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Mother of Child in “Success Kid” Meme Sends Cease and Desist to Rep. Steve King for Unapproved Use
- The mother of “Success Kid” sent a cease and desist letter to Rep. Steve King for using the copyrighted meme of her son on a fundraising ad without permission.
- King has come under fire on numerous occasions for having white nationalist, racist, and other offensive views.
- Laney Griner, Success Kid’s mother, does not want the photo of her son to be associated with anything negative.
- Griner is demanding that the meme be removed from all platforms it was used on, that a public statement be made acknowledging its misuse, and that refunds be issued for all profits he photo brought in.
King Hit With Cease and Desist
The mother of the child pictured in the viral “Success Kid” meme hit Rep. Steve King (R-IA) with a cease and desist after he used the copyrighted photo in a fundraising ad without permission.
According to The Washington Post and BuzzFeed News, the letter was sent to King on Monday. He used the photo in an ad linked on his Facebook page, where he frequently posts right-leaning memes making fun of Democrats. The meme featured a photo that has been dubbed as “Success Kid,” where 11-month-old Sam Griner is making a tiny fist pump with a hand full of sand. Text over the picture read “FUND OUR MEMES!!!”
“QUESTION: Do you enjoy our memes??” The post reads. “If so, please click the link below and throw us a few dollars to make sure the memes keep flowing and the Lefties stay triggered. Thank you!”
The link went out to a WinRed fundraising page, which also included the photo. While in public office, King has repeatedly been criticized for making racist and white nationalist comments, as well as offensive comments about immigration and rape. Prominent fellow Republicans, like Liz Cheney, have condemned him for some of his remarks.
Mother Reacts to King’s Use of Photo
Laney Griner, Success Kid’s mom, first acknowledged the ad on Thursday after a Media Matters reporter shared it on Twitter.
“Just so it’s clear – I have/would never give permission for use of my son’s photo to promote any agenda of this vile man or that disgusting party,” Griner wrote.
On Monday, Griner shared a longer thread explaining why she was upset with the use of this photo, which she took in 2007 and copyrighted in 2012. She said that King’s use of it implied “that he has some kind of ownership in it.”
She said that Success Kid is about positivity and has no association with King. “I do not endorse Representative King and, like most people, I strongly disagree with his views,” she added.
Consistent with the demands of the letter, Griner stated that she wanted the meme removed from King’s webpages, a statement acknowledging that the photo was misused, and a refund of the money that the photo brought in. If King does not comply, Griner will sue.
Griner has previously made money from the use of her photo. Success Kid has been featured in a variety of ads, including a Coca-Cola Super Bowl commercial.
President Barack Obama also used the photo in 2013 after obtaining permission from Griner.
Griner spoke with the Post about King’s use of her image. She explained that she did not want the photo of her son, who is now 13, to be associated with anything negative, and King “is about as negative as you can get.”
“It’s just the antithesis of what the meme’s reputation is,” she told them.
She also explained that she is liberal and politics were a major factor in her reaction, but she would not rule out letting other Republicans use the photo.
King has removed the photo from his Facebook and it no longer appears on his WinRed page. According to the Post, he has not yet responded to Griner’s letter.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (BuzzFeed News) (The Hollywood Reporter)
South Dakota Lawmaker Compares Doctors to Nazis after Introducing Bill To Block Treatment for Trans Youth
- The South Dakota House is expected to vote Wednesday on a bill that would bar doctors in the state from providing treatments to transgender youth.
- Republican Rep Fred Deutsch, who introduced the bill, compared gender confirmation surgeries to experiments performed by Nazi scientists in concentration camps during the Holocaust.
- On Monday, Deutsch said he regretted making the comparison but said he still supports the bill.
As South Dakota state representatives prepare to vote on a bill that would prohibit doctors from providing treatment medicine to transgender youth, the bill’s sponsor is backtracking on a previous statement where he insinuated that those doctors perform experiments similar to Nazi scientists.
