One good result has come out of the stunt that comedian Kathy Griffin pulled when she posted a video of herself holding a fake blood-covered facsimile of President Donald Trump’s head by the hair.
Well, two things if you count the fact that Griffin has told by CNN that she is no longer going to co-host its tiresome New Year’s telecast with Anderson Cooper.
“CNN has terminated our agreement with Kathy Griffin to appear on our New Year’s Eve program,” the network’s communications team tweeted Wednesday.
The main benefit as we see it is that when Griffin showed such horrible judgment, it revealed that finally there is something that is so out of line, so beyond the pale, that society has finally shouted: Enough already!
A boundary, it would appear, has been established.
Amid all the coarseness that seems to dominate our daily political discourse, the Griffin episode has united virtually all of us to submit that there is a limit to bad taste, to a lack of decency. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, there are some things up with which we will not put.
Like him or not, Donald Trump is the president of the United States.
Ms. Griffin stepped way over the line. After receiving almost universal opprobrium, even she had to admit it was true.
“I beg for your forgiveness,” she tweeted. “I went too far. I made a mistake and I was wrong.”
While it is, of course, true that Mr. Trump by word and deed has contributed greatly to how corrosive the political climate has become, he did not have this coming. No one does, particularly presidents.
These are people who require Secret Service protection because there are already enough people who want to do them physical harm. We don’t need stupidity such as Griffin’s giving others ideas.
While we don’t believe Griffin truly meant any harm to the president, there are some things you just don’t joke about. Back in 1988, when Dan Quayle was President George H.W. Bush’s lowly regarded vice president, then-Sen. John Kerry repeated a quip at a businessmen’s breakfast.
“Somebody told me the other day that the Secret Service has orders that if George Bush is shot,” Kerry said, “they’re to shoot Quayle.”
Kerry came in for justifiably heavy criticism, and quickly apologized.
The ignorance and mendacity by the fringe elements of the far left and far right to claim that Michelle Obama is actually a man or that then-President George W. Bush was having an affair with his secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, have poisoned the public body.
The only antidote is for decent people of every political stripe to view those kinds of things with the revulsion they deserve.
Freedom of speech is extremely important to Americans, and rightfully so. But as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes stated in his famous “fire in a crowded theater” opinion, “The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger …”
We would like to believe that Democrats were as outraged as Republicans over what Griffin did. We would also like to believe that Republicans were as turned off by racist threats made during Barack Obama’s term.
There are lots of things we would like to believe. One of them is that now that a limit for bad taste has been established, that we might see far less of it in the future.