By J. D. Heyes, editor-in-chief
(National Sentinel) Constitution: More than a few supporters of President Donald J. Trump and, judging by the reaction to “comedienne” Kathy Griffin’s photo yesterday of her holding a mock decapitated head of the commander-in-chief, some #nevertrumpers as well, would love to see the woman in shackles, standing before a judge and jury and being convicted of a Class E felony threat against the president, president-elect, vice president or vice president-elect.
But sadly, that’s not likely to happen. Free speech and all that.
As reported by USA Today, Supreme Court precedence has established that speech indicating you’d rather see the president or vice president dead is not the same as making a threat to do it yourself.
“People are allowed to wish the president dead,” up to the point they express a real intent to harm him, said Stanford University Law Professor Nathaniel Persily. “To threaten someone you need words that encourage some sort of action,” and those words are absent in Griffin’s photo, he added.
The paper added:
In a 1969 ruling, the Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Robert Watts, a young man accused of threatening former president Lyndon Johnson. Watts said at a 1966 political rally that he was “not going” if he was drafted to serve in Vietnam and added that “if they ever make me carry a rifle, the first man I want to get in my sights is L.B.J.”
The Supreme Court ruled Watts’ statement, which is much closer to meeting the definition of a threat than Griffin’s photos, was merely “crude political hyperbole.”
“In light of its context and conditional nature,” Watts speech “did not constitute a knowing and willful threat against the President,” the court ruled, citing the importance of the First Amendment.
“A statute such as this one, which makes criminal a form of pure speech, must be interpreted with the commands of the First Amendment clearly in mind,” said the court. “What is a threat must be distinguished from what is constitutionally protected speech.”
Persily said it is all about context – determining a person’s intent. That would be hard to do in the case of Griffin and, ostensibly, the case of Snoop Dogg, who mimicked “shooting” a Trump look-alike clown in a recent rap video.
Or when Madonna mentioned “blowing up” the White House after Trump was inaugurated.
For her part, after get hammered on social media, Griffin apologized:
To be sure, Ms. Griffin, you damn sure did go too far. And like hurtful things married couples say to each other in the heat of an argument, some things you just can’t take back – and this is one of them.
Is what she did protected speech? Probably. But I’ll say this: At some point these kinds of shenanigans move beyond just extreme pronouncements of displeasure with our president into the realm of veiled threats, at least. The raw, unfiltered hatred displayed for Donald Trump, who is our sitting president, is destroying all remaining vestiges of respect for the institution of the office. As they say in the military, you don’t have to respect the person wearing the higher rank, but you do have to respect the rank.
Liberals have decided that the rules no longer apply with Trump. They would never have stood for it if this same extreme disrespect for Obama had been displayed by conservatives – nor should they have stood for it.
Decent Americans on both sides of the aisle most readily agree that Griffin “went too far.” Hell, even Chelsea Clinton, whose father was a controversial president, understands that the presidency is bigger than the person holding the office:
But the real question is, where do we go from here? Do we, as a country, continue to put up with “vile” Leftists who have decided on their own anything directed at Trump, no matter how disgusting and wrong, is okay?
I think the fact that Griffin apologized so quickly speaks volumes. I think it proves that, by and large, most Americans are not cool with the violent, Alt-Left’s rewriting of the rules for respecting the institution of the presidency, no matter who holds the office.
Should she get away with it? That’s up to you to decide, but for me, I’ll not soon forgive and forget. For me, this was one stupid, political stunt too many.