“Now, maybe you don’t like Bill Maher. He did say truly offensive things about Sarah Palin (and many others). He wants to be able to insult and demean people and not be called on it. So his motives are hardly pure.
“But he’s right that opportunistically ginned-up outrage is filling all available media space. As Maher notes, Newt Gingrich’s attack on Robert DeNiro falls into this category; there was nothing offensive about DeNiro’s joke…
“An underlying problem here: there are no shared standards anymore. Outrage is no longer a moral or ethical or personal sensibility thing, it is a political thing, a weapon to be used against your enemies, and a public sign of your political and ideological allegiances. And if everything is offensive, then, well, nothing is.”
“Though his tone is light, the funnyman has a point — both about the way political parties exploit their opponents’ impolite or, sometimes, merely impolitic comments, and about the fact that the Constitution protects offensive speech. Long before Harry Truman articulated it, one of the cardinal rules of American-style democracy, was ‘If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.’ Phony umbrage is an old and increasingly tired pose.
“Mr. Maher is a strange one to make this argument, though, since it is so obviously self-serving. Though his article does not say so, he too is under fire for, among many other things, using vile words to refer to former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and calling her family ‘inbred weirdos.’
“This is rhetoric that goes beyond ridiculing or satirizing political adversaries to dehumanizing them. It encourages Americans to hate one another; or, at best, to tune one another out, as Mr. Maher recommends. He and Mr. Limbaugh both have a constitutional right to express themselves. But there are Americans who sincerely hope for civil discourse — for a nation where not every opponent is seen as an enemy. And they have a right to draw distinctions between the merely risque and the corrosively hateful, and to wish for higher standards, even from those who straddle the divide between politics and entertainment.”
“We’re both women who have worked in Democratic politics and the media for decades and find Bill Maher’s misogynist treatment of women candidates deeply disturbing. Coincidentally we both hail from Alaska — where women are treated as equals — so perhaps our threshold for this kind of behavior is less than here in the Lower 48.
“Mr. Maher has implicitly attempted to tie his own demeaning attacks on women to the unrelated issue of partisan-motivated fake outrage, which we agree is tiring. While others have been held to account for their sexism, Mr. Maher remains unrepentant for his attacks on women in public life.
“How can we expect women to run for office when they are essentially told to “lighten up about” and accept misogynist attacks? The Women’s Media Center has found that such attacks on women candidates have a measurable negative effect on how voters view them.
“Our message to Mr. Maher and his ilk is: Please start apologizing.”
“Hate him all you want, ignore him but never demand an apology. Because it is like counterfeit money, it is not real.”
HANNITY: The double standard is what bothers me. He is not outraged or else he gave Maher the money back, ask to get Maher the money back. But he’s afraid of angering Maher because Maher is going to attack him as being, you know, wimpy which he is.
COULTER: I actually think it was a genius plan by Maher to act like this big Democratic donor, write a million-dollar check and then say things so vulgar that Obama would be forced to give him his million dollars back. But I think conservatives have at this point maybe a hypocrisy/lying/fraud case against liberals since so many of them say things so much worse all the time. I just think we should stop acting like feminists and going around saying ‘I’m offended.'”
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