The crowd at President Trump’s Monday rally in Johnson City, Tennessee, broke out into an enthusiastic chant of “Lock her up” while waiting for the man himself to take the stage, according to New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman.
Hearty chant of “Lock Her Up” an hour and 15 minutes before Trump is to take the stage at Freedom Hall.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) October 1, 2018
This begs the question, who is the “her” to which they were referring? Liberals have been lambasted for being unable to accept Hillary Clinton’s loss in the 2016 presidential election, both in the press and on twitter.
All I’m reading is a bunch of tweets from people that can’t move on with their lives. Trump won and Hillary lost. Get over it !
— Chargers55 (@82211d0f4484409) October 2, 2018
Hillary lost….get over it藍藍藍
— RealityCheck (@fredt610) September 29, 2018
But is it possible that Trump supporters have the same hang up? Clinton was cleared of criminal charges by the FBI, and yet her name still evokes the whiff of criminality to many on the right. Like a recent college graduate who still has trouble acclimating to real life, it seems that the American polity is still stuck in the 2016 news cycle.
But maybe there’s something darker going on…
On the far right, the chant has been deployed as vitriol against Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who testified last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Brett Kavanaugh had attempted to rape her.
If, as some on the right believe, Ford lied under oath, she may, as some on the right hope, be charged with committing a federal crime.
The claim of the meme is bogus, according to Snopes who debunked it immediately.
WOW. LIAR Christine Ford’s entire testimony just got blown up by an ex-boyfriend of 6 years. She has HELPED people prep to take polygraph tests, never had a fear of flying—oh, and of course, never once mentioned her sexual assault. #LockHerUp https://t.co/dORah99mtw
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) October 3, 2018
Others on the right called to investigate whether Senator Diane Feinstein committed a crime by withholding Ford’s original (anonymous) complaint against Kavanaugh. Critics accused Feinstein of subverting the committee’s process for political expedience.
— NBFREE (@beingnathann) October 1, 2018
The right-wing accounts form a distinct cluster in the “innocent until proven guilty” retweet network. 23.9% of the accounts in that section also have #LockHerUp tweets. Apparently, this standard applies to conservative SCOTUS nominees but not Democratic presidential candidates. pic.twitter.com/Ppmlc0i4a4
— Conspirador Norteño (@conspirator0) September 29, 2018
Ironically, the results show that for many on the right, “innocent until proven guilty” only applies to Supreme Court Nominees.
They are hypocrites, how is it that Kavanauh is innocent until proven guilty, but Hillary is guilty when she proved she is innocent?
— David Weissman (@davidmweissman) October 1, 2018
But most troubling of all: Is #LockHerUp becoming a catch-all for the female enemies of the American right?
It’s just an indiscriminate “her” at this point. Any her will do. https://t.co/s8xVWUef5l
— jess mcintosh (@jess_mc) October 1, 2018
To be fair, the left also adopted “lock her up” as an occasional rallying cry. In an act of slogan appropriation, many Twitterers used the line to criticize the Dallas police officer who fatally shot Botham Jean in his own home after the officer mistook his apartment for her own.
It’s About TIME! Dallas cop FIRED! Amber Guyger who MURDERED Botham Jean in his own home. #LockHerUp Amber Guyger, who entered Botham Jean‘s apartment and shot him dead, FIRED by Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall. #TakeAKnee @cspanwj pic.twitter.com/ebJAjw5oKg
— MICHAEL DOLLAR (@MICHAELDOLLAR) September 24, 2018
In this case, however, criminal charges were actually filed against the female officer.
But for every seemingly fair use of the phrase, there are many more who use it as some sort of threat.
— Yellowsnow (@1966dummies) September 23, 2018
It should also be noted that it seems popular for those on the far right to pair their extra-legal threats with a healthy dose of sexism. As is the case with Senator Feinstein, who was called “#DirtyLibOldHag” and Senator Elizabeth Warren who was called a “bitch.”
Adam Johnson is an editorial intern at Pluralist.
You can reach him on Twitter.