Beaufort Today -

Constitution protects the right to be spectacularly vulgar

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, says he has changed his mind about comedian Kathy Griffin attending an event to promote his new book. Actually, Minnesotans changed his mind.

Griffin’s gruesome video of her holding aloft a simulated bloodied and severed head of President Donald Trump has made its way around the world. Initially, she defended the stunt as a way to mock “the Mocker in Chief.” She backed down only after condemnation poured in. Finally, she apologized.

Franken admitted she had gone too far but said Griffin would still participate in the book event. That is, until he received a resounding wakeup slap provided by outraged constituents.

This little scenario seems to encapsulate the vile antics peppering our country since before the last election season. Have we cultivated a climate where segments of society believe they must act out with such violence? (Yes, depicting and defending the decapitation of a sitting president is violent.)

We have witnessed college campuses lash out against those they label as prejudiced (used as a broad-brush term for folks not of the progressive persuasion). Even moderate conservative ideology is now deemed anathema at many institutes of higher education.

Ann Coulter is disinvited to speak at UC Berkeley, then re-invited with the understanding that no security would be provided and her safety could not be guaranteed. In other words, she could speak but she might come to harm. From whom? Students offended by her politics? Yes.

Most likely, Kathy Griffin would receive a hero’s welcome at Berkeley. Sean Hannity, not so much.

Hannity, a Fox News Channel host, is under fire for his theories about the murder of Democratic National Committee employee Seth Rich, who was shot on the street of a Washington, D.C., neighborhood.

Pressure from left-leaning media sources forced Fox to recant reports that Rich may have provided DNC emails to WikiLeaks. Speculation of insider fraud cannot be tolerated because it detracts from the pounding narrative that the Russians did it.

Fearful that media disapproval might damage their brands, several advertisers caved and pulled their accounts. But just as Franken’s decision was reversed because of public opinion, so were ad clients reinstated at Fox because of viewer outrage over a boycott designed to silence the show’s host.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Vice President Mike Pence, social scientist Charles Murray, Coulter, Hannity and many others have recently been turned away or banned outright from speaking their minds on conservative issues. It is a frightening trend, one that is gathering speed and strength and poses a deep threat to First Amendment rights.

Just as baffling as our universities’ tolerance for censorship is the passive attitude held by the mainstream media toward this troubling progression. The absence of a cacophony of great alarm from individual news outlets — whether left or right — is most strange given the unchecked growth of this trend will eventually threaten their very existence.

Griffin’s despicable stunt will be looked upon by a handful of twisted souls as a bold artistic statement, but most will see it for the trash that it is. In this country, she obviously has no fear of reprisal.

Columnist Michael Raymond can be reached at