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Is the carter case being used to set a precedent?

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If you are a gamer, you need to educate yourself on who Justin Carter is. We've reported on the unfortunate events surrounding the teenager a few times already - you can catch up here, here and here - but the Reader's Digest version goes like this. Carter got involved in an online argument about free-to-play video game, League of Legends, on Facebook. According to court documents, as the argument progressed Carter posted the following:

"I'm f***ed in the head alright. I think I'ma (sic) shoot up a kindergarten and watch the blood of the innocent rain down and eat the beating heart of one of them. LOL JK"

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Somehow a woman in Canada - of all places - read the post and then reported it to police, who called on Carter's home in February and subsequently arrested him on a charge of making a "terroristic threat", which carry's a jail term of 10 years. Carter's bail was set at $500 000, an amount beyond his parents means. While imprisoned, Carter suffered beatings from other inmates and developed depression which lead to his being put in solitary for his own safety. I should add that he was also under suicide watch, so his time in solitary was done naked, least he kill himself with an item of clothing. Carter was eventually released earlier in the month when an anonymous donor paid his bail. Carter is due in court again on the 12th August.

What happened to Carter, sorry, what is happening to Carter is an absurdity of the nth degree. The last five months will surely haunt him for the rest of his life and we can only hope that the court sees sense going forward and that he is able to put this fiasco behind him.

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But here's the takeaway from this for the rest us. Be careful what you say online in public forums, but especially so if you are a gamer. Why the "especially so if you are a gamer" bit, I hear you ask? I realise that what I am about to say is pure speculation, and a tad bit alarmist to boot, but does anyone really think that Carter would have been arrested in the first place if there wasn't a link to gaming? Does anyone really think that his bail would have been set at $500 000 - an amount I am sure was picked to ensure his incarceration - if there wasn't a link to gaming? I am convinced that Carter's status as a gamer played a not insignificant part in what has befallen him.

Gaming has been, unfairly so, linked to every mass shooting that has happened in the last 5-10 years. Is it any wonder then that the courts took steps against Carter, a gamer that allegedly threatened to murder little kids? See the thing is, there is a huge disconnect between the decision makers of the world - the judges, the politicians, the law makers - and a generation of people that grew up playing games. We know it's just another form of entertainment. We know its harmless. We know its a bit of fun. But there is an entire generation that doesn't view it that way. People whose perception of gaming is that it is a corruptive force and a negative influence. Video games are this thing that, in their minds, inspired Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook and the 2011 Norway attacks.

There is still no conclusive proof that gaming had anything to do with those tragedies; heck there isn't even inconclusive proof, but that association is still there. And Justin Carter is suffering for it. He is paying the price for other peoples crimes, because it's clear to any reasonable person that he committed no crimes. And neither have you, but you still need to be careful. You need to be mindful of what you say and do online. Because as gamers, we have a target on our backs. As mainstream as our favourite hobby has become, there is still a stigma attached and we need to remain aware of that.

We're not doing ourselves any favours with trash talk that includes the words 'faggot' and 'nigga'. We're not promoting our pastime when we threaten to track people to their homes and shit down their throats and we certainly aren't helping things when we talk about eating little childrens' hearts. Guys, this happened one time, but there's nothing to say it can't happen again. As a community, we need to think about how the world perceives us and we need to realise that, rightly or wrongly, that perception is a negative one. Let's not give them anymore excuses to lock us up.

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