The bill in question—HB 1057—would only block doctors from providing trans treatment services to patients under 16. Specifically, it would make it illegal for doctors to treat transgender youth with hormones, puberty blockers, or gender confirmation surgery.
The major argument among supporters is that the bill is a step to protect “vulnerable” children from making permanent, life-changing decisions to their bodies.
“If you care about kids, I think you have to prioritize them,” the bill’s sponsor, Republican Representative Fred Deutsch, said in a podcast with the Family Research Council. “And in South Dakota, we don’t allow mutilation of our children. I don’t care if it’s doctors. I don’t care if it’s parents. You know, these kids on the Internet, they share pictures of themselves that just blow you away—of all these surgical scars, and it’s terrible.”
Deutsch said he drafted the bill after discovering sites like Reddit, where he said he read stories from people who regretted transitioning. Since its introduction on January 14, it has been referred to and passed through the House State Affairs Committee.
Nazi Experiments Comparison
Deutsch was made a subject of further attention during the FRC podcast, where he sat down with FRC President Tony Perkins. In it, Deutsch compared gender confirmation surgery (also known as sex reassignment surgery) to experiments performed on Nazi concentration camp prisoners.
“To me, that’s a crime against humanity when these procedures are done by these so-called doctors, you know, that dance on the edge of medicine,” Deutsch said last week on the podcast. “I just don’t think it should be done. You know, I’m a son of a Holocaust survivor. I’ve had family members killed in Auschwitz. And I’ve seen the pictures of the bizarre medical experiments. I don’t want that to happen to our kids. And that’s what’s going on right now.”
Deutsch’s comment also came at an especially sensitive time because this week marks the 75th anniversary of the Auschwitz liberation.
However, Deutsch is not alone in his comparison. When the State Affairs Committee voted on the bill last week, others used similar language.
“Examples in the United States, the despicable Tuskegee syphilis experiment on African-Americans. The entire German medical establishment was behind atrocious human eugenics experiments in Nazi Germany, including untold numbers of children,” California endocrinologist Michael Laidlaw told the committee.
Deutsch Backtracks His Comparison
On Monday, Deutsch backtracked on the statement he made in the podcast, telling the Sioux Falls Argus Leader that he never meant to equate doctors who provide treatments to transgender youth as being the same as Nazis.
“I’ve been to a whole bunch of Holocaust museums all over the world. It’s very personal to me,” he told the newspaper. “It’s just a simple reflection that the pictures seem similar to me.”
In an interview with The Washington Post published Tuesday, Deutsch further added that he regrets making the comparison.
“I regret saying anything at all,” he told The Post. “It was pretty stupid.”
“You look at photos of the Holocaust and they’re gross,” he also added. “And then you look at the scars of these children and they’re equally—I don’t know if they’re equally—they’re also gross. Sometimes you see a picture, you hear a sound, you smell something that reminds you of something else and that’s all it was.”
Will the Bill Pass?
The House had been expected to vote on HB 1057 on Monday, but that vote was delayed until Wednesday afternoon. As far as whether or not it will become law, that’s unclear.
Last year, the House passed a bill that would have barred transgender students from playing on athletic teams that match their gender identity, but it ultimately failed in the Senate by a single vote.
Back in 2016, Deutsch proposed another bill related to trans rights, this one a “bathroom bill” that would require public school students to use the restrooms and lockers rooms of their biological sex. That later passed the state legislature but was unexpectedly vetoed by then-governor Dennis Daugaard.
Regarding HB 1057, Governor Kristi Noem has expressed concern about the bill, though she has not indicated one way or the other if she will veto it.
“When you take public policy and try to fill parenting gaps with more government, you have to be very careful about the precedent you’re setting,” she said.
Also, even though the bill won its committee vote 8-5, that victory was not along party lines. Of the five representatives that voted “no,” three were Republican.
