Back in the heyday of the "Alt-Right" in 2016, online influencer Ricky Vaugh, whose name and avatar was based on the Charlie Sheen character in the movie Major League, was a nationally recognized online influencer. Vaughn, whose real name is Douglass Mackey, was by some measures more influential than major network news channels like NBC and CNN. He was credited with helping turn public sentiment towards Trump during the contentious Presidential campaign against Hillary Clinton. Mackey is currently being prosecuted by the Biden regime, and facing up to ten years in prison for "election interference." His alleged crime is posting a meme in 2016, featuring a Black woman and using an aesthetic similar to that of the ads produced by the Clinton campaign, which indicated people could vote by text.
I was a follower of the "meme wars" in real time, and when I saw the post in question, I personally thought that it was clearly a joke. Certainly, only a negligible amount of people would be so lacking in critical thinking skills as to take voting instructions from a random internet post seriously. I was shocked and slightly amused when I saw the meme blown up to poster size, resting on an easel in a legislative hearing, while people in suits talked in serious tones about how dangerous the unrestricted internet was to fair elections.
Like the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally, Mackey's moment of fame and influence occurred during the heady, hopeful years of Donald Trump's ascendency. Just like the UTR attendees, Mackey and others who were part of the "Alt-Right" movement had not yet realized that the First Amendment to the Constitution was no longer sacrosanct. During the "meme wars" of 2016 when the offending image was posted, a bevy of internet-savvy influencers, citizen reporters, and a massive virtual army of "anons" sought to upset the political process by using the internet to empower ordinary citizens, whose concerns and opinions had, in a previous era, been rendered ineffectual by gatekeepers of politics and the media. The campaign of Donald Trump, successful in large part because of the levelled informational playing field afforded by the relatively unrestricted internet, set the ruling class back on its heels. A bunch of clever, determined nobodies had upset their plans. This would not be allowed happen again.
When Mackey was doxed (that is, outed by his real name) in 2018, he retired from his "influencer" role and fell off the radar of politics for a while. Then, almost immediately after Biden took office, it was announced that Mackey would be prosecuted. Few of the young and hopeful Alt-Righters had expected, during the exhilaration of the populist uprising, that the communist takeover of the nation would soon be back on track, and that select participants would be punished to deter anyone else who might be tempted to get uppity towards their rulers. A pall fell upon the right-wing webosphere. How many more influencers and anons had made posts, with the assumption that political opinion and satire were First Amendment protected speech, that might retroactively be declared criminal?
The case features an important witness who has been identified as "an FBI informant who may still be operating anonymous right-wing Twitter accounts," described as someone who ran an account similar to Mackey's and who worked with him under a pseudonym. Mackey's lawyer is aware of the person's identity but not allowed to disclose it, even to Mackey. And in case anyone needed further confirmation that journalism is a form of progressive activism, one expected witness for the defense withdrew after an SPLC "extremism researcher," Luke Obrien threatened to write a hit piece including private emails from University of Alabama political science professor George Hawley, the planned expert witness.
Whatever the outcome of the trial, this prosecution will have a chilling effect on free speech in the United States going forward. Of course, that is the intention.
The Carolina Contrarian, Anne Wilson Smith, is the author of Charlottesville Untold: Inside Unite the Right and Robert E. Lee: A History Book for Kids. She is the creator of Reckonin' and has contributed to the Abbeville Institute website and Vdare. She is a soft-spoken Southern belle by day, opinionated writer by night. She loves Jesus, her family, and her hometown. She enjoys floral dresses and acoustic guitar music. You may contact Carolina Contrarian at CarolinaContrarian@protonmail.com.