Threatening to act violently is one of the fastest ways a person can get his or herself into serious trouble.
Some learn the hard way, like Texas teen Justin Carter who jokingly made a silly remark online about shooting up a kindergarden. Not only did that comment land him in jail but he could have served up to an 8-year sentence for his blunder. On the other hand, we have people like police officer D.C. Police Officer Christopher Picciano, who joked about killing the first lady and threatened to go on a shooting spree, who got off with virtually without penalty.
How does this happen? These are just the double standards that we live with, folks, and when power is factored into the equation, there is no such thing as an equal justice system.
The stark difference in how authorities handled the cases of Carter and Picciano is alarming. After the case was settled, all Officer Picciano got was a mere 40-day unpaid suspension from the force, which is an extremely light scolding.
Carter could have faced a nearly decade-long incarceration if he had not been released today by the random donor who paid his $500,000 bail. Nonetheless, the damage has been done. While he was behind bars, Carter was beaten, put on suicide watch, and placed in solitary confinement all for making one off-color joke.
Authorities certainly should track down and investigate people who act suspiciously or make alarming threats or remarks, because after all, how can one always be so sure that references to violent crime are simply jokes?
However, just because the person in question is in a position of power or in law enforcement does not mean that they are exempt from acting out and committing crimes. In recent days we have had cops put away for crimes such as plotting to murder and eat women and have witnessed homicides and murder-suicides committed by a countless number of law enforcement officials this year and in the past.
Though Officer Picciano was undoubtedly joking, the conclusion that his comments about Michelle Obama were just meaningless innocuous banter is not a given. If we want to be fair here, Picciano should have also been jailed just as Carter was, or at the very least, dismissed from his job.
As long as there exists this harsh double standard, though, it seems best for everyone to use their brains and refrain from being obtuse and making comments that may suggest that an intention to threaten the welfare of others. What may be a joke to one may not resonate as a joke to others. Running the risk of facing the consequences of such a misunderstanding is not worth the silliness or the laughs.