Not too long ago, a League of Legends player, Justin Carter was arrested for making a terrorist threat over the Internet via Facebook.
“I think I’ma shoot up a kindergarten and watch the blood of the innocent rain down and eat the beating heart of one of them.”
This statement landed him behind bars, until an anonymous Samaritan bailed him out for $500,000. I was taken aback by the extreme punishment doled out to Justin Carter, not because I’m defending him as a fellow gamer, but for the fact that he was jailed for a single comment. Yes, I agree that he should be punished for threatening a kindergarten, but it took $500,000 just to get him out. Mind you, he’s still awaiting trial.
Although I can only praise the authorities for responding to threats quickly, this isn’t the root of the problem. Facebook has a lot of explaining to do, it may be in for a huge overhaul of privacy policies. Most of us here thought that Facebook is a place where you could simply express what’s on your mind to whatever number of friends you have, whether or not it is or isn’t public. Not only that, but the media and the pearl-clutching public alike will trot out the tired “it’s all because of the video games! violent, violent video games!” That bit of moral panic is reliable – it crops up whether or not video games are involved at all.
Perhaps now people will be less likely to post their dumb threats on Facebook – surely, this proves that someone, somewhere, might be reading (and reporting) everything they do.
In the end, I can honestly say Justin Carter really fucked it up, big time, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he deserves this kind of punishment. Yes, he should be punished, but not like this.
Heck, if this became a law, where gamer-on-gamer threats are harshly prosecuted, then a good fraction of Xbox Live and PSN players will end up in the slammer. Remember the good, old-fashioned “I’m gonna come to your house and kill you” over the mic? Yep, jail for that, too.
So, is it fair that Justin Carter receives this harsh a punishment? Are the authorities pressing a little too hard? Leave a comment below!