If you haven’t seen the latest meme to go viral on Facebook, it’s “Paper Joan,” aka, ”Joan the Silencer.” There have been perhaps hundreds of variations on the basic “Paper Joan” theme (see below). Everything from her holding paper over the Tiananmen Square guy, to silencing Martin Luther King, Jr. has been plastered across the digital universe.
It all started during the Republican National Convention when a Romney delegate, Joan Clendenin, shamelessly (and totally ineffectively) tried to silence a Paul delegate attempting to address the convention. Following the embarrassing defeat of the GOP last week, Peter Gay, who has a special talent for creating hilarious and witty memes, published the picture below on Facebook:
Anyway, it exploded over the weekend, and after “Joan the Silencer” got her own page on Facebook, LRC contributor Ryan McMaken wrote that she had “been consigned to the fate of the ‘Casually-Pepper-Spray-Everything Cop.’”
This is one of the great things about the Internet: people like “Paper Joan,” Pepper Spray Guy, and Mitt Romney can’t get away with silencing political dissent, police brutality, and pandering. There was a time when such reprehensible behavior was able to go largely unchallenged, but that is all but gone now, with the advent of the digital age.
The ability for virtually anyone to transmit information makes these actions known to everyone, and allows for non-violent resistance through humor. After all, Murray Rothbard encouraged people to make fun of the state, to mock it, as a means to undermining its (illegitimate) authority.