I troll. You troll. She trolls. He trolls. We all troll. And anyone who says they don't troll is trolling. But what happens when trolling is filtered through the modern day strainers of counter terrorism and concentrated censorship efforts of today's society? You get someone like Justin Cartar, a League of Legends player who now faces up to eight years in prison and a $200,000 fine with a $500,000 bail.
The story is that Cartar got in an argument during a round of League of Legends when he said the following after an exchange with a fellow LoL player: "I'm going to go shoot up a school full of kids and eat their still beating hearts. jk lol". I believed this case would end in the most logical way possible, where authorities arrest Justin for a few nights and, after a short investigation, release him in light of the complete lack of evidence that these threats were malicious or had any truth to them. Unfortunately, the story takes a much darker turn. Justin has been in jail for 5 months as he awaits his trial and he sits on a $500,000 dollar bail, a bail that is higher than many actual murder cases. Not only has Justin been in jail for 5 months, he has also been stripped naked and set in solitary confinement after being put on suicide watch because of severe depression following multiple altercations with fellow inmates of who verbally and physically abused him.
So what does this mean for you? Well it means that video gamers will no longer enjoy the anonymity of being "just gamers" and instead means that players everywhere will have to think long and hard about what they say, even in chat boxes during LoL matches. It means that even trolling or harassing someone in a video game can turn you into a felon over night. It means that even when your "lol jk", the next knock you hear on the door could be the police getting ready to throw you in a cell, slap a felony on your record and destroy any chance of you ever having a stable career for the rest of your life.
Was the joke in bad taste? Sure. Should he be fined? I don't think so, but you can make the argument that he should be, you can even make the argument that he should face a few nights or maybe a month in jail. But making a comment in a video game, no matter how offensive it was, should never be met with almost a decade in prison and solitary conditions that are tenement to torture. It is clear from this draconian punishment that the state of Texas wants to make an example of Justin in the hopes that crucifying a child will scare people into. . . what exactly? Not threatening to do something? Prosecutors seem to forget that the vast majority of actual criminals don't announce their plans to their own parents never mind to the world in a League of Legends match. I guess this could just be a quick way to make $200,000 off a suicidal teenager whose life was just ruined. All this is teaching people is that you shouldn't announce your crimes before you actually commit them; nice one, prosecutors.
Regardless, this is the world we live in, and if you feel like giving someone a hard time over the internet, no matter how empty your comments are, you could face a 'Terroristic Threat' felony with 8 years in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. If you want to fight back and stand up against this kind of system than you're a braver and better person than I am. But for the rest of us who just want to be left alone and play some video games than we will have to do hard examinations of what we say at all times, because no matter where you are or what you're doing, they are listening.