Man Charged With a Felony for Posting Satirical Voting Memes Sets a Chilling Precedent ⋆ Politicrossing
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Man Charged With a Felony for Posting Satirical Voting Memes Sets a Chilling Precedent

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Late last month, a Florida man was arrested and charged with a felony for posting memes pretending to instruct people to vote by text or social media. It is impossible to vote those ways, so the memes were obviously a joke. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of memes floating around joking about voting. Douglass Mackey, who also goes by Ricky Vaughn, posted several of these memes during the 2016 election year. One of the memes showed a black woman next to an African-Americans for Hillary sign. It said, “Avoid the line. Vote from home. Text ‘Hillary’ to 59925. Vote for Hillary and be a part of history.” A small notation at the bottom of the meme said it was paid for by Hillary for President 2016. 

 

No one would believe the meme was accurate, send a text message, and think they had voted. In fact, the Clinton campaign sent back a default response to anyone who texted the number saying the ad was not approved by the campaign. It was clearly someone’s goofy sense of humor. People joke about the saying, “Democrats vote on Tuesday, Republicans vote on Wednesday.” No one is prosecuted for it.  

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Legal scholar Eugene Volokh observes that Mackey is not being prosecuted under a statute that clearly prohibits lying about how to vote. Some states have them. Instead, Mackey is being prosecuted under 18 U.S.C. § 241, a federal law that punishes conspiracies “to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person … in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution.” Volokh says no one has been prosecuted under that law for speech influencing someone from voting. People lie in political campaigns all the time and aren’t prosecuted, so why go after free speech in politics now? Those prosecuted for election fraud generally engage in some type of activity such as voter fraud, not merely speech.

 

Twitter said at first that the memes did not violate their rules. Considering how quick the company is to censor memes and kick conservatives off the platform, it is telling that it did not initially find anything wrong.  

 

The fact the DOJ did not arrest MacKey until just after the Inauguration, even though he posted the memes over four years earlier when they first received publicity, is evidence the prosecution is politically motivated by the Biden administration. MacKey is an easy target. He posted antisemitic and racist memes. No one wants to defend someone like that. The right understandably wants to distance themselves from someone that offensive. But this is how the left makes inroads into silencing the right; they target a disreputable extremist who they associate with the right because they’re so easy to take down. Once a precedent is set with the first target, it becomes easier to go after others on the right, others who aren’t so offensive. 

 

It is part of a larger effort to ban conservative satire, because humor has proven to be effective. The right excels here, since the left’s positions aren’t conducive to humor. The left has made a lot of ground in recent years by pretending the right is offensive. Once they went down that path, it didn’t leave a lot of room left for the left to joke, or they’d risk violating their own draconian policies.  

 

And one of the main ways the left goes after conservative memes is by claiming they are fake news — even humorous memes that are clearly satire. Their “fact checking” sites now also fact check opinion, not just facts. So not only has the left been able to get these memes removed from social media, but gets those posting them banned.  

 

It was bad enough deleting obvious satire. It was worse banning people from social media who posted the memes. Now it’s gotten to an extremely disturbing level, prosecuting people who post the memes. This is a slippery slope and if allowed to continue, will set a dangerous precedent for conservatives merely posting satire about elections, a type of political speech our Founding Fathers revered, which is why they protected it in the First Amendment to our Constitution.

 

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Rachel Alexander is a conservative political writer and pundit. She is the editor of Intellectual Conservative and a recovering attorney. She was ranked by Right Wing News as one of the 50 Best Conservative Columnists from 2011-2019.



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Education

Make Universities Accountable for Predatory Student Loan Abuse

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The Biden administration is still talking about delivering on the President’s promise to relieve student loan debt for many Americans. There is continuing discussion on how much debt should be forgiven, how to pay for it, and whether it is fair to all those who have diligently and painfully worked to already pay off their own student loans. After all, if you’re going to eliminate student debt to buy votes, why just limit it to student debt?

Unfortunately for Biden, according to numerous sources including National Review, the executive branch has no generalized power to forgive any amount of student debt. Even Nancy Pelosi confirmed simply that “the president can’t do it. That’s not even a discussion.” The Department of Education came to the same verdict, determining that the executive branch “does not have the statutory authority to cancel, compromise, discharge, or forgive, on a blanket or mass basis, principal balances of student loans, and/or to materially modify the repayment amounts or terms thereof.”

Of course, even if he had the authority, forgiving student debt doesn’t make the debt go away. Reality has a way of breaking into such “freeloading” dreams. It’s pay me now, or somebody else pay me later. But why should some future taxpayer pay off anyone else’s student debt?

Whatever happened to wise warnings of “student beware.” When you get an education and agree to pay the tuition, you ought to realize that you must at some point pay for that education. You signed on the bottom line. Face your real-world responsibilities. Hopefully, you picked a degree major that will ensure a career capable of paying off your loans. Students clearly have some responsibility, but what about the universities that took advantage of the money coming from those loans?

