Let's Shine Some Light On The Awfulness That Is Bill Maher
Last week, the American left rejoiced when the career of alt-right Shitgibbon-In-Chief Milo Yiannopoulos collapsed in on itself like a dying star. It provided a flood of feel-good headlines at a time when we really needed them.
And unlike NaziPunchGate, this story is one we can all unreservedly feel good about. After mocking and harassing transgender students and claiming washing machines and birth control make women unhappy (and 100 other acts of aggressive, lying clown-shittery), one of the internet's worst people finally got some comeuppance. It's fine to celebrate. But this should also probably be a sign that the left could stand to do some housecleaning of its own. I'm talking about this asshole.
The asshole on the left, I mean. Bill Maher. He took credit for Yiannopoulos' downfall, stating, "Sunlight is the best disinfectant." And since Yiannopoulos showed up on his show Real Time immediately before imploding, clearly it was Maher's sunlight that purged Yiannopoulos' dank, moldy rind of fame. I'll get into who really brought down Yiannopoulos later. Right now, let's shine some sunlight on Maher. As the Boston Globe pointed out, Maher's gone out of his way to repeatedly defend adult women raping teenage boys. He called a 28-year-old man fucking a 13-year-old girl "a crime," but claimed a 35-year-old woman being with a 14-year-old boy was just "a little offbeat" and that the only crime was that "we didn't get it on videotape."
Maher's golden era was the late '90s, but he sailed back into prominence this year because his news-ish show happened to start its new season before Colbert, The Daily Show, or John Oliver's shows returned. In the wake of Trump's inauguration and bloodcurdlingly zany first few weeks, millions of people were starving for some sort of public resistance. In that brief void, Maher looked like Gandalf the Exceptionally White.
In Los Angeles, billboards like this painted Maher as a progressive icon standing firm against intolerance and bigotry:
But they ignored that this is a guy who, just last year, told transgender people that they could best help Hillary Clinton's campaign by shutting the fuck up about their rights.
"I'm not suggesting we throw the transgendered under the bus, or discounting their struggle. It can't be easy finding pantyhose when you're 6'4''. But this is exactly the kind of culture war issue that rouses a certain type of voter out of their trailers on election day ... let's not die on this hill." But don't worry! He volunteered to stop harping on his own "pet cause" ... marijuana legalization.
First, this ouroboros of white male privilege deserves a little breaking down. This "culture war issue" is a hill trans kids are already dying on. I'll just leave this here:
And Maher's willingness to treat pot as a "pet cause" is also pretty fucked up. The War On Drugs is a huge part of why so many black men are ineligible to vote. And black people are almost four times as likely as white people to be arrested for pot-related offenses. Bill Maher and Milo Yiannopoulos may disagree on public healthcare, or who should be appointed to the Supreme Court, but when it comes to being incapable of giving a fuck about anyone other than themselves they're basically the same person.
Bill Maher thinks women can't possibly rape men. It took too long for Yiannopoulos' career to collapse, but it's taken way too long for people to get fed up with Maher. In 2009 he defended Shawne Merriman for choking Tila Tequila by saying he was surprised someone hadn't "choked this bitch sooner." Then in 2011, he accused Arab men of being inherently abusive, stating,"Talk to women who have ever dated an Arab man. The results are not good."
One of the great unsung ironies of modern cartooning is the episode of Family Guy where Brian writes a shitty self-help book and appears on Real Time. Maher calls him out for being a fraud and chases him off the stage with a rolled up newspaper.
If you aren't familiar with the show, Brian the Dog is frequently portrayed as the stereotypical latte-sipping convenience liberal. He speaks passionately about causes that are popular to support and about things that impact him directly (like pot), but he changes his stances on a dime and is, essentially, a hypocrite. He's even transphobic. So, basically, he's Bill Maher.
A character vomiting over transgender people seems a bit less funny when considering that suicide statistic we mentioned earlier.
Yiannopoulos owes his fall from grace to a conservative Twitter account, the "Reagan Battalion." After months of drawing harsh criticism from the mainstream media, it took a right-wing voice to do real damage. It's possible a trusted voice on the left might be able to do the same for Maher. What we're saying is, someone needs to teach Jimmy Carter how to use Twitter.
39.2k? Goddammit Jim, you've let us down again.
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