Martin Shkreli, the Wall Street investor known as “Pharma Bro,” has a long history of controversy. He first came into the public’s awareness after price-gouging a drug that could potentially save AIDS patients’ lives.
Many Americans believe that he’s the epitome of crony capitalism, and all of the negative media coverage he’s received is evidence of this. However while you may not like the man’s business decisions, you can’t argue that he still has a right to freedom of speech.
That is, until he attacked Hillary Clinton via Facebook. After posting that he would pay someone $5,000 for a sample of Hillary Clinton’s hair, an angry federal judge revoked his $5 million dollar bail and sentenced him to prison.
Judge Kiyo Matsumoto’s ruling came at a hearing in Brooklyn federal court where Shkreli’s high-powered lawyer Benjamin Brafman pleaded with her for nearly an hour not to toss him in jail despite what the attorney said was a “stupid” Facebook post.
And it came a day after Shkreli, 34, apologized for posting a $5,000 bounty last week to any of his 70,000 Facebook followers who grabbed some of Clinton’s hair, saying he used “poor judgment” with “my awkward attempt at humor.”
“It’s not going to happen again,” Brafman vowed about his client, who has a long history of baiting adversaries online. “I’m asking you … to give him a chance to be more appropriate.”
Federal prosecutor Jacquelyn Kasulis, who appeared to be seething about the disgraced pharmaceutical executive’s posts about Clinton and other women, said Wednesday, “I think this escalating pattern of violence against women is incredibly disturbing.”
“He is reckless. He knows exactly what he is doing. He needs to go in,” Kasulis said to a packed courtroom that included Shkreli’s father.
“It is clearly beyond any reasonable doubt that Mr. Shkreli is a danger to the community. He’s not special, by any stretch of the imagination,” Kasulis said.
Matsumoto said she didn’t find anything funny about either Shkreli’s posts about Clinton, or his online boasts during his trial in July that he would get to “f—” a female journalist with whom he has feuded since January, as well as female political pundit, once his trial ended.
“He is soliciting an assault on another person for $5,000,” Matsumoto said . The judge noted that no one knew whether any of Shkreli’s followers would take him up on that bizarre offer, either in a legitimate desire for the cash, or in a bid to gain Shkreli’s approval.
Despite this judge’s harsh sentence, Shkreli has claimed that the comment about Hillary’s hair was a joke. In an interview with Cernovich Media, he said that a lot of what he does is “political satire,” and that he had never intended for anyone to actually assault Mrs. Clinton.
“I will not pay anybody $5,000 for Hillary Clinton’s hair to be clear,” he said. “It’s sad that my joke would be interpreted by some uptight leftists as ‘Oh my God, you know this guy is threatening a former head of state!’ You know, I’m not threatening anyone, give me a break.”
This is yet another example of the increasing restrictions on freedom of speech which our society is facing. Not once in his joke did he ask anyone to attack, assault, or in any other way harm Hillary Clinton—yet this federal judge has still decided to side with tyranny over the first amendment.