Home / abject wankery / And for those of you who don’t like <del>sport</del> assholes, there’s <del>sport</del> Bill Maher

And for those of you who don’t like sport assholes, there’s sport Bill Maher

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Defining the struggle for equal rights as a pet cause is never not a stupid argument, even when the person who makes it throws in some booga! about GOP goblins that’ll getcha if you don’t watch out.

But, as professional Up Himself Person Bill Maher demonstrates in six minutes of your life you won’t get back, it takes a master to turn that argument into a lump of logical fallacies so dense that it starts to radiate anti-humor in the form of concussed frat bro style “jokes” about transgender women and people with disabilities.

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  • dporpentine

    I feel like “abject wankery” is too kind a tag for anything involving Bill Maher (both an anagram and a near palindrome for “rehab mill”–as in, every time I want to go on a blinding weeks-long bender).

    “Black hole space-time vortex-level wankery” maybe?

  • Gregor Sansa

    If Christopher Hitchens were alive, at least he could do it in a classy accent.

    • XTPD

      Which is ironic, because I always though of Maher as a broader Jon Chait with a thick skin. (Which isn’t to say they’re interchangeable substantively, as relative to the left they’re uniquely poor on different issues – Chait treats anybody more liberal than he is as Dirty Fucking Hippies, while Maher is far too sympathetic to the crankier parts of environmentalism & Islam-critical sentiment (though he’s moderated quite a bit on the latter). Personality-wise, though, Chez Pazienza has the worst of both worlds, combining exaggerated Maher’s frat-bro liberalism & demeanor with Chait’s total inability to take any criticism from the left).

      • ThresherK (KadeKo)

        Interesting comparison of two people; I had not thought of that before.

        I don’t know who Chez Pazienza is, but your description makes me eager to not find out.

        • XTPD

          He’s one of the five core writers for The Daily Banter; the others are Bob Cesca, Ben Cohen, Tommy Christopher, and Michael Luciano ( link here).

          Thing is, the three C’s are pretty good as a whole – though Tommy’s probably the weakest stylist – but I’d periodically forget the reason I never visited the site more than three days a year. Pazienza & Luciano are why: They’re two of the few people who can unironically be called “hippie-punchers” (though Luciano is more thin-skinned) and their value to left-liberalism is strictly limited to attacking the right.

          (Personally, the last straw was their entirely uncritical defenses of Sam Harris, where they insinuated that criticizing Harris from the left on anything automatically qualified one for moonbat status. Bill Maher’s had Harris plenty on times on his show, but there are positions Harris has endorsed that even Maher views as indefensible, mainly concerning civil liberties: e.g., torture, military interventionism, viewing literally all Muslims as “the enemy horde.”)

          • cpinva

            “and their value to left-liberalism is strictly limited to attacking the right.”

            something anyone with two working synapses should be able to do in their sleep. pretty low bar I’d say.

          • Procopius

            Ah. Bob Cesca. Thank you for the warning. I’ve seen The Daily Banter mentioned but have never gone there and now I know not to. As for Maher, I thought there was a time when he was supposed to be a comedian. Did he have a brain transplant or something? Or is it just that I was misinformed?

      • Captain Splendid

        Yeah, a year ago, Maher’s position on the GWOT wasn’t all that far from your average Republican, and it has gotten better, even if he does frame the whole thing as an Epic Clash Of Civilizations.

        His takedown of trickle-down economics using Califarnia as a positive example is also worth mentioning as that’s something you don’t see much of on TV.

        • cpinva

          “His takedown of trickle-down economics using Califarnia as a positive example is also worth mentioning as that’s something you don’t see much of on TV.”

          Bush the elder did that back in the 80’s, so it’s not exactly new. it’s called “trickle-down” for a very good reason, because it’s about as descriptive as you can get, in two words. if I recall correctly, it was known as “voodoo economics”, because to have any actual positive effect on the economy required magic.

          • (((Hogan)))

            It’s not new, but this seems to be the kind of thing that requires periodic booster shots.

            • weirdnoise

              Pity that Maher has gone antivax.

  • Derelict

    Poorly rendered? Sure. But I get his point. We’ve all watched liberal causes get derailed because one group decides they’re the really important cause, and anyone who’s not pushing that cause first and foremost becomes the enemy. As TBogg pointed out so long ago, the left is inclined toward this bizarre self-destructive behavior.

    • Gregor Sansa

      So what we need is solidarity, if not consensus. Fine. Sign me up, as long as we can shun Bill Maher in solidarity.

