VFW Declares Kathy Griffin Unprotected By First Amendment

Veterans_Of_Foreign_Wars_LogoWe 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.


117 thoughts on “VFW Declares Kathy Griffin Unprotected By First Amendment”

  1. What she did was not humorous nor should it be protected speech or expression.

    That’s not a statement about what the positive law requires, but about what it should require. Their complaint is that what she did is a species of obscenity. Prior to 1965, prosecutions for obscenity were fairly routine.

  2. It’s free speech. I don’t know why so many people have a problem w/ this fundamental right.

  3. Bottom line: the Constitution gives every person in the country the right to be a complete idiot. At the same time, I don’t believe there are any Constitutional protections against suffering the consequences of being a complete idiot.

  4. Proffesser; I need UR guidance please. In my studies of our founding especially the 1st amendment,. I have learned as U have just stated that the 1st amendment was SPECIFICALLY written 2 protect grotesque, aberrant, HATEFUL and speech outside the decency of civil discourse. (Correct?). This very fact/ concept is why I do not understand how we have allowed “hate crime” legilation to be come let alone stand constitutional muster. HOW and the heck do U know what is on a person’s mind? As ugly and nasty something may be said it is protected. What is not protected is the consequences of the actions of recourse.

  5. What would be the reaction if she depicted Jesus in the same way?
    Or if she had depicted Hey Zeus the same way.

    Hey Zeus, full of juice, don’t let your meat loaf.

    She is uglier than Hillary.

  6. Free Speech Attack
    Another Lie Promulgated
    International campaign is criminalizing criticism of Israel as ‘antisemitism’
    Anti-Israel is NOT Anti-Semitism
    Delegates at the 2009 Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism convention in London. The organization issued a declaration calling on governments to use an Israel-centric definition of antisemitism and to outlaw and prosecute such “antisemitism.”

  7. As a DAV I’m embarrassed by the way the Dems, the media and all these celebrities have acted since the defeat of their candidate. The rest of the world is seeing that our people have gone “nuts” with the open disrespect we show our President and now they feel it’s fine to do so. The Russians are coming narrative is bull just an excuse for the loss and an opportunity at delegitimization of a duly elected candidate by the electorate. Each day they fire another BS salvo at the man which have no proof or evidence. So this is what we can expect each time a new President is elected who is not our choice? Where is our American class and character are we becoming a Banana Republic? Kathy Griffin was nothing before and even less today.

      1. I think that says it all but how do you get the “The Russians, The Russians Are Coming” crew to open their minds to fact? The collusion is and has been between the media and the Dums in a failed Presidential election.

  8. Actually, the VFW may have a better understanding of the First Amendment than does Howard Dean. What Griffin did is closer to action than speech. Actions are unprotected by the First Amendment. Even Hugo Black may agree with the VFW on this one.

      1. The VFW is not calling for a boycott of the photographer or the person who posted the image on line. What Kathy Griffin did was hold up a severed head of the President. The fact that someone photographed the action does not transform the act of holding up a severed head into speech. The pic is merely evidence of the actions that Griffin took.

        We can argue over whether or not Griffin’s actions constituted symbolic speech. I tend to think not, but I can see the opposing point of view.

        1. She held up molded plastic covered in red paint and topped with a wig: she didn’t hold up an actual head acquired via murder. And then a picture was taken. It’s protected speech.

          1. I realize that she did not decapitate the President and hold his head up for the camera. However, I am not altogether certain her actions are protected under the First Amendment. Maybe yes, maybe no. Flag burning is protected as symbolic speech. Beyond that, the area is very gray.

            1. To be clear, I agree with your sentiment. I’ve mentioned many times that I dislike the Pizza Hut spokesman, and I wouldn’t express myself in Griffin’s way. I prefer to rant as articulately as possible and to vote.

              Nevertheless, if others choose to express themselves in vile ways, they should be free to.

          2. Dave137 – I am still going with hate speech and maybe even threatening the life of the POTUS. I do not believe it is protected.

            1. PS,

              I’m sorry, you and the judicial branch have no authority to legislate or modify the Constitution by “interpretation” or any other means.

              Which part of …”Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech,…” do you NOT understand?

