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  I heard a story on NPR Morning Edition that got my attention. Being young and stupid has often proved fatal - but in this case I'm wondering what else is going on.

Carter has been in jail since his arrest in February. After he finished playing the online game League of Legends, where the community trash-talking can get quite toxic, court documents show he posted the following messages on a Facebook page:

"I think Ima shoot up a kindergarten / And watch the blood of the innocent rain down/ And eat the beating heart of one of them."
Carter's father says his son was responding to an insult by being sarcastic and followed the message with "JK" for just kidding, but that's disputed by police.

In April, a grand jury in Comal County, Texas, indicted Carter on a charge of making a terroristic threat, and a judge set bail at $500,000. The high bail has kept Carter imprisoned while his case moves through the court process.

"I have been practicing law for 10 years, I've represented murderers, terrorists, rapists. Anything you can think of. I have never seen a bond at $500,000," says Carter's attorney, Don Flanary.

More below the Orange Omnilepticon

   The kid was 18 years old when he made the comment on Facebook that landed him in jail on charges of terrorism. And make no mistake, what he said WAS really stupid and offensive. But by that standard, there are a LOT of people who should be sitting behind bars.

       But this kid who never - so far as the reports go - had any intention of acting on what was a really stupid remark tossed off as a joke is now being held in solitary on watch because he's extremely depressed, and has also been repeatedly beaten up in jail. I find myself wondering if this is maybe just a little bit of an extreme response? Yes, there are sick people out there and it seems prudent to maybe take a hard look at remarks like this given recent events, but is turning this kid's life into a horror story really going to be that much of a deterrent?

       I can't help but think of an entire generation of sociopathic Wall Street types who wrecked the economy and are still ripping off people every where they can. How many lives have they ruined with a few memos, trading decisions, and general grift? And how many of them have seen the inside of a jail cell for even one day?

       You can talk about how violent games can be, how disconnected they are from reality. How people can engage in behavior that would have serious consequences in the 'real' world. So tell me, is it just me or does it seem like the people who use computers all day to move money around - aren't they doing something that looks and feels a lot like the rush hard-core gamers get? Except that it DOES have real world consequences?  

     Or take this case of an 8 year old kid being a kid. Punished on one hand, made a hero on the other, for chewing a pop tart into the shape of what some perceived as a gun, what he says was like a picture he'd drawn of a mountain.

      Make a joke about using guns to commit mass murder, play with your food in the wrong way, and the hammer comes down hard. Make statements about regulating gun use, try to pass laws to address gun safety, and watch the push-back come from far and wide.

    Charles P. Pierce has an observation of his own on the balance between seeming concern for life coupled with behavior that seems more than a little discordant - and the people who seem oblivious to it. Here's Pierce:

Why, yes, it can. Because that's been the consistent theme for almost 50 years now. Why do you ask? You have to be an awfully big bag of hammers to think Rick Fking Perry, who's also busy denying thousands of poor Texans basic medical care through the Affordable Care Act, is pushing this through because of his deep concern for women's health.

I stubbornly persist in believing that those who disagree with me on abortion also care deeply about women, though those of us who see risks to both women and their unborn children are all but never accorded that same presumption.    

And aren't you special? Still, I have to stand with the people who don't murder doctors.

  Or take another recent event, the terrible wildfire that took the lives of one of the crews who were fighting it. There's been plenty of coverage of the heroism of the crew, the people they left behind, and the fires still raging. What is getting a lot less attention is the factors behind the fire of some relevance; the way the sequester has cut the resources available for fighting fires in the first place; the changing climate making things worse. Pierce again.
The firefighters who died in Arizona were the elite of their trade, the de facto special forces of the people who fight wildfires and forest fires in this country. And the fire simply rolled them up. Of course, it would be a terrible thing to "politicize" this tragedy, but we feel constrained to point out that, because of the genius strategy of "sequestration" -- wherein Republican vandalism and the president's gift for eleventy-dimensional chess have combined to give us a New Normal of austerity while the rest of the world is abandoning the concept -- our capacity to fight fires like the one in Arizona has been hampered.
      I'm reminded of a science fiction tale from long ago, where aliens who despaired of humans and their seeming inability to manage their own affairs, were considering emergency action. To wit: they were thinking of applying a planet-wide IQ suppressor to Earth. The effect would only last for a few generations, but it would have the effect of knocking human civilization back to the stone age. Granted, there would be a humongous death toll, but less than the one humans seemed to be headed for left to their own devices. The hope was that eventually a somewhat saner civilization would arise...

      I'm not so sure we have to postulate an alien race at this point - we seem capable of generating plenty of stupid all by ourselves. Trouble is, I'm a little less sanguine that it would ultimately be to good effect. We seem as a society to be developing a tolerance for cognitive dissonance much in the same way that an alcoholic or a drug addict can take in their poison of choice in amounts that would put a normal person on the floor - or in the morgue. But that doesn't mean their health is particularly robust or even good...

