Recently Kathy Griffin was in a video holding the bloody beheaded head of our Head of State. The Internet and airwaves were chock-full of people full of disdain and disgust. Right on cue conservative pundits trotted out their vitriolic repulsion. Anderson Cooper expressed his solemn dismay, and all over social media masses poured out their punitive platitudes. So many people felt obliged to share their righteous rebukes, like it was their moral responsibility to add their voices to the denunciation.
Everyone has an opinion, and here’s mine: I call bullshit. Don’t get me wrong, I am seething; I’m practically bursting with outrage. It’s just that I can’t spare even a teensy-weensy ounce of horror for the hapless humorist. You see, the head Kathy was holding was fake, the blood wasn’t real, and no one was actually hurt. It had no effect on public policy, world affairs or anyone’s lives. (Oh, are you afraid it might have upset young Barron? I wager the Access Hollywood tape and his absentee father’s apathy toward him has far more impact.) We are living in the era of Trump, a new Dark Age, and there is too much actual and truly appalling BAD in the world to be distracted by dark harmless humor you find in bad taste.
WHY are you giving a f**k about a Kathy Griffin video?
This is the proverbial “Life During Wartime”: This ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling around. Prioritize where you proffer your outrage. You don’t have to like Kathy’s art, you don’t have to like all of Bill Maher’s jokes, but it is your obligation as a citizen and a decent human being to care about truth, justice, and the suffering of others.
Wake up and smell the false equivalency! I’m unimpressed by the Game of Thrones-watching masses’ sudden wave of nausea that has them balking at a slightly gory political put-down and piling on a TMI-prone comedienne. She didn’t kill anyone, or tell you to kill anyone. She wasn’t hypocritical, she didn’t assault anyone, tell thousands of lies, vilify innocents, try to steal from the poor to give to the rich, or spout misogyny, stir up xenophobia, anti-Semitism or racism. She didn’t implicitly condone homophobia, lionize dictators, tramp all over our Constitution, or try to strip women and Muslims of their rights. Kathy Griffin didn’t bully anyone from her pop culture pulpit, and I suggest in times like these you suck up satirists’ missteps and any free speech you think’s bad and instead aim your indignity where it might do good.
While multitudes vilified an over-the-top comedienne’s dumb video, our over-the-top President pulled out of the Paris agreement, blithely backing out of the United States’ commitment to preserving our planet. The former was a political statement – protected by our First Amendment rights – that many found in bad taste. The latter insures environmental disasters, mass extinctions, irreversible pollution, humanity dealing with epic droughts and flooding… basically the death of our planet as we know it. But sure, go ahead, fill your Twitter feed with your disgust over Kathy Griffin.
Now, I’m not arguing that what Kathy did was good or bad, legitimate or unacceptable. I don’t really have a strong opinion one way or the other. But what I do feel strongly about, and what I do find incredibly destructive to the fabric of our society is our culture’s inability to share and prioritize important values and the consequences they represent. I get it, you find holding up an image of the decapitated head of the President disturbing, but what I find much more disturbing is that President mocking a disabled reporter, bragging about his sexual assaults, his dismissal of our planet’s survival, and – oh yeah – his absolutely impeachable and likely treasonous behavior.
Our time, energy and attention are finite. Don’t waste them chiding a joke you find distasteful. Save your outrage for investigating Russian collusion. Use your protests to safeguard the freakin’ planet. Focus your shares and retweets on issues of true significance.
Now, one could make the argument that we need comedians, pundits and satirist to express their political opinions. That this is, in fact, an issue of significance. One could be disturbed that Griffin lost her CNN New Year’s Eve gig because news media and advertisers are too cowardly to allow dissenters a platform. Or maybe not. Maybe you feel we should judge and shame those whose speech and actions are objectionable. OK, fine. But then why tolerate the real problem: the fact that Trump’s objectionable speech and actions’ very shamelessness helped usher him into arguably the most powerful position on the planet.
Why does he get a pass?
Donald Trump rose to political prominence with his inherently bigoted stance on Obama birtherism and was popular with his acolytes despite a rich history of racist housing policy , myriad sexual scandals, and malicious, obvious lies about 9/11 and his Republican and Democratic opponents. The candidate refused to share his tax returns, praised ruthless dictators, and approved the hacking of the DNC. On the 2016 campaign trail he called Mexicans rapists, threw shade at families of war heroes, and made excuses for boasting about grabbing women’s genitals. His speeches were filled with the clumsy oratory of a none-too-bright fourth-grader, made up words, and simplistic fear-mongering. Despite all this, Donald Trump was still elected to our nation’s highest office. This tells me that a great deal of our country’s citizens condone the man’s stupidity, lies, bigotry, greed, and misogyny. The election results tell me that millions of Americans can enthusiastically ignore both Trump’s rap sheet and our once-revered Constitution.
And THAT is outrageous.