Saturday, June 3, 2017

Bill Maher's Bad Word

Bill Maher is all over my Twitter feed this morning. I'm not entirely sure who, or more precisely what he is. Sure, I know he has a show called Real Time on HBO which I don't watch. The only time I hear about him is when he says something unconventional enough to generate controversy, no small feat in today's America. What I'm not sure about is what he actually is, a comedian or a semi-serious political commentator? Since I don't watch the show, I'm not in a position to answer the question. Many of the controversial subjects I've heard him speak unconventionally about tend to be about serious business...hence the confusion.

Anyway, Mr. Maher has stepped in it, and suddenly the first amendment lynch mob has moved on from Kathy Griffin. (Hmmm, perhaps a little left wing pundit collusion???). See, I'm not even sure that lame attempt at a joke is accurate. Some of the opinions voiced by Maher on Islam, for example, seem positively neo-conish. It's all so very confusing.

Ok, so back to the topic at hand. On last night's show, Maher was interviewing Senator Ben Sasse from Nebraska. The Senator has written a book extolling the virtue of physical, manual labor (among other things) as a character building tool for the youth of America. During the interview, there was a light hearted exchange about how Mr. Maher needed to get out of his east coast elite bubble and come visit the Great Plains. The Senator said that they would welcome him to Nebraska with open arms and even maybe put him to work "in the fields." Since the subject of this interview, and his book was the morally therapeutic benefits of manual labor, and Nebraska is widely known for it's farming economy, this was an understandable attempt at humor, to which, out of freaking nowhere, Maher says, " Work in the fields? Senator, I'm a house nigger."

Uh-oh...This may not end well.

Although the rules about using the N-Word have more amendments and codicils than a Hollywood divorce decree, generally speaking, white people need to avoid this word at all times. Nothing good comes from its use. It's one of those words that is loaded with so much baggage, so much pain, it should be permanently banished from our collective vocabularies. My mother made this painfully aware to me when she happened to hear it come flying out of my mouth when I was ten years old. First, she lectured me about how hateful and ignorant it was, then launched into a quick bible study review of the evils of the tongue, and then (because it was 1968 and she was Betty Dunnevant) she "tanned my hide" with the closest stick she could find. Suffice it to say...lesson learned!!

Already, there are calls to cancel his show. Twitter is in a righteous fury, mostly from the left but also from some conservatives who want to be consistent after a week of calling for the head of Kathy Griffin,(sorry). So, what is a libertarian like me supposed to do?

I generally don't want anyone censored for words spoken. Calls for boycotts and cancellations seem juvenile to me, and vaguely Un-American. Land of the free, and all that. However, when I hear someone throw this particular word around, it does inform me about a great many things. If I were at a party and just met someone and were having an introductory conversation with them and they were to suddenly drop the N-Word during that conversation...I would instantly disengage, and probably say something like, Wait...what the hell is wrong with you, man? Their use of this sort of language tells me everything I need to know about them, primarily that there is a profound emptiness in their heart, and that they are someone who I no longer desire to be associated with. However, my next step would not be to begin a Facebook/Twitter campaign urging everyone who knows them to shun them from society. I mean, who died and placed me in charge?? In Maher's case, I now know more about him than I did before, and it ain't good. So, lesson learned. No Real Time With Bill Maher for me. Time to move on to the next outrage.

I hope he gets to keep his show, that he doesn't lose his livelihood because of a spoken word. But, I also hope that fewer and fewer people watch it, and eventually the free market votes his show away. Isn't this the same thing? If you think so, you completely don't understand the First Amendment. But it's not just you, there's a lot of that going around.