    Am I crazy? Am I crazy? Am I crazy?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (27+ / 0-)

    “This planet has - or rather had - a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.”
    ― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 08:21:58 PM PDT

  •  He obviously can't afford a really good lawyer. (4+ / 0-)
    •  My own take on this is... (5+ / 0-)

      Some D.A. and the judge in the case want a big splashy trophy to hang on the wall, to "send a message."  Or something.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 08:41:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Kind of like these Florida folk, I suppose: (0+ / 0-)
      •  Or, do nothing and the next thing you know ... (0+ / 0-)

        you've got another Sandy Hook incident on your hands ... and devastated parents screaming that nothing was done to prevent it despite having full knowledge of the threat, then later suing the town into oblivion.

        In all likelihood the kid will be given a short penal sentence and subjected to heavy psychological counseling, which it sounds like he sorely needs if he actually posted what he's accused of posting.

        "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

        by Neuroptimalian on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 11:05:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Except... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          CwV, wenchacha, unfangus

          Throwing a kid in jail for months even before trial by setting bail so high (and is he really that great a risk?) instead of doing something about the easy availability of guns, ammunition, etc. that might actually make a difference - does it really seem like this is how you prevent another Sandy Hook?

          Or is this how you pretend to be doing something useful without actually doing anything that might work?

          At best (to use pro-gun type logic) you'll be teaching future shooters to avoid giving any warning signs.

          "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

          by xaxnar on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 05:49:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  "Forget it, Jake. It's Texas." (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, mookins, wenchacha, shaharazade

    There is no justice in Texas.  No objective law or rules to play by.  There's only who you might have pissed off...

    ... and the Corrections Corporation of America, looking for fresh meat.

    It ain't called paranoia - when they're really out to get you. 6 points.

    by Jaime Frontero on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 08:55:39 PM PDT

    •  My own kid was threatened with suspension (0+ / 0-)

      in 5th grade for saying, "I understand why people go postal", after being ripped off by his teacher during a game that was supposed to teach kids about commerce and fair exchange. Her comment when I faced her with it was, "Well, the world of commerce isn't fair is it?"
      His friend got expelled for a similar crack in high school and has since gotten his GED, a BS, and an MBA from the University of Chicago.
      Texas sucks in a lot of ways, no doubt about it.

      You..ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes. -Mother Jones

      by northsylvania on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 02:31:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Well if it is Texas it is because they want votes (0+ / 0-)

    from the crazy right.  They have to prove they are protecting the crazy right in the community or they will lose their jobs.

  •  this is texas... (0+ / 0-)

    We're talking Texas here people...Really you can't believe this from the state that has committed more death sentences than any other state?

  •  Beyond "thought crime" (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, Nattiq, wenchacha, shaharazade

    to "idle thought crime"

    Relatedly, there has been at least one case of someone successfully prosecuted for child pornography... for things he wrote in words in his personal diary and never shared with anyone.

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 11:42:51 PM PDT

    •  My problem with that example.... (4+ / 0-)

      Is that the kid's parents were aware their son has problems, and brought that diary forward to try to get him some help. Instead in a classic knee-jerk reaction he gets a 7 year prison sentence instead of the help his parents were seeking.

      I'll grant that the likelihood of him doing something awful seems much greater - but the official response to it still seems like an easy answer rather than the right answer.

      We seem to moving to a society in which all are presumed guilty of something, all assumed to be potential criminals - where the only solution seems to be locking people away. This is the doctrine of Original Sin on steroids.

      there's something happenin' here
      what it is ain't exactly clear
      there's a man with a gun over there
      tellin' me I got to beware

      i think it's time we stop, children
      what's that sound
      everybody look what's goin down

      there's battle lines being drawn
      nobody's right if everybody's wrong
      young people speakin their minds
      getting so much resistance from behind

      it's time we stop,
      hey what's that sound
      everybody look what's goin down

      what a field day for the heat
      a thousand people in the street
      singing songs and a carrying signs
      mostly say hurray for our side

      it's time we stop,
      hey what's that sound
      everybody look what's goin down

      Par-a-noia strikes deep
      into your life it will creep
      it starts when you're always afraid
      step out of line the man come and take you away

      we better stop
      hey what's that sound
      everybody look what's going down (x4)

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 06:06:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  and yet a celebrity can specifically tweet at (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, shaharazade, northsylvania

    "I'm gonna fuck you up" right after tweeting "foot up your ass" -which adds up to a physical threat to me.

    Completely aside from the other issues, this is a public threat. Did this celebrity spend time in jail or pay a fine for criminal threatening?

    Maybe he's not threatening as bad a crime as the young man was but he was far more specific.

    We are all pupils in the eyes of God.

    by nuclear winter solstice on Thu Jul 04, 2013 at 06:14:05 AM PDT

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