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Commentary

Vandalism of Bernie Sanders Mural Being Investigated as 'Hate Crime'

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A Washington, D.C., mural of Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont was drawn over with the popular cartoon internet meme Pepe the Frog, and police are investigating the incident as a “hate crime.”

The rationale seems to be that the cartoon is part of a white supremacy movement, meaning that city taxpayers will foot the bill for police to investigate the placement of the green frog as a symbol of hate and bigotry — despite the fact that the common online image has no single meaning and no officials have signaled they know who painted it.

WTOP-FM in Washington reported that sometime between Dec. 15 and Jan. 14, someone in the city’s Navy Yard neighborhood painted an image of the frog on a Sanders mural on a concrete wall. It’s not clear why what appeared to be an act of vandalism has been deemed hateful, or why it took a month to be discovered.

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In any event, the nation’s capital is now a zone occupied by the military, Democrats and reporters. So, as you’d expect, anything in the area not actively celebrating the incoming Biden administration — even vandalism — is being treated as a threat to the country Democrats say they care so much about.

WTOP reported that the woman who painted the Sanders mural noticed the green frog, which most people would probably connect to innocuous trolling, had been painted over Sanders on her way to work and was contacted by police. She’s also reportedly already painted back over the mural to remove the cartoon frog.

But we now live in a world where the leftists in media and public service have seized on the incursion of the Capitol building on Jan. 6, and they’re using it to connect anything and everything that could be associated with the conservative movement with the full force of the government’s war chest.

The left has crowned a green cartoon frog as the internet’s mascot for its never-ending obsession with racism, much in the way they have branded the “OK” hand symbol and bowl haircuts as symbols representing white supremacy.

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Never mind that the meme means different things to different people, or that police and the mural artist seemingly have no idea who painted the frog over Sanders.

The Anti-Defamation League designated the cartoon frog as a hate symbol five years ago, and so now it appears that whoever painted it can expect to face the wrath of D.C. “hate crime” laws.

How did we arrive at a place where drawing a cartoon frog can put a person in the sights of those seeking to use the justice system to exact political justice? Let’s refer to the page wherein the ADL classified the frog depiction as “hate speech.”

“The character first appeared in 2005 in the on-line [MySpace] cartoon ‘Boy’s Club,’” the ADL wrote. “The Pepe the Frog character did not originally have racist or anti-Semitic connotations. Internet users appropriated the character and turned him into a meme, placing the frog in a variety of circumstances and saying many different things.”

“The majority of uses of Pepe the Frog have been, and continue to be, non-bigoted,” the organization added.

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“However, it was inevitable that, as the meme proliferated in on-line venues such as 4chan, 8chan, and Reddit, which have many users who delight in creating racist memes and imagery, a subset of Pepe memes would come into existence that centered on racist, anti-Semitic or other bigoted themes.”

The meme frog has been used by people of all stripes, including pop singer Katy Perry in 2014:

But after some people online used it while making racist posts in obscure internet forums, Pepe’s place in the zeitgeist has been repurposed, and using it can draw a “hate crime” investigation.

This story shows us more of what we already know — the left will weaponize any law or institution to make conservatives look bad by acting as though white supremacy is something more than a fringe, heinous ideology.

The left wants to crush nuance, but context matters. We don’t know the politics or beliefs of the person who painted the cartoon over Sanders in D.C., but investigators seem to be working the case as one that was an attack on Sanders’ personal identity.

In the district’s “hate crime” FAQ page, the Metropolitan Police Department lays out what constitutes a “hate crime.”

“Under the Bias-Related Crime Act of 1989 (D.C. Official Code § 22-3700 et. seq.), to qualify as a hate or bias-related crime in the District of Columbia, an incident must meet the standards for a ‘bias-related crime,’” the department wrote.

“‘Bias-related crime’…demonstrates an accused’s prejudice based on the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, family responsibility, homelessness, physical disability, matriculation, or political affiliation of a victim of the subject designated act.”

Exactly how investigators intend to link a cartoon frog used by millions of internet users with the criteria for being hateful to Sanders has not been answered. Pepe the Frog is actually used in Hong Kong as a symbol for resisting communist tyranny.

In D.C., the meme’s use now equates to a probable “hate crime.”

But then again, since Jan. 6, the left has seized on anything and everything it can to silence dissent to its upcoming big-government agenda. Perhaps no person represents the face of the coming bureaucratic nightmare more than Sanders.

If simple trolling is what motivated the mural vandalism, that means someone right now is probably sweating, potentially facing serious penalties beyond what are appropriate. (Of course, it’s also possible that the perpetrator of the vandalism was motivated by anti-Semitism, though more facts about this case are necessary before we reach that conclusion.)

But Democrats and the establishment media have made one thing profoundly clear — speech is not only no longer protected, but it can also equate to an act on the same level as hate discrimination. A green frog can now be used as a pretext to ruin a life, and it looks like this investigation could be headed there.

Keep in mind, this is before Biden has even been inaugurated. If the last several weeks are any indication as to the cultural climate a Biden presidency will move in, those who value free speech and expression might have a long road ahead of them.

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Johnathan "Kipp" Jones has worked as a reporter, an editor and a producer in radio, television and digital media. He is a proud husband and father.
Johnathan "Kipp" Jones has worked as an editor and producer in radio and television. He is a proud husband and father.




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