    • carolannie

      ALL groups think they are the most important. Think about how women’s equality got subordinated to African-American (black) male equal rights, for the sake of “UNITY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOUR PET RIGHTS ARE!” group. Even now, women’s rights are subordinated to all sorts of other group rights. I don’t recall any social justice movement claiming that any group is the enemy, but I sure do recall being told so and so’s rights are more important than yours and wait your turn, because you aren’t as oppressed as they are.

      • John Revolta

        Look, I don’t care WHAT color you are………………those sandwiches ain’t gonna make themselves.

        • Ahuitzotl

          #notallsandwiches

      • Duvall

        Think about how women’s equality got subordinated to African-American (black) male equal rights, for the sake of “UNITY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOUR PET RIGHTS ARE!” group.

        When exactly did this happen?

        • Origami Isopod

          Thank you for calling that out; I’d skimmed over her comment last night.

      • Origami Isopod

        Ugh, could you stop with the second-wave white feminist bullshit there? Yes, there are “intersectional” feminists and activists in other movements who don’t care about misogyny so long as it happens to white women, but there are also still plenty of white feminists who are, at best, deeply tone-deaf when it comes to any other kind of oppression.

    • sharculese

      But, no matter how much he tries to dress it up, Maher’s made his position clear over the years, and it’s that the right time to address sexism is never. Maher is a rampant sexist; he’s not worried about priorities, he just wants to be able to act poorly and never get called out on it.

      There was a time when you could maybe make an argument that he was useful, but now we have John Oliver, the better, smarter, understands-science-above-a-5th-grade-levelier, version of Maher, and I don’t understand why we don’t just put him out to pasture.

      • cpinva

        ” he’s not worried about priorities, he just wants to be able to act poorly be an asshole and never get called out on it.”

        there, fixed that for you. no need to thank me, it’s what I do, I’m a giver.

        • SIWOTI

          See, it’s stuff like this that keeps you at the minor league asshole level. That’s why you will “toil away at being one with no monetary compensation” instead of being called up to the big leagues.

          • Ahuitzotl

            you seem to think that’s a bad thing?

            • veleda_k

              I thought they were being tongue-in-cheek.

      • Halloween Jack

        I feel like he mostly has been put out to pasture; the problem is that there are a whole bunch of brogressives who are willing to go out to that field with him.

      • Ahuitzotl

        But John Oliver is funny, at least some of the time. Maher has never been funny, just impressed with himself and what he uses for a sense of humour.

        • sharculese

          Right, that’s what I’m saying. We don’t need the beta version anymore when we have the finished product.

  • calling all toasters

    Great video: funny and true. Thanks for sharing. Couldn’t find the “logical fallacies,” but I thought it was fine without them.

    • Marc

      Yup, pretty much my reaction. It’s pretty obvious which side he’s on, at least if you’re not determined to hate him.

      • McAllen

        Yes, someone who makes jokes about it being hard to find panties when you’re 6’4″ is definitely on my side.

        • Colin Day

          I think he said pantyhose.

      • JL

        Maher’s been making transphobic, and specifically transmisogynistic, jokes, for a long time. He’s called both trans women and cis women trannies on his show. He’s made asshole jokes about Caitlyn Jenner (among other things, calling her a guy in a dress). He called trans people who complain about transphobia in the Vagina Monologues, pussies. He’s criticized people who get upset about being mispronouned because it’s not as bad as being thrown off a building by Daesh.

        That’s not really indicating that he’s on trans people’s side.

        • sharculese

          This. I’m not determined to hate Bill Maher. I’ve learned to hate him through years of seeing him be a smug, unfunny, bigot. It’s like watching an episode of Two and Half Men have opinions about politics.

          • cpinva

            this. and I don’t actually hate him, as that would require an expenditure of emotional energy he isn’t worth.

          • bender

            I got the smug and unfunny part listening to him once or twice, so I didn’t stick around long enough for the bigotry.

          • JL

            It’s like watching an episode of Two and Half Men have opinions about politics.

            Thank you for this. That was my involuntary burst of laughter for the day.

          • Origami Isopod

            I’ve learned to hate him through years of seeing him be a smug, unfunny, bigot.

            Same. He has been a complete and total asshole with an unduly high sense of his own talent for, literally, decades. The only people who need to make an effort to hate him are privileged idiots with empathy deficits.

          • Halloween Jack

            Yep. Bill Maher is determined to stand athwart history yelling “Fuck you, I was born with a dick.”

          • tsam

            I get the same read. Between his condescending, snotty attitude, his superiority complex (especially when he’s flat out wrong, like spreading the whole “Jesus is actually Horus” crap) just makes him unwatchable. I really don’t believe he has much in the way of values, aside from thinking he’s so awesome because he’s “politically incorrect”. That feels like patting yourself on the back for shitting your pants.

