Kathy Griffin, is a comedian. She gets paid big bucks to make people laugh. Her career is now in hot water after posting a photo of her holding a mock bloodied severed head of President Trump. CNN immediately disavowed, her cancelling her New Years Eve Time Square gig. Others have also followed suit cancelling some of her future performances. She pleads that this act was really an expression of art so it was OK. However when an avalanche of criticism rained down on Griffin, she did not take long to apologize. She noted that she may have crossed the line and tweeted, “OBVIOUSLY I do not condone ANY violence.” Spoken like a true flower child. Lovely.
There seems to be an alarming frequency of outrageous and offensive acts perpetrated all in the name of art.
I can readily see in the near future this argument becoming a defense in law. It will join the M'Naghten rule test for criminal insanity. Under the M'Naghten rule, a criminal defendant is not guilty by reason of insanity if, at the time of the alleged criminal act, the defendant was so deranged that he did not know the nature or quality of her actions or, if he knew the nature and quality of his actions, he was so deranged that he did not know that what he was doing was wrong.
I can just visualize some guy robbing a bank. He is arrested and comes to court. The judge asks, “How do you plead? Guilty or not guilty”
His lawyer responds, “Your Honour, my client relies on the Picasso rule. He pleads not guilty by reason of having committed art. At the time of the alleged criminal act, he was so absorbed by his artistic talents that taking money from the bank was not his object at all. He certainly did not know he was doing anything wrong. This was all a staged installation. To my client, the bank was his canvas. His 44 Magnum was his brush. His bullets were his paints. And even the disguise he wore was a vintage Renaissance Venetian mask.”
After the trial, the judge agrees with the defense and he pronounces judgment:”I find you not guilty by reason of having committed art. You will be confined to the Royal Ontario Museum, for an indefinite period of time, at the pleasure of the Crown. Your case will be reviewed from time to time as necessary by a panel of artists. I now call for a recess.”
I am now retired from the practice of law after almost 43 years in the profession. I now have time and leisure to laugh even more. I would be delighted to speak about using humour, avoiding trouble or otherwise amuse you at your next event. My content does not cross the line. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.