Casino Cancels Kathy Griffin Show Due to Trump Photo Scandal
The Route 66 Casino Hotel in Albuquerque, New Mexico announced it had canceled a show by comedian Kathy Griffin scheduled for July 22.
The cancellation came a day after Kathy Griffin posted an image online of herself holding the bloodied likeness of President Donald Trump’s apparently severed head. The graphic image offended commenters on both the left and right of American politics.
Kathy Griffin Fired by CNN
It was not the only reaction from an employer of Kathy Griffin. CNN fired her as co-host of its New Year’s Eve program, whcih she has hosted the end-of-year program since 2007.
Route 66 Casino posted its cancellation to its own Facebook and Twitter accounts, which drew thousands of comments on its social media feeds. Most of the feedback was positive, from a casual perusal of those social media feeds.
Social Media Reaction to Severed Head
Suzanne Sentyrz Klapmeier, a production manager at Santa Fe Report, said of the decision, “THANK YOU for standing up to unacceptable behavior. I am a proud New Mexican!”
Mike Cernovich, an alt-right online personality, tweeted a link to the Route 66 cancellation post and commented, “Terrorism isn’t welcome.”
Criticism from Clinton, Romney, and Trump
The criticism extended into the highest levels of the political sphere, where Democrats and Republicans criticized the violent images. Chelsae Clinton, the daughter of 2016 Democratic nominee for US president, Hillary Clinton, said in a social media post, “It’s never funny to joke about killing a president.”
Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee for US president, said that the photograph was “vile” and “repugnant”.
President Donald Trump posted to Twitter, saying that Kathy Griffin “Kathy Griffin should be ashamed of herself. My children, especially my 11 year old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this. Sick!”
Kathy Griffin Apology
Kathy Griffin, a native of Illinois known for her standup act, reality TV show appearances, sitcom roles, and CNN New Year’s Eve gig, apologized for the public stunt, saying it was not funny. She said on Instagram, “I went too far. I was wrong.”
Her reaction came within hours of posting the image, well before the full backlash had occurred. She had been fired by CNN and faced an early wave of vitriol and repugnance by that time.
Route 66 Casino to Refund Tickets
Route 66 said that all tickets purchased for the event would be refunded. Tickets were selling online for between $82 and $403. Skip Sayre, the Chief of Sales & Marketing for Laguna Development Corp. (which manages Route 66 Casino), said that only a few hundred tickets had been sold at the time of the cancellation.
Mr. Sayre said, “Once that photo went up, we immediately huddled up and discussed it and thought it was in best interest of our customers and the business to go ahead and cancel the show. It was really that simple. It wasn’t an agonizing discussion.”
Liberals Charges of Hypocrisy
Liberals and progressives in the media, the Beltway, and the social media have charged Republicans with double standards when it comes to calling out violent rhetoric and behavior. During the Obama Administration, right wing protestors repeatedly burned Obama in effigy. In some cases, they staged mock lynchings.
It should be noted that, in the case of Kathy Griffin or the Tea Party, language or actions which implies a threat to the sitting US president are investigated by federal officials. Kathy Griffin will face questions from the Secret Service, as well she should.
Those on the liberal side of the political divide like to point out that they police their own in this case, quickly firing or distancing from the offender, instead of spending weeks on stonewalls or deflections. Those on the consesvative side would point out the riots at Berkeley, during staged protests of Ann Coulter’s visit to the campus. Liberals reply that those protests were peaceful, and blame the anti-fascist group, Antifa, for the violence.
Rising Tide of Violence in American Politics
When an alt-right man in Portland stabbed two men to death for defending a Muslim woman from his tirade, few on the right condemned the attack. To its credit, the Trump White House released a statement of condemnation, saying, “The violent attacks in Portland on Friday are unacceptable. The victims were standing up to hate and intolerance. Our prayers are w/ them.”
Despite that statement, a number of Democrats and media members criticized the president, pointing out Donald Trump normally posts his opinions to Twitter. They saw in the White House press release as an attempt to distance himself from the condemnation, or avoid feedback from more violent-minded supporters.
When a Montana Congressional candidate for the GOP allegedly assaulted a reporter and appeared to lie about the altercation, few Republicans (besides Ben Sasse) called out the man. Some even suggested the reporter deserved the treatment, even though the incident is part of a growing pattern of behavior towards the media. Meanwhile, Texas Governor Greg Abbott joked about shooting reporters the next day. When someone fired on Kentucky media outlet a few days later, right wing commentators hardly noticed.
Incitement to Violence Is Bad
The point being: both sides have their bad actors. Another point is: incitement to violence in the political sphere is despicable on either side of the aisle. It is anti-American, because our republic is based on a peaceful transfer of power and the rule of law. A famous historian once said that democratic governments can withstand being unpopular, while autocratic ones cannot.
The reason for that is that both sides in a democracy know they can bide their time, waiting for the next election to change their fortunes. Even when the government is highly unpopular, the people understand they can depend on the rule of law, the protection of the minority party, and a chance to peacefully change their government. Under an autocratic government, no such hope exists, and so those who want to make changes have nothing but violence. The history of the Middle Eastern terrorism is evidence enough.
That addendum to that theory is that disatisfied citizens have to channel their anger into positive reactions and creative action. Those unhappy with the government should become active at the local, state, and federal level. Get out the vote. Go to a town hall meeting. Write your Congressman. Assure our democracy works better, instead of posted violent words and images online.
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