ever come into conversational vogue — desirable, too, that they do not. But it is not the place of authority to judge what is and what is not acceptable, and it is certainly not the place of the state to designate casual discussion as “terrorism.”

In 1969, the Supreme Court correctly swept away the restrictive and injurious precedents that the Wilson administration had struck against constitutional liberty, and restored American freedom of speech to its rightful and unyielding norm. In the seminal Brandenburg v. Ohio, justices dispensed with vague notions such as “fighting words” in favor of the determination that one’s speech could be curtailed only in the event that it presented an “imminent and likely” threat. In practice, this recognized a right to sedition. As a rule of thumb, you cannot announce that you intend to start a revolution in the parking lot of your local Staples tomorrow at 9 a.m.; but you can call generally for the overthrow of the government. You can say that you might shoot up a school, too, and the most authorities can do in return is investigate whether you are serious.

In the petition advocating for his release, Carter’s defenders add to their case against the state by noting that “the only items seized from his home was his personal computer. No weapons of any kind were seized.” This revelation might well provide fussbudget Canadian proto-despots with their evening calm. But it is irrelevant. As a condition of their liberty, free men may own weapons while joking in good or bad taste about killing children just as they may own weapons while calling in the abstract for the toppling of the government. Sandy Hook being still fresh in the memory, one does not have to wonder for too long why Justin was singled out from the hundreds of thousands — perhaps millions — of Internet postings that threaten violence. This does not come close to excusing the Texas police. If we started rounding Americans up for making egregious comments about contemporary events, the prison system would collapse in short order.

“Justin was the kind of kid who didn’t read the newspaper,” his father told the newspapers. “He didn’t watch television. He wasn’t aware of current events. . . . These kids, they don’t realize what they’re doing. They don’t understand the implications. They don’t understand public space.” Perhaps they do not; who knows what informs the minds of strangers? Either way, I struggle to see why this matters. We do not have different laws for the ignorant than those we have for the learned. If Justin were a prodigious literary talent, second to none in his grasp of current events, would the equation change? Would we hang Mark Twain but spare Jose Canseco?

I, like John Updike, am prejudiced “toward a government whose constitution guarantees” free speech. Justin Carter, whether polite society considers that he deserves it or not, lives under such a constitution. It is the responsibility of all of us to police the government and to punish it when it violates its authority. Carter must be set free and this insidious precedent smashed to pieces. Our liberty depends upon it.

— Charles C. W. Cooke is a staff writer at National Review.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Editorial; Politics/Elections; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: 666; freespeech; justincarter; zerotolerance; zerotoleranceidiocy

1 posted on 07/01/2013 11:48:53 AM PDT by neverdem
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To: neverdem

Ping


2 posted on 07/01/2013 11:57:31 AM PDT by Poundstone (A recent Federal retiree and proud of it!)
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To: neverdem

Well, yeah, but we’re not a police state, because nobody in uniform shot the kid’s dog.


3 posted on 07/01/2013 12:00:32 PM PDT by Standing Wolf
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To: neverdem

Welcome to the new Amerika comrades.


4 posted on 07/01/2013 12:01:07 PM PDT by SkyDancer (Live your life in such a way that the Westboro church will want to picket your funeral.)
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To: neverdem

On another thread, a FReeper wrote this was no big deal, because Justin Carter could bail out and still had the right to a trial by jury. I think that FReeper is hopelessly naive. As I understand it, the bail in this case was set incredibly high. Plus, going through a trial is hit or miss even when one is clearly innocent (case in point, Zimmerman trial).

The government can make your life a living hell. It has virtually unlimited resources, and the full weight of the bureaucratic state can come down on you even if you’re innocent.


5 posted on 07/01/2013 12:12:14 PM PDT by CitizenUSA (Why celebrate evil? Evil is easy. Good is the goal worth striving for.)
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To: neverdem

I’m a Texas defense attorney and I recently beat a case where the “threats” were worse than the ones alleged here.
The key (and difficulty of) to proving a felony terroristic threat charge is the State must prove that the communication was made in such a way that it would cause the public or a substantial part of the public imminent fear of death or serious bodily injury.
The classic case is a bomb threat resulting in a building clearing out very quickly often with people in a panic.
But the very worst comments or threats imaginable that don’t cause that kind of fear of an imminent danger don’t constitute this offense.
This guy needs a good lawyer now.
Again I’m a TX criminal defense attorney, so private message me if you need to.


