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CJ Hopkins

The Vicious Punishment of CJ Hopkins 

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American political satirist and humorist, CJ Hopkins, who has lived in Germany for 20 years, was criminally investigated in June and July of 2023 by the Berlin State Prosecutor (District Attorney) and has now been issued a “Penalty Order” or “Order of Punishment” for “disseminating propaganda, the intention of which is to further the aims of the former National Socialist organization (Nazis).” Hopkins has been found guilty without a trial and sentenced to a €3,600 fine (about 3,800 American dollars) or up to three years in jail. 

Hopkins is an American citizen with a permanent resident visa in Germany.

The two tweets for which he is being charged appeared on the Internet in August 2022. The tweets include a picture of a mask, the one used on the cover of his latest book, with a very light depiction of a swastika on the mask. Hopkins’ essays in the book criticize and satirize covid policies and restrictions. The text accompanying the image reads, “The masks are ideological conformity symbols. That is all they are. That is all they have ever been. Stop acting like they have ever been anything else, or get used to wearing them.” The hashtag reads, “The masks are not a benign measure.”

Hopkins wrote the tweets in German, and these are translations. The other tweet is a quote from Karl Lauterbach, Minister of Health of Germany, and reads, “The masks always send out a signal.” The image accompanying the tweets is the cover art from Hopkins’ latest book, The Rise of the New Normal Reich, which is a collection of Hopkins’ essays from 2020-2021.

Hopkins’ attorney had to request copies of the “tweets,” because they have been censored and removed from Twitter. The cover of Hopkins’ book is a play on the cover of the international bestseller, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: History of Nazi Germany, which features a swastika on the cover. Hopkins’ book has also been a bestseller in countries where it has not been banned. His book has been banned in Germany, Austria, and The Netherlands. Hopkins has published his correspondences with Amazon from August 2022 where Amazon representatives state, “We found your book’s cover image contains content (i.e. Swastika, Reichsadler, Sowilo) that is in violation of our content guidelines for Germany and may infringe on German law. As a result, we will not be offering the book for sale in Germany. You may reply to this message if you believe this decision has been made in error.” 

Hopkins responded, citing an article, clarifying German law on permitted and banned uses of swastikas. They may not be used by Nazis to promote Nazism but may be used for “civic education, countering anti-constitutional activities, art and science, research and education, the coverage of historic and current events, or similar purposes,” according to the Criminal Code. In his correspondences with Amazon, Hopkins argues that other products for sale on Amazon bear images of swastikas, such as Quentin Tarantino’s film, Inglorious Bastards, as well as many other products. 

Hopkins responded by writing, “Amazon’s banning of my book violates Germany’s constitutional protection of freedom of expression as set forth in Article 5 of the Grundgesetz: ‘Every person shall have the right to express and disseminate his opinions in speech, writing, and pictures and to inform himself without hindrance from generally accessible sources. Freedom of the press and freedom of reporting by means of broadcasts and films shall be guaranteed. There shall be no censorship.’” 

On August 30, 2022 Amazon stated, “We reserve the right to determine whether content provides a poor customer experience and remove that content from sale.”

“My case is just one of the broader crackdowns on dissent that is being carried out throughout the West,” said Hopkins. “There are numerous other examples in Germany, Roger Waters most prominent among them. Sucharit Bhakdi. The Weimer judge who was just sentenced for his ruling on the mask mandates in schools. Rudolph Bauer. Among others. The crackdown on dissent is happening throughout the West. It is a system-wide phenomenon. The Germans are just doing a particularly German version of it.” 

New York artist Anthony Freda designed the covers for Hopkins’ books in his Consent Factory series, including the fourth one for which Hopkins is being criminally charged. Freda said that Amazon is “selectively enforcing censorship on Nazi symbolism” and that the German government “is unjustly punishing Hopkins to prove a point – that dissent is not allowed.”

Freda sees the time we are enduring as very serious, with censorship becoming more powerful. 

“We are losing the battle on censorship,” Freda said. “Governments are doing it more stealthily now.” He notes that it is especially harmful when people are self-censoring because of fear “of being ostracized. . .it’s our nature as humans to want to be liked and to belong to communities.” Preventing us from gathering has been demoralizing, he added, “But there are more of us than we think. We may be disparate, but we have to keep creating places to gather.”

As an artist, Freda fiercely opposes censorship and strongly supports Hopkins, who he believes is doing “God’s work.” 

“Artists should be able to draw upon any of the iconography of history without fear of censorship or intimidation,” Freda said. “What has happened to CJ is a serious blow to free expression. His work for 30 years has been fiercely opposed to fascism, totalitarianism, and all other forms of authoritarianism. These charges against him are proof of what he is criticizing and satirizing.”

When asked what gives him courage, Freda said, “I look at this as a spiritual battle. The people who censor are not good people. If they believed in their ideas, then they would stand up to scrutiny.” He added that many smart people fell in line with dominant and controlling narratives during the Covid period, and, he said, “I lost a lot of heroes. They just crumbled.”

Freda has created illustrations for many mainstream media publications, including Time and the New York Times. “I am now atoning for my sins by working for people like CJ who speak truth to power instead of lying for the powerful.” Freda also designed a book cover for prominent peace activist Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed during the US invasion of Iraq. Sheehan’s 2015 book, The Obama Files: Chronicles of an Award-Winning War Criminal, with a cover Freda designed, was also banned on Amazon, Freda said.

“The air is pregnant with some sort of conflict and an impending confrontation,” Freda said. “I don’t know what it will look like. Everything is at stake here. Our whole culture.”

Next steps for Hopkins are working with his lawyer on appeals in the German courts. While he said he is not hopeful, he plans to continue to fight the charges.

For 40 years, Hopkins has written plays, novels, and political satires. Kurt Vonnegut, Joseph Heller, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Hunter Thompson, Franz Kafka, and Samuel Beckett are among his inspirations. He left the US twenty years ago after the invasion of Iraq. “The atmosphere then was horrible,” he said. When asked what gives him courage to face the ordeal he and his family now confront, he said, “Coffee and cigarettes.”

Hopkins’ Substack is at https://cjhopkins.substack.com/ and his website is: https://consentfactory.org/

Anthony Freda’s work may be found at: https://anthonyfreda.com/

Freda is leading fundraising efforts for Hopkins’ legal defense. The site may be accessed at: https://cjhopkins.substack.com/p/a-legal-defense-fund-update



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Author

  • Christine Black

    Christine E. Black's work has been published in The American Journal of Poetry, Nimrod International, The Virginia Journal of Education, Friends Journal, Sojourners Magazine, The Veteran, English Journal, Dappled Things, and other publications. Her poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and the Pablo Neruda Prize. She teaches in public school, works with her husband on their farm, and writes essays and articles, which have been published in Adbusters Magazine, The Harrisonburg Citizen, The Stockman Grass Farmer, Off-Guardian, Cold Type, Global Research, The News Virginian, and other publications.

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