              Next, you’ll be making guns illegal.

              The amendment sets no qualification of “speech;” not “hate” or any other characterization.

              The subject/victim may litigate civilly for damages but speech shall not be abridged.

              5th Amendment –

              Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

              1. George – sadly, the judiciary has been legislating from the bench. You need to keep up with the news. The Constitution is what any 5 justices say it is on any given day. We all live with that until the next 5 justices get together and twist things around.

                1. Thank you for your attention. You are correct.

                  The Imperial Judiciary has been in violation of its duties and the Constitution for centuries.

                  I rest my case.

                  To my knowledge, no one has presumed to modify or “interpret” the Ten Commandments for millennia.

                  The Father of the Constitution, James Madison, wrote it to stand in perpetuity, discouraging modification,

                  amendment or “interpretation” as a threat to the very Constitution itself.

                  The Constitution is irrefutably and distinctly NOT a living, breathing document.

                  The entire SCOTUS and much of the judicial branch must be impeached and convicted under Article 2,

                  Section 4 for the crimes of high office of dereliction, usurpation, subversion, treason, etc.

                  Article 2 must be strengthened and accelerated to do the volume of transgression in the judicial branch.

                  The Constitution says FREEDOM OF SPEECH and it means freedom of speech. Period.

                  “Hate speech” laws violate the freedom of speech in the Constitution – ridiculous!

                  The treasonous ruling class jurists do not have the authority to dictate.

                  The Imperial Judiciary is the enemy of America.

                  The People are the SOVEREIGN and the government is the SUBJECT of that SOVEREIGN.

                  Legislation is generated by the legislative branch. Period.

                  P.S. Direct threats, harassment, assault and battery are different subjects. Defamation and slander are addressed civilly.

        1. “She held up molded plastic covered in red paint and topped with a wig: she didn’t hold up an actual head acquired via murder. And then a picture was taken. It’s protected speech.”

    1. I believe that Griffin’s image, though reprehensible, was protected speech.

      But I also believe there is an argument that the image of a severed head, especially considering events since 9/11, is a threat in much the same way a noose is a threat, and therefore not protected speech.

      Further, I am not too concerned that she lost her job. Celebrities that take steps to become unpopular and loose their audience should expect to loose business opportunities. The whole point of hiring Griffin was to attract viewers. When she starts driving them away the consequences should be obvious.

  9. Dave137 – I am going with hate speech on this one. Everything that Kathy Griffin has said about Trump has been hateful and this photo is just one more addition. I am not sure it is protected. And, as a gay icon, she has to hold herself to a higher standard.

    1. Fortunately the First Amendment couldn’t be clearer. Calling speech hateful doesn’t disqualify it from being speech, though it may warrant investigation if directed in a threatening manner.

      If I find your speech hateful and sought to have it silenced, I doubt you’d accept.

      1. Dave137 – if I had your severed head in my hands in a photo, is that political or hate speech?

  10. The nature of the image warrants investigation, because it borders on being a threat. But beyond that, it’s protected speech. If it were any other president, I’d say the same.

    The governor of Texas recently held up a target with bullet holes and said something about reporters. Arguably that’s more worthy of investigation than a picture produced by a comedian.

  11. The interesting thing is that she quoted Trump on that picture. It’s word-by-word what Trump said about Megan Kelly because she dared to ask King Trump difficult questions. He tried to deflect her questions by claiming that she had PMS and was menstruating while she asked him question. Who is really most disgusting here? I don’t know – but to give Trump a victim status is bizarre

    1. My wife is post-menopausal now, but when she was menopausal she would follow me around the house looking for an argument. It took me about 5 months to figure out she only did it when she was PMSing. So Trump has a legitimate question to ask as a man who has been married several times. This is not his first rodeo.

    2. What Megyn Kelly asked was a stupid question, and one not fitting for a Presidential Debate. Really, does calling some fat chick a fat chick rise to the national level of discourse??? Like Megyn Kelly never got catty and called some chick fat??? Or worse.

      Squeeky Fromm
      Girl Reporter

    3. Speaking of PMS, has anyone noticed that America’s era of decline

      and the era of implementation of the 19th Amendment are simultaneous?

