There’s a meme making the rounds on Facebook. It’s about Hillary Clinton and it’s pretty damning on the surface. But, as with most things one sees on the Internet, diving deeper reveals the truth.
This is the meme:
Looks pretty bad, doesn’t it? Hillary defended a rapist, blamed the victim, laughed about it afterward. Honestly, it’s such an outrageous claim that I can’t understand how anyone could buy one word of it. But there are many who do. So let’s debunk, shall we?
Snopes is always the first place I go when faced with a meme, especially in election season. As a very wise woman recently wrote while addressing this issue, “Before you crank up the outrage meter and give yourself an ulcer, I recommend checking… reliable fact-checking sites.” Excellent advice.
A quick trip to Snopes turned up their dissection of the “information” given in this meme. The true part: Hillary Clinton was assigned to defend a man accused of raping a 12-year-old girl. She reluctantly took the case, challenged poorly handled evidence and got her client a plea bargain. On to the false part, from Snopes:
WHAT’S FALSE: Clinton laughed about the unreliable nature of polygraphs, not the case’s outcome; Clinton did not volunteer to be the man’s lawyer; Clinton did not claim the complainant fantasized about being raped by older men; the case did not go to trial.
Let’s go piece by piece with this meme. First of all, that picture is not one of the claimant in the trial. It’s a stock picture of a young girl crying. This is noted in small print at the bottom right, the very last place one would look when reading this meme.
The case did, indeed, occur in 1975 and the ages are correct. But Clinton did not “volunteer” to take the case. Her then-boss, Washington County prosecutor Mahlon Gibson, told CNN that “Hillary told me she didn’t want to take that case. She made that very clear.” Her name was lifted from a list of lawyers who would represent low-income clients, by the judge in the case, Maupin Cummings. Clinton requested that she be taken off the case but the judge refused.
The meme continues: “In court, Hillary told the judge” that the claimant had made the whole thing up because she liked “fantasizing about older men.” This is a reference to a court document in which Clinton requested a psychiatric evaluation of the girl. You can read the whole thing and see that the meme re-arranged words from this document in order to misrepresent Clinton:
Clinton did not get the defendant freed. She brokered a plea bargain, something that happens in 97% of cases. That number has changed almost zero since 1975. The man served a year in prison and 4 years of probation. Not the sentence either Clinton or we would have wanted but the court system sometimes isn’t fair.
The laughing part? That came from a tape that surfaced in 2014, discovered by the right-wing Washington Free Beacon. In the audio recording — from interviews in the 1980s with reporter Roy Reed — Clinton says that she gave the defendant a polygraph test, which he passed. This, she noted “forever destroyed my faith in polygraphs.” She laughs about that. Not about her defense or of the results of the case. Listen for yourself:
One person who does not believe the meme is attorney Chris DiOrio. He posted the meme on his Facebook page on Thursday for the sole purpose of tearing it apart. He wrote that he wasn’t doing it because he likes Hillary, but because he is a lawyer, too. He went so far as to call the meme “slanderous.” His list of reasons why this meme this is ridiculous are very convincing:
(A) She was appointed as her client’s attorney by the court; she didn’t volunteer.
(B) She asked to be relieved from representing the client, and the judge denied the request.
(C) She didn’t “free” her client; she negotiated a plea deal for jail time, like every other defense attorney has done.
(D) If she did not zealously advocate for her client, or tanked the case, she could have been disbarred.
(E) In the 1980 interview, she talked about how her client failed a polygraph, and then laughed while saying she would never trust a polygraph ever.
(F) Even the picture used is not the actual victim, and you can be damned well sure they use the tearful angelic blonde white girl to drive the hate.
He concludes his righteous rant with a plea not to treat attorneys like “rectal cancer.” Because one day, you may need one. And you will want him or her to “use all ethical means to protect you.” Just like Hillary did.
This sort of thing will be appearing more and more as we draw near Election Day. Please, please if you see something like this — especially if it bears a quote — take a few moments to check it out. Even if it’s about Trump (yes, let’s be fair). There are paid conservative trolls out there who are trying to poison the Democratic side of the equation. Doing a damn good job of it, too. Let’s not allow them to manipulate us.
This meme about Hillary Clinton is just one of the ways the pot will be stirred in an effort to sway the election. I think that people who stir the pot should have to lick the spoon and this spoon is coated with crap. Let’s ignore the pot altogether and keep our eyes on the prize. Vote blue, no matter who!
Featured Image via Facebook and Mark Wilson/Getty Images