In Defense of Dangerous Art

 

For almost two years, I have submitted occasional opinion pieces to Ricochet. However, for over eight years, under what is obviously a pseudonym, I have blogged a fair amount of political satire. It is not satire that one would describe as light-hearted and jocular. Rather, it is satire that is Juvenalian in mood: a more apt description would be “spitting.”

Before I would post them, quite a few of my satires caused me substantial anxiety: would this be the piece that finally prompts some sort of retaliation? As ridiculous as that anxiety might sound to some, for me it was very real. However, despite that anxiety, I reasoned that “God hates a coward” and posted each one. As far as I know, no retaliation ever came. However, that is probably not because the Democrats are not shockingly petty, vindictive, and intolerant, but rather it is probably because my satires are either too obtuse or too stylistically out of the mainstream to garner anything more than a handful of readers.

In contrast, representing the opposite of obtuse, consider Kathy Griffin’s latest outrageous piece of performance art which co-starred a decapitated in effigy President Trump. And representing the opposite of “stylistically out of the mainstream,” consider her non-apology press conference – a further piece of performance art – that is now posted on YouTube and that I satirically refer to as “Innocence of Kathy Griffin.” And while I’m sure that the content of her presser is now well tread territory, there are two specific comments, one from each of Ms. Griffin’s attorneys, that I believe still merit further attention.

The first of these comments was made by Ms. Griffin’s Criminal Defense Attorney Dmitry Gorin,

The fact that there’s an open Secret Service investigation is really ridiculous because it’s never happened to any artist before.

Attorney Gorin, with respect, let me make you aware of right-wing, guerrilla street artist Sabo. In 2014, Sabo tweeted his wish that zombies were real so that Lee Harvey Oswald could come back from the dead. Two months later, this obviously satirical tweet earned Sabo an investigatory visit from, yes, the Secret Service. However, rather than lawyer-up and claim oppression, Sabo plastered his studio with the word “Oswald” and answered the agents’ questions while he continued to work on his stylish and functional Barack Obama toilet seats (available at Sabo’s store).

The second of these comments was made by Ms. Griffin’s primary attorney Lisa Bloom,

We used to hold our Presidents to a standard that they don’t criticize artists and comedians.

Attorney Bloom, with respect, let me make you aware of the filmmakers of “Hillary: The Movie.” In 2008, the federal government censored these filmmakers’ anti-Hillary movie from being shown. The filmmakers challenged that censorship, eventually winning an ensuing Supreme Court case. However, immediately after SCOTUS’s decision, then President Barack Obama, in his 2010 State of the Union Address, brazenly criticized the Supreme Court to their faces for that decision, and maligned these American filmmakers — artists with their own valid political opinions, concerns, and rights — as sinister “special interests.” And, Attorney Bloom, let me repeat this for clarity, President Obama did not malign these artists in a medium as mundane and inconsequential as his Twitter feed, he maligned them in the Congress of the United States as a part of his official State of the Union Address.

And further, Attorney Bloom, again with respect, let me make you aware of the filmmaker Nakoula Nakoula. In 2012, Mr. Nakoula posted on YouTube his short film “Innocence of Muslims.” The Obama Administration, fearing a re-election defeat over their mishandling of the attack in Benghazi, cynically and purposefully blamed Mr. Nakoula’s film for inciting that attack. As civil liberties law professor Alan Dershowitz just recently noticed — that the Democrat’s lawfare investigation of President Trump smacked of Joseph Stalin’s, “Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime” — Mr. Nakoula also noticed of the Obama administration five years ago as they publicly vilified for him for the attack and then imprisoned him for a year, charging him with the only thing that they feasibly could: a parole violation.

The point being, Attorneys Bloom and Gorin, that Ms. Griffin has made a career out of tasteless and outrageous performance art. So it is not surprising or even, counter to her intentions, shocking that she would continue and intensify her particular style. And though her art is not to my taste, as a satirist myself, I find that I must defend Ms. Griffin. And I must do so even while I am secure in the knowledge that, if the situation were reversed, the Democrats would readily, and with a marching song in their hearts, throw me to the wolves.

It is the Democrats, dear attorneys, who are silencing free speech around this country, especially on college campuses, often resorting to mob violence as a silencing tactic.

It is the Democrats, enabled by the Soros-funded Media Matters, who are engaging in boycotts against any opposition media voices.

It is the Democrats who insist that artists who voice opposing opinions, (and only those artists,) have no right to political speech if they speak collectively as a corporation.

It is a Democrat president who, in an official speech in our Congress, openly maligned a group of such artists.

It is the Democrats who sicced a Secret Service investigation on a popular, political artist for his satirical tweets.

It is the Democrats who, for naked political expedience, perp-walked an artist in front of news cameras, smeared his name to the American public, charged him with a sought for and conveniently found “parole violation,” and then let him rot in jail for a year.

