(LifeSiteNews) — American satirist and playwright C.J. Hopkins has been convicted of a crime for content in social media posts that a judge considered to be critical of the German government for its Covid policies.
Hopkins, who lives in Germany, was reportedly charged after posting a picture of his book that shows a face mask with a barely visible Swastika printed on it in response to a social media post featuring German health minister Karl Lauterbach, according to a report by Matt Taibbi.
A German judge sent Hopkins a “punishment order,” sentencing the writer to a fine of € 3,600 or 60 days in jail. The American author told Taibbi that he was convicted for “disseminating propaganda, the contents of which are intended to further the aims of a former National Socialist organization.”
Hopkins reportedly responded to a social media post on X, formerly Twitter, by the German newspaper Die Welt, featuring a picture of Lauterbach and a quote from the German health minister: “The mask always sends out a signal.”
The American writer responded to the post by quoting Lauterbach’s words back to him with a picture of the cover of his book called “The Rise of the New Normal Reich,” which features a transparent swastika on a face mask.
Hopkins’ book criticizes the draconian political response to the Covid crisis in Germany and around the world, comparing some aspects of it to the Nazi era. Hopkins stressed that neither his book nor any of his other works ever promoted National Socialism or anything related to it.
“I’m laughing because it would take all of about 20 seconds of anyone looking at my actual work to determine how absolutely opposed I am to anything resembling totalitarianism, fascism, authoritarianism, anything,” the author told Taibbi.
To both Hopkins and Taibbi, the verdict appeared to be an act of censorship against a political dissident by the German state.
“C.J.’s situation is, openly, a case of a government seeking to criminalize criticism of itself, the dumbest and least defensible version of censorship possible,” Taibbi wrote.
When Taibbi asked Hopkins whether he thinks the case against him happened because the German government was upset at being compared to the Nazis, the author responded, “That’s exactly the way that I interpret it.”
“If anyone with even a mid-range IQ were to glance at my body of work for 20, 30 seconds, they could determine my intentions and where my sympathies lie,” he continued. “The only way that I could interpret this, Matt, is as intimidation, bullying.”
While it is illegal to spread symbols associated with National Socialism in Germany if the intent is to promote the ideology, many books and movies that depict swastikas are nevertheless allowed in Germany.
“Yes, if you’re a Nazi, it’s illegal to spread swastikas around in Germany,” Hopkins said to Taibbi. “But if you’re doing art, if you’re commenting on history, if you’re selling a book, there are a whole slew of reasons for exceptions where people can and do use swastikas … ”
Taibbi put screenshots of several books with swastikas on their cover that are legal in Germany.
Hopkins said his lawyer “has made all these arguments to the prosecutor” but that they were “not even addressed.”
The author decried that he will be “a convicted f*ing criminal, a hate criminal” because, according to Hopkins, he cannot appeal his conviction and can only go to court to ask for mitigation of the sentence.
In a similarly bizarre censorship case in April 2023, a comedian was convicted for ridiculing a German government official. YouTuber Tim Kellner said he received a penalty order stating that he was sentenced to eight months in prison for a video in which he made fun of German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock of the leftist Green Party. His sentence was suspended, but in case of repeating his offense, he would reportedly have to donate € 1,500 to a U.N. refugee program and pay the costs of the court procedure.