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After all, there is ample evidence that student tuitions exploded far faster than inflation when government funds became readily available for student loans. Complaints of excessive tuition increases by students trapped in their programs tended to be met with a less than caring response—pound sand!

Since 2008, the tuition cost or a four-year college degree has increased nearly 25%. In that same period, student debt has doubled, increasing by 107%. 2015 study found that a dollar of subsidized student loans results in a published tuition increase of 58 cents at a typical university, An NBER paper suggests that changes to federal student loans are more than sufficient to explain tuition increases at private nonprofit colleges. And a 2014 study found that for-profit colleges eligible for federal student aid charged tuition 78% higher than that of similar but aid-ineligible institutions.

In short, there is no doubt that tuition was rising faster than the inflation level. Evidence has been clear for decades. In 1987, Secretary of Education William J. Bennett argued that “increases in financial aid in recent years have enabled colleges and universities to raise their tuition, confident that Federal loan subsidies would help cushion the increase.”

Bennett pointed out in 1987 that federal student aid had risen 57 percent since 1980, while inflation had been 26 percent. A 2020 analysis by the Congressional Budget Office brought the numbers up to date: “Between 1995 and 2017, the balance of outstanding federal student loan debt increased more than sevenfold, from $187 billion to $1.4 trillion (in 2017 dollars).” What is the lesson? The more federal aid to students is available colleges raise tuition more. Salaries rise and bureaucracies expand. There are more courses, more dorms, dining halls, lavish recreational centers, and more money for endowments.

Far too many students find that once they begin their education, their schools raise the tuition at such a high rate that their debt explodes. The university builds their endowment, and the “trapped” student is compelled to finish what they started at a cost they did not expect to have to pay. In such a situation, should not the university be responsible for any increased cost above the increase in cost of living during the same time? It’s time for universities to take responsibility for their share of student debt.

The universities that benefited from these loans should have a part in footing the bill. That means universities that raked in millions to inflate endowments should be holding the bag for those who can’t afford to pay their loans. With universities holding hundreds of billions of dollars in tax-free endowments, any government program to relieve student debt should be completely dependent on taxing those university endowments.

It’s time to counter the Democrats’ vote-buying scheme by making lasting changes to the student loan process. That means putting universities on the hook for their predatory behavior. That will go much further than a temporary payoff that does nothing to solve what is causing the problem.

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Tucker: Why are they so angry?

There’s no Constitutional requirement to have respect for anybody in the US government. In fact, in a free country you are encouraged to disagree. You are a citizen, you have that inherent right. But, no more.

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Tucker gives an extended list of several people who were arrested or had their homes raided, without explanation, for no crime. Highlights include:

“Why have a political debate when you can just arrest people who disagree with you? And that has happened, far below the media radar since the day Joe Biden was elected, and tonight we want to show you … a litany, a list of Americans who have been arrested, detained by federal law enforcement on the orders of the Biden administration, not because they committed recognizable crimes but because they disagreed with the political aims of the Biden administration.”

“Ooh, Trumps a fascist, remember that? Did Trump’s DOJ raid the homes of a lot of journalists who embarrassed his children? No, you don’t remember that, because it didn’t happen. But Joe Biden’s justice department has done that, and then they kept going.”

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“We don’t arrest people for ignoring congressional subpoenas, especially when they cite executive privilege, a principal that has a long history in American history, so no, we’ve never done that, but we can do it now because it was ‘an insurrection’, an insurrection that wasn’t armed, wasn’t planned, it didn’t actually insurrect anything, but it was still an insurrection. Now you’re beginning to see why it’s been so important from the very first day for the media to describe what happened on January 6 not as a riot, but as an insurrection, because if it’s an insurrection, they can violate your civil rights.”

“So, a decade ago the Obama administration was caught sending automatic weapons to Mexican drug cartels and Congress wanted to know more about this. Eric Holder, then the attorney general, had a key role in this, ‘operation fast and furious’, you may remember it. So, they subpoena’d him, and he ignored the subpoena, and the media applauded, he was taking a noble position. But when Steve Bannon or Peter Navarro tried to do something like that, they went to jail. Again, we had this exact same thing happen in public ten years ago. A federal judge ruled that Holder’s privilege claim was not legitimate, and he was still never arrested, but the rules have changed. Why is that?”

“There’s no Constitutional requirement to have respect for anybody in the US government. In fact, in a free country you are encouraged to disagree. You are a citizen, you have that inherent right. But, no more. The media think you should be sent to jail if you show disrespect, and so of course, with no media to push back against unconstitutional overreach, the justice department kept going.”

Watch the video below and feel free to exercise your right to free speech in the comments.

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