        • a_paul_in_mtl

          I think that this should become a satirical catchphrase: “You think you have it tough? At least you’re not being thrown off a building by Daesh!”

          • MAJeff

            “You think you have it tough? At least you’re not being thrown off a building by Daesh!”

            I think that was the GOP reaction to the Pulse shooting.

      • Origami Isopod

        He’s not on my side, and neither are you.

    • wjts

      Couldn’t find the “logical fallacies,” but I thought it was fine without them.

      You missed the logical fallacy of, “Trump is wrong about so many issues that he must be defeated. In order to guarantee his defeat, we must not mention the many issues he’s wrong about.”?

      • calling all toasters

        I missed both parts of that. Possibly because what Maher said was for people to put aside their single favorite issue. Or perhaps because he said that Trump has to be defeated, but didn’t say whether that was on the basis of issues or character.

        But if he said that, it would have been a contradiction.

        • veleda_k

          What you completely miss is some people’s “single favorite issue” is their right to basic physical safety. Trans people are assaulted in restrooms. They neglect their physical health in order to avoid confrontations.

          Trans people are asking to have our basic humanity acknowledged, and what we get is a bunch of smug leftists, sneering at “identity politics.”

          • calling all toasters

            Yup, that’s exactly what I’m doing: sneering and denying your basic humanity. I’m not at all suggesting that it’s an election year, and that trans-friendly policies depend on getting trans-friendly politicians elected. Because that would not be monstrous, so clearly it’s not what I’m doing.

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    The irony is that it has been precisely on “culture war” issues that liberals have been most successful over the last half century.

    Maher is engaging in a kind of crisis assholism here.

    • XTPD

      This. I’ve actually been watching him since 2007, since I was in my teens, and I find Nathan Rabin’s assessment that Bill Maher’s about as legitimately funny as he is a massive prick to be more or less accurate.

    • cpinva

      “The irony is that it has been precisely on “culture war” issues that liberals have been most successful over the last half century.”

      see, that’s a problem right there. since when should an individual or group need to engage in a “war”, to secure the rights they are entitled to by virtue of the law? not “special” rights mind you, just the rights that everyone else (white, male, Christian) take for granted, and seem stunned that anyone else not them would have the temerity to think they’re entitled to as well.

  • StellaB

    Maher is an anti-vaxxer.

    • XTPD

      Yeah, at this point his advocacy for the “natural = good” crowd are probably the most objectionable thing about him. Interestingly enough, this seems to be one of the very, very few issues he’s walked back to some extent , but his position that First World vaccinations are redundant is not worth defending, something which Neil DeGrasse Tyson brought up a few months ago.

      • StellaB

        I’m two years younger than Maher and I’ve seen the damage done by vaccine-preventable disease. It should be completely uncontrontroversial, but privileged idiots like Maher and Stein give anti-vax beliefs legitimacy.

        • XTPD

          +1980

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        was just reading an article in one of the farm papers to the effect that a lot of the backyard beekeepers who have started up since the colony collapse became an issue aren’t actually helping as much as one might think, because many refuse to treat their bees for mites- which is one of the causes of the colony collapse problem

        • LuigiDaMan

          Old beekeeper here. Categorically denied regarding mites. Evryone uses the various mite killers. The CCD problem is not mites, but nicotine based pesticide Monsanto markets here in the US. It has been banned for two years in Europe and colonies have started to rebound. But here, we are waiting until December, presumably when Monsanto’s supply runs out, to decide on a possible ban. And you thought your corporate overlords were losing their powers!

    • cpinva

      “Maher is an anti-vaxxer.”

      well, color me not stunned. just add that to the many reasons I stopped watching him years ago. his assholery became blatant. that, and dating anne coulter. sorry, I prefer my dates to be of the non odious sort.

    • sharculese

      He also believes pasteurization is a myth, or at least did at one point.

  • kayden

    Which is ironic because he’s very pro-science.

    • Warren Terra

      He’s vehemently anti-God. I’d agree that Faith is inconsistent with Science (though it’s possible to be nice about it), but rejecting Faith is not enough to make you pro-Science.

      Relatedly: Maher isn’t just ignorant, he’s proudly ignorant. As in, when he briefly got a network show and was doing interviews for publicity he crowed about how he has basically never read a book, and read little news. Nothing about his behavior suggests this has changed over the years.

      In short: he may claim to be pro-science, but I’d contend he’s not; he’s just convinced himself he’s brilliant, and that his opinions are “science”.

      • cpinva

        “I’d agree that Faith is inconsistent with Science”

        according to the Vatican, this is not at all true. after all, who is that gave us all these brilliant scientists to begin with, hmmmmmmmmmmmmm?

