"Pepe" Creator Blocks Children’s Book
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UPDATED: Sep 26, 2017
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The creator of the cartoon frog called “Pepe” took legal action to stop his creation from being used in an allegedly anti-Islamic children’s book.
The artist, Matt Furie, created Pepe in 2006.
According to the New York Times, Pepe began “as a blissfully stoned frog” who “enjoyed a simple life of snacks, soda and pulling his pants all the way down to go pee.”
Around 2010, Pepe was adopted (against his creator’s wishes) as a symbol of the “alt-right.”
According to the Washington Post, “a Pepe avatar on Twitter is now generally read as a sign of an alt-right affiliation.”
According to the Times,
The “alt-right” is a racist, far-right movement based on an ideology of white nationalism and anti-Semitism…. It is also anti-immigrant, anti-feminist and opposed to homosexuality and gay and transgender rights.
According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL),
The majority of uses of Pepe the Frog have been, and continue to be, non-bigoted. However, it was inevitable that, as the meme proliferated in on-line venues such as 4chan, 8chan, and Reddit, which have many users who delight in creating racist memes and imagery, a subset of Pepe memes would come into existence that centered on racist, anti-Semitic or other bigoted themes.
In the fall of 2016, Furie teamed with the ADL to form a #SavePepe campaign to “reclaim the frog symbol from those who use it with hateful intentions.”
Furie also started a Kickstarter campaign “to resurrect Pepe the Frog in a new comic book reclaiming his status as a universal symbol for peace, love and acceptance.”
The President’s son, Donald Trump Jr., was criticized for sharing on his Instagram account a picture showing the faces of his father and himself and several supporters with Pepe.
Pepe and Pede
On August 1, a Texas middle school administrator named Eric Hauser self-published a book called The Adventures of Pepe and Pede. It tells the story of Pepe fighting a bearded alligator named “Alkah.”
“Alkah” is seen by some as representing a Muslim.
“Pede” is the name of a cartoon centipede in the book and is also a name used to refer to each other by Trump supporters on Reddit.
Post Hill Press, a conservative publishing company, also announced plans to publish the book, calling it a “feel-good story in support of good versus evil.”
Furie’s lawyers threatened legal action based on copyright infringement.
According to the Times, Furie’s lawyers said the book “espoused racist, Islamophobic and hate-filled themes, included allusions to the alt-right movement.”
Hauser claimed that his book merely had a “conservative viewpoint” and he was “using Pepe just as a lighthearted way of expressing maybe some conservative values.”
As a condition of a settlement with Furie, Hauser agreed to stop publishing the book and to donate all profits to date to the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
However, as of this writing the book is still being offered for sale on Amazon’s Canadian site, which says it will be available November 7.