Friday, October 10, 2014

Bill Maher, An Unusual Liberal

But he’s not on my side: I’m a Muslim, and Bill Maher thinks that makes me violent. Bill Maher hates all religion, but he hates Islam especially. He is not an equal-opportunity atheist. He believes Islam preaches violence, that religious extremism is Islam’s default instead of its corruption, that the issues in the Middle East stem from its religion rather than the ugly colonial residue that colors the region. He eagerly conflates Islam with extremism, the religion with militant jihadism. And when people try to tell him otherwise—as Bobby Ghosh did, as Reza Aslan did, as even Ben “I’ll be naked in this movie, but I won’t wear a Yankees hat” Affleck did—he falls back on his old standby, talking over them and sometimes cracking a joke.
And so I take his betrayal particularly personally because, insulting and offensive and generally dickish as Maher can be, I’ve always assumed that he isn’t actively racist because he’s a liberal. I don’t feel betrayed when Bill O’Reilly talks about Muslims being inherently violent or crazy. I don’t care about Bill O’Reilly’s opinions—I already know it’s in his best interest to say anything that will get him ratings. But the audience of Fox News is notoriously conservative, and conservatives are notoriously racist.
But Maher is on HBO, the network of The Wire and Sex and the City. HBO doesn’t cater to conservatives—it caters to the part of the 18-to-34 demographic that’s into prestige television and boxing. Maher’s show especially, which usually consists of him and some liberal buddies of his talking over people from the intellectual side of American conservatism, seems to appeal largely to young liberals. It isn’t in Maher’s best interest to appeal to racists because his audience isn’t supposed to be racist—it’s the youth of America, the beautiful, post-baby boomer future. We’re sex-positive, we want to legalize weed, and we have a lot of gay friends. We’re supposed to be better.


  1. If by "unusual," you mean "asshole," you're painting a portrait of gun criminal Bill Maher with which I can't argue--but then "asshole" is hardly "unusual" among those who describe themselves as the present day version of "liberal."

    1. He admitted he smokes pot so he's a "gun criminal?" And, you're the same guy who never tires of criticizing my concept of "hidden criminal."

    2. He admitted he smokes pot so he's a "gun criminal?

      Actually, it's the federal government who says that:

      e. Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?

      The BATFE has already ruled that California law is irrelevant (as are the laws of any other states)--any marijuana user is an "unlawful user," according to federal law, and thus ineligible to own, or even touch a firearm.

      I am greatly opposed to the law, but I'm even more opposed to that sniveling little punk getting away with it, while others face the wrath of the federal "justice" system.

    3. Do point us to an example of that. Someone who faced the wrath of the " federal "justice" system" for CLAIMING they smoke dope.

    4. So you think he's lying about smoking pot? What a . . . remarkable (although the appropriate remarks might not be very polite) notion.

    5. Come to think of it, Mikeb, given the promiscuous way you toss around the word "lie," I suppose it would hardly be shocking for you to accuse Maher of lying, too.

    6. Mike, you repeatedly call for a may-issue gun owning system where the authorities can deny people whom they "just know" shouldn't have a gun. Now you are saying you don't want people disarmed for what they say? How else are you going to disarm half the gun owners?

      Here you even advocate disarming people, for how their voice sounds- even if they are saying the right things:

      MikeB: "Some people with depression are in such bad shape they cannot get out of bed in the morning. In some it actually affects their physical appearance and voice."

    7. Kurt, I didn't say I thought he was lying, and TS, I didn't say he shouldn't be disarmed under a future may-issue ownership policy. I questioned Kurt's bizarre comment in which he called Bill Maher a "gun criminal" for having claimed he smokes dope and that others have suffered the "wrath of the federal government" for the same thing.

      Nice attempt at diversion, you guys.

    8. Kurt, I didn't say I thought he was lying . . .

      If he's not lying (whether about the regular marijuana use, or in stating that he owns guns), he's a "gun criminal." The only two possibilities are that he is a liar, or that he is a "gun criminal." Well no, that's not quite right, a third possibility is that he is both a liar (on some other issue) and a "gun criminal."

    9. No Mike, you did say he should not be disarmed because he only SAID he smokes pot.

      I guess he now strayed too far from the party line with his Muslim comments to keeping getting a pass from you.

    10. TS, as usual you left out part of what I said in order to pretend I got it wrong.

      "I didn't say he shouldn't be disarmed under **a future may-issue ownership policy**"

      Under may issue, as you well know, SAYING you're a stoner would be enough.

