Saturday, June 3, 2017

Kathy Griffin's Bloody Trump Head - And The Incredible "Free Speech" Hypocrisy Of The Right

How real is American freedom? More to the point, how does it compare with the freedom that other nations cherish, nations such as Norway, Barbados or Germany? Answering these questions can shed no small amount of light on the freedom we believe we have.

According to David M. Potter, in Freedom and its Limitations in American Life, (Stanford University Press, 1976), people of most other nations understand freedom to be wide ranging and to include freedom to express opinions contrary to the majority, or the societal "norms" and even engage in active dissent. Also, freedom to live as one chooses, e.g. in Barbados 'squatting' is quite legal, so long as it's not near water reservoirs, wells.

To the typical American (p. 7) "freedom" is not so inclusive or expansive but is limited to two concepts: "free and independent" and "free and equal". The first implies "freedom to avoid dependence" , e.g on any higher authority, thereby to attain true independence.This "freedom" is what the Tea Party Brigade incessantly invokes in its rallies to pursue the ultimate goal of "every man for himself" and no "nanny state".

As Potter notes, the other concept, "Free and equal" implies the essence of freedom is:

"Not being different from other people, but rather on a par with other people; not the right to choose between various modes of life, but the right to enjoy a mode as good as anyone else's "

In effect, the first ensures the typical American will pursue no true freedom of thought, but rather freedom from all collective responsibility or accountability (e.g. to a defined commonweal. ) This "freedom to avoid dependence" - which is to say, be "free" of the "Nanny state" has its limits.

Then there is the related issue of freedom of speech.  But especially here, hypocrisy abounds with  the Right often screaming at Leftists for  trying to censor their protected hate speech , e.g. at universities. But then they go ape shit nuts when a lefty evinces her own brand as Kathy Griffin recently did with her fake,  bloody Trump head.

But how shaky the brains of the Right when they get into high dudgeon and posturing outrage! They seem to forget what they did to the image of Obama e.g.

Image result for obama lynched images

Image result for obama lynched images

So please, don't go crying and whining about Kathy Griffin's bloody Trump severed head if you are the least bit ok with the preceding - as much of the victimized Right was in the Obama years. Or, if you accept the preceding images as expressions  of shameful but "free"  speech,   but not Griffin's.

Sadly as William Boardman has noted:

 "This episode speaks volumes about the tortured pathology of American culture in its present mindless form: freedom of thought, freedom of speech are allowed, but only if you exercise them within the walls of your invisible mental freedom prison. Otherwise you risk being an outcast. For Kathy Griffin, that risk is substantial, and it’s all too human of her to abase herself to save her career (if she can). The real sickness lies in the cultural demand for that abasement, which serves as a self-righteous cover for a deeply cowardly refusal to consider what the image means in a country where the majority of people want this presidency decapitated and are told they cannot talk about it except in officially approved and restricted ways. The official culture tries to prohibit depicting the living monster as defeated and slain.
We need to talk about that societal unwillingness to talk about that. The cruel, hideous ruler has long been a universal stereotype and reality."

Regrettably, as Boardman also notes, Griffin apologized at the "grovel" level for her stunt - something the Right's obnoxious cretins would never do. Like Great White sharks they tasted blood in the water, and this opened the door for even more feral attacks on her, just like Ward Churchill endured after his essay "On Roosting Chickens'.  This was an essay written after 9/11 that compared the investment specialists and brokers in the World Trade Center to "little Eichmanns". Every little anti-free speech dunce in Colorado went batshit crazy calling for Churchill's head,  with the university - and the Denver Post - complying in full, demanding his termination. The Post hung Churchill out to dry in a number of editorials and op-ed columns, The guy was convicted (of "plagiarism") and hung, drawn and quartered before he could ask why.  The whole episode showed the "free speech" meme for the hypocritical bollocks it was, because while someone could depict Muslims as "ragheads" in cartoons, he couldn't dare call into the question the U.S. role in inciting blowback - as Churchill did.

And who can forget the spewed hate after Colin Kaepernick took a knee for the national anthem? There we saw it again. The veiled threats that okay, this may nominally be the "land of liberty" but boy, you better had watch out which rights you exercise and look behind your damned back if it's the wrong ones!  Carrying this to outrageous extremes was a  self-proclaimed "World War II and Korean War vet" named Chris Cator who confided to Denver Post sports writer Mark Kiszla that:  "I will buy a one-way ticket for  Brandon Marshall (Broncos anthem kneeling LB)  to any foreign destination he wants."

What's the most galling and aggravating aspect of this whole aftermath, apart from some numskulls blaming it on "Trump Derangement Syndrome? The hysterical screeching of the Right that Griffin be charged with "domestic terrorism" or "making an assassination threat".  Are  you fucking kidding me? It was a tableaux prop explainable as artistic license which anyone who's read the end of 'MacBeth' would recognize - the protagonist bearing the severed head of the tyrant. E.g.  Act 5, Scene 8, lines 53-55:
[Re-enter MACDUFF, with MACBETH's head]
MACDUFFHail, king! for so thou art: behold, where stands
The usurper's cursed head: the time is free:
I see thee compass'd with
thy kingdom's pearl,
In other words, unlike the crude images of Obama lynchings by the Right,  Griffin's invoked an artistic license based on a Shakespearean play.  Of course, most righties wouldn't make any such connection because they've never read any Shakespeare plays.  In the words of William Boardman:

"This is not an actual assassination. It’s not an actual attempted assassination. It’s not even a call for assassination of or even violence against Trump. It’s a far cry from all those right-wing memes lynching Obama. This is an example of artistic license. That’s another trait of free societies. Police states hate artistic license, even when it’s literally licensed."

The fact some Reich wingers might believe Griffin's form of intense speech is a "threat" or "domestic terror"  shows how far the county has descended into a limbo of historical and literary retardation.  Hence, that so many lack ability to do even basic critical thinking whereby one is able to distinguish a stunt using a prop from a genuine threat.  What was Griffin's error, if any? In not explaining the context for her speech.  But should she be crucified for that by the lynch-prone assholes of the Right? No, just as Ward Churchill shouldn't have been crucified for his 9/11 essay by losing his professorship at Univ. of Colorado.

The  pathetic takeaway from all this? Americans talk a good game about "freedom of speech" but have not defined it to a standard that all parties can accept. This means there will always be some who exercise it - such as Kathy Griffin, Ward Churchill, and Colin Kaepernick - who will pay a disproportionate price for so doing if believed to be outside the bounds of an artificially contrived "decency".  This also factors in the inevitable hypocrisy which allows one side (usually the Right) to get away with what in other nations might be hate speech, but if the opposite side tries it, it's met with hysteria and threats.

So much for the "land of the free".

See also:



"If we've not lost our collective mind, we have, at a minimum, lost our perspective and sense of proportion. In the wake of unquantifiable outrage over the Kathy Griffin and Bill Maher kerfuffles, such a bundled loss just might be a proper assessment. I doubt it, but it could be true that America, by and large, can no longer distinguish acts deserving of resolute disapproval from acts deserving of genuine outrage. "

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