6 posted on 07/01/2013 12:17:57 PM PDT by Clump ( the tree of liberty is withering like a stricken fig tree)
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To: neverdem

He is an ungood oldthinker who failed to use crimestop, committing thoughtcrime.
Of course, so are most of us here.
It’s a travesty for him to be jailed. Reminds me of the kid who posed proudly with his new Christmas rifle, posted on FB, and the local cops rousted him. Outrageous.


7 posted on 07/01/2013 12:24:37 PM PDT by tumblindice (America's founding fathers: All armed conservatives.)
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To: neverdem

“In free countries such as the United States, one is permitted to be a fool.”
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

To make an accurate sentence we need to take out the words between countries and one and eliminate the comma. In free countries one is permitted to be a fool. The United States of America is NOT a free country. If there is one on the planet I would not undertake to name it but the USofA is certainly not one.


8 posted on 07/01/2013 12:29:18 PM PDT by RipSawyer (I was born on Earth, what planet is this?)
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To: CitizenUSA

I had this conversation with people. They don’t understand what its like to be some ordinary person on the wrong side of the law. You can do nothing yet stand accused and spend years and have your nice orderly life turned inside out over nothing.
Then even if proven wrong you can try and get recompense for your troubles but that path lay through the same state that attempted to prosecute you in the first place.


9 posted on 07/01/2013 12:29:22 PM PDT by wiggen (The teacher card. When the racism card just won't work.)
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To: Clump

Thx for the comment.


10 posted on 07/01/2013 12:35:54 PM PDT by neverdem (Register pressure cookers! /s)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet; 5thGenTexan; AirForce-TechSgt; Alamo-Girl; Allen In Texas Hill Country; ...
Paging the Texas Ping! list.
11 posted on 07/01/2013 12:45:14 PM PDT by texas booster (Join FreeRepublic's Folding@Home team (Team # 36120) Cure Alzheimer's!)
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To: neverdem

What town is this in? The link doesn’t mention what area of TX he’s from. Thanks.


12 posted on 07/01/2013 12:50:57 PM PDT by Jane Long (While Marxists continue the fundamental transformation of the USA, progressive RINOs stay silent.)
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To: neverdem

” Carter’s joke was witless and flippant ”

LOL

Spend a week at FR and see what flippant and humorless remarks really loom like.

Guy’s a piker compared to many of us


13 posted on 07/01/2013 12:54:27 PM PDT by Vendome (Don't take life so seriously, you won't live through it anyway)
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To: Clump

One minor problem:

All this stuff is happening in Austin.

Been a long time since I was there, but that town struck me as in a different universe even then....


14 posted on 07/01/2013 12:56:27 PM PDT by Unrepentant VN Vet (For why should my Freedom be judged by anothers conscience? 1 Cor 10:29)
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To: tumblindice

He is not a Korrect Citizen


15 posted on 07/01/2013 12:56:41 PM PDT by Vendome (Don't take life so seriously, you won't live through it anyway)
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To: neverdem

A real demonstration of the ability to discern a threat to the country by the alphabet soup groups. Al quada trembles I am sure.

Couple this to the MASSIVE influx of false leads generated by data mining the entire phone records of the country and I suspect the FBI is up to their noses in stupidity and totally rendered useless.


16 posted on 07/01/2013 12:58:03 PM PDT by American in Israel (A wise man's heart directs him to the right, but the foolish mans heart directs him toward the left.)
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To: Clump

Someone had to “reasonably” determine that a threat of deadly force was imminent to warrant an immediate investigation to track down the offender and make an arrest...

So if someone were alarmed enough to call law enforcement in this case, why did the investigation determine that it was a reasonable threat, considering the source???

Seems to me someone wasn’t doing their job very well...


17 posted on 07/01/2013 1:05:43 PM PDT by stevie_d_64 (It's not the color of one's skin that offends people...it's how thin it is.)
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To: Jane Long
What town is this in? The link doesn’t mention what area of TX he’s from. Thanks.

While I'm sure the town matters, the name and town of the Komrade from Canada who made the unfounded accusation would be far more useful.

18 posted on 07/01/2013 1:07:00 PM PDT by Balding_Eagle (When America falls, darkness will cover the face of the earth for a thousand years.)
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To: Vendome

I can actually wrap around that analysis...FReepers subtleties, when realized, can be as harsh as a 10 year olds on Xbox...

;-)

Some people just need to grow a pair I suppose...


19 posted on 07/01/2013 1:11:33 PM PDT by stevie_d_64 (It's not the color of one's skin that offends people...it's how thin it is.)
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To: Vendome

In the book the Thought police would blame the person they were torturing of failing to discipline himself and then accuse him of insanity.
There was even something called ‘facecrime’, e.g. failing to look properly ecstatic when Big Brother made an appearance. You see this kind of stuff in North Korea, never thought I’d see it here: the Zimmerman show trial.