      End the incoherence and hysteria.

      Repeal the 19th Amendment.

  12. @Squeeky: ” … conservatives are behind.”

    Right. Poor beat up conservatives. They only have the presidency, the senate, the house, good chance the take the supreme court, 33 state governorships, 32 state houses, and about a gazillion county governments.

    What ever will poor republicans do to protect themselves?

      1. “Lawsuit forces Maryland Democrats to acknowledge the obvious: Redistricting was motivated by politics”

        “That was my hope,” O’Malley told attorneys in a deposition. “It was also my intent to create … a district where the people would be more likely to elect a Democrat than a Republican.” O’Malley admits the goal was to create a district to elect a Democrat and push 20 year House member Republican Roscoe Bartlett out of office.

        I’ve always found it especially stupid for Democrats to suggest gerrymandering is a problem when Republicans do it. The practice is almost as old as the republic. It was invented by Elbridge Gerry, who was elected governor of MA as a member of the Democrat-Republican Party – the predecessor to today’s Democratic Party.

        I know. You’re a straight shooter. You don’t like it when Democrats do it any more than when Republicans do it. You want both parties to stop it.

        I won’t buy that argument if you try to make it because you brought it up to take a shot at Republicans.

        1. You are just unhappy because what I said is true. Republicans deserve the criticism. Calling that criticism “stupid” just because of your perceived party affiliation of the person providing the criticism shows your true colors.

          BTW, I don’t like gerrymandering period. It creates extremists in the legislature on both sides of the aisle. But this microthread wasn’t about the Maryland legislature.

          1. What you said is false. The net benefit to the Republican congressional caucus from gerrymandering is inconsequentially small (and a fraction of what benefit Democrats received 30 years ago). They’ve received more popular ballots in House contests 8 of the last 12 federal elections. They receive seats in excess of their popular plurality because Republican votes are more efficiently distributed. Democrats rack up 5-1 majorities in core cities while Republicans get by with smaller pluralities in tract-suburbs, exurbs, small towns, and countryside.

            You want to get rid of gerrymandering, you need a constitutional amendment or a co-ordinated assault on our officious federal judiciary by the Congress and the state legislatures, stripping them of jurisdiction over redistricting and then implementing practice manuals for district delineation. It’s not difficult to contrive a means of drawing districts which limits the amount of discretion involved and distributes any discretion to local judicial panels. You do have to accept that districts will not be equipopulous, but will vary within a certain range.

            Gerrymandering is doing little to ‘create extremists’ except to the extent that it benefits black nationalists. If you’re concerned about ‘extremism’, you’d advocate ordinal balloting, which promotes coalition building in certain circumstances (see the work of Donald Horowitz).

  13. Well, that’s the slippery slope. Liberal Democrats can’t introduce the concept, and then hope to monopolize it. The VFW is wrong, but I don’t care. Because this is a war for the country, and conservatives are behind.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  14. Unlike much of the left (libs like Turley excepted), I actually support free speech whether it’s from Jared Taylor, Richard Spencer or even Kathy Griffin.

    Most calls for hate speech laws are coming from the political left but we should not turn a blind eye even if it is coming from the other side.

    Just another symptom of this country coming apart at the seams and Balkanizing. Maybe a divorce is in order?

  15. Griffin’s act is free speech.

    Americans have the right to insult the king. Period.

    “Hate speech” and “hate crime” laws are irrefutably unconstitutional.

    For 228 years, the singular American failure has been the Supreme Court.

    The Supreme Court Justices should be impeached and convicted with extreme prejudice

    and replaced with patriots who can read the Constitution and swear to uphold it literally.

    People must accept the outcomes of freedom.

    People must adapt to freedom.

    Freedom does not adapt to people.

  16. If you condemn all of those snowflakes who label everything hate speech, and now you demand that Griffin be locked up for this display, guess what? You ARE the snowflake. The hypocrisy in the world today is just staggering.

    1. Actually conservatives are not into boycotting and having celebrities fired for speech and stupid acts. But after several years of watching the lefties do it, including the rodeo clown who wore a Obama mask on the job, and got fired after the Lefty outcry.
      A weird thing happened… the conservatives had enough and thought
      Let’s throw sanity to the wind and give the lefties a taste of their own medicine.