If the bill were to become law, doctors would face a Class 1 misdemeanor for helping treat transgender youth, with the maximum penalty of one year in jail and a fine up to $2,000.
Trans Advocates Call Bill Misinformed
On the other side of the debate, trans advocates have called the bill, and its justification, misinformed and dangerous to trans youth.
The American Academy of Pediatrics notes puberty blockers, which the bill would ban, are both reversible and can lower the risk of those children developing mental health conditions.
Additionally, though the bill would outlaw gender confirmation surgeries for trans youth, most doctors rarely ever recommend that children under 18 undergo the operation. Usually, doctors advise that youth wait until adulthood for permanent procedures.
If an trans adult does want to later undergo surgery, the American Academy of Pediatrics states that the use of puberty blockers can reduce the amount of surgery needed. This is because they prevent the sex-specific development of features like Adam’s Apples, male pattern baldness, voice changes, breast growth, etc.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Rolling Stone) (KSKY)
Martin Shkreli Sued for “Unlawful Scheme” to Monopolize Life Saving Drug
- “Pharma bro” Martin Shkreli was accused of using anticompetitive tactics to maintain a monopoly on the lifesaving drug Daraprim.
- A lawsuit, filed by the Federal Trade Commission and New York’s attorney general, alleges that after dramatically spiking the price of Daraprim in 2015, Shkreli used illegal strategies to prevent generic versions of the drug from being made.
- The suit demands that he and his associate compensate victims of the alleged scheme who overpaid for the drug and be banned from further work in the pharmaceutical industry.
- Shkreli, who is currently serving a seven-year sentence for unrelated fraud convictions, has denied the claims.
Martin Shkreli, an ex-pharmaceutical executive who is currently serving time in prison, was accused on Monday of using illegal tactics to maintain a monopoly on a lifesaving drug.
The Federal Trade Commission and New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, filed a lawsuit against Shkreli and his associate, Kevin Mulleady, with whom he owns Vyera Pharmaceuticals. The complaint, which was filed in federal court, challenges a “comprehensive scheme” conducted by the company and its heads to prevent generic versions of an anti-parasite drug from being made.
“We won’t allow ‘pharma bros’ to manipulate the market and line their pockets at the expense of vulnerable patients and the health care system,” James said in a statement.
Daraprim is a drug used to treat toxoplasmosis, a potentially fatal parasite infection. Shkreli made headlines in 2015 for spiking the price of Daraprim from less than $20 to $750 a pill, a move that brought him much backlash from around the nation. He’s often referred to by the media as “Pharma Bro” and “the most hated man in America.”
The FTC and James allege that Shkreli and associates dramatically bumped the price of Daraprim after buying the rights to it, knowing this move would attract generic competition. After hiking the cost, the pharmaceutical heads made efforts to block the generic reproduction of the drug by restricting access to samples and a critical ingredient, the suit claims.
It also accuses the defendants of signing agreements with Vyera’s distributors to prevent them from selling sales data about the drug to third-party data companies, a move that blocks critical information from competing companies to determine whether a generic version is worth pursuing.
“Their unlawful scheme to maintain a monopoly on Daraprim continues to this day,” the lawsuit alleges.
The suit demands an unspecified amount of funds from Shkreli and Mulleady to compensate those who overpaid for Daraprim due to their scheme. It also seeks that the men receive a lifetime ban from any further work in the pharmaceutical industry.
Shkreli has denied all claims.
“Mr. Shkreli looks forward to defeating this baseless and unprecedented attempt by the FTC to sue an individual for monopolizing a market,” Shkreli’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said in a statement.
In 2018, Shkreli was sentenced to seven years in prison for unrelated fraud convictions tied to a different pharmaceutical company he founded in 2011 as well as two hedge funds that he ran. Despite being behind bars, there were reports last spring that Shkreli still found ways to stay involved with Phoenixus AG, the parent company of Vyera Pharmaceuticals.