Let's get this out of the way: Bill Maher is an obnoxious cheap-shot artist whose overwhelming smugness is nauseating to people all over the political spectrum. But in his latest New York Times op-ed, has Maher redeemed himself?
In "Please Stop Apologizing," the "Real Time" host argues that we need to take a break from what he sees as a culture of offense-taking that's ruining our discourse:
When did we get it in our heads that we have the right to never hear anything we don’t like? In the last year, we’ve been shocked and appalled by the unbelievable insensitivity of Nike shoes, the Fighting Sioux, Hank Williams Jr., Cee Lo Green, Ashton Kutcher, Tracy Morgan, Don Imus, Kirk Cameron, Gilbert Gottfried, the Super Bowl halftime show and the ESPN guys who used the wrong cliché for Jeremy Lin after everyone else used all the others. Who can keep up?
[...] If it weren’t for throwing conniption fits, we wouldn’t get any exercise at all.
I have a better idea. Let’s have an amnesty — from the left and the right — on every made-up, fake, totally insincere, playacted hurt, insult, slight and affront. Let’s make this Sunday the National Day of No Outrage. One day a year when you will not find some tiny thing someone did or said and pretend you can barely continue functioning until they apologize.
We're right with Maher — down with fake outrage! Down with political nit-picking and point-scoring and all the other ways people have of distracting us from real issues!
Except that, a lot of the time, racism is a real issue. Maher glides over that, preferring to pretend that all offense taking is the same. Robert DeNiro makes a joke about white privilege? Rush Limbaugh calls women who use birth control "sluts"? Exactly the same thing. Don't be so offended!
Listen, a lot of the insincere anger in this country is totally annoying. But to argue that because of that we need to just accept every crappy, insulting opinion our public figures spew — to argue, in other words, that best way to get rid of racism and sexism and homophobia is just to ignore it? Well, the political outrage machine isn't the only thing that's insincere.