  17. She’s not funny. Never was. But I guess the VFW is ok with this, despite their advocacy for disabled vets. Trump mocks disabled reporter https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=uNXgjnBpxGI

    It’s just freedom of speech for a republican. What does Barron think of the naked girl on girl modeling his mother did? Are republicans outraged since its hardley a family value? Hypocrisy at its finest.

    1. Prissy – the photos of his mother did not show up on his TV at breakfast before school. Griffin has lost her gig with CNN and with some casino. She may end up like Andrew Dice Clay (anyone remember him)?

      1. I last recall seeing him on late-night television ca. 1989 and he was perfectly gruesome (and got no laughs). The sheer number of cable channels means he has since 1990 made an average six or seven appearances a year on the small screen since then. I think Sirius and comedy clubs are his main labor. I’m sure the high point of his career was when Esquire gave him one of their annual Dubious Achievement Awards for ‘Transporting Poisonous Gas Across State Lines’.

    2. Baron Trump is a KID! I’m going to ask you Socialist one simple question: If it was your Dad or your Mother that Kathy Griffin did this to, how would you feel? The Conservatives did NOT go after Obama like a pack of hienas. There is something way wrong, distorted, with a brain who wants to compare a Model’s nude photos to Kathy’s bloodied head of the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. And if you don’t see that, why don’t you try this act on your own head and give it to your kids, if you have any?

  18. It is pretty grotesque, and it is just a picture. Was it even supposed to be funny, or just to point out that what Trump has done to the country is in reality quite grotesque as well? As seems to happen over and over in this administration, the press and most everyone lets Trump get away with saying the most awful and heinous things (far beyond what any American politician in our lifetime has said) and then beats up anyone who quotes him.

    1. Progressives like yourself love to live in a strange make believe world. Do you really not get that Trump won the election? He won. We did not just “let him get away with” saying things. We found the stench of the MSM-approved, Koch Bros. approved, Zionist Neocon scum Bill Crystal approved, Bush dynasty approved, and Neocon George Will approved candidate HRC worse than Trump. We voted for him and he won election.

      Forget Trump’s offensive language. Your hero Jesus Obama and his stoogette HRC ordered their Al-CIAduh thugs to arm and train alleged Islamic “moderates” (as if such exist) to anal rape and then behead (watch the video if you need confirmation) the legal leader of Libya Ghadaffi. The result is about 2million refugees and hundreds of thousands of dead innocents, and Libya is now run by Hillary’s alleged moderates, who turn out to be ISIS after all. (Did they LIE on their “moderate certification” test? OUTRAGEOUS!)

      Why did HRC and the Deep State target Gadaffi? Africa is the new China and east. Africa is the largest store of untapped wealth remaining on planet earth to be exploited for Western profits. Shortly prior to murdering Gadaffi, he was the key speaker at a meeting of the leaders of all African nations. Why did Obama and HRC sign Gadaffi’s death warrant? Gadaffi mortal financial sin against Western banks was to plead for Africans to unite under one African continental currency, to even the battles with Eastern and Western super powers bent on raping and pillaging Africa’s untapped potential wealth (SOP).

      Wake me from my slumber when you got something like that on Trump. Oh, and then there’s this, Obama’s bloodless and apparently Turley-approved coup of the US Justice Dept: http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/veneer-justice-kingdom-crime/

      1. Don’t forget how she laughed about the brutal murder of Qaddafi , just like biatch laughed about getting off a rapist by accusing a minor to have brought it on herself .

        These idiot leftists do not value hard work and hence do not understand the reward of hard work . Trump had campaigned 109 times harder than the loser obama and Clinton campaigned combined in their campaigns. Trump would have crushed the failed thug in 2012 if he had run instead of the losers like Romney and McCain .

      2. 3,000,000 more people voted for the Democratic candidate. I would hope that had Hillary won with similar statistics she would have been intelligent enough to understand she didn’t have a mandate from the majority.

