Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Bill Maher's Word Trouble

Something else in the news during my off-blog week: Bill Maher blotted his copybook - again. He had let slip the "n" word in response to something a Senator from Nebraska had said to him. I'll not repeat the context here, but link to a relevant article for detail - there are numerous others online.


I long ago lost all admiration for Bill Maher, but I was an avid fan of his early on in my time in the USA. I hadn't ever marked him as racist though - west coast elitist limousine liberal, yes, Obama apologist, yes (cost him a $ million donation that did!) Anyway, he apologised immediately for his use of the "n" word, also apologised further, multiple times, in the following week's show. That show had several black guests who were given free rein to upbraid and school Maher which, it appears, they did with enthusiasm. Rapper, Ice Cube, declared that the "n" word is the property only of black people, white people are not allowed to use it. Hmmm. Perhaps the best plan would be if black people (especially rappers) didn't use the word either. Take it out of the human lexicon altogether throw it in the trash, burn it - that's what is truly needed. From a report of Ice Cube's other remarks, he had said something to the effect that Bill Maher sometimes sounds like "a redneck trucker". Is that term not objectionable too, thought I? Maybe the term redneck should be reserved only for use by that particular ilk, if Ice Cube's rules are to be followed.

There was likely, I discovered after reading commentary, another layer to Senator Ben Sasse's remark during Real Time. The remark by Nebraska's Republican Senator which caused Maher to respond as he did, possibly had a hidden anti-semitic barb within it. I had not realised this. After Maher said something about visiting Nebraska,
Sasse hit Maher with the comment, “We’d love to see you working in the fields with us.” Maher didn’t hear “with us” so much as “working in the fields.” It was a dog whistle. There’s an old antisemitic caricature of Jews as people who live in cities, who don’t know anything about good, hard, manual labor – not like the Godfearing Protestant Christian farm folk of Nebraska. [Words in italics are from a commenter, Bill Kilpatrick].
If that is a correct assessment, then I can see more clearly why Bill Maher responded, in knee-jerk fashion, instinctively, as he did. That in no way excuses him, but could explain his manner of response more clearly.

Ye gods! When will people in the USA stop with this race thing? Perpetuating it appears to be almost an industry. We are human, all of us. When will we learn? Will it take a visit from extra-terrestrials to bash this point into our thick skulls? If surprise alien visitors decided to do as depicted in an old episode of The Twilight Zone and make it their objective to "Serve Man", then we'd darn well deserve to be broiled or grilled, plated and eaten...And, by the way, we'd taste better with garlic!


Anonymous said...

Maher has taken heat for his anti-Muslim comments too, especially the debate with Ben Affleck. Nother type of bigotry, but his anti-Muslim pejoratives didn't tarnish him for long. Suspect it's because anti-Muslim sentiment is part of the *make America great again* slogan and reflects the nation's highly politicized acquired bigotry syndrome. I do understand how he could say *Islam is the only religion that acts like the mafia that will fucking kill you if you say the wrong thing*. X-Breitbart contributor and alt-right icon Milo Yiannopoulos is another that crossed many lines to the adoration of his fellow bigots. Wasn't till he questionably *condoned* pedophilia that he went down the drain. At least Maher called *himself* a house-n which I consider different than if directing that at someone else IMHO. I might call myself a fat old dumpy grumpy libtard snowflake, but I would not take kindly if you spit that at me.

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~ Yes, I do recall reading of his anti-Muslim opinions. We no longer have HBO at home, so don't now see his show regularly, just occasionally if we're staying in hotels with HBO available, or sometimes via video clips online. I took it that his anti-Muslim stance is as much to do with his well-known strong anti-religion views (ref. his film "Religulous") as with reasons you mention.

I agree that Maher directed the "n" slur to himself, which ought to have made a difference, but it appears that any excuse for a good ol' race argument, finger pointing session and general furore will be pounced upon.

I guess there's always been a (usually) unspoken rule that it's alright for, say, Jews to make fun of Jewishness, Black folk to make fun of black peoples' quirks, Asians to joke about Asian proclivities, etc. etc. etc. but for others to do the same is bad taste and generally unacceptable, especially from a public platform. Ice Cube was stating this in a more authoritarian way, I guess - but then spoilt it by using "redneck trucker" and crossing his own supposed line.

LOL! Well... the only thing I shall spit at you right now is that you are a very welcome commenter. :-)

R J Adams said...

I think it's all darned stupid. It's not the word, it's what's meant by the person saying it that's offensive - or not. Words are merely vehicles for communication. Frankly, I find the 'F-word mildly offensive in certain situations. There was a time it was banned on the media. Now it's probably the most common word used by comedians (at least, on Comedy Central!) and often offensively. Yet Billy Connolly managed to use it in his act and old ladies wet themselves laughing.
It's time we stopped this stupidity and grew up. But we never will.

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~ Context and intention is key here, and always, yes.

I find many current "comedians" offensive. We've tried several of their stand-up routines available on Netflix, and quite often have had to switch off after 5 minutes or so. They can be utterly gross and mean - yet some in the audience find it funny.

Yes, Billy Connolly could get a way with a bit of profanity or mild grossness because he did it in his certain warm style, and his audience recognised that he was not being mean or bitter or trying to shock - just trying to bring forth a giggle. He giggled at himself frequently - which helped. Robin Williams, also, didn't have to revert to grossness.