Bill Maher on political correctness (and more)

Bill Maher, while a comedian with an acerbic style, as always makes some good points – this time about political correctness.

He wades into the Michael Sam controversy, where an NFL player freaked out and tweeted “OMG horrible,” and subsequently got fined and suspended for it.

Maher thinks that went too far, especially since we, the side of good, basically won this battle by having an inter-racial gay kiss on ESPN (not to mention, we’ve basically won the marriage battle nationwide as well – it’s not over yet, but it will be).  And we have won, but there is a problem with creating a hostile work environment for other players on the team.

Mozilla has announced a new logo to coincide with the hire of Cliven Bundy.

Mozilla has announced a new logo to coincide with the hire of Cliven Bundy.

Speaking of hostile work environments, Maher went on to talk about Mozilla’s former CEO Brendan Eich. The problem with Eich was not, as Maher alleged, that Eich was against gay marriage. The problem was that he was an anti-gay activist who donated money to a campaign intended to wipe out the already-existing legal marriages of gay couples. Perhaps Maher would have defended that as well, but it’s different from simply “not being in favor of gay marriage.” That was never the problem with Brendan Eich.

Of course, Maher does have a larger point that I don’t entirely disagree with.  We have become an outrage-culture where social media has turned everyone into an instant trigger-happy expert on how awful every other person on the planet really is, and how they simply must be destroyed. And I don’t claim to be totally innocent here, either. I’ve done my share of advocacy campaigns.  But as I’ve written before, being a good activist is about more than simply having a Twitter account, or even amassing a sizable number of followers. Good advocacy, “just” advocacy, is about going after the right, and legitimate, target proportionate to their offense, and for a reason.  And the reason, if you’re a really good activist, is usually something far beyond “punishment.”  It’s often about changing a larger culture, or effecting some greater change at an organization, or an industry.  And, if you’re really good, sometimes you take a pass, because the thing everyone else determined to be outrageous sometimes simply isn’t.

And there’s an interesting point to be made that when the targets of verbal venom are not gay, the punishment often tends to be swifter.

Before I close, I’d meant for a while now to write about this guy, who we’re not supposed to like, or something. His essay in Time is worth a read.

Speaking of people we’re supposed to hate, here’s Bill Maher:

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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15 Responses to “Bill Maher on political correctness (and more)”

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  2. DevilsAdvocateAC says:

    “But that is one of the many reasons that they should not be allowed power on any terms.”

    …and that’s called prejudice. because this speech is what Fox (weirdly) and South Park (heroically) has been saying for YEARS and has constantly been ignored. and even now ya’ll don’t agree with him even though he is so on your side it’s insane.

    South Park (and most great comedians) exude this philosophy: absolute free speech is the most important thing AND either everything is ok to make fun of or nothing is.

    that’s how I live. and whether or not it comes from an honest place or not, the morons on Fox are “on the right side of history” when it comes to this topic.

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  4. MyrddinWilt says:

    Well first off, have you ever seen a right winger criticize another rightwinger for calling for a boycott? None of them raised a peep when Bill Maher was kicked off Network for pointing out that ‘cowardly’ was not the right epithet to throw at the suicide attackers in 9/11.

    If people had taken Maher seriously then they would have realized that the attack was perfidious but not cowardly and mistaking the two is a problem because we don’t do the Al Qaeda thing of launching an attack on civilians directly but we do launch attacks without consideration of the civilian casualties and we do launch cowardly attacks. Drone attacks are cowardly pretty much by definition.

    If we had arrived at precisely the reason the 9/11 attack was perfidious rather than just lazily calling it ‘cowardly’ we might not have had the blunders that lost the last two wars.

    I think it is pretty important that we do not become like the right and consider every target automatically fair game. The right don’t care about the possibility they might hurt people, they don’t even care when they hurt their own. But that is one of the many reasons that they should not be allowed power on any terms.

    So I’m not at all bothered when Maher raises these issues because it is important that someone is raising them. But when the right raise the same concerns they always do so hypocritically and quite often their real purpose is to protect the racism or other bigotry that was the original issue because they are racists and bigots and that is just how they roll.

  5. MDPM says:

    Part of the problem is that media often sensationalizes a story and generates outrage, then people react to the outrage they’re feeling before they have all the facts. If media were less concerned about being the first to break a story and more concerned with being accurate and thorough, we wouldn’t have so many of these outrage eruptions. I know, I’m hopelessly optimistic.

  6. Lantor says:

    Did anyone watch Overtime? I listened to Overtime today via the podcast and was a little put out how quickly he seemed to cave on the Redskin naming issue. It seemed to me that he was implying that gay people were the ones that were overly sensitive and that Native Americans have every right (which they do) to be offended by a term that they find inappropriate or offensive. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seemed there was a little double standard at play.

  7. jomicur says:

    I can’t help noticing that Maher never, ever says anything even mildly pro-gay without immediately following it with a snide joke about hairdressing, flower arranging or some such. He seems to be all for us as long as we, er, know our place. His sniggering gay jokes got way too tired for me a long time ago.

