The Anti Defamation League is now calling 'Pepe the Frog' a form of hate speech. Time
Pepe the Frog, a cartoon character turned Internet meme, has been added to the Anti-Defamation League’s database of hate symbols.
The character was added to the database Tuesday, after Pepe the Frog was depicted as a slew of racially charged caricatures including Hitler and a Klansman, according to the group.
“Once again, racists and haters have taken a popular Internet meme and twisted it for their own purposes of spreading bigotry and harassing users,” Jonathan A. Greenblatt, Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO said in a statement.
Greenblatt said many had abused the image to “harass and spread hatred on social media.”
But Pepe the Frog wasn’t always considered a hate symbol.
The frog first appeared in Matt Furie's Boy's Club cartoons in 2005.
Known as the “sad frog,” Pepe was often depicted as a mellow character with the slogan “feels good, man,” among others. Just a year ago, celebrities like Katy Perry shared the meme alongside many other Americans.
ADL notes that Pepe’s Internet meme famedom took a turn for the worst when the character spread to the websites 4chan, 8chan and Reddit, where a “subset of memes came into existence promoting anti-Jewish, bigoted and offensive ideas.”
The meme was also recently dragged into politics. Two weeks ago, Donald Trump's son posted a photoshopped photo depicting his father and Pepe the Frog as The Deplorables. He later said he didn't know there was a negative connotation to the character.
In response to the photo, Hillary Clinton's campaign posted an in-depth explainer on Pepe the Frog and his ties to white supremacy.
Furie recently told the Atlantic the politicalization of Pepe and Clinton's explainer downplay the importance the mellow character holds for many young people.
He believes the demonization of Pepe will be a "passing phase."
"Pepe is more than, whatever is happening in the news today, especially to younger people and to teenagers," he told the Atlantic. "For example, I get emails pretty regularly, from kids, from high schools, who need my permission to use Pepe in their senior shirts, or their clarinet club, or their photography clubs, and I tell them to go ahead as long as they sell me a shirt."
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