However, since I am not a Democrat, I will defend dangerous art and the artists who create it. So, yes, I will defend Ms. Griffin for her tasteless stunt. I will readily insist that no artist should be jailed for their art – like Nakoula Nakoula was. But my defense ends there: as Media Matters has made quite clear, public “non-boycott” boycotts of Ms. Griffin’s venues and advertisers are fair game. No artist is guaranteed an audience. And if an investigation of that stunt reveals that it was orchestrated by Democrat operatives specifically to send a threat to the President or his family, then my defense does not extend to those operatives.

And please do understand, Democrats, despite the fact that I must defend Ms. Griffin, that I am not on your side. My side is home to artists who were actually victimized – by you. And your side is home to, well, performance art.

There are 21 comments.

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  1. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    That’s about it, I think. Free speech doesn’t mean speech free of consequence.

    • #1
  2. Rick Poach Inactive
    Rick Poach
    @RickPoach

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    That’s about it, I think. Free speech doesn’t mean speech free of consequence.

    No, it does not. Thanks for reading, Judge.

    • #2
  3. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Great post, as always.

    Free speech is an interesting legal issue to me in that I do see some exceptions I would make to it, and one of them is crying “Fire!” in a crowded theater, and another is inciting violence. Griffin’s “art” incites violence in my view.

    It used to be said, “Your rights end at the end of my nose.” In Griffin’s case, I think her art posed a danger to others–especially President Trump and everyone in his entourage and family.

    • #3
  4. Rick Poach Inactive
    Rick Poach
    @RickPoach

    MarciN (View Comment):
    Great post, as always.

    Thank you, Marci.

    MarciN (View Comment):
    another is inciting violence. Griffin’s “art” incites violence in my view.

    And you’re not alone in that opinion. For me, it comes down to history and intent. Historically, Griffin has always trafficked in the outrageous, she’s kind of like a shock-jock. Knowing that, I am assuming that her intent was her usual: shock your way into the spotlight. However, as I said at the end of this piece, if it turns out that she was put up to this by people who specifically wanted to “send a message” to President Trump or his family, then those people need to be charged.

    And thanks for reading, Marci.

    • #4
  5. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    This is one of the best posts I’ve ever read on Ricochet.

    • #5
  6. Rick Poach Inactive
    Rick Poach
    @RickPoach

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    This is one of the best posts I’ve ever read on Ricochet.

    Thank you, Ret. I appreciate that.

    • #6
  7. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    That’s about it, I think. Free speech doesn’t mean speech free of consequence.

    The whole point of speech is the hopes it will have consequence. Even a dog barks in the hope of making a change.

    • #7
  8. Rick Poach Inactive
    Rick Poach
    @RickPoach

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    That’s about it, I think. Free speech doesn’t mean speech free of consequence.

    The whole point of speech is the hopes it will have consequence. Even a dog barks in the hope of making a change.

    This is true. Thanks for reading, Bryan.

    • #8
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Very well said, Rick. And I have to agree with you–Kathy Griffin is disgusting (my word, not yours), but she does have the right to do what she did. I must say her attorneys were pathetic. Thanks for laying this out so well and reminding us that if free speech is taken away, we will all suffer.

    • #9
  10. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    Great post, Rick. I would have added the scare quotes around every instance of “art”. What Griffin and her ilk produce is not art, in my opinion. It’s garbage.

    • #10
  11. Matt Upton Lincoln
    Matt Upton
    @MattUpton

    Good post. Griffin should not be investigated for what she has done, but all of her sponsors and employers are free to cut her loose if they believe it was in bad taste and unacceptable for a spokesperson/employee.

    • #11
  12. Rick Poach Inactive
    Rick Poach
    @RickPoach

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Very well said, Rick.

    Thank you, Susan.

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    I must say her attorneys were pathetic.

    I’m not sure I’d agree with you on pathetic. I think they are probably ideologues and misinformed – e.g. Gorin’s claim that Griffin is the first artist to be investigated by the Secret Service. The best and most hysterical example of that misinformation was the look on Bloom’s face when she heard the first Q&A question. She had no idea that Griffin, as a part of one of her acts, remarked that she was going to go after Barron Trump. Bloom even stated that if Griffin did make that remark, that she did so years ago (I believe that Griffin made her remark about Barron in December, 2016). So, “years ago” would make Barron, what, six years old? That’s supposed to help Griffin’s case?

    Thanks for reading, Susan.

    • #12
  13. Rick Poach Inactive
    Rick Poach
    @RickPoach

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):
    Great post, Rick.

    Thank you, RB.

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):
    I would have added the scare quotes around every instance of “art”.

    I’m reminded of that old joke, “I may not know art, but I know what I like!”

    Thanks for reading, RB.

    • #13
  14. Rick Poach Inactive
    Rick Poach
    @RickPoach

    Matt Upton (View Comment):
    Good post.

    Thank you, Matt.

