An 'alt-right' author got sued and has to give profits to a Muslim charity:awesome.

An "alt-right" children's book featuring a popular cartoon character recently found itself at the center of a heated legal debate.

Earlier this year, a Texas assistant principal named Eric Hauser wrote and published a right-wing children's book called "The Adventures of Pepe and Pede." The story follows the two characters, a frog named Pepe and a centipede named Pede as they celebrate the end an oppressive farmer's eight years of rule and work to make their farm great again in his absence.

There's more to the plot, which has been criticized as being Islamophobic, but it's essentially a send-up of our current political climate told from the point of view of some of Trump's most dedicated supporters. If Pepe the Frog sounds familiar, that's because he's become a meme popular on right-wing blogs.


An illustration of Pepe in his pure, chilled out, positive form by Furie. Image via Superdeluxe/YouTube.

Pepe's creator, artist Matt Furie, never intended for his drawing to end up there.

And he wasn't about to let someone profit from his work while spreading a hateful message to children.

While there's nothing illegal about publishing a book with a racist and xenophobic plot, Hauser made one huge mistake in his process: He stole someone else's character, running afoul of a number of copyright laws. Pepe, as it so happens, is the intellectual property of Furie, who first published the character in his 2005 comic "Boy's Club." Not exactly pleased to learn that someone was using Pepe for personal gain and to teach a hurtful message, Furie sued Hauser.

Furie never meant for Pepe to be associated with hate.

The frog was supposed to just be a "blissfully stoned frog" who liked snacks and soda, not some unofficial "alt-right" mascot.

Around 2010, Pepe began to take on a life of his own as fans began drawing the character into their own stories and internet memes. In the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, the frog became increasingly associated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and internet trolls. Images of Furie's super-chill creation began popping up in Nazi regalia and KKK robes, earning a spot on the Anti-Defamation League's list of hate symbols.

It's all fun and games until someone turns your creation into a Nazi. Image via CBC/YouTube.

It wasn't until Hillary Clinton delivered a speech excoriating the "alt-right" and white supremacists that Pepe truly went mainstream. In the speech's aftermath, the Clinton campaign published an article explaining the significance of Pepe in the context of an image posted to Donald Trump Jr.'s Instagram that depicted a Pepe-fied version of the future president.

As the campaign raged on and Furie saw his creation slip further out of his control, he published a few fresh Pepe cartoons over at The Nib, including one that illustrates his "alt-right election nightmare."

In May, Furie officially killed off Pepe in one final comic.

The legal battle against Hauser and his children's book was settled in the best way possible — and it's a reminder not to give up hope.

As reported by Motherboard in August 2017, Furie and Hauser reached a settlement in which the book would no longer be available for sale and all past proceeds would be donated to the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Given the book's Islamophobic themes and Pepe's popularity with white nationalists, the decision to donate the money to CAIR was a pretty fantastic bit of trolling on Furie's part.

Furie also tried preserving Pepe's more peaceful legacy in an October 2016 #SavePepe campaign with seemingly little success, which led him to draw the character one last time at his own funeral. It appeared that Furie had given up on rehabilitating Pepe's image when, in June, he launched a Kickstarter campaign geared towards resurrecting the little green frog in hopes of "reclaiming his status as a universal symbol for peace, love, and acceptance."

Pepe has become wildly popular with some Trump supporters. Photo by Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images.

He wasn't alone in wanting a return to the comic's roots either. By the time the campaign wrapped up, Furie had raised nearly $35,000.

GIF via Matt Furie/Kickstarter.

Between his decision to donate the money made in the copyright infringement suit to a great cause and refusing to give up on his own creation, Furie is himself a testament to the bizarre and sometimes wonderful possibilities of the internet.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less