I’m old enough to remember when Bill Maher was a stand-up comedian; i.e., a person who stands behind a microphone and makes people laugh. I have vague memories of Kathy Griffin doing the same thing. As far as I can determine now, Maher and Griffin just make people mad, by saying or doing something deliberately inappropriate, and then flaying open their breast in apology, crocodile tears a-flow.
Then they go back to being unfunny. Because funny ain’t what pays their bills.
I’m also old enough to recall when Maher’s show Politically Incorrect lived up to its name, instead of being a vehicle for trendy virtue-signals. My pal Jim Goad once made an appearance. It was far more fringy and loose. Now it’s a reductive caricature, a safe forum for “differing viewpoints” (vetted by the network/sponsors). It’s a funnier joke as it is than anything that ever came out of Bill Maher’s mouth.
In the old days, there could be a loud idiot panelist on PI who, because he was black, proclaimed (loudly) that the White House should be called the Black House. To thunderous applause. I didn’t make that up. It happened. No one piped up and said “hey idiot, it’s called the White House because it’s painted white”, either. The spurious point was allowed to stand. That’s the way it should be. Real opinion, no apologies. Personal accountability.
Shit, if I was born in the last handful of years, I’d remember when Bill Maher himself said “no more apologies”. But then, the corporate masters who pull Bill’s strings reminded him of his servitude, and so he was made to speak the power word “nigga”, and subsequently mea culpa all over the Electronic Crucifix.
It used to be that if your ratings were slumping, you worked harder to reconnect with your audience. Now you can just fuck up, suffer execution in the eyes of the viewing public, and humbly make your penance by crying and mouthing apologies. Presto: ratings galore. Until the public moves on to another flayed breast.
In my lifetime, I have witnessed exactly one sincere apology on television, and I wasn’t even around when it first aired. It was the Great One, Jackie Gleason, apologizing to the public because his show sucked. Believe it or not, once you could switch on a TV set and witness real class.
Jackie Gleason wasn’t some empty provocateur. We still admire and enjoy his work because he cared. It meant something to him, as an artist. He took the failure of his show personally, and he wanted his viewers to know it was just a fluke. His classic show The Honeymooners is still funny, so much so that no one cares that it’s in black-and-white. It begat The Flintstones, which begat The Simpsons, which begat Family Guy. One can see that Gleason’s perfectionism was not at all in vain. He’s a pillar of American pop culture.
Bill Maher said “I’m a house nigga” in front of a black person and the entire audience. This is bog-standard manufactured hype from a fading television personality. For even bigger ratings, he was later scolded by Ice Cube, of the classic gangsta-rap outfit Niggas With Attitudes. Ice Cube is obviously the trusted authority on the epithet (and black people), plus he’s angry and black. He informed Maher that he is not allowed to use the word “nigga”. Back-patting and big ratings all around. Lots of healthy promotion based on public image. Well done again, television! Everyone is mollified!
Once more, “nigga” is on everyone’s lips. Entire articles are devoted to the established fact that there is no difference between “nigga” and “nigger”, even though there’s a distinct difference between “gangsta” and “gangster”. One is phony, and one actually kills people. This is the level of discourse we currently enjoy. Everyone must be clear on which exact word makes the browner people go berserk.
This implies that all white people secretly desire to run amok screaming “nigger” at black people. An imbecile believes that. First of all, we don’t, and secondly, that’s racist. Thirdly, I dare you to utter that word around white women or white beta-males. They will rip their own arms off signaling their virtue. They will throw you under the biggest bus in all the land.
That is what weak-minded people do. They wait for someone like them to make a gaffe, then they obsess over that mistake, as a display of their own personal purity and moral superiority. On the Internet, this display is never challenged. No verification is necessary, not even skin color. It’s standard operating procedure for wannabes.
Just about everyone on earth has a word that makes them aggressive, excepting possibly the Dalai Lama. Even he would probably get rankled if you deliberately made fun of his glasses, or taunted him with the name “Four-Eyed Dolly Llama”. This is the key. Bill Maher knew what would happen when he spake “nigga”. He probably knew that a black person would give him the “you’re not allowed to use that word” speech, which never works. Why would it?
If another person tells me I’m not allowed to say “kumquat”, I will likely reply with “fuck you, kumquat.” If a person says “please refrain from saying ‘kumquat’, I was molested with one”, I will definitely think twice. I might chuckle in private that some goof took a kumquat up the butt, but only in private, out of respect for that person’s pain. That’s all it takes; respect. Even if you’re faking it. A good actor can cry on command, did you know that? What does that say about the weepy public statements we’re subjected to so frequently?
As an American, I’m well aware of the negative power of the word “nigger”, in any form; it’s been drilled into my head since I was a boy. It isn’t difficult to grasp. If you’ve seen the excellent Blazing Saddles, or the execrable Die Hard With A Vengeance, you can work it out, even if you aren’t black. The word has a long and incendiary history in our country, and others. Thus, one generally knows what they’re getting into if they speak that word indiscriminately, or angrily. Its effect is no more debatable than the effect of “FIRE” screamed in a packed movie theater.
That’s why most of us don’t speak it, or even think about it. If someone calls me a cracker, a faggot, a gindaloon, a dago, a mick, a greaseball, or anything similar, I don’t waste a half-hour proselytizing them. I don’t insult them by forbidding them to speak a harmless word. I’m not a judge, or any sort of authority.
I just move on, and focus my attention on the people who earn it honestly and positively. No finger-pointing, no shaming, no virtue-signaling. Simple as that.
If you find that too difficult, than the Internet and free speech are not for you.