Ok, so shit is getting way out of hand. The ADL (Anti-defamation League) has labeled the Pepe the Frog meme as a hate symbol, with recent incarnations of Pepe as Adolf Hitler and a Klansman.
The CEO of the ADL Jonathan A. Greenblatt stated that "Once again, racists and haters have taken a popular Internet meme and twisted it for their own purposes of spreading bigotry and harassing users . . . These anti-Semites have no shame. They are abusing the image of a cartoon character, one that might at first seem appealing, to harass and spread hatred on social media."
Pepe is a beloved character on the internet, being labeled the most popular meme on Tumblr in 2015. The little smirking frog had very humble beginnings, being created by Matt Furie for his 2005 cartoon "Boy's Club". The meme spread like wildfire on 4chan, 8chan, and Reddit, causing people to flash photoshop the little green guy in a number of hilarious and sometimes brutal ways.
The ADL went on to say that, "The mere fact of posting a Pepe meme does not mean that someone is racist or white supremacist . . . However, if the meme itself is racist or anti-Semitic in nature, or if it appears in a context containing bigoted or offensive language or symbols, then it may have been used for hateful purposes."
But if the ADL can label certain images on the internet as hate-symbols, what's next? Are we all going to have to be careful not to share a Spongebob meme on a Trump page for fear of the little sea sponge getting on the ADL's bad side?