Bill Maher: You know, no one at my shows ever objects to me calling Palin a “c*nt”

posted at 3:05 pm on March 15, 2012 by Allahpundit

Go figure.

Over at Reason, in observing that people tend to find political humor funnier when they agree with its political slant, Jacob Sullum summarizes Maher’s position as, “There’s No Double Standard, Because I’m Funny, and Rush Isn’t.”

MAHER: I’m a comedian – not just a guy who says he is, like Rush, but someone who – well, you saw me do stand-up last year in D.C. There’s a big difference between just saying you’re a comedian and going out and getting thousands of people to laugh hard for 90 minutes. And the one I’m compared to most is Carlin, who also had these kind of problems. Edgy is my brand – everyone wants that, but they say, “but never go over the line.” It’s like telling Tom Brady, ‘Throw into coverage 40 times a game every game but never throw an interception.’”

TAPPER: How do you know when you’ve gone too far?

MAHER: I let the audience be the guide. The bit I did about Palin using the word c—, one of the biggest laughs in my act, I did it all over the country, not one person ever registered disapproval, and believe me, audiences are not afraid to let you know. Because it was a routine where that word came in at just the right moment. Context is very important, and it’s also important to remember that stand-up comedy is the final frontier of free speech. Still, I stopped doing that routine, but I would like someone to replace that word if it’s so awful with another one that has the same meaning for a person – not just women, it’s a word you can and lots do (all the British, for example) use for both sexes. It has a very specific meaning.

In other words, on the very safe assumption that Maher’s audiences are mainly “progressive,” he’s basically confirming here all of Kirsten Powers’s worst suspicions about how seriously her own side takes this subject. In fact, the most revealing part of the interview comes in the follow-up question when Tapper presses him on the similarities between what he said and what Limbaugh said and Maher distinguishes them by saying, “[H]e went after a civilian about very specific behavior, that was a lie, speaking for a party that has systematically gone after women’s rights all year, on the public airwaves” (my italics). That’s the crux of this, as I’ve noted before — that if you back the left’s social agenda, especially on abortion, you’re pro-woman no matter where your rhetoric carries you. That’s Kirsten’s ultimate disconnect from the Democratic establishment. She’s a bona fide feminist so she thinks the rhetoric matters too; party apparatchiks like Bill Burton, who worry first and foremost about winning elections, think it matters only if it’s coming from the right. Ah, partisanship.

By the way, are we finally done with the Rush/Fluke thing now? We’re more than 10 days removed from his apology; he’s started to add ads again and is currently running one from the New York Times; the secondary boycott appears to be some sort of Media Matters operation, which tells you how “grassroots” the outrageous outrage is; and I’ve spent more time reading about Bill Maher in the past week than I’ve allotted for a lifetime. Mercy, please.


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Driving home from work last night it hit me. Maher’s insults and the audience reaction is simply Alinsky’s principles. It simply says that if the audience enjoys the tactic, they’ll keep it up. That’s all we have is an Alinskyan feedback loop.

It means nothing. But of course, I realize what’s going on here. It’s a comedian thing. The audience that laughs at the comedian’s jokes (that “get it”) are a “bright crowd”, usually “a whole lot better than that crowd last night”. It’s standard self-preservation and nothing to get upset about, really. It takes a lot of guts to get up on stage and tell people “I’m going to make you laugh”. I heard a group of stand-ups on the radio discussing how you never get this job “down” and that even giants of the industry will tell you how they just couldn’t get it going on some recent night. You fly by the seat of your pants and often you don’t really know what you’re doing. But if you can withstand the chaos and can get to the part of making people laugh, that’s the drug.

So again, you put it on your audience. Because that staves off a panic that’s not going to help you on successive nights. But that harmless self-deception, can be toxic to a social and moral discussion. It may be hard to stand up and give your view, but we’re wary of people who seem to get too much satisfaction at the level of their contribution and not their contribution to the topic. Whereas a comedian can bask in the glow of applause and really rock star it up, only to the extent that he keeps up his end of the bargain and continues to make us laugh.

In short, we know what Maher thinks of the general populace: they’re stupid, but we know that he takes reinforcement of the crowd of people and their laughter. It’s no stretch that he thinks that the people who come to see him are “bright” (where Rush has actual polling data) and that they laugh at his jokes. So he can judge an audience by whether they “get” his jokes, and he can judge his commentary by whether the people “get” his joke/points.

When all that is really happening is that people are laughing. Alinsky doesn’t promise that a tactic is right if you enjoy it, or true, he only says that it is effective. In the callousness that has been bred by the influence of the Frankfort School and Alinsky on push politics, “true” and “right” are only parts of a worldview/narrative that must win a tug-a-war.

Axeman on March 16, 2012 at 10:17 AM

A typical whining, excuse-laden hollywood liberal hypocrite.

I’ll give him one thing – he is a clown.

Boycott HBO.

AttaBoyLuther on March 16, 2012 at 10:49 AM

Is it just me, or is everybody sick and tired of the “clown nose on, clown nose off” bullshidt?

44Magnum on March 16, 2012 at 11:05 AM

Nobody Complains Because They Are ALL MORONS TOO!?!

Colatteral Damage on March 16, 2012 at 6:10 PM

Maher ain’t no Carlin but he does resemble Woodstock of Charlie Brown fame.

I knew he resembled somebody!

Sorry Woodstock!!!!!!

Sherman1864 on March 16, 2012 at 7:11 PM

Anagram: Bill Maher = Ah, Mr. Libel.

Dr. Charles G. Waugh on March 16, 2012 at 9:32 PM

Comment pages: 1 2 3 4