In a world that has largely adopted the notion of free speech, it may come as a surprise that anyone can get in trouble with police or government authorities for telling a joke. After all, comedians have been telling tasteless and offensive jokes for decades and rarely ever face any kind of legal proceedings for anything they have said. However, in the world of social media where everything you post is available online for everyone to see, some legal systems consider the jokes not to be private communications between friends but public announcements. This is where police can step in, especially if they intended joke could be considered to incite violence or racial hatred.
After an argument on Facebook with some of his friends, during which one of them said he was sick in the head, Justin Carter made an obviously fake joke post in response. He said: “I’m f—ed in the head alright. I think I’ma SHOOT UP A KINDERGARTEN AND WATCH THE BLOOD OF THE INNOCENT RAIN DOWN and eat the beating heart of one of them.” When a woman took offense to this, she called police, who later arrested the 19-year-old. He is still awaiting trial in Texas and had his bail set at an astonishing $500,000.
Cameron D’Ambrosio was an 18-year-old aspiring rapper who was arrested after he posted some of his lyrics onto Facebook. The lines from the song drew attention because they mentioned the Boston Marathon bombing, with the lyrics stating: “f**k a boston bombinb [sic] wait til u see the s**t I do, I’ma be famous for rapping, and beat every murder charge that comes across me.” When the case eventually went before a grand jury, it was decided that he wouldn’t be indicted for making threats to create a bomb.