This week, Douglass Mackey was sentenced to prison and a fine for creating and posting a meme in 2016. The meme was an image meant to appear from the Hillary Clinton campaign, encouraging voters to submit their vote for Clinton via text message instead of by ballot.
An obvious joke… if we didn’t live in a country where drug companies are required to tell people they shouldn’t take things they are allergic to, or that Ikea’s hot dogs are not, in fact, seven feet long and don’t weigh 200 pounds.
The prosecution argued that Mr. Mackey’s participation wasn’t satire but a concentrated, serious effort to influence the presidential election. The case of a meme-maker who was a pro-Trump constituent receiving jail time for posting what some might call a joke and others might argue as disinformation meant to interfere with the constitutional rights of Americans raises valid concerns about the state of our justice system.
Billionaire and prolific meme-sharer Elon Musk, in one simple X post, boiled down the double standard executed this week in the sentencing of Douglass Mackey. For if what Douglass Mackey did was election interference worthy of jail time, there are plenty of others who should be facing the same fate.
Case in point:
— Kristina Wong 🍆 (@mskristinawong) November 8, 2016
Social media was thick with political memes leading up to the 2016 presidential election. A meme is, as famous atheist and coiner of the word Richard Dawkins states, any kind of information that is spread by imitation and carries symbolic meaning.
In practical usage, meme now can mean many things, but is most often a humorous or dark image or video meant to convey a particular message.
Douglass Mackey is one such meme-maker. He used his meme mastery to create fake advertisements encouraging voters to vote for Hillary Clinton via text messaging.
These memes have landed Mr. Mackey a seven-month prison sentence and a $15,000 fine. According to the court, his crime isn’t merely being a meme-crafter attempting to poke fun at Clinton supporters.
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His crime is officially “Conspiracy Against Rights,” whatever that means.
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Mr. Mackey’s sentencing elicited a range of reactions, but the best came from Elon Musk, who wrote on X:
“What prison sentences were given out to those who suppressed the Hunter Biden laptop information? That *did* have a material impact on the election.”
Now, that is an interesting point; let’s explore that further.
Elon Musk responds to 7-month sentencing of meme artist Douglass Mackey. pic.twitter.com/LpEbMQhrU1
— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) October 18, 2023
Actual election interference
When the New York Post broke the story of the Hunter Biden laptop that contained evidence of shady dealings that may have involved then-presidential candidate and Vice President Joe Biden, major media outlets and the United States government suppressed the story, falsely calling it “Russian disinformation.”
Mainstream media used the word of 51 intelligence officials who claimed the laptop was a Russian tool to interfere with the election.
The letter stated in part that the laptop had:
“…all the classic earmarks of a Russia information operation.”
This letter and its elevation on the leading networks and news publications not only discredited the New York Post but was blatant disinformation explicitly aimed at suppressing this critical true story and influencing the presidential election.
As discovered in a hearing before Congress, one of the signers of the letter, former deputy director of the CIA, Michael Morell, stated:
“…the Biden administration helped to strategize about the public release of the statement.”
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Furthermore, the FBI and other government agencies used their influence over Twitter and Facebook executives to pressure them to suppress posts regarding the Hunter Biden laptop. A whopping 16% of voters have since said had they been aware of the laptop scandal, they would not have voted for Joe Biden.
That is what we call election interference. Yet none of the letter’s signers nor those who participated in suppressing the story online or in the media have been sentenced, let alone even charged with the crime.
And if mere disinformation – deliberately lying – is an election crime, how have any of our 537 elected officials escaped jail time?
Here is Douglass Mackey’s tweet from the 2016 election that just got him 7 months in jail vs another tweet from a liberal activist during the same time that didn’t get her 7 months in jail. https://t.co/1g7ADnD4g7 pic.twitter.com/BenA34PwHr
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) October 18, 2023
Call it what it is
Assistant director of New York’s FBI field office William Sweeney Jr. said the following regarding Douglass Mackey:
“What Mackey allegedly did to interfere with this process – by soliciting voters to cast their ballots via text – amounted to nothing short of vote theft.”
Mr. Sweeney goes on to state:
“It is illegal behavior and contributes to the erosion of the public’s trust in our election processes.”
It should raise huge red flags that an FBI leader believes what Mr. Mackey did was illegal. Mr. Mackey created a piece of satire, which is protected speech, thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision in 1988 in Hustler v. Falwell. Or, at least it used to be.
In this Supreme Court case, the justices ruled that parody, which no reasonable person expects to be true, is protected free speech. No reasonable person would believe they could vote for the President of the United States via text message, would they? Who are these people? Can we talk to them?
If any more than a handful of Americans are completely unaware of how to vote, the crime falls to the education system and election officials.
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The prosecution argued that since 4,900 people texted the number, it proves Mackey interfered with the election. Not only did that small amount not impact the election, as Elon Musk pointed out in his post yesterday, but the reality is the majority of those text messages were from Mr. Mackey’s social media followers, adding to the joke with texts such as “Hillary for Prison.”
Gulags are here, as pro Trump meme maker is sentenced to 7 months in federal prison for a joke. Rule is law is on the way out. Within 5-10 years, we won’t have a legal system. Stalin is smiling down on his demon “judges.” https://t.co/e7fQeDaEaI
— Cernovich (@Cernovich) October 18, 2023
To meme or not to meme
Justice is not blind, nor is it fair. The United States has become a banana republic where political opponents and those who support them can be persecuted for exercising their constitutional rights.
The prosecution used racist and sexist remarks by Mr. Mackey as proof that his meme was meant to suppress the votes of black, Hispanic, and female voters.
The prosecution labeled Mr. Mackey as a “social media influencer,” shrouding him in a cloak of popular influence power that, with just 58,000 followers, he just didn’t have.
Douglass Mackey might have unsavory opinions of minorities and have too much time on his hands to create memes. Still, an individual with massive influence bent on changing the course of democracy, he is not.
The former and current government officials who wielded their prior titles and expertise to sew disinformation and silence the truth behind the Hunter Biden laptop did have influence and used it to change the course of our democracy.
While Mr. Mackey sits in prison, they sit on policy panels and as media contributors. Justice and democracy are long gone in this country.
Two attacks on Free Speech that you may have missed..
🤡 Douglass Mackey – 7 months in prison for sharing anti-Clinton memes during the 2016 Election.
📢 Owen Shroyer – 2 months in prison for his actions on J6. Owen did not enter the Capitol. His crime? Yelling “1776” through a… pic.twitter.com/nst2HCYK3N
— Wise Squirrel (@WiseSquirrel_) October 19, 2023
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