Justin Carter, Pop Tart Guns, and the NSA

I know I may be a little late to the conversation on this particular subject, but when I found out about this story it made me both sick to my stomach and fearful of where our country is headed. For those of you who don’t know, Justin Carter is a 19 year old teenager in Texas who made a sarcastic post on the internet stating, “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.” Why do I think he was being sarcastic? Well, apparently in the next two lines he wrote “lol” and “jk” which I assume to mean “Laugh out Loud” and “Just Kidding”. Justin is now in jail and has been since February for making a terroristic threat. His parents cannot afford to bail him out because the bond is set at $500,000, so I guess Justin will have to sit in jail until his trial.

To me his post appeared an obvious joke, albeit a very bad one. If there is one thing I have discovered on the internet, is that people will make the most offensive, ridiculous, or hate filled comments because they believe they are protected by anonymity. I receive hate emails all the time from individuals who will say things they probably wouldn’t say to my face. It’s easy to tell a guy to “Go f–k himself !” over the internet when a retaliatory punch is not possible. I chalk this up to just one of those drawbacks of having a World Wide Web. It’s kind of like free speech. It only works if EVERYONE can express their opinion, and you have to take the bad with the good.

Now, I am not saying that the police were wrong for investigating Justin as a precaution. However, the question remains, “On what grounds did the police have in arresting him?” If they had found journals talking of how he was going to kill people, plans laid out on how he was going to do it, a stock pile of guns and ammunition for committing such an act, then I could see bringing him in. As far as I know, they found none of these things. This appears to be another case of people tossing common sense aside for the intention of protecting children.

And why is it that when it comes to protecting children, we act like nonsensical buffoons? We are now living in an age where a child can no longer point a finger at another child and say “Bang!” because it can be construed as threatening someone with gun violence. Kids also have to be aware of how they eat their pop tarts to make sure at no point it resembles a gun, otherwise they can be suspended. The funniest part of all this is that most children don’t understand what the fuss is about because they are the ones thinking clearly. Their minds have not yet been warped by the hysteria and paranoia that the media enjoys whipping up on a regular basis. The sad part about all of this is that these petty gestures by schools will not make any of us safer. I have a nephew about to attend kindergarten, and the last thing I am afraid of is him being shot with a pop tart.

So what does this have to do with the NSA? Well, paranoia breeds stupidity, and stupidity is the number one enemy that can lead to our country’s demise. As of right now, the Obama Administration claim they are not using PRISM to spy on US citizens but to spy on possible terrorist threats. Whether you believe them or not is up to you. But what happens when the next school shooting occurs? What happens if school shootings get categorized as terrorists acts? Will the people then allow the government to spy freely on citizens in an attempt to protect the children? Will our fourth amendment right to privacy prevail, or will we continue to give up more freedoms for the sake of safety. Who is to say how far we will go if we are willing to jail a nineteen year old for a badly worded joke. I’m waiting for the government to start up the bear patrol any moment now (Simpson fans will know what I am talking about).

There are many things that cause much more death in our country than school shootings. Drinking and driving deaths number in the thousands every year. However, I don’t see a lot of people calling for the banning of alcohol. We do what we can to protect our citizens, but there are limits on how far we should go. In the end, I believe privacy matters in this country; I believe retaining our common sense matters. I would rather live in a slightly riskier place than in a world where we act like hysterical idiots just for the promise of safety. Because realistically that is all our government can offer, a “promise” of keeping us safe. But the foolishness spreading all around is fact.


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