According to the Roanoke Times, two teenagers from Pembroke, VA, have been arrested and admitted to creating "a series of playing cards that were defaced with threatening writing and left at stores in Christiansburg and Pearisburg — a gesture police said the teens admitted had been inspired by this summer's Batman movie, 'The Dark Knight.'" However, what police are charging them with seems more than slightly excessive: conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism.
Don't get me wrong; I'm sure that the cards were upsetting to those that found them (even though all they apparently said was "Joker"), and I agree that they should be charged with something for placing them. But conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism? Really?
The Roanoke Times story makes it fairly clear that the two 18-year-olds, Justin Colby Dirico and Bryan Eugene Stafford, are much more aimless Dark Knight fans than terrorists:
The teenagers "were real remorseful. They said they never had any intentions of harming anybody," [Police Chief JC] Martin said after talking with them. He said it appeared to be "a prank that kind of got out of hand."
In The Dark Knight, authorities and moviemakers alike are quick to label the Joker a terrorist, but he does much more than leave playing cards for people to find. Is this just a case of real life dumbly following art?