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The War on Free Speech is Heating Up

by Robert Wayne

The importance of memes to political discourse today can’t be underestimated. A well-made meme can influence many more people than even the best written article, particularly if it goes viral. And as the saying goes, the Left can’t meme.

Meme creation requires a a sense of humor, as well as the ability to think logically and rationally, both characteristics that leftists often lack. And since the right is handily winning the meme wars online, the Left is doing the only thing it knows how: arresting memers.

The man behind the @TheRickyVaughn Twitter account, since suspended by Twitter, was recently arrested by federal authorities and charged with alleged election interference during the 2016 elections. His alleged offense was to post a meme that claimed voters could vote from home by phone. 4,900 phone numbers are alleged to have attempted to text their votes to the number provided in the meme.

The first question that comes up is, what kind of person lands on a page that is obviously right-wing political satire and not only takes it seriously but also tries to vote for Hillary Clinton? Sure, some people might have taken the meme seriously, but people also take the Onion and the Babylon Bee seriously. Just because someone can’t recognize obvious satire doesn’t make that satire a criminal offense.

Federal authorities are playing up the effects of these memes, making it sound as though there was a deliberate attempt to deny people the right to vote. But that wasn’t really the case. If memes like this are criminal, how about those that make false claims about candidates, or false claims about economic performance under certain political parties? How about memes and advertisements that attempt to influence people to vote for certain candidates, or not to vote at all?

Just because you disagree with someone, or just because a meme contains false information doesn’t mean that it’s criminal, or that it’s not protected speech. But the reality today is that the government doesn’t respect the First Amendment anymore, at least not when it comes to conservatives or anyone else who doesn’t agree with the leftward movement of the government. Don’t be surprised to see more and more people arrested and prosecuted for things they say on social media. And don’t be surprised to see your liberal friends, neighbors, and coworkers celebrating it and cheering it on.

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