    11. The subject as far as I'm concerned is not whether or not legal action should be taken against him, or whether it would be under some hypothetical Mikeb fantasy gun policy.

      I am under the impression that Mikeb challenged my assertion that Maher is a "gun criminal." I still argue that if Maher wasn't lying a) all the times he has publicly stated that he is a regular user of marijuana, and b) when he claimed to own guns, the conclusion that he is indeed a "gun criminal" is inescapable.

    12. Baloney, Mike. These are the quotes you said about him when we last discussed it. I asked “do you think Bill Maher should be allowed to own guns?” to which you relied:

      MikeB: “Yeah, why not, because he claims to smoke pot?”

      And later you reiterated:

      MIkeB: “I don't believe people should be disarmed for SAYING they smoke pot or for INFERRING they do, which is what Bill Maher usually does, in order to maintain a certain TV persona.”

      You are talking about what you believe- i.e. your ideal of “proper gun control”. But now we see you take a different attitude, and it happens to coincide with him breaking from the party line on tolerance to Muslims

    13. "I am under the impression that Mikeb challenged my assertion that Maher is a "gun criminal." "

      Yes, Kurt, I do challenge that. In your capricious way, all of a sudden, one can be a criminal with no due process of law. Funny how you play so loose with definitions when it suits.

      May this would be a good time for you to adopt by third category - hidden criminal.

    14. A criminal is any person who commits a crime. Gun ownership by a user of illegal drugs is a federal crime (the morality of the law--or lack thereof--making it a crime notwithstanding). Therefore, anyone who states both that he uses illegal drugs, and that he owns guns, is either a "gun criminal" or a liar. That conclusion is inescapable.

      I'm not calling for his arrest--grotesque hypocrisy is quite legal. I'll tell you what, though. If you insist that I call him an "alleged 'gun criminal,'" I suppose that's fair, although the fact that it's Maher himself who has made the allegations makes that a bit weird in my view.

      So, OK--I apologize to both you and to Maher. From now on, his status will be "(self-)alleged 'gun criminal.'" Ya' happy now?

    15. No, that's not quite good enough. You cannot pontificate about "innocent until proven guilty" in one discussion and then claim it's an inescapable conclusion that someone is a criminal for having SAID something in another. Admit that you were wrong with no bullshit justifications. That would make me happy.

    16. Oh, hell no. I'm not going that far. Absolutely no need to. "(Self-)alleged '
      gun criminal'" it is for the poor, persecuted Bill Maher.

  2. Bill is not a strict Democrat, or liberal. If you have watched Bill over the years you know he has a conservative streak in him. He gave Obama a million dollars, yet, constantly blasts Obama for some of his policies. He does think anyone who believes in a God, is stupid. He does think today's Muslims are like the Catholics of the Crusades. There is evidence that a good percentage of Muslims are violent and defend that violence based on their religion. We are probably talking less than 10% but they are responsible for a large amount of violence throughout the world.

  3. "But I was wrong. I, a liberal brown girl raised on a steady diet of the Quran
    and MSNBC, am not Maher’s audience. Maher’s audience is that group of young
    white guys who like to get high and try to flirt with girls on Tinder while
    simultaneously upvoting and condescending to them on Reddit."

    "A racist talking to other racists is probably not going to
    create more racists. A racist talking to young atheists who like smoking weed
    and don’t have a problem with same-sex marriage—a racist who shares their
    perspective on those things—will."

    This is a danger when people tend to look at groups instead of individuals. Sort of the way Maher and others tend to look at gun owners. Again, we see the same branding of a group. Another problem is that Maher is oft referred to when it comes to political commentary, yet when someone critiques his views his supporters often fall back on the "he's a comedian" defense.
    This is a very thoughtful piece which makes good points. I wonder if Maher will make a statement now that someone has called him a racist. I honestly cant say. I wont be surprised whatever direction he goes on this. I wonder if he'll just stick to his statement, and if Anon will then refer to him as a racist with the same vitriol as he does Nugent.
    Maher holds a minority ownership of the NY Mets, I wonder if he'll get to keep it.....

