Thursday, July 11, 2013

Jokes = terrorism


The title of this article contains the word "terrorism", which will certainly cause some flag to be raised at Google and at the NSA (since Google stuff gets relayed to NSA via PRISM). That means this article will be copied and emailed to some guys or gals in charge of checking whether I discuss the subject or whether I incite conspiracies. Well, hello to you Google and NSA people! Welcome to this blog and have a nice day!


If you travel frequently by plane and if you're curious about news and politics, you probably know that telling jokes in an airport is a bad idea. When officials ask you what's in your luggage, you'd better answer seriously and any allusions to "hot" topics could land you in a small room for a face-to-face discussion with a couple security officials with a humor disability, for a handful of hours. Of course you did not plan to buy those overpriced souvenirs from the duty-free shops, but still... the contemplation of outrageously priced items is certainly more fun than sitting in poor company, watching the clock tick and wondering if the abusive oversight is gonna make you lose your flight.

The story

The rather incredible story that I want to mention today is the same kind of story, but applied to chat within a video game. Justin Carter, a 19 year-old, was playing online game League of Legends (LoL) and at some point, another player made a remark about him being crazy. In a sarcastic reply, he retorted that yes, he was crazy and was gonna grab a gun and make a mass shooting in a school... to which he added "lol, jk" standing for "laughing out loud, just kidding". But the person on the other side of the internet did not get the joke and contacted the authorities, and soon the FBI raided Justin's parents' house and locked Justin in jail, charging him for "terrorist threat". The raid of the house resulted, of course, in no weapon and nothing serious possibly related to the farce charges he's accused of.

This story took place in February of this year, and Justin has spent 5 months in prison. The news about his ordeal surfaced in mainstream online media a few days ago. Justin's family being poor, they were unable to pay for the $500,000 bail. According to reports, Justin did not adapt well to the life in jail. He's been beaten a few times, has suffered black eyes, and has even been moved to the suicidal ward for his protection. Only minutes ago, I have stumbled upon an article saying that his bail had been paid by an anonymous benefactor. I wouldn't be surprised to discover someone like Notch might be such a benefactor. And at last, Justin Carter is able to get out of jail back to his parents.


The system we live in is drifting at a rapid pace towards a system where "Might is Right". It is inconceivable, yet factual, that one mere joke (regardless of its taste) can bring a 19 year old kid to jail for 5 months without any judge being able to realize that this is a gross overreach of law enforcement power.

After the 9-11 attacks happened, the American society was shaken (not stirred) and when to great lengths sacrificing freedoms to let George Bush pass the Patriot Act and reinforce the security forces. And at the time, it did seem abusive but the expiry date on the package made people grudgingly accept this sacrifice. With Obama's extension of the law, and with the years passing, what were exceptional laws became commonplace in the landscape and people got desensitized to these. The sense of outrage evaporated and law enforcement forces grew careless in the repercussion of their increased freedom of breaking people's doors and throwing people in jail for arbitrary reasons. I think people should regain their sense of outrage and demand that the Patriot Act finally expires and demand a prosecution of law enforcement forces for their abuses.

Do I believe that people will demand it? Not really. A few will. But not enough to make the Obama administration cave. But because something has few chances to succeed doesn't mean it shouldn't be undertaken.

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