We have been discussing how Howard Dean and other Democratic leaders have been declaring that there is an exception for speech that they claim to be hate speech. Now they appear to have been joined by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) which have declared that Kathy Griffin’s photo of Trump’s severed head is unprotected under the First Amendment.
VFW National Commander Brian Duffy issued a statement that “The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. strongly condemns comedian Kathy Griffin’s incredibly revolting attack on the President of the United States . . . . What she did was not humorous nor should it be protected speech or expression. Playing to an audience with a severed head is what our enemies do. The USO should end its relationship with her.”
I can certainly understand the desire to end the relationship with Griffin, as we previously discussed. However, it is highly disturbing to see the VFW adopting the growing view that hate speech is unworthy of free speech protection. It is of course a dangerous myth. We do not need the First Amendment for popular speech. It is designed to protect those who anger and upset us. I found Griffin’s picture to be grotesque and horrific. However, it was also pure political speech — worthy of the highly level of protection in our society.