        • Galileo Gallilei

          I’m not entirely familiar with this argument.

        • giovanni da procida

          Gregor Mendel has a posse.

          More seriously, as a working research scientist, my experience is that religious faith is less common among my peers than the general public. There are, however, some excellent scientists I know who are quite sincerely religious.

          • Procopius

            Being religious is not in itself a problem. The problem is when you believe the story of everything is already known and written down and cannot be changed. An astronomer who insisted Kepler answered all astronomical questions would be as bad as one who insisted the Earth must be flat because the Bible mentions its “four corners.”

      • Derelict

        he’s just convinced himself he’s brilliant

        Coulda just stopped right there. I’ll sometimes tune in to his show for the last few minutes as his New Rules schtick can sometimes be funny.

        The rest of his show pretty much consists of him bulldozing his guests, patting himself on the back, and getting pissy when the audience doesn’t fawn sufficiently.

      • Procopius

        Well, atheism is just as much a faith as xtianity, and can be just as irrational and myth-ridden. After many years of struggling with it I came to the conclusion that it is not a question that can be answered by reason. “God” is an axiom. Maher is as bad as that dead idiot other atheist whose name I should remember but don’t. Not Breitbart (was he an atheist?), some English guy who was nearly as insufferable as Maher. A pox on both of them and Dawkins, too.

        • Origami Isopod

          Well, atheism is just as much a faith as xtianity

          And baldness is just as much a hair color as brown or blond or grey.

          I don’t question that atheists can be just as irrational as the religious, because humans are irrational, but it’s silly to call lack of faith “a faith.”

        • Warren Terra

          You’re probably thinking of Christopher Hitchens.

          And while Atheists can be as intolerant and as dogmatic as Theists can be, I would disagree with your claim that Atheism is a “faith”. Sure, on some level it’s impossible to disprove the existence of a mysterious all-powerful entity capable of defying the rules of evidence and of logic; still, it’s quite possible to look around us and decide that (1) no supernatural entity is required by the evidence we can see; (2) existing theologies are especially poorly supported; and (3) if there is a God, it’s not one worthy of reverence or worship.

  • Loofah

    In principle Maher is correct. You don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.

    On HB-2 he may be empirically wrong because it is turning out that HB-2 seems to have backfired to some extent on McCrory and the NC Repubs – but that is a very surprising result. But Maher is absolutely correct about it not being worth taking the risk of dying on that particular hill at this particular time.

    Sorry! But trust me transgender people will be infinitely better off with Hillary than Trump so if it takes biting the bullet for the next 100 days, oh well. Maybe the risk is not that high but that is a surprising result and who knows if it will continue to be that way if it turns into an all out social war?

    Just isn’t worth it.

    • JL

      At some point people have to get out of the defensive crouch. HB-2 hurts lots of people. Elections are frequent. If you’re always subordinating issue-based organizing to elections, out of fear that a potential voter here or there will be alienated, it makes it that much harder to get anywhere on the issues – and it means that you lose the increased mobilization, including electoral mobilization, of all the people who care about the given issues.

      The defensive crouch is an argument for never tacking left on anything during an election cycle, which would be roughly one and a half out of every four years even if you’re only talking about presidential elections, and would be most of the time if you’re talking about midterm election years, because you might alienate a moderate somewhere.

      • cpinva

        to paraphrase Ben Franklin, if you only support issues that offend no one, there will be no issues to support.

      • Loofah

        Dude: I totally hear you and agree with your position 99% of the time. But this particular election, as Maher says, is different. Really different. Different enough for it to make a difference, if you catch my drift.

        • JL

          How is Dem triangulation on trans civil rights going to make a difference in this election? This election is not unusually close or anything. The people who think that respect for the dignity and rights of people who aren’t straight white cis able-bodied men is destroying the country, are already supporting Trump and aren’t going to be flipped back by ignoring this one issue.

          • Yes.

            I’m a big proponent of lesser evilism/harm reduction, as I know you, JL, and most other on this site are. But there’s a flip phenomenon, i.e., marginalisation and subordination where lesser evilism like arguments are used to denigrate or deny (indefinitely) addressing key issues.

            (And, of course, certain subgroups of purist leftists manage to do both negative variants, i.e., don’t vote for lesser evils but also disparage various key issues for women, blacks, GBLT+ etc. issues

      • calling all toasters

        At some point people have to get out of the defensive crouch.

        I agree, at some point. A good time would be starting four months from now with a Democratic president and maybe even a Democratic congress.

