Two edgy comedians; two very different offenses

Last week, two left-wing entertainers found themselves in trouble for their expression. In one case, the offense was slight; in the other, it was serious.

Bill Maher committed the slight offense. During an exchange on his show with Sen. Ben Sasse, Maher indicted his aversion to hard labor by calling himself a “house n****r.” Maher quickly added that this was “a joke,” as it obviously was.

Sasse seemed neither amused nor particularly offended at the time. Later the Nebraska Senator stated, in part:

Here’s what I wish I’d been quick enough to say in the moment: “Hold up, why would you think it’s OK to use that word?”

Sasse is right. It’s not OK to use that word. But neither is using it in an ad-lib joke about yourself, as Maher did, the end of the world. Rather, it is — or should be — a minor to mid-level offense. I think that’s why Sasse barely reacted at the time.

Maher has apologized. That should be the end of the matter. And, because Maher plays for the left, it might well be. Heaven help a conservative who used the same word in the same way.

Kathy Griffin committed the serious offense. She created and displayed a photo of herself holding up a decapitated head of President Trump drenched in blood.

That’s one way to put yourself on the cutting edge of the resistance.

Unlike Maher’s offense, this was no off-the-cuff wise crack. It was a premeditated decision.

Nor did the offense consist of using an ugly word. It consisted of imagery of a beheaded President Trump.

Griffin had the right to create and share the beheading image. She should not be punished by the State; nor should she be subjected to death threats, as she claims to have been.

But she has no legitimate complaint about the outrage her image generated. She also has no legitimate complaint if that outrage causes her to lose work, as apparently it has.

An entertainer has no God-given right to appear on this or that show. Appearances are, to a considerable degree, a function of popularity and, to a lesser degree, respect. Griffin is discovering that proudly depicting a beheaded president, even this president, will cost you popularity and respect. To use the modern term, it is bound to injure your “brand.”

Griffin’s response has been to play the victim. Is anyone surprised?

At a press conference (see below), she played the gender card to the hilt, asserting, for example, that she wouldn’t be losing work if she were a male. Has CNN, which apparently canned Griffin, ever retained a male who indulged in beheading imagery?

Griffin’s lawyer, herself a piece of work, claimed that it is President Trump who should apologize (because of his bad policies). Her main argument was that “comedians get to be edgy.”

Right. But they don’t get remain popular or respected when they do “edgy” things that cost them popularity and respect. And they don’t get to perform where they are no longer wanted due to their diminished popularity and respect.

Moreover, citizens get to express their outrage to the folks who get to decide whether “edgy” comedians will perform at their venue. The president targeted by Griffin also has that right, as do members of his family.

Griffin was alternately defiant — she’s not afraid of Donald Trump; older white men have tried to keep her down in the past, without success — and weepy — “he broke me.”

She tried to sprinkle her schtick into the press conference — maybe to show how “edgy” she is; maybe because that’s just what she does. I found her unfunny, but then I’m just an “older white guy.”

I’d be interested in whether “Ammo Grrrll,” a comedian herself, agrees with my assessment of Griffin’s schtick. I suspect that Ammo Grrrll’s take on how “older white guys” treat women differs materially from Griffin’s. Maybe it matters what kind of woman we’re talking about.

I can’t say I’m entirely without sympathy for Griffin. I’d have more if she stopped whining, performed where she’s wanted, and rebuilt her brand by being edgy without using the imagery of violence and assassination.

You can watch Griffin’s press conference below and judge it for yourself.

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