    Matt Upton (View Comment):
    Griffin should not be investigated for what she has done, but all of her sponsors and employers are free to cut her loose if they believe it was in bad taste and unacceptable for a spokesperson/employee.

    Agreed. And, IMO, if Griffin was put up to it by people who wanted to “send a message” to Trump, then they need to be investigated. However, I’m sure that something like that would be hard to prove.

    Thanks for reading, Matt.

    • #14
  15. Rick Poach Inactive
    Rick Poach
    @RickPoach

    All, thank you for your comments.

    I will be AFK until about 1 A.M. Mountain Time.

    I will respond to any new comments then.

    • #15
  16. JosePluma Thatcher
    JosePluma
    @JosePluma

    You forgot about the rodeo clown in Missouri who was hounded out of work for satirizing THE GREAT OBAMA in exactly the same way he had made fun of every other president.

    I don’t much care about art that attacks our dear leaders. As Charles Cooke says, that tells me that I live in a free society. What irritates me is that the caring and empathetic idiots that did this had no thought at all of the effect of this on relatives of people who have murdered by Islamic morons in a similar manner.

    • #16
  17. Rick Poach Inactive
    Rick Poach
    @RickPoach

    JosePluma (View Comment):
    You forgot about the rodeo clown in Missouri

    Well, not really. One of the hallmarks of Leftist tyrannies is the persecution of artists. And while there is a performance aspect to rodeo clowning, I think that calling it “art” or even “performance art” is stretching those definitions.

    Now, what was done to Tuffy Gessling (the rodeo clown) was unjust. But so what what was done to Brendan Eich (CEO of Mozilla) and Matt Taylor (the scientist who landed a probe on the Rosetta comet). But they were professionals, not artists, who were persecuted for falling afoul of PC in the Obama era. And while their persecution can certainly be chalked up to the New Left’s fascism, the persecution of artists for their art is at least a level worse: it is the stuff of Communist dictatorships.

    Maybe one day, I’ll do a piece on these professionals as well.

    Thanks for reading, Jose.

    • #17
  18. Philopus Member
    Philopus
    @Philopus

    Rick Poach:The second of these comments was made by Ms. Griffin’s primary attorney Lisa Bloom,

    We used to hold our Presidents to a standard that they don’t criticize artists and comedians.

    Bloom may be a threat to Griffin with a line this funny!

    • #18
  19. JosePluma Thatcher
    JosePluma
    @JosePluma

    Rick Poach (View Comment):

    JosePluma (View Comment):
    You forgot about the rodeo clown in Missouri

    Well, not really. One of the hallmarks of Leftist tyrannies is the persecution of artists. And while there is a performance aspect to rodeo clowning, I think that calling it “art” or even “performance art” is stretching those definitions.

    Now, what was done to Tuffy Gessling (the rodeo clown) was unjust. But so what what was done to Brendan Eich (CEO of Mozilla) and Matt Taylor (the scientist who landed a probe on the Rosetta comet). But they were professionals, not artists, who were persecuted for falling afoul of PC in the Obama era. And while their persecution can certainly be chalked up to the New Left’s fascism, the persecution of artists for their art is at least a level worse: it is the stuff of Communist dictatorships.

    I agree with you about Eich and Taylor, but not about Gessling. I have seen several rodeos and part of the schtick of the clowns is making fun of public and authority figures. They’ll satirize the announcers, the judges, the riders, the rodeo queen, country singers, and so on. While I have not seen any that overtly made fun of the president, apparently that was part of Gessling’s performance. The clown’s purpose is to protect the bull riders, but that could be done just as well by guy wearing an orange vest and waving a flag. Because it is done by a clown, it becomes a performance and, therefore, art. Except for the venue, it is no different than a skit on Saturday Night Live, an article in The Onion, or a post by @michaelhenry.

    • #19
  20. Rick Poach Inactive
    Rick Poach
    @RickPoach

    JosePluma (View Comment):
    I have seen several rodeos and part of the schtick of the clowns is making fun of public and authority figures. They’ll satirize the announcers, the judges, the riders, the rodeo queen, country singers, and so on.

    Jose, thank you for that perspective. Maybe I should go see a rodeo. I live in Cheyenne, so I don’t have any excuse not to.

    • #20
  21. Rick Poach Inactive
    Rick Poach
    @RickPoach

    Philopus (View Comment):

    Rick Poach:The second of these comments was made by Ms. Griffin’s primary attorney Lisa Bloom,

    We used to hold our Presidents to a standard that they don’t criticize artists and comedians.

    Bloom may be a threat to Griffin with a line this funny!

    Seriously, check out the presser when the first question is asked. The look on Bloom’s face is priceless. She immediately goes into crisis control mode. I don’t know if you could say who shoulders the largest portion of the blame: Bloom for not doing enough research on the case after taking it, or Griffin for continuing her bad decisions and hiring Bloom in the first place.

    Thanks for reading, Philopus.

    • #21

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