        • JL

          There is nothing contradictory about supporting trans rights and having a Democratic president and maybe even a Democratic Congress. As other people have said in this thread, I’m skeptical that there are a bunch of wavery Clinton supporters or undecideds who are going to flip because they’re angry about other people supporting trans people’s civil rights. I’m even more skeptical that there are non-negligible numbers of wavery Trump supporters who would flip if only the Dems stopped caring about trans people’s civil rights.

          • calling all toasters

            Republican politicians obviously feel there’s some electoral advantage to them in passing these laws– I doubt they give a good goddam about the issue. I expect that advantage is real, will be mostly in the form of turnout, and will be enough to (for instance) keep Burr in the Senate.

            I don’t trust them on anything except their ability to grab the main chance.

            • JL

              And fighting for trans people, against something as high-profile as HB2, does nothing to boost Dem turnout?

              I wouldn’t assume that Republican politicians don’t care about the issue. I think a lot of them really are that invested in upholding the traditionalist gender system.

    • Civil rights are not a bargaining chip or an advertising strategy.

      • cpinva

        “Civil rights are not a bargaining chip or an advertising strategy.”

        no they are not, and no one gets to vote on other people having them or not. if the state is going to restrict/remove my legal rights, it better have a damn good reason for doing so, and some state legislator’s religious beliefs don’t qualify.

      • Loofah

        yeah they are

        • (((Hogan)))

          Except for yours, of course.

        • Origami Isopod

          Fuck you.

  • shewasthenaz

    OK, I made it halfway through.

    “Throw your principles away, guys! Hillary Clinton will find them on her own, later on, after she’s elected!”

    Just like her husband did when he pushed NAFTA through. And the WTO. And signed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. And DOMA. And did welfare reform. And, and, and.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      it’s 2016 not 1996

      • calling all toasters

        Gay people will never be able to openly serve in the military– I read it on a blog!

      • Warren Terra

        On the other hand, if shewasthenaz agrees to split the profits, we could give them some really swell stock tips.

    • cpinva

      geez, did the 22A get overturned, and Bill’s running again? no, didn’t think so. nice try concern troll. here’s a home version of the game, along with some pancakes and syrup, as lovely parting gifts.

      • Woodrowfan

        no Rice-a-roni or Turtle wax???

    • Brownian

      Just like her husband did when he pushed NAFTA through. And the WTO. And signed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. And DOMA. And did welfare reform. And, and, and.

      THANK YOU! I’m glad some progressives haven’t succumbed to this neoliberal perversity of treating women as autonomous individuals.

      Are you voting Stein? I’d like to, but I can’t find much information on her husband’s platform, so I’ve no idea what she’ll be told by him to do as president.

  • McAllen

    Yes, making it so transgender people don’t have to avoid public restroom for another year is definitely a “boutique issue” that isn’t worth risking. After all, if we press too hard Clinton might lose 0.001% of the vote!

    • Lamont Cranston

      The kind of person who would change their vote from Clinton to Trump over support for trans rights is so lost to reason that triangulating to get their vote is very bad strategy. It also has to be a tiny, tiny portion of the population.

      I also suspect that Maher has the 2004 anti-gay mechanism wrong. It worked for republicans by driving turnout with anti-gay ballot items, not by changing people’s votes.

      Finally, all of the anti-gay bullshit has contributed to the Republicans losing young people for a generation, so I’m not sure it helps Maher’s argument.

      • McAllen

        Also, doesn’t his point about Gore running away from Clinton directly contradict his argument?

        • Lamont Cranston

          Yeah, he gives Obama credit for “taking the issue off the table” but that’s exactly what Gore tried to do. In reality, what Obama did was claim to have a conservative (or moderate) position. As Sam Spade said, “you lied to me, but it’s okay – I didn’t believe you.” I suspect that Obama would tell you it was a mistake.

          Gore just pretended he didn’t know who Bill Clinton was.

          • cpinva

            “Gore just pretended he didn’t know who Bill Clinton was.”

            which turned out to be a blunder, cause the Big Dog was mighty, mighty popular, in spite of all the republican’s efforts.

    • And saying that it’s just about where people pee is Olympic class obtuseness &/or being a dick.

      • To be fair, where people pee is actually very relevant to this Olympics: the Olympic Villagers’s throughput may simultaneously reduce the toxicity of Rio’s water supply and raise its PED level!

        • cpinva

          just think how much better the average citizen of Rio will feel, for at least the next couple of weeks.

      • calling all toasters

        So it’s not about HB2? What law are we fighting against, then?

        • GeoX

          So…obtuseness, then?

