As we've already discussed here, Bill Maher has become somewhat of a punching bag from both sides of the aisle over the last week or so, both for saying that liberals looked bad for not accepting Rush Limbaugh's "apology" and with the false equivalencies by the right, screaming that what he said about Sarah Palin is somehow the equivalent of what Rush Limbaugh did with his attack on Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke.
On this Friday night's Real Time on HBO, Maher addressed both, starting with his criticism from the left.
MAHER: Let me tell you something. I got crap from both the left and the right this week because... okay... let me address the left first, because I found this more disheartening. They were very mad at me because I tweeted that people like Rush Limbaugh, who I absolutely disagree with, I've never said a good word about him. I did a whole monologue on what an asshole he was only a week ago. But I said, I don't like it that people are made to disappear when they say something, or people try to make them disappear when they say something you don't like.
That's America. Sometimes you're made to feel uncomfortable, okay? I mean, can we put this in perspective? No one died. A guy made a bad joke, a bad joke because a., it was a disgusting sentiment that he was evoking and also because it wasn't even a joke. He's a stupid fat f**k whose not funny and it annoys me that... it annoys me that people people who cannot keep two disparate thoughts in their own mind, lump me in together with him and say I'm defending him. I'm not defending him. I'm defending living in a country where people don't have to be afraid that they might go out of the boundaries for one minute. Do we all want to be talking like White House spokesman?
Okay, fair enough on a few points like defending free speech and the fact that it's unfair to lump the two of you together. But I'll make a few points in rebuttal. First of all, you did not just say that you didn't like the idea of people pushing to get Limbaugh off the air. You said liberals looked bad for not accepting his apology. What Rush Limbaugh did was not an apology.
You don't like the idea of him being pushed off the air by sponsor boycotts, which is understandable since you were taken off the air yourself for making remarks that offended people after 9-11. However, what Limbaugh did was not just "one bad joke." It's hate speech that's been going on day after day for years.
And I think it's unfair to claim the people boycotting Limbaugh are trying to "stifle free speech." They have a right to their own free speech as well if they don't like what he's doing and the complaints about the problems with Limbaugh are legitimate.
And one last note, a fair comparison of what's going on with Limbaugh would be to the pressure that finally got Glenn Beck taken off the air and not what happened to you years ago. Rush Limbaugh has a right to say what he wants and the people protesting him have a right to let anyone paying for that hate talk to make their voices heard as well.
Maher moved on to address the criticism he's received from the right. As Maher noted, every time one of "their guys" gets in trouble, they trot him out and play the false equivalency game. Maher said he would admit to being a "potty mouth" but not a misogynist, and that the word he said was not used on his show on HBO, but during one of his stand up acts, which he said "ought to be the last bastion of free speech." Maher noted that there's a reason he's compared to George Carlin, because he's a comedian, which Limbaugh is not, and "when you do that, I say, my rule is, you ought to get a little leeway."
Maher also recognized that what he said might have been offensive to all women but with a caveat:
MAHER: But if I offended women, I'm sorry. I have no problem saying I'm sorry. I don't know why women would want to align themselves with Sarah Palin. I don't know why an insult to her is an insult to all women, but if it is, I'm sorry.
Well, I can appreciate that, but I don't think anyone that found the statement offensive "aligns themselves" with Palin just because they don't like the word he used for her bandied about for anyone, as I don't. I am glad he at least said he's sorry even if he doesn't understand why using that word for any woman ever bothers some of us a great deal. I just think it's crude and unnecessary and if you're going to call her names, there are a lot better choices that don't have the same sexual connotation.
If Maher has complaints about who he's being "lumped in with" his beef should not be with people like myself or those on the left who feel he's possibly got a few issues with women himself and who have had other criticisms of him and don't necessarily march in lock step with all of his views, but who also appreciate the fact that he's an outspoken advocate for a lot of the issues we agree on and the fact that he is allowed to express his views on our airways and out in the comedy clubs, which I do.
It's the right and Fox that are playing the false equivalency game here and trying to make a boogeyman out of him. I really like what Maher does for the most part even if he does aggravate the hell out of me on occasion. We're liberals. We're not supposed to all agree on everything one hundred percent of the time all the time and repeat the same talking points as though we can't all think for ourselves and sometimes disagree. That's what conservatives do. I defend Bill Maher's right to go out there and express his opinions on the air even when I don't agree with him all the time and I hope he continues to do it. And shame on the right for comparing what he does to Rush Limbaugh.
And that said, I do agree completely with what Maher wrapped this portion of the show up with, which is that if you want to talk about what's misogynistic, the law they're trying to get passed in Arizona where you protect doctors who want to lie to their patients about problem pregnancies to prevent women from having abortions would be a much better example than anything Maher has ever had come out of his mouth.
Guest Catherine Crier suggested that if Republicans keep this up, maybe women across the country should decide to take seriously Rick Santorum's suggestion that sex is only for married people and only for procreation and see how long they want to keep pushing these draconian laws attacking women's reproductive health if they're all denied sex in any other circumstance.
And one last note on the show this weekend. Is Michael Steele going to get attacked for appearing on there with him this Friday? How about Darrell Issa? Or Stephen Moore or a host of other Republicans that appear regularly on his show? Should they be asked to defend what Maher said since they're "paling around" with him? Just wondering since that seems to be the standard for Sean Hannity and the Breitbart stooges with President Obama.