A teenager’s life has been ruined by a sarcastic but tasteless remark on Facebook meant in humor:

Approximately one hour after Justin Carter posted a sarcastic comment on a Facebook thread, his life began to ­unravel.

The first reaction occurred behind the scenes, in another country. The 18-year-old Carter had no way of knowing that, while he did grunt work at a drapery shop in San Antonio, a person in Canada saw his comments — posted 60 days after the Sandy Hook school-shooting tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut — freaked out and initiated a 24-hour chain reaction of insanity that would wind up with Carter facing 10 years in prison.

Carter’s comments were part of a duel between dorks, and may have had something to do with a game with strong dork appeal called League of Legends. But the actual details and context of the online exchange are, in the eyes of Texas authorities, unimportant.

If you read the whole thing, it becomes clear that the apparatchiks involved couldn’t care less whether it was a joke. They have the insane laws, they are immersed in a zero tolerance culture of zero common sense, and they behave like medieval zealots on a witch hunt.

Frightened and naive, Carter copped to the comment. Instead of being released, he had only managed to transfer himself to another jail and double his bond. Emboldened by the confession, Comal County authorities moved him to their jurisdiction and secured an indictment on April 10.

“Then he sits in jail for another two months,” Flanary says. “He has a court-appointed lawyer in Comal County. And this court-appointed lawyer, as far as we can tell, did nothing other than get an offer from the state. And the prosecutors offered him eight years in prison.”

The Comal County District Attorney’s Office did not intend for Carter to suffer what happened next, Flanary says, but it was reasonably foreseeable: He was sexually assaulted.

“He definitely was not kept safe, ” Flanary says. “And that’s why it’s not good to have innocent 18-year-old [guys] in jail with very, very dangerous people.”

Though Carter’s family had already gathered thousands of signatures for an online petition calling for a judicial review of the case, created a “Save Justin Carter” Facebook community page to raise interest in the case and sold T-shirts to raise money to cover his bail, the goal was beyond their financial reach. He was stranded in jail.

[…]

According to Flanary, a funny thing happened when Carter got a new lawyer and media coverage exploded.

Comal County prosecutors, who wanted Carter off the streets for eight years, offered 10 years’ probation, with Carter pleading guilty to the felony charge. Flanary says he was insulted.

“The fact is, the case should be dismissed,” he says. “He didn’t do anything wrong. … That’s what dictatorships all around the world used to do. They’d say, ‘If you confess to your crimes against the state, we will let you go.’ I mean, fuck you. I didn’t do anything wrong. … ‘Just admit you’re a witch or we’ll burn you. Why won’t you just admit you’re a witch?'”

One might ask what sort of country this has become, but we already know.