    • Sly

      Yeah but, in fairness, Maher is willing to temporarily drop his activism concerning the ongoing crisis in civil liberties presented by him being forced to fraudulently carry a medical marijuana card in order to get high, or else he’d otherwise risk putting Time Warner’s lawyers through the hassle of getting the charges.

      So trans people should likewise drop the whole “being treated like humans” cause, lest they risk convincing every Rageface P. McHategasm in the country to vote for Trump twice. Or something.

  • LosGatosCA

    The only thing really funny in that bit isn’t really his – Jenner supports Trump??

    Item #infinity that politics just doesn’t submit to logic,

    or,

    perhaps it just demonstrates that Republicans love their money more than literally anything else – themselves, their freedom, their self-respect, common decency, etc.

    Possibly both.

    • She supported Cruz before, even though he’d happily send her to a gender realignment gulag. When challenged on this, she said something along the lines of “every conservative guy out there supports everybody’s rights.”

      Just another rich idiot.

      • cpinva

        “every conservative guy out there supports everybody’s rights.”

        except yours honey.

        • veleda_k

          She has money and connections, so she assumes she’ll be all right. Never mind that the very fact that she can live as herself and still be successful is built on the backs of the people she’s throwing to the wolves.

  • Crusty

    I think Bill Maher is a pretty good comedian, but of course, humor is subjective.

  • brad

    So a sexist toxic narcissist acted like a sexist toxic narcissist.

    How do people find his schtick tolerable? He pretends Affleck is a profound statesman and calls every single woman he’s ever met doll or babe.

  • Pingback: Bill Maher, Donald Trump, and the Existential Threat()

    • JL

      Huh, I followed this link back and while this person thinks Maher is wrong, they also don’t think that bathroom access is a very important issue for trans people compared to harassment and murder. That’s an impressive misunderstanding. Bathroom discrimination for trans people is connected with suicide attempts, excessive absence/dropping out of school, avoiding going out in public, physical violence, and physical health problems like UTIs and kidney infections.

      • Anyone who missed the fact that the laws are based on a lot of lies about sexual predators, which in turn has been used to justify violence against groups that already face higher than normal amounts of violence, has no business commenting on the issue, at all.

        • Derelict

          What’s really hysterical is that more than half of the trans people I know (sample size: 7) really do not look like their birth gender. One started hormones early (thanks to understanding parents) and she’s become quite the stunner. Forcing her into the men’s room would cause way more consternation than just letting her use the ladies’ room.

          Likewise with a friend who came to it all a bit late (in his 40s), but now looks like a biker. Having him walk into the ladies’ room would REALLY set off alarm bells.

      • veleda_k

        I feel that anyone who dismisses bathroom access as a “boutique” issue or as a not very serious problem should be willing to forgo any use of public bathrooms. For a start.

  • semiotix

    Everyone’s making good points about Bill Maher, but never forget the fundamental bedrock on which they all lie, the Zeroth Law of Maherism.

    “Bill Maher” is a semi-scripted character written by a team of writers including the performer, former actor Bill Maher. He is no more real than “Stephen Colbert” or Chilly Willy the Penguin. His defining character trait is that he is “controversial.” On every issue, without exception, and without regard for whether his shit-stirring on issue B conflicts with the shit he just stirred on issue A.

    Not only is this good for clicks and views (what will he say next?!) but it can create a bizarre sort of affection for him. Maybe his contrarianism is a bridge too far for you on one issue (water isn’t wet, it’s un-dry) but you remember the things he agreed with you on, too, and there will be plenty of them, because “Maher” believes whatever will make for the best TV, and that means he believes things in every square millimeter of the ideological spectrum.

    It also helps that if you’re the kind of person who’s just dumb enough to think that anything said sarcastically must be smart, he looks like Albert Einstein.

    For all we know, Bill Maher (the person) is a devout churchgoer who gives money to vaccinate poor children and has no opinion on Israel. There is, and I’m not exaggerating here, no evidence whatsoever to the contrary, no matter what “Maher” says on TV.

    • cpinva

      I must respectfully disagree. he and his team of writers, in the aggregate, come nowhere close to Colbert, all by himself. he’s just a dick.

      • semiotix

        Oh, God, no, I’m not saying “Maher” is BETTER than “Colbert,” in any sense. He’s just no less fictional.

        Maybe actual-Maher is also as big a dick as “Maher.” That’s totally possible, maybe even likely. What can’t be true is that actual-Maher believes all or even many of the things that “Maher” does. Nobody could. Maher is an honest broker of opinion in the same way that Harry Potter is a magician: fictionally.

        I find it’s helpful to keep that in mind both when “Maher” says something I don’t like, and when he says something I do like.

        • sharculese

          I don’t think Bill Maher has said anything I’ve ‘liked.’ He’s said some things I agree with, but he always finds the most tedious and uninteresting way to say them, so who cares.

