6 min read

BTFO in a court of law

My headline here is obviously a joke about shitposting, which was Doug Mackey's rather thin defense. His situation isn't funny. It isn't funny to me in any case.

Read the SPLC story here and then read my commentary because it will make more sense in that order:

Douglass Mackey Verdict Sinks ‘Shitposting’ Defense
Following four days of deliberation, a jury handed radical-right activist Douglass Mackey a guilty verdict on Friday, March 31, asserting that he interfered with the 2016 election through his infamous “Ricky Vaughn” pseudonym.

Mackey could be facing as many as ten full years in prison. Big yikes. He still has an appeal process to go through, and anything can happen there. Mackey has to prove that the court made a pretty serious mistake that caused him harm. I'm not a lawyer and can't comment confidently on whether he has a good case or not but the odds aren't great.

Let's say the appeal fails. Most of them fail. The judge is apparently a former prosecutor. Will she give him all 10 years? Boy, I doubt that, but is it possible? It's possible. Will she give him zero years? She has that option too, I believe. But I doubt that outcome even more than I doubt the ten.

So, let's say it's five years. What is five years to you? What is five years of your extremely limited life, in prison, away from the comforts of home and away from your family? I made a smoothie tonight thinking about Mackey's plight and said to myself, shit. I couldn't make this smoothie in federal prison. I wouldn't have the yogurt, or the strawberries, or the banana. The fucking protein powder, the dash of salt. I want to make my smoothies, man.  

Doug Mackey must be hurting quite badly right now. His family, who I observed at the trial, came across as compassionate people to me. They surely must be hurting too. He may have served as a bloodbag for the rich and powerful, as I previously wrote. But in Fury Road, bloodbags are people with feelings, which is why the concept generates pity in the viewer. Serving hard time for being a cyber nazi who tried to manipulate a presidential election on behalf of some bloated oaf in a red hat has to be one of the worst ways you can spend this life we have.

Is Mackey still part of the white supremacist movement?

His lawyer didn't respond to that question when I asked it, so I will opine based on my extensive experience in dealing with sources who have left it behind. My opinion is that Mackey is more in than out, perhaps by a hair. He is also more in than he wants to admit to himself. If he is reading this now, which is possible, he may be inclined to say to his screen, "no." Well, hear me out.

He's out of the movement symbolically

Let's make the case for Mackey being out of the movement. Mackey said on the stand he received help from “like an intensive, like psychotherapy program” in 2018. He also said on the stand under oath that he no longer believes what he did in 2016, when he very clearly tried to trick people from voting. He has also not really churned out his Ricky Vaughn propaganda recently.

Color me unimpressed for doing the bare minimum of not actively working to create a fascist state right now but everything I just wrote is true. He's not describing adult women as having the emotional and intellectual inner world of "children." He's not describing Black people as being unintelligent and easily manipulated. Check that box for Mackey.

He's dependent on the movement financially

Let's make the case for him not having left. Had the jury acquitted Mackey, he had theoretically set himself up pretty well to do the Kyle Rittenhouse circuit. CPAC. TPUSA America Fest with a bunch of stupid pyrotechnics, standing next to leaden bigotry droid Jack Posobiec. He could do Tucker as a conquering hero. Would he have turned that down? Maybe stand next to Marjorie Taylor Greene somewhere?

Is there a huge difference between Greene, Posobiec and Mike Peinovich, really? There are differences in an academic sense. But the mainstream right is so polluted with hate and extremism now, it almost wouldn't matter.  

Well, let me tell you something. Mackey is raising money from MAGA people on Twitter, which I find distasteful on its face, given the notion that he says he's changed. He's on Gab too, which is where he communicated with white supremacists in his bad boy days. Also, bigots cried loudly about Mackey's conviction. He hasn't said a peep to denounce them. He never said, "Tucker Carlson doesn't represent my values anymore!" Nothing like that, man. Either he needs the money that badly, or he is still just fine with hate.  

How do we know when someone has left the movement?

I don't think there is an easy marker we can use to determine whether someone has truly left the white supremacist movement behind. There are serious people who spend a lot of time on this subject but I'm not interested in getting into anything beyond my own thoughts here.

The easiest marker for me is to ask the question: What has this person done to make amends for their activism? Have they taken steps, even very, very small ones, to dismantle the movement? Have they turned away contact from extremists and bigots? Have they turned away old friends or resources? (Cough, cough.) Money?

I have chatted with Mackey before and I think there is a human inside of his nervous looking skin suit who is capable of introspection. I think Mackey is capable of understanding what fascism and bigotry mean to people outside of that world. He is capable of learning why we feel horror when we see people express the things he expressed. He is capable of those things, but he isn't there yet. I'm always rooting for people to turn their lives around. I hope he gets there.  

Bonus content: Cartoons from court

Now for something stupid. I spent a lot of time in court during this trial. I drew a lot of cartoons of what I was seeing there. I don't claim to be a sketch artist. These are cartoons I dashed off. I'm not Eli Valley. I'm not Rob Israel. It's the best I could do to get you a glimpse of the elusive Microchip.

The Lawyers

Mackey's defense attorney, Andrew Frisch, making a reference to NBA star Jabari Parker I didn't quite understand
Government prosecutor Erik Paulsen, during a sidebar

White Supremacist Paul Nehlen

Paul Nehlen took the stand and appeared very comfortable assisting the federal government.

Doug Mackey

Mackey standing and stretching.
Mackey hearing prosecutors opening remarks.
Mackey defending himself on the stand.

Microchip's FBI handler

No idea who this dude was but I felt like drawing him


This was my first attempt. It didn't capture how big this dude was. I had to keep trying.
I still couldn't get around his size. Micro is a big motherfucker, man. The extra lines are me responding to criticism from another journalist that he wasn't looking heavy enough.
I thought this was the best image I did of him. It really captures what he looks like, I think. That's Microchip.

I will have a full story about him coming soon. I'm sure some of you are already done thinking about this trial but for some reason it means a lot to me. I think it does because the entire proceedings were kind of America trying to get its head around what has happened to us in terms of social media polarization and our fucked up politics. It's a story about America trying to make itself less insane. We will see if it's too late.