  8. dcinsider says:

    I’m a huge Bill Maher fan, and I saw this “New Rules” segment and I totally get his point, but for the reasons John stated, I don’t agree. His understanding of the Eich thing was limited, and sometimes Bill does not do his homework, and he has a tendency to draw simple conclusions from complex situations. However, he is a consistent defender of speech, even speech he finds offensive, and that is an important voice to hear.

  9. chris10858 says:

    What if the “OMG Horrible” tweet was not a comment on guys kissing but about a white person kissing a black person? Would Bill be so forgiving?

  10. chris10858 says:

    I really like Bill Maher and he MAY have a valid point but one thing I’ve learned from conservatives is that you first of all, never apologize for anything you do, and secondly, you feign outrage on everything. It might be wrong but it works.

    I only need to use the example of Obama’s refusal to start off health reform with universal health care and negotiate from that point. Instead, we get the Heritage Foundation’s health care plan and the Repubs are fighting that every step of the way.

  11. eltoca21 says:

    Whilst I don’t disagree with the broader principal of what Bill said, I think his context was way off. Everything in the US is about branding and sponsorship and no brand wants to alienate any of its customers or fans or have it’s brand put into disrepute or associated with sensitive subjects. Don Jones did just that and got sanctioned for it like most other brands would do and have done in this a host of other gay unrelated incidence. Furthermore I’m always amused how seemingly freedom of speech allows you to say whatever you think but not for another to respond to it. And lastly I do quite like how Bill at every opportunity tries to cover himself and lock down/in his job for life by trying to preempt himself from anything really stupid he may say, thus being unaccountable and immune from being fired ever again.

  12. emjayay says:

    Of what I read of comments on the Time essay, a lot of people took positions similar to yours. I think someone mentioned his grandfather may have suffered but his father make big money on Wall Street. (?) The suffering of his family – a lot of whom were killed – is horrible, but he has the benefit of centuries of successful and educated Jewish and European culture transmitted though the survivors. OK, this may be dangerous to say, but a lot of black Americans for example had ancestors living in the stone age who then went directly to five or ten generations of slavery and then a hundred years of Jim Crow, which had a lot in common with slavery without the being bought and sold part. Like Maher, he has his point, but not much of one.

  13. Indigo says:

    Bill Maher. ‘Nuf said.

  14. BeccaM says:

    I feel like a broken record here.

    It wasn’t just the Prop 8 donation behind Eich’s resignation.

    It was his messianic interviews. It was Eich refusing to say he’d changed his mind on gay marriage — unlike Maher’s examples, Obama and Hillary Clinton and the no-longer-52% of Californians, many of whom were hoodwinked by the barrage of slanderous “gays are coming for YOUR kids” commercials.

    And Eich’s resignation was prompted by the ongoing PR firestorm, development partners threatening to walk and boycott, and stories in mainstream media outlets showing that Eich’s support for far-right political causes went all the way back to Pat Buchanan’s run for president in ’92 and up through thousands given to Rep. Tom McClintock, whose solution for gay marriage in America consists of a Constitutional amendment to ban it — and to ban civil unions and domestic partnerships, too. McClintock also commonly refers to being gay as an objectionable lifestyle.

    In case we’ve forgotten, here’s what Pat Buchanan had to say in 2010 about Judge Vaugh Walker’s overturning of Prop 8:

    Through history, all the great religions have condemned homosexuality and all the great nations have proscribed or punished it. None ever placed homosexual liaisons on the same plane as traditional marriage, which is the bedrock institution of any healthy society.

    And what the judge dismisses and rejects as irrational is a conviction rooted in the history of the human race, biblical truth, natural law and basic common sense. For, in recent decades, male homosexuality has been linked to enteric diseases, hepatitis, AIDS and early death.

    Historically, from the late Roman Empire to Weimar, flagrant homosexuality has been associated with sick societies, decadent cultures and dying civilizations. Today would appear to be no exception.

    It was in the days immediately following these revelations — when Eich not only wouldn’t distance himself from his support for anti-gay politicians and causes, but he wouldn’t explain why he gave only to far, far right politicians and causes throughout his entire adult life — that the pressure to resign became overwhelming.

  15. Hue-Man says:

    I watch Maher with my finger pressed firmly on the Fast Forward button although I did listen to his nonsense on Eich. If the guests for his next show are any indication, his goal seems to be to drive viewers away permanently; at a certain point, the FF button isn’t enough.

    John Waters, Anthony Weiner, Ralph E. Reed, Jr., Nicolle Wallace, Jim Geraghty

    As a privileged white male, I didn’t find the Time essay persuasive – we are here because our ancestors DID survive earthquakes, hurricanes, plagues, epidemics, war, drought, occupation, religious re-alignments, and every other calamity that could have caused their premature deaths. His ancestors’ calamities are of no greater or lesser magnitude than those of others. The fact remains that today in the U.S. and Canada (and elsewhere), women are discriminated against, minorities are discriminated against, and privileged white men rarely acknowledge this and even less often do something about it.

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