Earlier this week, Rep. Paul Gosar (R–Ariz.) tweeted a parody anime video—a seemingly original take on the opening credits of the Attack on Titan series—that depicted a cartoon character with Gosar's actual face attacking and killing a monster with the face of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.).

Twitter added a warning label to the video, noting that it violates the company's policies on "hateful conduct." Here it is:

The video portrays Gosar, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R–Ga.), Rep. Lauren Boebert (R–Colo.), and U.S. border enforcement agents as anime heroes fighting villainous illegal immigrants, President Joe Biden, and Ocasio-Cortez. It's not a very funny or clever video. The only thing amusing about it is that Gosar—a 62-year-old man—actually knows what anime is.

The identity of the video's editor is unknown, though it may be someone who works for Gosar, since he also said that "the creativity of my team is off the hook."

Needless to say, Ocasio-Cortez did not appreciate the video:

Many of her colleagues were equally disturbed by the video. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D–Calif.) described Gosar as "bloodthirsty." Rep. Ted Lieu (D–Calif.) pointed out that "in any workplace in America, if a coworker made an anime video killing another coworker, that person would be fired."

He's probably right about that. But Congress is not like other workplaces. Employees are chosen not by bosses, but by a democratic process: elections. Gosar doesn't work for an HR-conscious manager; he works for the voters of Arizona, and it's their job to boot him if they don't like his anime videos.

One can sympathize with Gosar's Democratic colleagues for being irritated with his highly unprofessional—even creepy—behavior. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) went further than merely expressing understandable disgust with the video: She called for Gosar to face professional and legal consequences.

Whether Gosar's behavior violates some congressional ethics rules is one matter. But there is little doubt that the anime video constitutes First Amendment protected expression: Though it was in poor taste for Gosar to share it, he did not actually credibly threaten the lives of Biden or Ocasio-Cortez. A parody video of an anime figure vanquishing a villainous Democrat is clearly not a true threat of violence. Just as Kathy Griffin's infamous Trump head photo op was ill-advised yet completely legal, so too is Gosar's satirical tweet.

Law enforcement should make no effort to investigate the Gosar video, since the only conceivable conclusion they could reach is that it's protected speech. And the government should not—and indeed, cannot—police speech solely because it is offensive to people in power, even if the speech is, in fact, offensive.

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