The view From Here – Comedians tout their right to free speech but cry foul when others exercise their right to retaliate

Tom Henihan

It is usually due to a lack of talent that comedians resort to behaving outrageously. The only attribute needed to be shocking is poor judgment and a lack of shame.

Comedian Kathy Griffin has displayed both those attributes in abundance throughout her peripheral career, but her recent photo shoot depicting Trump’s bloodied, severed head in effigy, was the desperate attempt of a performer with nothing to say, trying to be relevant and stay in the game.

When called to account about the decidedly unfunny and unpleasant pictures, Griffin claimed she was responding to graphic and inappropriate remarks Donald Trump made last summer about journalist Megyn Kelly.

This claim is a poor reflection of Griffin’s comedic skills. Comedy must be timely and comedians need to be quick on their feet so why wait so long to respond to those particular remarks. It is not as if there is any shortage of more current material considering that Trump makes so many ridiculous statements with great regularity.

Kathy Griffin often talks about “breaking boundaries,” as if in today’s world of unbridled cruelty and boundless stupidity, the breaking of boundaries is necessary or in any way beneficial.

What we need is to reestablish boundaries; not oppressive restrictions on free speech but the indispensible civilizing mechanisms of society; those unlegislated precincts that allow individuals to live together as communities free of trespass, ridicule or menace.

Besides, nobody offers a formidable challenge to the status quo by lowering the bar; it is done by raising the level of discourse.

Predictably, Griffin quickly moved from a fearless, boundary-challenging performer to a whimpering, blameless child when the repercussions proved detrimental to her career.

CNN fired her from its New Year’s Eve special, a show she has co-hosted with Anderson Cooper since 2007. Venues in US cities have also cancelled a number of her scheduled shows.

Democratic Senator for Minnesota, Al Franken, also removed Griffin from an event promoting his new book, “Giant of the Senate.”

Franken, a former comedian and Saturday Night Live alumnus who in his entertainment career never resorted to behaving outrageously but instead expressed his outrage through satire and speaking truth to power.

Franken summarized what Griffin did by saying it was “inappropriate and not something that should be anywhere in our national discourse.”

At a press conference, Griffin tearfully laid blame in every conceivable direction claiming she is being victimized because she is a woman and blaming Donald Trump and his family for trying to destroy her career.

Donald Trump might be a vain, spiteful, vulgar individual but in this instance, it was not Trump but Griffin that engaged in vain, spiteful, vulgar and offensive behaviour.

Some entertainers have careers for no other reason than they are shameless. Those individuals don’t appear to suffer embarrassment from behavior that would cause most others to cringe.

These performers are also indifferent to the affect their behavior and the things they say have on others but they morph into emotional, hypersensitive snowflakes when their actions have a negative effect on their own paltry careers.

These performers fail to understand, as Kathy Griffin clearly failed to grasp, that free speech is a two-way street and other people have the freedom to censure entertainers when they cross boundaries with reckless disregard and behave offensively.

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