When Memes Go Bad: Why Pepe the Frog Is Now Considered a Hate Symbol
Memes have the potential to make people laugh, but when they're used for evil?
One of the effects of the President-elect running on a platform with... ahem, questionable racial ideas is that the extreme racists in our society are emboldened, like those in the Alt-Right sphere, which is defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as:
"The Alternative Right, commonly known as the Alt-Right, is a set of far-right ideologies, groups and individuals whose core belief is that 'white identity is under attack by multicultural forces using 'political correctness' and 'social justice' to undermine white people and 'their' civilization. Characterized by heavy use of social media and online memes, Alt-Righters eschew 'establishment' conservatism, skew young, and embrace white ethno-nationalism as a fundamental value."
It has been argued that it's the core support for Donald Trump's entire campaign.
In an effort to illustrate how much of this is out there on the Innerwebz, the Anti-Defamation league maintains a database of hate symbols called "Hate on Display" — including those that are pretty much only seen on the web.
In the past few months, two symbols used on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media channels made it into this ... hall of fame.
The first is the (((echo))) symbol, used by racists on Twitter and Facebook to identify what they call "Jewish controlled institutions" or Jewish users, frequently tied to comments and articles about Donald Trump. For example, writing (((banker))) to imply that the word "Jewish" should be added to it.
The second one added to the database recently? Pepe the Frog, a.k.a. Sad Frog.
The Pepe meme/image didn't start off as a hate symbol — it was created by artist Matt Furie in a 2005 cartoon called "Boys Club," but made it this year because it's been used with various racist modifications. Here are just a few of the less-offensive ones:
Not all versions of Pepe are racist, but enough variations have appeared to make it into the database.
And for a pretty comprehensive roll call of hate groups, take a look at Southern Poverty Law Center's extensive list.
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The Oxfam report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency."
- A new report by Oxfam argues that wealth inequality is causing poverty and misery around the world.
- In the last year, the world's billionaires saw their wealth increase by 12%, while the poorest 3.8 billion people on the planet lost 11% of their wealth.
- The report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency." We explain what Steven Pinker's got to do with it.
Moans, groans, and gripes release stress hormones in the brain.
Could you give up complaining for a whole month? That's the crux of this interesting piece by Jessica Hullinger over at Fast Company. Hullinger explores the reasons why humans are so predisposed to griping and why, despite these predispositions, we should all try to complain less. As for no complaining for a month, that was the goal for people enrolled in the Complaint Restraint project.
Participants sought to go the entirety of February without so much as a moan, groan, or bellyache.
- Facebook and Google began as companies with supposedly noble purposes.
- Creating a more connected world and indexing the world's information: what could be better than that?
- But pressure to return value to shareholders came at the expense of their own users.
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