Kanye West wants prosecutors to prove he didn’t get Mickey Mouse’s signature.

Kanye West wants prosecutors to prove he didn’t get Mickey Mouse’s signature.

The pen is mightier than the mouse.

August 13th, 2020 at 1:39 pm EDT

Fictional characters are still fictional, right? Did I miss some kind of refresh on reality?

Lawyers like Kanye West’s give the entire justice system a bad name. Kanye’s attorney Michael Curran just entered into the record a defense where he wants the other guy to prove his client Kanye West didn’t get Mickey Mouse’s signature for a legitimate Wisconsin presidential ballot application. The type of argument has a name: “the burden of proof fallacy.”

About Mickey Mouse’s signature, Curran writes, “A complainant cannot simply raise an issue, with little or no evidence, and shift the burden to the candidate to prove validity — which is what Complainant attempts to do here.” 

Mr. Curran actually let his name be publicly associated with this defense, for all to witness, from now until the end of human history.

Curran’s argument has a name, too: “the burden of proof fallacy.” One party makes an outrageous claim — like, that Mickey Mouse signed nomination papers, in the flesh — and asks the other party to prove that it didn’t happen.

If the other party can’t disprove the signing, then, per the fallacy, there is no reason to suspect anything sinister, and we all must accept that the Mouse himself does believe in Kanye’s platform.

In a truly laughable maneuver, Curran even uses the word “burden.” It’s like his subconscious burped out a memory from a Philosophy 101 lecture he once attended hungover. 

To add insult to injury, Curran offers a four-pronged elixir of fallacious froth. Curran writes, “Complainants are continuing this marginalization [sic] simply because Mr [sic] West’s views and perspectives do not conform with theirs.”

Here, Curran…

  • avoids his own responsibility by finger-pointing, the tu quoque fallacy;
  • in finger-pointing, mischaracterizes his opponent, the strawman fallacy;
  • while mischaracterizing, assumes his opponent’s argument is wrong solely based on the fact that it came from an opponent, the genetic fallacy;
  • and not to be outdone, overall distracts with a “Quick! Look!” as he hops into an escape wagon — run-of-the-mill red herring

Let’s not leave out Curran’s thinly veiled usage of the passive voice, either, when he argues that the “challenges, with little or no supporting evidence, should be dismissed.”

The passive voice obscures the actor of the action. Who exactly is the one who should be doing this dismissing, Mr. Curran? An elector judge sworn to uphold truth and law? Imagine if you were to outright ask a judge, addressing them directly, to dismiss a complaint about election fraud because the filing party can’t produce evidence that Mickey Mouse doesn’t exist! Now, that would be something. Better not say whom you’re really asking.

It’s impressive the man keeps a straight face.

The inadmissible signatures on Mr. West’s documents included Mickey Mouse’s, Bernie Sanders’ and two from Kanye West himself, neither of which are valid when attempting to amass community signatures. Given Disney‘s savage history in protecting its trademarks, I’m surprised they already haven’t come out to confirm Mr. Mouse is actually undecided.

An attorney who has worked with Trump, Lane Ruhland, was the one to deliver the documents to the Wisconsin election officials originally.

Notably, Wisconsin is a key swing state. Kanye shares campaign advisers with the Trump campaign. According to initial reports, Ivanka, Jared and a Trump adviser recently met with Kanye — and Kanye appeared to verify that meeting via tweet on Thursday. Kushner, according to Kanye himself, speaks with him almost every day.

And we’re supposed to believe the West campaign is something other than a way to diminish Biden and Harris’ blue votes? We’re supposed to believe that Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, actually wants Kanye to beat Trump in an “almost daily” advisory role (again, Kanye’s words)?

Last week, Kanye refused to deny his barely clandestine purpose in this election, praising Trump, and saying about his campaign being outright used, “I’m not denying it.” 

He called his own efforts a “walk” not a “run” for the Oval. 

The Republican strategy of elevating third-party candidates is not new. Republicans funded Ralph Nader as a Green Party candidate in 2000, helping him with his ads and airtime, and then again as an independent in 2004 with even more direct cash. Democrats also had to file election commission complaints against Nader in 2004 when he produced community signatures that were forged. 

Ever the qualifier, I am wary of calling the tactic anything other than dishonest and possibly illegal. If one believes so strongly in a candidate and in the benefit of the expression of that candidate’s platforms, you could imagine an almost justified siphoning, cheating for a greater good.

A super PAC’s funding ads, even campaigns’ sharing staffers — these are suspicious machinations, but not crimes according to our legal system.

Maybe they should be. 

What is illegal is the forgery of signatures on election filings, and Kanye’s come just shy of admitting to a second outright offense, too. Aiding a presidential campaign as an individual and spending money in excess of $2,800 is illegal, whether that help comes in the form of printing fliers, or in running a fake campaign.

It’s especially crucial in the strategy that these cardboard candidates make it onto the ballots in swing states — like Wisconsin. As we all know, in a system where the candidate with the most American votes does not necessarily win the presidency, and the majority of states have reliably red or blue Novembers, it’s only amidst the purples where “voting power” really exists. 

It’s an insult to voters who lean blue that the Republican party thinks so little of their intelligence, that its strategists believe they’ll fall for this “magic Kanye trick” when you can see Trump’s face in the mirrors. It also won’t work. Black Americans in particular, polls are already reporting, are just not interested. 

Kanye has publicly confessed to an ongoing battle with bipolar disorder, at first genuinely campaigning against the slang usage of the word “crazy.” He later said that he had stopped taking his meds consistently. After he announced his candidacy in a tweet on July 4th, his wife Kim Kardashian eventually asked for “compassion” as she and her family dealt with Kanye’s expressions of his disorder.

The potential that he’s being used by the Republican party to pull blue votes, then, is extra problematic if Kanye is in a compromised mental state. Those who actually care for him are concerned, not campaigning. Kim isn’t exactly waving to crowds and delivering stump speeches. She’s writing Instagram op-eds on mental health.

In Montana, another swing, a Republican group pushing to get Kanye on their state ballot had no shame in admitting to their aims. According to the Billings Gazette, one Kanye organizer belted, “You want to help Trump? We’re trying to take votes away from creepy Uncle Joe.”

Crucial pieces of evidence in uncovering what’s really going on with Kanye West’s campaign will be in which states he and his team fight hardest to get onto ballots. If reliably red and blue states are suspiciously absent from his campaign’s most ardent efforts despite his poor numbers in them, well, we just might have our answer: he’s helping Trump in the swings.

That’s not a “burden of proof fallacy” — we would just call that “proof.”

THE STIFF

All lawyers are jerks and it’s probably a good thing that they are, so they may defend their clients unapologetically without being beholden to any ethical standard. Kanye West’s attorney just has his client’s best interest at heart as he demands others prove Mickey Mouse is fictional.
THE SIFT

Some, not all lawyers are jerks, Mickey Mouse is fictional and the fight to get Kanye on states’ ballots seems suspiciously contentious in swing states. His connection to Republicans are public, overt, and consistent, despite his being an opponent of theirs on the ballot. There is no question whatsoever that at least some Republicans want him on ballots not for his ideals, but for his ability to draw votes away from Biden and Harris — they’re admitting it.

Ryan Derenberger is a freelance journalist and editor, a Journalism and AP Language teacher at Whitman HS in Bethesda, MD, and the founder of 'The Idea Sift.'