          But more importantly, I’m not sure it matters whether or not it’s an act. The dude who think “y’know what would be good for the laffs? Acting like a raging ball of contempt and condescension towards anyone who isn’t a straight, white dude” is still a colossal piece of shit.

          • XTPD

            Also, from what I’ve gathered in interviews there’s not a lot of daylight between “Bill Maher” and Bill Maher. It’s most plausible that “Bill Maher’s” sexism is exaggerated/made up for joke purposes, but it’s not a safe inference (though women are far more often the butt of “Maher”/Maher’s jokes than gay men or [at least non-Muslim] minorities).

            That said, you’re right that Colbert & John Oliver will age much better than Maher.

            • JR in WV

              But,

              Bill Ma…who? I’ve never seen this guy, barely heard of him, don’t know where he appears (if that’s what ‘he’ does) and don’t much care, from what you posters tell me about him.

              And,
              Th, th, th, that’s all, folks!

    • Origami Isopod

      We are the masks we wear.

    • Halloween Jack

      I remember this argument back when people were arguing that “Dice” was just a character that Andrew Silverstein played on stage, and I didn’t buy it then, either.

  • AdamPShort

    “… Maher has the 2004 anti-gay mechanism wrong. It worked for republicans by driving turnout with anti-gay ballot items, not by changing people’s votes.”

    This x1000. No one gets persuaded during an election, at least not in any predictable way. Watch interviews with late-undecideds sometime and then tell me you have any idea how they make their minds up about anything.

    In general i think the point of most GOP culture stuff nowadays is trying to just throw as much scaring-the-olds stuff against the wall as they can and hoping enough of it sticks. “Dudes in the ladies room!” is the new “Dudes kissing dudes in a church near you!”

    There is some segment of the population that is motivated to vote by this crap, but what “we” say and do has little effect on that. We should be in favor of good policies, and politically we should concentrate on turning out our own voters. Let the scared old white people vote how they want.

  • Joe_JP

    Not sure how far he has gone since “Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death.”

  • pseudalicious

    Bill Maher’s still on the air?

    • GeoX

      Seriously, WHY do people think this “so-and-so still exists?” thing is some kind of sick burn? Never has been, never will be.

      • Warren Terra

        Are people still complaining about this tired line?

        • N__B

          Are people still commenting on the complaints about this tired line?

          • tsam

            Is are people lerning?

  • Dilan Esper

    Of all the projects of the left, the desire of some to eliminate comedy that can be labeled exclusionary or prejudiced is probably the most quixotic.

    Bill Maher, like MOST comedians, traffics in stereotypes. Heck, Lena Dunham and Portlandia traffic in stereotypes! Mel Brooks was awash in them, and “Blazing Saddles” could probably never be made today. That’s how jokes are often constructed.

    There are reasonable limits on this thing, like Michael Richards shouldn’t repeatedly say the n-word, but no, I’m sorry, holding comedy to a standard of political correctness is a recipe for fewer people laughing, or more likely, everyone laughing at the left for trying.

    • sharculese

      Who said we’re talking about comedy? This thread is about Bill Maher.

      • Dilan Esper

        I thought Maher’s rant was quite funny.

        • sharculese

          I didn’t watch it and I’m not going to. I’d, in all honesty, rather watch Bill O’Reilly than Maher because at least O’Reilly knows what he is.

    • sharculese

      But, more seriously, sure comedian should maybe toe the line sometimes. They should also be told when they’ve gone too far and need to reassess. Getting pushback isn’t ‘exclusionary,’ it’s part of the process of being a public figure. There’s no other kind of public figure we give this pass to, and I’m not sure what the desperate need to give it to comedy is.

      But all of that is irrelevant here, because we’re talking about Bill Maher, who doesn’t toe the line but rather dashes gleefully across while hurling invective at anyone who isn’t exactly like him. He does this in service of nothing but his own crass bigotry, and I have no problem saying “that guy is an asshole, let’s make him sit in the corner while the grown-ups hash things out.”

      • XTPD

        I’d say the biggest problem with Bill Maher is that he has a preternaturally thick skin and an almost complete indifference as to his public image. On the plus side, that means he doesn’t treat “political correctness” or other criticism from the left as an existential threat the way Chait (or even TBogg, who I like) does, but it means that it’s almost impossible for him to empathize with the left in all but the broadest terms, and barring extraordinary events – such as the Trump presidency, or drawing the ire of the entire scientific community – it’s effectively impossible to get him to walk back anything he’s said. (My only major argument is that whatever bigotry is present in his act is less active hatred of those who aren’t straight white males, and more “My act isn’t that offensive, now get off my lawn” – though I see how one can lead to the other.)

