Bill Maher's New Rule segment tonight called out ordinary people for exercising their right to free speech in order to make the point that Rush Limbaugh should have his right to free speech and the far-reaching microphone that goes with it.
In Maher's eyes, anyone who reaches out to sponsors and asks them if they really want to sponsor Limbaugh's hateful speech is "part of the problem" and not the solution. Also, we're not "proper liberals," whatever that means.
This may surprise you, but I am not a big fan of Rush Limbaugh. However, if you're one of the people with the web site devoted to making him go away, you are part of the problem, and ironically, you're not even a proper liberal, because you don't get free speech. You're just a baby who can't stand to live in a world where you hear things that upset you.
Oh, really? Methinks Maher doth protest too much.
What is Maher-style free speech?
Is it reserved only for the guy with the microphone and no one else? Yes, Rush Limbaugh has the right to be vile, and ordinary citizens have the right to object. They have the right to ask sponsors whether they actually want to be associated with his vile speech, and they have the right to choose which sponsors they will support using whatever criteria they choose.
That is not being a part of the problem. That is ordinary citizens exercising their First Amendment rights, too. Seems to me the one who doesn't "get it" is the guy who doesn't claim to be a "proper liberal."
What exactly is a "proper liberal"?
Are "proper liberals" expected to sit back and take whatever venom is tossed their way (because free speech) without exercising their own rights? Bill Maher has every right to say I'm not a proper liberal, and I have every right to say he's being an ignorant troll. Which he is in this case.
There, both of us have exercised our First Amendment rights. I get it, so I guess that makes me a proper liberal, even if I still believe I also have the right to highlight those who sponsor hate speech by...speaking.
The first amendment was intended to keep the state from punishing anyone for exercising their right to speak freely. Maher seems to have conflated private citizens acting privately to object with their consumer dollars to objectionable speech with state-sponsored censorship.
Who doesn't get it, again?
Maher wants the one-way street, where the famous guy who makes megabucks to exercise his speech rights is the only one who matters. The rest of us? STFU and quit being "part of the problem."
Is it improperly liberal for us to criticize the Mighty Maher for getting Social Security completely wrong because he couldn't be bothered to do the most basic research into whether it actually increases the deficit? Hint: It doesn't, and Maher just got it wrong
Or is this just about the demise of Politically Incorrect after he agreed with Dinesh D'Souza? Perhaps it is, since some conservatives didn't appreciate his criticism of the White House and military as "cowards" and called for boycotts on Maher's advertisers.
Whether it's about Maher's own baggage with regard to Politically Incorrect, the recent protest of his speech at UC Berkeley, or some colossal misunderstanding of the First Amendment, it's probably irrelevant. The bottom line here is that no one is stepping on Rush Limbaugh's right to say whatever pops into his little pea brain. Free speech doesn't mean there's no price on the free market of ideas and consumer choices. Only Limbaugh and Maher or whoever else finds themselves in this position can decide whether what they say is worth the price they may pay, whether it be viewers, sponsors, listeners, or just goodwill.
Limbaugh and his advisors don't respect free speech either
Rush and his fixer Brian Glicklich have been busy these past weeks.
Just last weekend, Glicklich went after Breitbart Unmasked's editor and StopRush volunteer Matt Osborne by squatting on his given name and then coming at him on Twitter with an extortion threat:
In the above tweet, Glicklich has ‘cybersquatted’ a web domain with my name in it and is implicitly threatening to use that website to smear me, affecting Google results for my name with false and defamatory information. (It would have to be false and defamatory because the truth about me would bore people to death.) The offer to give me the domain if I “behave for (a) year” is a clear attempt to silence my reporting on Limbaugh and the successes of the StopRush divestment effort. Although Glicklich is hardly the first person to try this kind of tactic on me, he is certainly the best-paid, charging upwards of $900 an hour through Sitrick and Company, a ‘reputation management’ firm where he is a partner.
Memo to Bill Maher: Rush Limbaugh pays Brian Glicklich and his firm $900 an hour to shut ordinary people up. They target women because they believe they're much easier to target and will comply without a fight.
This has been going on for the better part of three years. So when Bill Maher says...
You're part of the problem...
You're not even a proper liberal...
...My reply is simple.
No, Bill. YOU'RE part of the problem. Keep on enabling those bullies you go on about, but don't ever try to make a judgement about who is and who isn't a "proper liberal." You don't have the standing to do that.
Enjoy that free speech, pal, and I'll enjoy mine. Oh, and thanks for giving the StopRush folks a little extra visibility. They could use more volunteers.
He also twitted Glenn Greenwald and spent a considerable amount of time poking at Bill Donohue. Read the full transcript. Thank you, Heather, for transcribing it!
Update: I was reminded that this isn't the first time Maher has defended Limbaugh. Here's a tweet from 2012: