Kathy Griffin’s Beheading of Trump Damages Liberals

This provides conservatives with a narrative that such images are what liberals want to see and actively encourage. This discourages conservatives from engaging with liberals at all and reinforces echo chamber conversations. The right and conservatives continue to bash liberals for being hypocrites.

Kathy Griffin’s decapitation of Donald Trump sparked reaction on both the right and left, with most condemning the comedienne’s photos. What was fascinating, though, was the response from conservative spaces. There were many comments that liberals and the left would approve of such images and call her brave and daring. What this indicates is that conservatives seem to have a misunderstanding of what being liberal is and what liberals want to achieve.

So, let’s just set the record straight on liberal reaction

  1. Kathy Griffin has freedom of speech to publish such images.
  2. This does not mean that liberals appreciate such images, find them funny, or find such images appropriate.

Does Kathy Griffin further liberal aims?

“It’s all that tolerance and love pouring out.”

  1. Not really, in fact, she actively harms what liberals are trying to achieve. The primary aim of liberals is to promote dialogue and understanding across barriers with a range of people. To do that liberals have to start conversations in relatable ways with conservatives, and Griffin’s photos don’t make those conversations any easier.

“The Left should really contemplate how/why they’ve begun to advocate violence & appropriate #ISIS/#AlQueda imagery.”

“You liberals look more like ISIS everyday. Why is the media calling you a “comedian”? Just more #FakeNews.”

  1. Such imagery provides conservatives with a narrative that such images are what liberals want to see and actively encourage. This discourages conservatives from engaging with liberals at all and reinforces echo chamber conversations. The right and conservatives continue to bash liberals for being irreverent and grotesque while the left has a completely separate conversation about how distasteful Kathy Griffin is in creating such photos.

But why do conservatives have such views of liberals in the first place? Why would conservatives immediately assume that liberals would applaud such imagery?

“You can’t tell the difference between ISIS & liberals anymore. They’re both vile & hateful & are trying to destroy America.”

The short answer is that some on the left have created an image of liberals that is defined by personally bashing and silencing anyone who disagrees. This perception makes liberals look hypocritical, and Griffin’s images just fit further into the narrative that liberals are aggressive towards those with different views and will personally make fun of or offend others. Incidents such as the bike chain incident at Berkeley and the Fields confrontation with Richard B. Spencer also perpetuate such a conservative narrative of liberal aggression and persecution of conservatives. There is a perception that liberals want to talk with terrorists, but shout down conservatives. Conservative hashtags such as #KathyGriffinHateCrime #LiberalLogic and #kathygriffinterrorist are also being mixed in with calls to @POTUS and @ICEgov to investigate and reflect these conservative perceptions of liberals and the narrative they are pursuing.

Why should the left and liberals care about what the right and conservatives think of liberals?

Because conversation and the success of liberals is contingent upon conservatives actually wanting to talk to liberals, something they won’t want to do if the current narrative of portrayal of the left and liberals continues.

What should liberals do?

“Trump Supporters are giant hypocrites they are freaking out at Kathy Griffin when they did the same thing to obama”

While the above can be tempting, it doesn’t help liberals enter conservative spaces & correct the misconceptions that currently abound about liberals and diffuse the indignation with reminders that those images don’t reflect liberals or what being liberal is about, and the best way to do that is to exemplify it.

Kathy Griffin may have apologised fast, but the damage to liberals in conservative spaces is already done. Liberals will now have to clean up her (fake) bloody mess.

Comments (7)
greekfreak
greekfreak

To compare Kathy to ISIS is just preposterous. But this was obviously distasteful and just doesn't contribute anything positive to the marketplace of ideas

mackenzienellis
mackenzienellis

By the way, with respect to this piece, I appreciate the analysis, and agree that Kathy Griffin's mistake is creating more of a mess for liberals to clean up. Don't forget, though, that most people will recognize this as tasteless comedy, and won't genuinely mistake it for (lol) ISIS propaganda.

mackenzienellis
mackenzienellis

I think it's important to recognize how quickly Griffin apologized. True, this is a terrible example of how to use the freedom of speech we enjoy in this country, and it's not okay. We're living in an era where it's so hard to find the line because it's been pushed further and further out. Obviously, this photo is an example of protected speech. But no matter where the criticism is coming from, I'm glad that we're still sensitive enough to care about this level of gore, and I'm glad we're still saying there's a line we cannot cross. I would contrast this with the kind of hate speech we're seeing promoted by far-right groups on college campuses, though. Why is it "okay" to protect hateful, racist propaganda, which to me sounds so much like screaming "fire" in a crowded theater, but it's "not okay" to produce an (unpublished) image of gore?

DamienTheMaven
DamienTheMaven

It's a well thought through piece, thanks.

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