Human Rights

MTG Heckled Biden While He Was Telling Story of a Girl Who Died From Fentanyl, and Her Father is DEVASTATED

When Doug Griffin lost his 20-year-old daughter Courtney to a Fentanyl overdose, he began dedicating his life to raising awareness about the stigma attached to addiction and advocating for better access to substance use disorder treatment services. The pain he and his wife Pam faced in the wake of their daughter’s passing is unimaginable. The young woman was a talented musician and hoped to one day move to Hawaii.

So when Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene stood up to heckle President Joe Biden as he retold Courtney’s story during his annual State of The Union (SOTU) Address, I’m sure that for Griffin, it felt like someone was jamming a stick into a wound.

And in an interview with The Independent, Griffin said he found it “really nasty” when the GOP congresswoman interrupted Biden during what should have been “a moment of reverence.”

“I was startled as that was the only time during the entire speech that he was heckled in that way,” he said.

“It was really nasty in what was a time of reverence. I think she crossed the line.”

For Griffin, a Republican, Greene’s outburst symbolized the “constant battle” to get Republicans and Democrats to break bread together and tackle the opioid crisis. He urged lawmakers to quit treating it as a partisan issue.

“It’s a constant battle between far left and far right — a struggle to be able to do anything,” he said. “And I think that was the perfect example of that when she broke in there. It’s not the time or the place to do that.”

“And I’m a Republican — but the issue of drugs is not a partisan issue.”

The Griffins were on hand for Biden’s SOTU address Tuesday as they were guests of first lady Jill Biden and that led President Joe Biden to share the young woman’s tragic story with members of the House and Senate. And of course, millions of TV viewers across the country.

“Joining us tonight is a father named Doug from Newton, New Hampshire. He wrote Jill, my wife a letter and me also about his courageous daughter Courtney. Contagious laugh. Her sister’s best friend,” Biden said. “He shared a story all too familiar to millions of Americans and many of you audience. Courtney discovered pills in high school. It spiraled into addiction and eventually her death from a fentanyl overdose. She was just 20 years old.”

“Describing the last eight years without her, Doug said, ‘There is no worse pain.'”

“Yet their family has turned pain into purpose, working to end stigma and change laws,” Biden said. “He told us he wants to ‘start a journey towards America’s recovery.'”

“Doug, we’re with you. Fentanyl is killing more than 70,000 Americans a year.”

It was at this point that Greene, who’d already been heckling Biden, along with others, decided to chime in. She could be heard yelling “It’s coming from China!”

Courtney Griffin was 20 when she died of a fentanyl overdose
Family handout

Another lawmaker hollered “It’s your fault!”

Griffin didn’t react to the obnoxiousness at the moment and the camera panned over in his direction, showing him look rather solemn. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, however, shushed members of his own party.

Doug Griffin looks on from the gallery during the State of the Union

And while Griffin may have looked unperturbed at the time, he told The Independent that the crude remarks “took him away.”

“At that moment he was trying to tell her story and get a response to the story and [Ms. Greene] broke the momentum of that moment,” he said. “I traveled a long way for me and my wife to be there to hear it and she crossed the line and broke the moment of the minute.”

Griffin had hoped this moment could be a jumping-off point to advocate for more awareness about the opioid addiction crisis that continues to unfold in the U.S. and a chance to talk about Courtney’s brave struggle and the dangers that drugs like Fentanyl pose.

Biden noted Griffin had written to him two years ago, and Griffin says he was “surprised” when an invitation arrived earlier this year.

“It must have been at the back of their mind all this time,” he said.

“Courtney’s story has been told in congress before but this is the first time a president has told it.”

Griffin added that he knows his daughter would have been “proud.”

Courtney dreamed of Hawaii her entire life and the family traveled often. A talented musician, she was also in a band. But the young woman began experimenting with drugs in high school and it wasn’t long before she was addicted to heroin. And she fought hard against it, joining the Marines at one point, her father said, “to get away from drugs.”

“She was only a little thing, five foot one, at this bootcamp and was getting through it and then in the entrance exam one urine sample came back positive for marijuana and they threw her out,” Griffin said.

“She had finally got on the path and she loved the discipline. She came out and she crashed as she felt like she had failed, like she was worthless.”

Poor girl. One wonders why the Marines couldn’t have given her one more chance. But that’s the military, I guess.

Things looked up a little bit. She applied to the University of Hawaii, of course. She was accepted but was still fighting the battle so she decided not to go.

Courtney managed to book herself into a treatment facility in 2014. But then the insurance company refused to cover the treatment, forcing her to leave.

“They told us it’s not a matter of life and death,” Griffin said. “Back in 2014, if the world knew you were doing drugs you were treated as a junkie and treated with less respect.”

Just one month later Courtney was dead.

That’s what makes Greene’s outbursts so odious. And the opioid crisis has been going on for years — long before Biden took office. If there was ever a time for Republicans and Democrats to break bread together this surely must be it. But Republicans like Greene would rather yell, point fingers, and spread blame where it doesn’t belong.

If that’s not shameful then I don’t know what is.

meet the author

Megan has lived in California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida and she currently lives in Central America. Living in these places has informed her writing on politics, science, and history. She is currently owned by 15 cats and 3 dogs and regularly owns Trump supporters when she has the opportunity. She can be found on Twitter at and Facebook at


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