Refusing to believe that Jeffrey Epstein killed himself is nominally a conspiracy theory, but it’s hardly as controversial as the sort of fringe beliefs that are usually grouped under that heading. It’s tough to imagine that Epstein, a pedophile sex trafficker with ties to figures ranging from Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, and Prince Andrew to Bill Gates, Kevin Spacey, Chris Tucker, and Elon Musk, simply took his own life before a trial that would implicate some of the most powerful people in the world.
Because it’s 2019, though, the media has mostly moved on from the story (barring developments like new arguments against the suicide theory reported last week), leaving the job of trying to grapple with the reality of what seems to be a poorly covered-up, very public assassination to internet meme creators instead. The most recent—and highest profile—example of this comes from a Fox News segment on military-trained dogs featuring Warrior Dog Foundation founder Mike Ritland. Just before he’s finished signing off with “a PSA” about dog adoption, Ritland drops in a quick reminder that “Epstein didn’t kill himself.”
Ritland’s comment, being aired on TV, is notable, but it’s far from the only example of people trying to keep the story alive through unexpected avenues. Consider the below, which represents only a very small sampling of the meme’s recent explosion.
An excellent piece on the meme by Mel Magazine’s Miles Klee, published just before the Fox News segment aired, describes the kind of “simmering resentment” that’s responsible for the meme’s proliferation. For one thing, though the Fox clip seems to have led to a big increase in right-wing versions of the meme, it’s bipartisan, implicating the worst on both sides of the aisle. It’s also representative of public anger at a system that allows those who took part in or enabled the nightmares of Epstein’s trafficking ring to escape any kind of justice.
“We have seen so many guilty parties go unpunished, so many pervasive horrors dismissed or blamed on lone scapegoats, that this small rebellion was critical and inevitable,” Klee writes. “As long as a few dogged trolls are churning out content to disrupt the assurance that the whole matter is behind us, there remains a dim hope that someone else will have to see their day in court.”
Until Adam McKay’s Epstein-focused TV series sees the light of day, we’ll probably just have to keep making do with nihilistic memes to get through. Since we can’t even count on late night TV hosts to care about the horrifying surrealism of the event beyond its use as fodder for softball interview jokes, the roiling collective consciousness of the internet will have to do for now.
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