        1. You mean to tell me psychopaths like obama and Clinton deserved to ruin 10 more libyas and then laugh about it ?

          1. Let’s not forget about Bush/Cheney and Iraq. Here’s Bush, laughing about the fruitless search for WMDs:


            Both parties have their “psychopaths.”

            We need to stop this right/left BS and come together as Americans.

          2. Libya is in an anarchic state as a consequence of it’s own disordered social relations.

      3. Well pointed out JJ. Trash-talk is cheap. Now the Obama-Clinton-Sarkozy tag team destruction of the country with the highest standard of living in Africa should make every Democrat proud. According to Obama-Clinton, pu$$y grabbing is for pu$$ies; if you want to make an exclamation, have hired neo-nazis shove a bayonet in the rectum of a sitting leader.

      4. Zionist Neocon scum Bill Crystal

        Another bit of wisdom from the Der Sturmer caucus here at Turley’s.

  19. It’s not hate speech to the left….it’s everyday normal street language probably with four letter words of one syllable.

    1. I am a liberal and most definitely NOT a Trump supporter. However, I think that Griffin’s attempt at humor here crossed that variable line that defines “offensive” for most of us. Given that, if I had the misfortune to be a conservative, I wouldn’t be too proud of the characterizations of Obama that showed up over the last 8 years. This issue is definitely a sword with two sharp edges.

      1. Indeed…what Obama had “dripping from his mouth and every orifice” were LIES to American people. Can you imagine what the Socialist Democrats would have done if an Obama head mask had been put on a platter showing all of the lies coming out of his mouth! But of course, that would never happen because that comedian would have been burned at the stake. I don’t consider myself “unfortunate”. I feel that the Earth has been off its axis since 2009 and is finally being brought to center. Griffin’s didn’t need to apologize to me (her little video)…she needs to apologize sincerely to President and Mrs. Trump and their children. Griffin makes Jane Fonda’s Viet Nam actions pale in comparison. Trump “Hope and Change” that is underway in America is long overdo but I certainly understand that you Socialist aren’t happy with the election results. Listening to Hillary’s alumni speech earlier this week and then TV snippets of her book tour speeches (wonder if Simon Scheuster will buy up all the unsold copies of this newest ‘not my fault tell all like they did before’?) make me giddy with glee that she is NOT our President. Hopefully, she’ll run again and then can be beat for the third and what should be a final time since HIllary will go to her grave believing that she should be buried on the White House lawn.

        1. When it comes to lies and incompetence, Trump has no equal. Obama is merely a politician who squirmed and weaseled as do all politicians, when they said one thing but another transpired; it comes with the territory. Trump, on the other hand, is mentally unbalanced, a pathological liar, and worse than all that Trump lies for no reason at all yet exposes his incompetence at the same time. It could be a strategy of creating chaos so as to appear the hero, the man from outside the system, etc but with each opening of that fish mouth it is becoming more apparent that there is simply no there, there.

          1. Trump put out the welcome mat for the comedians…his “pussy-grabbing” comment begat Colbert’s comments…his comments about Obama being killed begat the Griffin photo. Comedians didn’t engage Rubio, Jeb Bush, etc. in the same manner. The comedians are returning volley, in kind, to Trump.

            The VFW is so blindly right wing, it dishonors the fight for America’s values.

          2. You and I could go around on this one all day and probably into next week. The LIAR Obama’s boners were the worst I can ever remember. How about: Benghazi murders of our Ambassador Stevens, Americans Wood, Doherty and Smith were the result of a YouTube Video. And HRC’s infamous in regard to why they were murdered: “At this point, what difference does it make?”!! Or how about ladling out: “Bergdahl served with Honor and Distinction”….or “Not a smidgeon of evidence” that IRS targeted Conservatives or “Americans are not being spied on”….and that’s just my opening on the LIAR Obama. I’m a MAJOR Trump supporter and hope to see ALL of Obama’s policies (you know all the ones he made up with his little pen and phone because he didn’t have the balls to work with Congress) revoked, repealed, replaced and put int he dumpster. Can’t wait to see what we find out about RICE, BRENNAN and the rest of the CROOKED Obama staff including LOWretta Lynch. There are going to be indictments and it will be second happiest day of my life. The first one being November 8, 2016!

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