I should probably start this by stating up front that I’m still not a huge fan of most of Bill Maher’s work and generally only catch it in news clips if I see it at all. Still, you do have to respect the guy for sticking up for his own positions and being willing to call out not only Islamic extremism but his own liberal allies when he feels they’ve gone astray. A small but telling example of this pattern cropped up again this week after it was announced that internet provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos would be the feature guest on his show. This prompted Jeremy Scahill, who had been scheduled to be part of the roundtable, to issue an announcement saying that he would no longer be attending. (Independent Journal Review)
Jeremy’s response is fairly typical and similar to the “sensitive” announcements given by various colleges who have offered and then retracted speaking engagements to Milo. They all claim to be in favor of fair and free speech but when it comes to this particular speaker it always seems to be a “bridge too far.” That’s the wonderful thing about the intersection of free speech and hypocrisy. You get to say whatever you want and allow your friends to do likewise, but when it comes to someone offering commentary which hurts your feelings you can always exercise the option of being a gatekeeper.
The host of the show weighed in on the subject with a very similar attitude and reminded his liberal followers that running away from the problem isn’t going to win them any elections in the future.
My comments on Islam have never veered into vitriol,” Maher replied in a statement obtained by EW. “Liberals will continue to lose elections as long as they follow the example of people like Mr. Scahill whose views veer into fantasy and away from bedrock liberal principles like equality of women, respect for minorities, separation of religion and state, and free speech. If Mr. Yiannopoulos is indeed the monster Scahill claims — and he might be — nothing could serve the liberal cause better than having him exposed on Friday night.
Shutting down opposing opinions in the spaces you control or refusing to take the field and defend your own views never works. If you stop a speaker from appearing on your home turf they’re just going to show up someplace else. Even worse, your refusal becomes more of a story than the commentary the speaker might have provided to begin with. That strategy didn’t fly very well in 2016 and it’s certainly not going to in the 2018 midterms.
Milo butters his bread by driving liberals insane and it’s rather shocking that so many of them don’t seem to have caught on to the game yet. Shutting him out or refusing to show up and debate him actually makes his job all the easier and draws even more attention to him. If that’s what Jeremy was attempting to accomplish, well done!