Opinion | Why Kathy Griffin Will Not Stand Down

Or is it just possible that all of this outrage was manufactured, that a single act of truly bad taste was transformed by the president’s men into an instant excuse to unleash all their hatred? How is it possible that people who were appalled by Ms. Griffin’s mistake appear, at the same time, to be unconcerned with the antics of the most dishonest man to ever occupy the Oval Office? Because, in fact, Ms. Griffin’s photo wasn’t a call for decapitation. It was a call for resistance.

At one point, she says, the Secret Service was attempting to get her to come in for an interrogation wearing an orange jump suit, in handcuffs.

Would you have done it, if you were Kathy Griffin? Of course you wouldn’t. You’d have feared the effect of that image upon your supporters, many of whom belong to some of the country’s most marginalized groups.

“Over my dead body am I letting anyone see me doing a perp walk in a jump suit for my First Amendment rights, which I did not violate,” she said. “I’m not letting a woman see it. I’m not letting a person of color see it. I’m not letting a gay person see it. I don’t care how much it costs — over my dead body, a perp walk like a common criminal.”

Ms. Griffin is surely not the first celebrity to find her career shattered as a result of saying or doing something inappropriate. But there’s something in her fate unique to the Trump era, a special kind of anger reserved for women, and older women at that (Griffin is 58). Is her photograph so much more unforgivable than, say, Johnny Depp asking, at the 2017 Glastonbury Festival: “When was the last time an actor assassinated a president? It’s been awhile, and maybe it’s time.” Later, just like Ms. Griffin, he said he was “not insinuating anything.”

These comments did not end Mr. Depp’s career. Ms. Griffin, meanwhile, is doing stand-up for medium-size audiences in theaters. Neither CNN nor Squatty Potty has called.

“What happened to me truly was historic and unprecedented in the worst kind of way,” she said. “But I fought it tooth and nail.”

Is she going to keep doing this work, in spite of the obvious toll it’s taken on her?

“If you don’t stand up,” she said, “you get run over.”

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