I remember a famous exchange Milosevic had with his judge. It was 2002, and, still, the closest Western consciousness came to beheading lay somewhere between the history of the French Revolution two centuries ago, and the absurdity of Lewis Carroll's Red Queen.
Milosevic was trying to show what jihad looked like, which, in his war, was a beheaded Serbian soldier.
MILOSEVIC: These are crimes from the 26th of March, 1992, in Sijekovac.
The units (Mujahedin) crossed the Sava River and slaughtered the Serbs. Please put the big picture on the overhead projector.
That's it. That's what they did. That's what the Mujahedin did, the ones we saw yesterday. And we saw Izetbegovic (leader of the Bosnian Moslems) reviewing them yesterday.
What's the matter? Is it not on the screens?
JUDGE MAY: It's on the screen. Do you want the next photograph shown?
MILOSEVIC: But I haven't seen it on the screen. I only see you on the screen.
JUDGE MAY: It's on our screen. Make sure you've got the right button.
MILOSEVIC: All right. All right. You don't want to show this. You don't want to show this to the public.
JUDGE MAY: Mr. Milosevic, it is on our screen.
MILOSEVIC: It's not on the screens that the public sees. Right. I see it on this screen now. But this internal screen only. So he is holding a head, the head of a Serb that he cut off. So those are the 20.000 Mujahedin that were brought to the European theatre of war through Clinton's policy, and most of them remained there and some went to America and to other countries, and they went all around Europe. And then when they start beheading your own people in wars to come, then you will know what this is all about. ...
Sometime later, I saw a photograph of a beheaded Serbian man online, maybe the same one Milosevic was trying to show the public. I had never seen anything more shocking, viscerally, in my life: a human head, eyes closed, in the hands of a monster in human form. At the same time, there was nothing more visecerally shocking than our own Daniel Pearl, also beheaded by Muslim "fighters" -- or Nicholas Berg, with his slaughterhouse cries. Or Theo van Gogh, very nearly beheaded in Islamic ritual fashion on the streets of Amsterdam, although they tried not to let us know that; and more, in the continuing wars with Islam.
Certainly, our leaders still don't know what this is all about. Beheading, however, is no longer the unthinkable act it used to be. It has now entered our cultural mainstream, courtesy something called Kathy Griffin, whose "comedy," I am so happily out of it to say, I had not seen until today when her own Hollywood riff on the mujahudin who slaughtered the Serbs fifteen years ago, and Pearl, Berg, van Gogh and the murdered and violated rest, brought her to public eye holding aloft an extremely bloody representation of the head of President Trump. She thinks she has created something of value, a message, a moment, a point.
Her own sickness of spirit, though, is beside the point. I am afraid she has felt the pulse of the nation, circa 2017, and correctly judged Islamic ritual slaughter, once almost literally unthinkable in the West, to have become just another punch line.
There is more.
Griffin has apologized.
From the Daily Mail:
She also posted a video promising to remove the offending image after she was lambasted by all sides of the political spectrum, including Chelsea Clinton.
But the apology was not enough to stop the army of critics, both Trump supporters and Democrats, from attacking Griffin on social media for the outrageous stunt.
Even her long-time New Years Eve co-host Anderson Cooper said he was 'appalled' by the photo shoot, which he described as 'clearly disgusting and completely inappropriate.'
My, the stakes become high.
... As the firestorm of criticism surrounding Griffin increased a CNN spokesman said that they are 'evaluating' Griffin's long-time role hosting its New Year’s Eve coverage but have 'made no decisions at this point'
'We found what she did disgusting and offensive. We are pleased to see she has apologized and asked that the photos be taken down. We are evaluating New Year’s Eve and have made no decisions at this point,' the spokesman said.
It is an interesting moment, as CNN "evaluates New Year's Eve" -- i.e., whether Griffin's apology erases the severed Trump-head to the far point of rinsing Griffin's hands of all blood, "creatively" speaking.
Even in this day of overexposure to the worst, the lowest, the ugliest, the most degrading, a severed head is still something else -- and it's still there. Even if Griffin were able to remove the bloody thing from the internet altogether (which she is not, given the explosion of copies all around), the image is still there, no matter how "sorry" Griffin is -- and I'm sure she is extremely sorry to be poised to lose, possibly, some very big, very mainstream gigs. It's there inside our own heads along with images of the real victims Griffin is also idiotically and toxically exploiting. Their real death's heads were also designed by other barbarians to shock and psychologically maim the living.
The question becomes, how alive are the rest of us -- starting at CNN?
Is it going to be New Year's Eve with Andersoon Cooper, Kathy Griffin and the severed Trump head that has been "removed"?
The answer is no. For once, the mainstream sweeps clean, driving "edgy" to its rightful place -- on the edge. Not on your TV screen as the clock strikes midnight on 2018. Happy New Year in advance.