Maybe it's time the Internet adopted a "sarcasm" tag to alert readers to the use of irony in online conversation, and, hopefully, avoid situations like that of Justin Carter, a Texas teenager who has been in jail since February over a Facebook comment that failed to make a woman in Canada LOL.
Earlier this year, Carter and a friend got into an Facebook argument with someone regarding "League of Legends," an online video game with notoriously die-hard fans. Justin's father, Jack, explained to ABC local affiliate KVUE that at the end of the conversation "[s]omeone had said something to the effect of 'Oh you're insane, you're crazy, you're messed up in the head,’ to which [Justin] replied '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,’ and the next two lines were lol and jk [all sic]."
In case you've never been online before today: Internet shorthand LOL stands for "laughing out loud"; JK means "just kidding."
A woman in Canada who came across the boy's post failed to see the humor, however, and alerted police after Internet research revealed Carter, who was 18 at the time of the incident, lived near an elementary school. Carter was taken into custody and charged with making a "terroristic" threat.
An Austin, Texas, police spokesperson told Parentdish the department takes any threat made against schools seriously, especially after recent events.
Carter's parents have since launched a Change.org petition seeking signatures to protest their son's situation on the grounds of freedom of speech.
In the meantime, Carter, now 19, faces up to eight years in prison. His trial is scheduled to begin July 1.