        • sharculese

          I think there’s gradations to his prejudices depending on the target. With women and LGBTQ persons he just thinks he’s smarter than them (he’s not) and knows best what their interests are. On the other hand, I think the racism is deep-seated and an integral part of who he is.

          • XTPD

            Other than his anti-Islamic sentiments – which since Trump’s candidacy went from Islamophobic to simply myopic – I’m not aware of anything he’s said that’d lead me to believe racism on his part is more than subconscious (or that he was more deeply racist than sexist). Examples?

            • sharculese

              It’s just a bunch of little things that I’ve seen over the years, but basically I’ve always felt his sexism was of the “if I could still get away with it I’d slap the secretaries on the ass and call them toots’ school of condescending but not openly hostile, whereas his fear of brown people has always seemed visceral and pathological.

              I dunno, it’s just my opinion. I think we can all agree that whatever the particular cocktail of hate coursing through his veins, he should not be held out as the face of liberalism for any reason, ever.

              • XTPD

                If that’s the case, then you have it backwards: Maher has always been a chauvinist pig, and his motives for supporting women-friendly/LGBTQ policies seems to be along the same lines as the PC Principal. While I’m aware that he’s made quite a few jokes about minorities, his attitudes indicate more insensitivity than overt hostility, and I legitimately haven’t heard anything from him that indicated he feared/hated Black, Latinos, or East Asians (I’m black) – and pretty much the only minorities Maher’s been openly hostile to were Muslims (although not to the extent of Sam Harris, and now his criticism of Islam is more condescending than racial).

                • Thom

                  Back when I used to watch him (around 2008-11, maybe), I found that his was one of the few shows that consistently had black guests. However, I eventually gave up because of his Islamophobia and anti-Asian jokes. And the ladies man act also wore thin. And I found his anti-religious hype (and I am atheist) very anti-intellectual. However, he can be very good at skewering the right wing on occasion.

                • And I found his anti-religious hype (and I am atheist) very anti-intellectual.

                  That’s an interesting way of putting it.

                  (I was trying to remember why I stopped watching Maher even occasionally, and all I can remember is that he had Sullivan on really a lot of the time. His go-to intellectual, I guess.)

    • (((Hogan)))

      to eliminate comedy that can be labeled exclusionary or prejudiced

      We should start calling this the Palin/Esper Fallacy: anyone who criticizes a practice must believe that people have no right to engage in it.

    • JL

      This argument always seems to assume that leftists secretly think the punch-down bigotry is hilarious and want to laugh at it, but are denying that pleasure to ourselves out of a misplaced puritanism. And that comedy will die without the punch-down bigotry.

      Fortunately, Julia Serano already wrote about this better than I would have (since she’s a very good writer, and unlike me, she’s a performer who attends comedy shows regularly).

      People worried that leftists are denying themselves laughs never seem to consider that the stuff they’re defending is making the comedy less funny and enjoyable, rather than more, for a lot of people. For instance, I love the show Archer, which I stumbled across when the first episode first aired and have been a fan of since, but I cringe and enjoy the episode less every time they do a transphobic joke or play one character sexually assaulting another for laughs.

    • tsam

      This sounds awfully close to an accusation that liberals want to get rid of Maher’s First Amendment rights because we call him an asshole when he’s being an asshole.

  • veleda_k

    Are there really a significant number of Americans would vote for Clinton, if only she’d say how icky trans people are, but now they’re being forced to vote for Trump? Do these people actually exist, and, if so, do they number more than in the low double digits? Because what this looks like to me is a constructed narrative, designed to let some cis white male leftists engage in one of the favorite hobbies: telling the rest of us how irrelevant our needs and struggles are.

    • Warren Terra

      I think it works the other way: there exists a subset of American voters who will mark their ballot in order to indicate their repugnance of LGBTQ (especially T and Q) people. They’re not being driven to this by a rational weighing of which side will most effectively repress trans people, but by which side most enthusiastically shares their bigotry. Clinton could signal a willingness to stand back and let states oppress trans people, and it would do nothing to fill the sick need these voters possess.

  • JR in WV

    There’s a great voice actor who is overdubbing Trump with many very affected voices, matching his speech patterns very well. I think it’s a great send-up of Trump’s vocal patterns, and wish everyone could see it before deciding who to vote for.

    With the voice-over Trump’s mannerisms cry out for release. The actor’s name is Peter Serafinowicz, Here’s “Sophisticated Trump”.

    And here’s “Tough Guy Trump”.

    Mr Serafinowicz is a fine voice actor!

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