Teenage League of Legends player arrested for 'terrorist threat' after online joke
The next time you think of making a threatening joke in a video game, think about the repercussions. I'm sure that's what a Texas teenager is doing now that he's been jailed for threats he made while playing League of Legends. Justin Carter has been in jail since March and currently faces an eight-year prison sentence for making what authorities say is a "terrorist threat."
While playing League of Legends, the popular MOBA from Riot Games, another player called Carter insane. He replied: "Oh yea, 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." According to his father, the next two lines Carter said were "lol" and "jk," short for "laugh out loud" and "just kidding," respectively.
Now as a gamer who has seen comments far worse than that made while playing League of Legends, and any online game for that matter, I can recognize Justin's statement was meant to be sarcastic. A Canadian woman who saw the post online, however, saw things a little differently.
The unnamed woman looked up Carter's Austin address, determined it was near an elementary school, and called the police. Carter was arrested approximately one month later and has been in jail ever since; he recently celebrated his 19th birthday behind the bars of a cell. He's currently awaiting his trial which could determine if he spends the next eight years in prison -- all because of a comment he made online.
“These people are serious. They really want my son to go away to jail for a sarcastic comment that he made,” Justin's father said.
You don't have to be a genius to realize Justin's reply was idiotic, especially in light of all the recent school shootings, like the one in Newton, Connecticut which was apparently still fresh in authorities' minds at the time of Justin's arrest.
“In light of recent situations, statements such as the one Justin made are taken seriously,” said an Austin police detective in a statement.
Justin's father claims his son didn't follow the news at all and that Justin "was the kind of kid who didn't read the newspaper." What kid does? "He wasn't aware of the current events," his dad explained. "These kids, they don't realize what they're doing. They don't understand the implications. They don't understand."
For as stupid as Justin's comment was, I don't think for one second that he had terrorist motives. He was an 18-year-old boy playing a video game, probably wound up from too much League. He made a wrong comment (we've all done that, right?) and because of how crazy the world is these days he's been locked up for it. It's a sad day when an online joke gets mistaken as a terrorist threat; then again, it's a sad day when youths consider shooting up a school full of kids and eating their hearts a joke.