    1. Ha, good one about the Mets.

    2. As I said there is plenty of evidence that the Muslims causing violence around the world defend that violence based on their religious beliefs. You want to compare that to Nugent calling the president a subhuman mongrel? And why haven't you spoke out against the NRA, Nugent and their obvious racism? So there is evidence that Muslims cause violence based on their religious beliefs, but where is the evidence that Obama is a subhuman mongrel as your NRA leader has stated? And why have you never spoken against that obvious racism from Nugent and the NRA? By the way, Bill owns a gun and has said he will never give up his gun, not quite a current liberal stance, and pro gun.

    3. Nugent is a racist and has proved it with his statements. The fact that you defend his racist statements tells me you are also a racist.

    4. "The fact that you defend his racist statements tells me you are also a racist."

      I don't recall ever defending Mr. Nugent's statements. I defend his right to say them, just as I defend Bill Maher's and Piers Morgan's right to say what they wish. Granted, they all have to live with whatever reaction they get from saying them.
      Morgan recently lost his show and is doing I have no idea what. I also have no idea what Nugent does either besides piss off Anon quite effectively. Maher still has a job, but its early yet.
      You seem to equate saying nothing about someone as defending them.

    5. Having asked you directly many times and your refusal to answer, yes, i believe you agree with what Nugent says. I see no other reason why you would refuse to answer and you are not known to shrink from giving your opinion. You play the gotcha games you want. I said long ago I don't play those gotcha games. You leave me with no other option. I fail to understand why you refuse to take a stance on what Nugent says, and you have been asked to many times. Your silence is an admission of support, not to mention you HAVE said you support what the NRA and Nugent stand for. Nugent stands for racism.

  4. And so the destruction of the word "racism" continues apace. Being anti-Islam is not racist. A person CAN be just as bigoted against a religious group, and with as little reason and as much ugliness as a racist. Even then, they're not a racist; they're a different kind of bigot.

    As for Maher, he's an avowed atheist who opposes all religions and thinks they all rot the brain. In the past, he's argued for the superiority of Atheism and liberal culture over Christianity with as much vigor as any of the atheists here. Now he's turned his sights on Islam.

    Those of you who talk about the inferiority of the "Christian Right" have found it wanting intellectually, culturally, etc. and declared it to be backward and not fit for the 21st Century. You're hypocrites if you think it is appropriate to make such a judgment, but then oppose those who make similar judgments about other religions and cultures. You can argue that Maher evaluated Islam wrong, but arguing that his criticism of Islam is wholly inappropriate and racist is hypocritical.

    1. I doubt very much if Bill Maher distinguishes between the religious adherents of Islam and the racial inhabitants of the Middle East.

    2. You doubt it eh. Nice how you insinuate Actual racism with no evidence there.

      If you actually watch some of his videos where he talks about the topic--say, for starters, the actual segment that started this latest round and the Charlie Rose interview where he talks about Islam vs. Christianity--you'll see that his complaints are against the tenants of Islam, not against Middle Easterners.

      Then, maybe you'll notice him and Salman Rushdie yucking it up about atheism and how religious people and Muslims are nuts. Or videos like this one: Where he discusses counter-messaging with a Muslim who was once a radical and is now trying to counter the radicals.

      You and others are arguing against a straw Bill Maher rather than the one that actually exists, which is kind of funny to me since I've seen him and others on the left argue against straw versions of tea partiers, Christians, home schoolers, gun owners, etc.

      Part of me considers just getting some popcorn and watching the show as the left eats another of its own, but I find it even funnier that I, the supposedly closed minded knuckle dragger who is a target of his more often, am the one pointing out the hypocrisy and straw manning here, even though I disagree with him on a lot of things including many points of this topic.

    3. You're twisting things a bit. There are many examples of Bill Maher objecting to the people and not the tenets. His expression "not just a few bad apples." comes to mind. He paints all Muslims with the brush of extreme fanaticism. That's about the people - and it's just wrong.

    4. You are the one continuing to twist things. When he says it's not just a few bad apples, he follows it up by talking about polls showing, e.g. over 50% in Egypt supporting executing apostates--his argument is that it's not a tiny percent, it's a large percent and this is because of problems x, y, and z in the religion's teachings. That's exactly what he was doing during the argument with Afleck.

      You keep exaggerating his statements and turning a statement of "more than half of Muslims are bad apples--for proof see this poll" into, "All Muslims are evil fanatics." Why?

  5. Bill Maher is an anti-Islamic zealot which makes him a racist? Where does this Islamic, gay-loving chick come up with this deduction? All different races are followers of Islam. And where in the Koran does it preach tolerance of gays?
    I hope this bird-brained chick doesn't get paid for writing this nonsense.

    orlin sellers