Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Kathy Griffin's Emmy Remarks Will Be Censored

When Kathy Griffin received a creative arts Emmy for her reality show last weekend, she is reported to have said, by way of an acceptance speech:

Can you believe this shit? I guess hell froze over. … a lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus. So, all I can say is, ‘suck it, Jesus.’ This award is my god now.
Which are not the most tactful remarks she could have found for the occasion, but tact is probably not what she was trying to convey. Instead, it looks very much like she was attempting to insult everyone who has ever thanked Jesus for an Emmy.

Now, why Ms. Griffin thought the occasion of receiving an Emmy such a wonderful opportunity for insulting others is a mystery to me. Perhaps she hates Christianity to the point of an obsession with it. Who knows? But the TV Academy and the E! Channel plan to edit her offensive remarks from the Emmy Awards program they will be showing Saturday. And while I am passionately opposed to censorship, I concede the Academy and Cable Channel have every legal right to censor Ms. Griffin.

I am as far from being a legal expert as possible but it's my understanding that the right to free speech does not apply to uninvited speech conducted on someone else's private property. I do not have a right, for instance, to enter your house to make a campaign speech for my favorite candidate unless you invite me to do so. Nor do I have a right to demand that you publish my speech in your newspaper, on your blog, or over your TV network. So, while I could be mistaken, I think the TV Academy and the E! Channel legally can pretty much do what they want to censor Ms. Griffin.

Yet, does the Academy and E! Channel have a moral obligation to air Ms. Griffin's remarks? Again, I don't think so. For once, I find myself on the side of the censors. Ms. Griffin's remarks strike me as inappropriate to their forum and -- worse -- as gratuitously insulting. There is no moral reason that I can see why the TV Academy and E! Channel must provide a forum for Ms. Griffin to insult everyone who has ever thanked Jesus for an Emmy.

Am I right about this, or should I drink some more coffee and re-think it?


Griffin's Emmy Remarks to be Censored


Priyank said...

Paul, that was a very rational argument for your opinion. I was trying to imagine reactions to a similar incident in India. The government would have banned it citing religious reasons. Lets see what the channels do, and if they really censor, lets see what reasons they cite.

Webs said...

Personally I thought it was amusing. I have no problem with people poking fun at those that credit to Jesus or god for helping them. Whether it be an athlete or a celebrity, the credit God and/or Jesus get is incredible. I still have yet to figure out how an omnipresent being is responsible for someone's skills in acting or creative art.

God didn't step in and give me the ability to be an ass. I figured that out on my own. ;P

Xabstract said... Kathy Griffin Censorship Petition!

Stop the Censoring!

Rambodoc said...

I don't think such responses are offensive, but my tolerance spectrum (for speech) is size 26.
All said and done, your point is perfectly valid that free speech has to be contextual. A private party can chop your remarks off if they don't like 'em.

amuirin said...

I think you're right.

Particularly with the private thing. Like, for instance, on my blog while I invite discussion if any comment makes me really uneasy or if I feel uncomfy with something, I'll delete it without explanation or discussion. Maybe that's an authoritorian way to do things, but I kinda consider that my little plot of internet property and I'm not really obligated to be hospitable if I don't want someone there.

Also... Kathy Griffin's hella abrasive. *nods*

p.s. Hi Paul!

You can come comment whenever you want though. You're always invited.

marxsny said...

One of the first organizations to respond and express their outrage over this was the Catholic League. I'm offended that the Catholic Church has spent the past 1000 years raping children and attempting to cover it up, but they are still allowed to voice their opinion. Everybody is offended by something and the decision to censor will be based on the potential alienation of sponsors and loss of revenue not what is moral.

Paul said...

Thank you, Priyank! It's interesting the Indian Government would have censored Ms. Griffin's remarks. Do you think that would be a necessary action on their part? Say, in order to prevent a violent response to her remarks?

Hi Webs! I certainly agree with you that crediting Jesus for ones successes is incredible, but then again, I'm not a Christian. It doesn't seem to hurt anyone when people do that, however silly it sounds to us.

Hi Xabstract! Welcome to the blog!

I would defend to the death Kathy Griffin's right to air her opinions on public property, but in this case, I won't be signing your petition because I believe the Academy and E! Channel are within their rights to censor her remarks on their own turf.

Hi Rambodoc! One of the things I most admire about you is the way you embrace outspoken opinions. There's a freshness and vigor to that. Griffin's remarks didn't so much personally offend me as I felt she was kinda crazy to make a big deal about her opinions of Jesus at an Emmy Awards Ceremony. Obviously, she felt it was the right place and time to comment on people's mythologies, but I'm lost to understand why she felt that way.

Hi Amuirin! I've only had to delete one comment on this blog so far for it's being rude beyond belief. That was when some troll attacked a comment made by one of the readers in the most vile terms you can imagine. I figure if someone wants to intentionally insult one of my readers, they don't deserve their words to be kept on my blog.

I agree, Marxsny: The Academy and E! Channel will most likely decide what to censor based on their bottom line, rather than on any moral considerations. I also agree with you that the Catholic Church has a whole lot to answer for -- I don't consider them a moral authority on much of anything these days.

Gary said...

You state your case very well indeed but I do not agree that they should censor her remarks. I have heard some really insulting and inappropriate thank you speeches in the past that are allowed to air. The bottom line is once we start to be selective where do we draw the line? The podium will always be used for more than gratitude.

Paul said...

Hi Gary! Although I wasn't too clear about it, I wasn't trying to argue that they should censor her. All I tried to argue is that the Academy and E! Channel have no legal nor moral obligation to forgo censoring her.

Webs said...

Hi Webs! I certainly agree with you that crediting Jesus for ones successes is incredible, but then again, I'm not a Christian. It doesn't seem to hurt anyone when people do that, however silly it sounds to us.

I'm not sure I fully agree though. When ones abilities are credited to someone else, then the someone else takes credit for the rising and failings of the individual rising and failing. Especially in the younger minds. This quickly spirals out of control in that suddenly you can steal and it's not a big deal because God will forgive you, especially if you are not an atheist.

This line of thinking may also lead people to not use science as much as they should, because suddenly there is a creator behind the scenes taking care of things. Credit needs to be given where it is due.

Mahendra said...

//the right to free speech does not apply to uninvited speech conducted on someone else's private property.//

I would like to make a distinction here that I don't think has been made in the post or the comments.

An Emmy award winner is indeed invited to make a speech. It is not invited. So, I disagree with the use of the word 'uninvited' that has been used throughout. An award winner who has been invited to make a speech makes full use of his or her freedom of expression.

Television broadcasting is a different matter altogether. A private, commercial TV broadcasting channel, which has chosen to broadcast the Emmy awards, is well within its right to determine what to show or what not to. The debate about 'censorship' or 'freedom of expression' doesn't apply to this case at all.

It would have applied if the Emmy award organization had laid down rules regarding what can be and cannot be said when you make a speech after receiving the award. Broadcasting by a TV channel is a separate matter altogether.

The real debate is: does an organization who gives out awards and invites the winners to make a speech, have the right to lay down guidelines or rules regarding what the winners can and cannot say? That is where the real issue is.

Mahendra said...

Sorry, I meant to say "It is not UNinvited".

Paul said...

Good points, Webs and Mahendra!