If the United States were Turkey and Donald Trump were president, Sen. Rand Paul would probably have found himself facing two years in prison Thursday morning.
The reason? On Wednesday, the Kentucky Republican compared Trump, the Republican presidential candidate and billionaire businessman, to Gollum, the slimy creature obsessed with the magical ring at the heart of J.R.R. Tolkien’s popular Lord of the Rings series.
Thousands of miles away, a Turkish court has struggled for months to determine the fate of Bilgin Ciftci, a doctor who created an Internet meme comparing Turkish President Recep Erdogan to Gollum.
As of now, the judge has not determined whether that comparison is actually an insult, because many believe Gollum is more tragic than evil.
In December, after the Turkish court weighing Ciftci’s case called for experts to determine whether Gollum is in fact evil, Peter Jackson, the director of the film adaptations of the Lord of the Rings series, defended the meme by saying the photos were actually of Gollum’s alter-ego, Smeagol.
“Smeagol is a joyful, sweet character,” Jackson said in a statement. “Smeagol does not lie, deceive, or attempt to manipulate others. He is not evil, conniving, or malicious — these personality traits belong to Gollum, who should never be confused with Smeagol.”
Paul hasn’t tried to draw a distinction. The flailing Republican presidential candidate has made clear he thinks Gollum — and Trump — are corrupted and power-obsessed creatures. To us at Foreign Policy, sounds like an insult.
“This race should not be about who can grasp the ring,” Paul wrote on Facebook. “Electing Gollum should not be our objective.”
This isn’t the first time Republicans have brought Tolkien’s work to Washington. In 2011, Sen. John McCain of Arizona called members of the tea party “hobbits.” And Paul shot back by telling Politico he’d “rather be a hobbit than a troll.”
Unlike Ciftci, Paul hasn’t made his comparison about either individual’s physique. So FP took care of that for him:
And here’s the original meme:
Image Credit: Getty Images