(Not that he really needs my help!)
I still laugh when I think about the Chicago Tribune’s Heidi Stevens’ dramatic hate-mail readings and all those reader bad hair day accusations. C’mon! Heidi’s an excellent features writer who tackles some rather emotional topics with aplomb.
So it was rather interesting to read her discourse on a more political topic this week, because I found myself taking issue with her depiction of comedian Bill Maher and the whole “learning moment” thing.
But before we continue, let me clearly stipulate that Mr. Maher’s propensity to go overboard can infuriate me to the point where I won’t watch ‘Real Time’ for weeks, his flagrant attacks on religion only serve to make those “pious” folks dig in and further demonize atheists and some of his theories – superhero movies make us long for someone to save us – are a wee bit nutty.
To hell with that! I wanna be the superhero!
But I always come back to Bill because, like D. L. Hughley, Bill Burr and my heroine, Katherine Ryan, he tells the truth far more often than not.
I utterly understand why Maher solicits the kind of first line response that Heidi applied in her piece; “[Maher] has built a career out of dividing people into sets and knocking down the ones he cares for least: women, Muslims, non-atheists,” but I think it was a vast oversimplification unworthy of someone with her insight. To wit:
Women? Bill Maher gives more political women a forum – and especially the conservative variety – than Fox News. And he treats them exactly as the men who appear on the show. I can only surmise that Heidi doesn’t watch ‘Real Time.’
Muslims? Apparently Heidi doesn’t remember the whole “they aren’t the cowards” post 9/11 declaration that cost Maher his original show. He doesn’t have a problem with individual Muslims, he has a problem with the religion because he has a problem with all religions. Radical Islam’s current violent tendencies simply provide Bill with all the evidence he needs to support his overarching anti-religion rebellion.
I don’t believe Islam is inherently violent, but I don’t dismiss Maher on one count because intelligent people can respectfully disagree on a difficult issue.
Lastly, if I ever was to appear on Real Time, I’d tell Bill that his anti-religion crusade borders on the sectarian zealotry he loves to rail against. But beyond holding their feet to the fire, I’ve never seen him attack individual believers. In fact, Maher regularly defends their right to believe whatever they want to believe.
As for as the whole “learning moment” thing goes, as Craig Ferguson likes to shout, “It was a f*****g joke!” And it was a good one too!
When faced with yet another hypocritical Republican Senator, from minority-free Nebraska no less, telling us what it means to be an “adult,” Maher skewered him and his “work in the fields with us” fake ethos with “Senator! I’m a house n-word.” It was the perfect response.
And for someone like Black Lives Matter leader, DeRay Mckesson, a man whose done more damage to the Civil Rights movement than David Duke and Donald Trump combined, to say that Maher should be fired is beyond the pale.
I guess giving a million dollars to Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign, providing black activists with a real forum for decades and consistently giving minorities a voice has no bearing on anything.
Maher directed the epithet at himself in a way that worked, and if you don’t like what he said, there’s a button on your remote that will solve this problem once and for all. And he shouldn’t have apologized, either.
Though I generally love Heidi’s stuff and, at least she has hair, she was way off. Ms. Stevens! It’s this atheist’s fervent prayer that the political correctness plague hasn’t infected you too.