It was a delicious sight of virtue-signaling gone wrong. On Tuesday, Kathy Griffin, that leading intellectual activist of our time, apparently thought that it would be a good idea to engage in a photoshoot in which she parades a bloodied, decapitated (fake) head of Donald Trump. There are a couple of images from the shoot floating around the internet, one of which even shows Griffin eerily smirking during her macabre feat.
Notwithstanding the parallels with the Islamic State’s own self-published images of similar subject matter, people around the world, both on the left and right, were rightly astounded by this act of immense provocation:
As a result, CNN announced on Wednesday that it had cancelled Griffin’s spot as a co-host on its New Year’s Eve emission later this year. Apparently Barron Trump, the eleven-year-old son of President Donald Trump, was overwhelmed with grief when the image first appeared on television, as he initially believed it to be real.
But this begs the question: would Kathy Griffin have been treated even more harshly had she been a right-winger who pulled the same stunt, this time with a beheaded Obama?
Firstly, let us all be clear here, for we all know Kathy Griffin’s true intentions in photographing herself in such a manner. At its essence, it was an insidious act of egregious virtue-signaling (or “very” virtue-signaling to sound more Trumpian). What the image attempted to convey was the message that: “I am such a stupendously moral and virtuous person that I am forced to hate Trump to the extent that I could think about killing him.”
Now, again, nobody seriously believes that Kathy Griffin actually wants to kill Donald Trump (although one wouldn’t be surprised if she met his death with, let us say, ambivalence, should such an unfortunate fate befall him in the near future).
But consider United States Code Title 18, Section 871 which consists of deliberately making: “any threat to take the life of, to kidnap, or to inflict bodily harm upon the President of the United States.”
For example, in 1969, Vernon Watts, aged 18 at the time, during a protest in Washington D.C., joked that if he were ever drafted for the Vietnam War, he would use his gun to shoot the President of the United States. According to court testimony, “the defendant in speaking made a gesture of sighting down the barrel of a rifle. The audience responded with laughter and applause.”
Watts was found guilty in a federal court and subsequently in a court of appeals for threatening the life of the President. Although the Supreme Court eventually overturned this decision, the lesson here is that even fake threats against the President that are met with laughter are to nonetheless be taken seriously.
Donald Trump Jr. was right to note that had a right-winger pulled the same stunt with the head of Obama, the reaction would have been histrionic. Hence one wonders what would have happened had Kathy Griffin been a right-winger who pulled the same kind of stunt with Obama’s blood-soaked head. Perhaps the issue might have led to a conviction, because, you know, right-wingers = violent troglodytes and left-wingers = playful jokers.
One can only imagine the howls of indignation from the likes of Hillary Clinton, Bill de Blasio, Cory Booker, Lena Dunham, Rachel Maddow, Meryl Streep, and the rest of the elite leftist coterie had Obama been victim to a similar prank.
But this whole ordeal serves as a terrific reminder that cheap stunts such as these must be met with unequivocal societal disdain. Especially when they are done merely to get a few chuckles … or a few more points on the virtue scale.