20 posted on 07/01/2013 1:12:34 PM PDT by tumblindice (America's founding fathers: All armed conservatives.)
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To: neverdem

Good case for jury nullification.


21 posted on 07/01/2013 1:22:15 PM PDT by x
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To: Unrepentant VN Vet; Jane Long
All this stuff is happening in Austin. according to Unrepentant VN Vet.

http://www.kvue.com/news/Father-of-19-year-old-charged-with-Terroristic-Threat-says-son-was-only-joking-212856951.html

That URL agrees.

22 posted on 07/01/2013 1:23:35 PM PDT by neverdem (Register pressure cookers! /s)
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To: neverdem
“terroristic threat,”

That label is being thrown about too freely these days. You can get arrested for looking at someone funny if they claim you looked at them in a "terroistic threat" kind of way.

23 posted on 07/01/2013 1:27:41 PM PDT by bgill (This reply was mined before it was posted.)
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To: bgill

JMHO, the good ol’ PC labels got a bit stale, so now the line is “terroristic threat” or maybe even “national security” if you’re trying for the lead story on the 10:00 News.

Oh, yeah..../sarc


24 posted on 07/01/2013 1:33:56 PM PDT by Unrepentant VN Vet (For why should my Freedom be judged by anothers conscience? 1 Cor 10:29)
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To: Unrepentant VN Vet
All this stuff is happening in Austin.

'Nuff said. Austin is the blue blight in the middle of Texas. Far too many wackadoodle libs and many of those transplants from CA.

25 posted on 07/01/2013 1:34:50 PM PDT by bgill (This reply was mined before it was posted.)
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To: Standing Wolf
Well, yeah, but we’re not a police state, because nobody in uniform shot the kid’s dog.

It's Texas, it's only a matter of time until the kid's dog is shot.
26 posted on 07/01/2013 1:37:15 PM PDT by af_vet_rr
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To: Unrepentant VN Vet
All this stuff is happening in Austin.

Which is why it's really strange. Austin has a large amount of videogame companies here, and hundreds of thousands of kids in their late teens and early 20s, many of whom play said videogames and say stuff like this all the time.

It's not gotten any traction in the press, other than some folks, both liberal and conservative, who say you can't say this kind of stuff because it's the same thing as yelling fire in a crowded theater.

You have to understand Central Texas District Attorneys though. Travis County just had theirs come off of a DUI, and Williamson County's DA is claiming the statute of limitations ran out on him oppressing evidence that could have freed a man from prison over 20 years ago and that he shouldn't be punished. They are not in touch with reality.
27 posted on 07/01/2013 1:42:02 PM PDT by af_vet_rr
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To: stevie_d_64

Yep and we deal with the same as he did with a “/s” or just culturally the commentary joke is understood.


28 posted on 07/01/2013 2:02:59 PM PDT by Vendome (Don't take life so seriously, you won't live through it anyway)
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To: af_vet_rr
You have to understand Central Texas District Attorneys though.

LOL

I grew up just outside Chicago.

I understand political slimebags posing as Officers of the Court very, very well. Even when they wear hats and boots for local color.

29 posted on 07/01/2013 2:03:05 PM PDT by Unrepentant VN Vet (For why should my Freedom be judged by anothers conscience? 1 Cor 10:29)
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To: neverdem
More here:

http://www.athenstalks.com/%E2%80%9Crelease-justin-carter-jail%E2%80%9D-sign-petition

“An Austin man wants to warn other parents and teenagers that statements made on social media websites can land them in jail.

Justin Carter was 18 back in February when an on-line video game “League of Legends” took an ugly turn on Facebook.

Justin was apparently only 18 when this happened. This is NUTS

30 posted on 07/01/2013 3:28:54 PM PDT by Texas Fossil
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To: neverdem; El Gato; Eaker; hocndoc; Squantos; SwinneySwitch; MeekOneGOP; weegee; EQAndyBuzz; ...
Texas Ping!
31 posted on 07/01/2013 3:31:46 PM PDT by Texas Fossil
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To: wiggen
I had this conversation with people. They don’t understand what its like to be some ordinary person on the wrong side of the law. You can do nothing yet stand accused and spend years and have your nice orderly life turned inside out over nothing.

The most horrible thing you can do in the eyes of the state is be right, when the state is wrong. The state will go to any lengths to beat a citizen that is in the right into submission.

