Freedom Of Speech Means Never Having To Say You’re Sorry

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Kathy Griffin

Somebody should rape Hillary Clinton.

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I sincerely apologize for my previous statement in which I commented that someone should rape former Democratic presidential nominee/Secretary of State/New York Senator/First Lady Hillary Clinton. The comment was wholly and needlessly inappropriate, graphic, and provocative. I’m a satirist and am accustomed to sprinting right up to the line separating decency from disgust, and just barely stopping myself before I cross it. Several seconds ago, I not only crossed the line, I curb-stomped it and then continued walking past it. My statement was incredibly disturbing; I understand now, after hearing and reading all the reactions to it, that it was neither funny nor insightful.

I have asked the editors of Being Libertarian to remove the statement from this post. I ask you, dear readers, for your forgiveness for this momentary lapse of judgement on my part. I went too far; I made a terrible mistake, and I was wrong.

***

For some unknown reason, comic Kathy Griffin decided to do a photo shoot wherein she was photographed holding a mask of President Donald Trump covered in ketchup. You’d have to be Helen Keller to not infer the picture is supposed to convey the beheading of Trump.

Less than 12 hours later, Griffin apologized for the content of the photo shoot, saying, “I’m just now seeing the reaction of these images. I’m a comic, I cross the line. I move the line, then I cross it, I went way too far. The image is too disturbing, I understand how it offends people. It wasn’t funny, I get it. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my career…I beg for your forgiveness…I made a mistake and I was wrong.”

I’m trying to figure out why she did this. Did she think it was funny? Or was she making a political statement, and if so, what could the statement be other than she thinks Trump should be beheaded? Was she just trying to be provocative? Does she crave attention so much that she thought this photo shoot would be a good way to spend an afternoon, and that the fortunes of her career and American citizens would benefit from this? Does she have no aides or managers around to bring up a cost/benefit analysis of this? The Left has spent 6 months throwing common sense, logic and decency out the window when it comes to Trump; is this just part and parcel of Trump Derangement Syndrome? Do media members and celebs who do this kind of thing ever think beforehand that all this will do is create backlash?

Photographer Tyler Shields also isn’t quite sure what the point of the picture was. The author who conducted an interview with Shields commented, “Shields doesn’t want to explain what he’s trying to say in his latest, and very arresting, photo…” When asked how and why they came up with the idea for the photo shoot, Shields answered:

We’d been talking about doing something and she said to me, “I’m not afraid to get political if you want or make a statement if you want.” It’s always a collaborative process, especially with someone like Kathy, but it was one of those things where we didn’t know exactly what we were gonna do until we got there. Then, once we got there, it just kind of escalated into that. There were a bunch of different ideas thrown around and then, I was like, “This is the one we gotta do.”…

We had about 10 different ideas and we had the props and we had the things there for them, but then on the day, it was like, “This is the one. This is the one to do for sure.”…

Obviously, there’s the freedom of speech thing, which is great. It’s such a timely image. We see millions of visuals every day and to make something that really stands out is very difficult now. I think that this has the potential to make people stop for a second and say, “What is that?”

OK, so in other words, they wanted to do something that would create uproar, and this was the best idea they had.

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Let’s give Griffin the benefit of the doubt and say she was actually making a coherent political statement, and let’s assume it’s in response to the common leftist accusation that Trump is a misogynist. How many innocent Muslim broads died as a result of collateral damage from a drone while Barack Obama was president? How many broads has Bill Clinton raped or harassed? Why didn’t Griffin do a photo shoot with an Obama or Clinton face mask to show her solidarity with those broads? Or Ted Kennedy or Roman Polanski, or other heroes on the left? Griffin is about as brave as Meryl Streep giving her anti-Trump speech in front of a sycophantic Hollywood audience when she won her lifetime achievement award at last year’s Golden Globes.

I hate when public figures apologize for offensive statements. In fact, I’m offended when people demand apologies for offensive statements, and I’m offended when jerks apologize for their offensive statements. When an apology is given, those who demanded it act as though they’ve won something, that the rightness of their position and anger over speech is justified when the speaker shows contrition. And the offending party plays the apology as a get-out-of-jail-free card. In a cost-benefit analysis, neither side is better off, since it costs the offending party nothing to apologize, and the offended party is in no way better off by the apology.

People should either stand by their statements, no matter how offensive, or have the good goddamn sense to know if the content of their free expression is going to rile people up. If you want to be edgy AF, have the balls to absorb the consequences of your speech, whatever it may be. Free speech is a right, and though it is free to speak, there can be costs if the market (it’s people!) doesn’t like what you have to say.

I also hate the current state of comedy. Back in March, I wrote:

If Trump has accomplished anything truly noteworthy in his first 100 days in office, it’s to have made comedy unbearable. He’s been the butt of so many jokes, whether in sketches, stand-up, or memes, for the past 18 months that they’re no longer funny. Everyone can imitate his tone of voice, cadence and manner of superlative rhetoric. We’ve reached Trump Joke Saturation. Trump jokes are so boring now, when I hear them I YouTube a comic doing an act about airplane food and the differences between men and women in order to cleanse my palate. Hacks go after low-hanging fruit, but Trump as comedic fodder is fruit that’s already fallen off the tree and rotting in the sun.

The difference here is that, objectively, there is no humor in what Griffin did. This is the graphic and violent equivalent of pulling her pants down in public so that people will pay attention to her.

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T R I G G E R  W A R N I N G

I am about to suggest something edgy AF: individuals who express something provocative to the point of being nonsensical, and who then apologize almost immediately for it, should have their freedom of speech protections suspended. Not permanently, but temporarily, for a day or so, like putting a child in “time-out” so he can think about what he’s done.

Obviously I’m being facetious, but it would be nice if people like Griffin and others, like the shitbird “artist” that created “Piss Christ,” exercised this freedom for something more worthwhile than meaningless provocation. American soldiers died in the American Revolution and the War of 1812 to protect our inherent natural rights, but the root of the protection of free speech is so that citizens can be critical of government without fear of consequences from those we deride. Free speech is simultaneously a right, and a privilege. Free speech is something that is taken for granted in this country, but in many other Western democracies/republics it is not sacrosanct like it is here, and in tyrannical countries it is not allowed by the government at all.

Kathy Griffin and Tyler Shields are allowed to say whatever they want. But, for their own credibility and artistry, they should express something more meaningful and worthwhile than base, graphic images that are nothing but provocation for provocation’s sake.

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And that’s the way it is, as far as you know.

 

Photo: Tyler Shields

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Dillon Eliassen is a former Managing Editor of Being Libertarian. Dillon works in the sales department of a privately owned small company. He holds a BA in Journalism & Creative Writing from Lyndon State College, and needs only to complete his thesis for his Master’s of English from Montclair State University (something which his accomplished and beautiful wife, Alice, is continually pestering him about). He is the author of The Apathetic, available at Amazon.com. He is a self-described Thoreauvian Minarchist.

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