It is as good a time as any to pull out your Sharpie and mark your calendar: I am in agreement with a sentiment expressed by President Donald Trump. On May 31, the president took to Twitter to respond to the photo of comedian Kathy Griffin holding a mock-up of his severed head. Trump tweeted, “Kathy Griffin should be ashamed of herself. My children, especially my 11 year old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this. Sick!” According to The Guardian, the original intention of the photo was to hit back at Trump’s now infamous 2015 menstruation remark, which was directed at Megyn Kelly. While Trump has no grounds to criticize the behavior of others — and his response is likely based in his inability to accept criticism in any form — I agree that Griffin’s decision to pose for the photo was morally repugnant and certainly reprehensible. Since apologizing publicly for the photo, Griffin has also expressed at a press conference held later the same week that “Trump broke [her]” and that her career will not be the same, according to The Guardian. Despite Trump’s tenure thus far as president of the United States, proving his inability to compromise or listen to the recommendations of his advisers, Griffin was entirely in the wrong for how she chose to criticize him.
In the CNN interview that Griffin’s photo was referencing, Trump is heard saying that “blood [was] coming out of [Kelly’s] … wherever” when she asked him questions that he did not like, sparking outrage among many people who thought that his comment was another indication of his sexist mindset. Regardless of Griffin’s intention to criticize Trump’s vile comment by ironically posing with his severed head, the concept was ill-formed and done in poor taste. In the wake of the many violent acts that we see reported by outlets, such as BBC News, on a regular basis around the world, it is important that we do not add to these violent images, even if it is meant to highlight an issue in our society. There are other ways to criticize what we do not approve of — late night shows such as Saturday Night Live and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert prove that grotesque images are not needed to express disapproval.
Another issue that I have with Griffin’s latest response is her belief that her “vilification” and firing from jobs and event cancellations are a result of her gender. According to The Guardian, Griffin said, “I’ve dealt with older white guys trying to keep me down my whole life, my whole career. I am a woman in a very male-dominated field.” For the record, Griffin’s statement regarding stand-up comedy being a male-dominated field is accurate. The Huffington Post UK reported in March 2014 that women account “for just [10 percent] of comedians and male comics [continue] to earn bundles more than their female counterparts.” Nonetheless, any hardships that Griffin may have encountered in the past when entering her chosen field are not relevant under these circumstances. Any man or woman who chooses to be a part of such a macabre image ought to receive punishment and it is the public’s responsibility to ensure that punishment is delivered equally. More so, Griffin’s assertion that she is a victim in these circumstances because of her gender is an insult to any feminist who genuinely sees the problematic nature of her actions. More so, it is unfortunate that feminists will now be associated with her by those who self-identify as “anti-feminist.”
As mentioned previously, Trump does not have a leg to stand on when it comes to expressing indignation about how others behave, especially when he is supposed to be setting the precedent and repeatedly fails to do so. He has insulted women on numerous occasions, mocked a reporter with a disability and has shown no respect for veterans. Therefore, people who are now hitting back at him for his comments toward Griffin should be doing so not because they side with her, but because he has also done and said some awful things without repercussion. Moreover, Griffin undoubtedly deserved the outraged public response that she received; there is no disputing that. Now, since a higher standard is becoming expected of comedians, it seems only right that an even higher standard will become expected by the public for the leader of our country.