32 posted on 07/01/2013 4:29:26 PM PDT by zeugma (Those of us who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living.)
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To: stevie_d_64

It has more to do with the suspect intending to cause the public or a substantial group of the public to be placed in fear of imminent death or serious bodily injury.
The most common thing I see is guys venting to a small group of friends while drinking after work, and for whatever reason (opportunity for advancement at work by getting the person locked up and fired- or out of jealousy) someone in the group reports it in a very skewed and exaggerated manner.
The cops often focus on the seriousness of the threat without paying attention how the threat was communicated.
They forget the most crucial part of the statute.
Even worse the magistrates often rubber stamp the probable cause affidavits. They are often afraid that something bad will happen later and reelection is out of the question.
Too often there isn’t a single person in the chain of events who both knows the law and bothers to follow it. That’s when a crying mother or girlfriend usually calls me.
And the bonds are often proportionate to the inflamitory nature of the alleged statements.


33 posted on 07/01/2013 5:46:49 PM PDT by Clump ( the tree of liberty is withering like a stricken fig tree)
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To: neverdem; El Gato; Eaker; hocndoc; Squantos; SwinneySwitch; MeekOneGOP; weegee; EQAndyBuzz; ...

I have it on good advice that the Texas AG department has had nothing to do with anything connected to the Justin Carter case or charges.

I suspect the cause for this insanity is more local and focused on an Austin prosecutor and other players.


34 posted on 07/01/2013 6:05:50 PM PDT by Texas Fossil
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To: texas booster

Thanks for the ping!


35 posted on 07/01/2013 7:33:05 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Texas Fossil

The TX AG rarely has anything to do with the prosecution of criminal cases.
Under rare circumstances they will take up an appeal on behalf of the state even when the DA doesn’t seek appeal.
No doubt this is local.
Justice varies dramatically from one jurisdiction to the next, especially in a state as big as TX.
I could go on for days about my experience with different counties.
Bottom line is it pays (and costs) to have a good defense attorney.


36 posted on 07/01/2013 7:55:55 PM PDT by Clump ( the tree of liberty is withering like a stricken fig tree)
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To: Texas Fossil
"I suspect the cause for this insanity is more local and focused on an Austin prosecutor and other players."

The Austin police and apparatchik are highly political/PC. Big surprise, right?

37 posted on 07/01/2013 9:16:58 PM PDT by uncommonsense (Liberals see what they believe; Conservatives believe what they see.)
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To: Texas Fossil
I suspect the cause for this insanity is more local and focused on an Austin prosecutor and other players.

It turns out the kid didn't have a dog for APD to shoot, and this made them very upset.
38 posted on 07/01/2013 9:21:51 PM PDT by af_vet_rr
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To: Clump; uncommonsense

Thanks for perspective.

Suspected that was the case.


39 posted on 07/01/2013 9:43:17 PM PDT by Texas Fossil
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To: neverdem; BillyBoy; Clintonfatigued; fieldmarshaldj; AuH2ORepublican; sickoflibs; Perdogg; ...

WTF? I hadn’t heard of this case. Damn dude.

In Texas eh? What does our beloved Governor Jefferson D’Arcy have to say about this?


40 posted on 07/01/2013 11:59:35 PM PDT by Impy (Bring back the spoils system.)
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To: neverdem

Hey! Get used to it. It comes with the thought and speech police that now rule our “liberated” country now.

The latest casualty of the thought and speech police was Paula Deen. She was lucky that she was not thrown into the public pillory in Detroit to atone for her political sins.


41 posted on 07/02/2013 11:30:43 AM PDT by DH (Once the tainted finger of government touches anything the rot begins)
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To: neverdem

Who is the prosecutor who decided to pursue this? He should be publicly exposed for this rape of an innocent teen by an inhumane system. The “justice” system in the US can no longer be seen as flawed, it is far beyond flawed... it has become a tool of fear, intimidation and terror to the very people it purports to “protect and serve”. The US justice system serves no one but those in power, the US government has done more than take the torch from the Soviet Union as “the evil empire”, it is intent on setting record time on getting the world to the next level of authoritarian police state


42 posted on 07/03/2013 7:41:59 AM PDT by Paddy Whack
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To: neverdem

Apparently the prosecuting DA is a one Jennifer Tharp, see http://www.co.comal.tx.us/CDA/Staff/jennifer_tharp.htm and http://www.dailydot.com/crime/league-of-legends-joke-jail-time/. I think a more proper response than complaining about all of the legal atrocities surrounding us is to expose those key players that are making these things happen. They seem to enjoy ruining peoples lives at the flip of a pen for publicity and political advancement... why not turn that system around against them?


43 posted on 07/03/2013 7:57:07 AM PDT by Paddy Whack
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