There’s been some controversy over a 19 year old kid, Justin Carter, who made some exceptionally threatening remarks while playing League of Legends. League of Legends is known to have a rather rowdy and toxic community. It seems that Justin Carter was one of these people who contribute to this typecast, but unlike other players, this guy ended up being thrown in jail for his comments.
The $500,000 bond and harsh inmate life for Justin may seem quite harsh for people who are used to internet culture, trolls and the verbal obnoxious behavior. Currently, Justin is on suicide watch as well after receiving a great deal of bullying inside the jail. On some of the League of Legends forums, some users are even coming to his defense, feeling that while he did overstep his boundaries on what’s acceptable conduct, the punishment probably goes beyond what he deserves.
When people examine it through their own eyes, I believe that many sympathize because they potentially see themselves in his shoes. With July 4th passing, the PRISM/NSA scandal, the increasing dissatisfaction of the government and overall system and the anti-patriotic “Murica” idealism spreading, we can look at Justin’s imprisonment and bond as just another notch in America’s overzealous behavior in punishing people online.
However, let me switch things around a bit as every story deserves an equally balanced viewpoint and let me start off by introducing an anecdotal, which inspired me to write this article in the first place. A friend and I were in LFR today doing Throne of Thunder part 3. The queue took around 30+ minutes before we were able to get in and both of us were mentally exhausted, having waited these past two days just trying to get things done in World of Warcraft. Upon entering, I decided to check both tanks out by inspecting them. I noticed that one of the “tanks” was actually a Retribution Paladin wearing all DPS gear.
So I informed my friend that this paladin (Amyolo) that she was wearing DPS gear. My friend publicly and politely asked the paladin whether or not she was in the correct spec and gear. In response, this paladin responded by saying a great deal of condescending remarks. I noticed that the paladin did have a tanking spec after checking out her armory page. So I honestly don’t know why this person decided to flame my friend. It was completely unnecessary but demonstrates the lack of control that anonymous behavior allows online.
I don’t want to repeat the offensive remarks but essentially I decided to report the player on two accounts mostly because the online player base already suffers from a great number of these toxic players. But let me go back to Justin Carter and how all this ties in. While Amyolo wasn’t nearly as in poor taste as in the case of Justin, there’s a large part of me that sees Justin as someone the government decided to make an example out of to prevent the Amyolo’s, etc. from getting out of control. In other words, if the person playing Amyolo was thrown in jail, butt raped, beat up and had a $500k bond too, I wouldn’t give two shits. In fact, I’d applaud the government of getting rid of another little snot nosed brat from the streets and making sure that these people understand that they have limits in society.
Do I believe in free speech? Absolutely. Do I think that there should be limits on the punishments the government can impose for things? Of course. But do I also value common sense in the way people should behave? Bingo.
Here’s the big lesson in all of this. We may think we live in a “free” society but we’re also bound by common sense and require rules to operate for this society to continue to function without everyone trying to beat their heads in. That means people need to treat each other with a certain level of respect and it shouldn’t be one sided. The government and individuals simply have to figure out certain reasonable behavior for each other. That’s the long and short of it. In the case of Justin Carter, he needed to be put in jail because he probably has a dysfunctional personality that allows himself to shoot from the hip so freely. But at the same time, the government shouldn’t be tyrannical in their decrees of punishment. Whoever submitted Justin Carter’s “threat” should have simply made Riot Games (the maker of League of Legends) to review his comments and ban him from the game. Certainly, that ought to be their action in the future. Riot Games too has a responsibility to prevent people from becoming into these toxic people. Same with Blizzard and any company where people have these opportunities to act in the worst behavior possible.