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A Fake Image of Emma Gonzalez Ripping the Constitution Is Circulating

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s Emma Gonzalez wrote a powerful article in Teen Vogue on March For Our Lives and the need for gun control. The call to action was accompanied by portraits of her and her fellow survivors, with a video series including one of Emma ripping a paper target and the group crossing their arms. Words like “Never Again” and “You’re Killing Us” appear on the screen.

It’s a clear message, and Gonzalez uses the language of the Constitution to make her point, with statements like “We the Wounded of the United States,” or “we, the youth of the United States.” Now, a photoshopped image of Gonzalez ripping the Constitution of the United States is making rounds on the internet. It’s not a very good photoshop, with the parchment appearing awkwardly on the page, but it’s clearly made with the intention of provoking a strong emotional reaction. The result was immediate, and you’d think Gonzalez sneaked into the National Archives and ripped the real thing with the hostility thrown at her:

It’s not a surprising or new phenomenon, as misinformation always spreads on the internet like this. During tragedies, it’s not uncommon to see people on social media trying to pass off old photos or images as new ones. At political conflicts, images are often photoshopped and put alongside damning captions that are untrue. They spread like wildfire.

Teen Vogue Chief Content Officer Picardi wrote more about the image of Gonzalez spreading, continuing in his thread, “It’s also among the most unfortunate parts of our work at @TeenVogue: when we give young people a platform, we want to elevate their voices. Sometimes, that means subjecting them to hatred and vitriol.” He continued,

“The attacks being lobbied against Emma follow the all-too-familiar patterns: she’s an opinionated woman, she’s Latinx, she is queer. Some say those are strikes already against her when confronting the establishment.

From where we stand, these are even more reasons we have to listen to what she’s saying and continue our unwavering support. These things don’t make her less American — they’re exactly what America does mean, especially to young people.

Just like they’ve smeared protesters during the Movement for Black Lives, as they’ve ridiculed Muslim women, and denied the identities of trans activists, they’ll employ their typical tactics here. But as yesterday’s numbers showed, they won’t win.”

The takeaway from this image shouldn’t only be the knowledge that fake images are constantly circulating and that we need to be cautious about our news—though that is absolutely essential. It’s a need to recognize the ways in which groups like the NRA and those against gun control try to discredit those speaking out against them, especially if they come from marginalized communities. The way close-ups of Gonzalez’s jacket, which included a Cuban flag, sparked accusations of communism (rather than simply her being proud of her heritage) is another example.

The true outrage and shame here is on the people who value this old document (which, btw, has been changed, because it’s supposed to do that) more than lives. Even if Gonzalez had ripped a copy of the Constitution, there is no world in which the integrity of a copy of an old document is more important than a human life.

(via The Hollywood Reporter, image: screencap)

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