To Meme or not to Meme…

I like a good meme as much as anyone, but commenting on other people’s memes seems to get me into more trouble on social media than anything else.

I can’t help myself. I feel a need to comment when someone posts a meme that is obviously misleading, lying, or taking things out of context. I’ll give you three examples:

From the Democrats


The first sign that this is a bad meme is that it is quoting a fictional character from a television show. The real problem, though, is that the meme is terribly inaccurate. The meme names six bills that benefited Americans and claims that liberals supported all six and conservatives opposed all of them:

  1. Social Security
  2. The Civil Rights Act
  3. The Voting Rights Act
  4. Medicare
  5. The Clean Air Act
  6. The Clean Water Act

Had the meme stopped with Social Security and Medicare, it would have done just fine. The Civil Rights Act of 1964–the first one with teeth–was a bipartisan bill, with more Democratic opposition than Republican. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was jointly sponsored by the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, and, like the Civil Rights Act, it had more opponents among Democrats than Republicans.

The environmental bills are much more problematic. The Clean Air Act of 1970 was passed unanimously by the Senate and had one no vote in the House. It gave teeth to the original Clean Air Act of 1963 and led to Richard Nixon establishing the Environmental Protection Agency. The Clean Water Act of 1972 passed unanimously. It was vetoed by Nixon–because he was opposed to the pork in the bill: His budget request had already quadrupled funding for clean water, and the bill was passed over his veto. Environmental legislation used to be bipartisan, and it can be argued that the two best environmental presidents were Nixon, for founding the EPA, and Theodore Roosevelt, for pushing the Antiquities Act of 1906, which effectively started the National Park System.

On the other two items, there wasn’t as much disagreement as the meme would suggest. The Social Security Act of 1935 passed the House 372-33, and the Social Security Act of 1965, which established Medicare, did have significant Republican support, even though slightly more Republicans voted against it than for it. Neither of these bills passed with the standard party-line votes we most often see in today’s Congress.

Yes, the GOP usually opposes environmental, civil rights, and social welfare legislation today, but it wasn’t always that way, despite what this meme suggests.

From the Republicans


I have no argument with the claim that, by allowing classified materials to be sent on a private email server, Hillary Clinton broke the law. (Whether she should be jailed or not is another issue entirely. Historically, imprisonment on this is based on two things: Whether the material was leaked intentionally and the rank of the person who made the leak. It may not be right, but high-ranking government or military officials who inadvertently leak classified information are rarely punished with more than a slap on the wrist.)

The law quoted in the meme, however, has absolutely nothing to do with this case. Clinton had the emails destroyed after the State Department requested all emails relating to State Department business. The law quoted in the meme has to do with documents held by courts, judicial officers, or public officers. The deleted emails were never held or requested by the courts, as the FBI declined to recommend charging Secretary Clinton with a crime.

There are other laws that Clinton broke or may have broke that would have been appropriate for a meme. In my opinion, when you post inaccurate or misleading information in a meme to show your opposition to a candidate, you hurt your case. It would have been so easy to create an accurate version of this meme that properly made their case.

From the Greens


This is a picture of the Packard Plant in Detroit. Yes, this factory made Packards and Studebakers, and was closed in 1958. NAFTA came into force in January, 1994.

Was it Marty McFly, Doctor Who, or Bill and Ted who went back in time to make sure that NAFTA caused the demise of Packard thirty-seven years earlier?

There are plenty of legitimate criticisms of NAFTA, and it would not have been difficult to find an image of a closed factory that could be partially blamed on NAFTA. This picture looked better, so the meme author used it to misinform voters.

It is five days until Election Day and the last day of early voting here in Chattanooga. Keep reading and thinking and questioning, and make an informed decision–if you haven’t already.

Thanks again for your support. As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, let me know.


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Filed under Listening, Technology, The Media

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