Lock Whom Up?

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. 

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.

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.

Candace Owens, Turning Point USA’s firebrand communications director, also called for the ​jailing of Ford, using #LockHerUp when referring to a Fox News story that allegedly puts portions of testimony into question.

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.

One Twitter user did some digging and noticed a correlation between the use of the phrase “innocent until proven guilty” (a truism that has been tossed frequently in recent days in Kavanaugh’s defense) and “#LockHerUp.”

Ironically, the results show that for many on the right, “innocent until proven guilty” only applies to Supreme Court Nominees.

But most troubling of all: Is #LockHerUp becoming a catch-all for the female enemies of the American right?

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. 

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.

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.

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