One last thing about Bill Maher because it’s important to make some distinctions here. And I do hasten to note that I like Maher and his show, and I don’t mean for this to come off as a generalized attack against him. But this is a crucial discussion to have, so…
Here’s an extended clip of Friday night’s Real Time. Watch it from end to end.
Limbaugh’s words do, in fact, hurt people — as evidenced by the proposed Arizona law that Maher mentioned in this exact same segment. This and similar laws are only winning legislative support because Limbaugh and others in the right-wing media are cheerleading them and providing cover for the misogynistic lawmakers responsible.
Another point. Maher is, or was, a board member for PETA — an organization that spends considerable resources “shutting down” anyone or anything that hurts animals. It’s a similar principle at play against Limbaugh: the public should always hold accountable the free market whenever necessary. Not everyone has a national stage like Maher or Jon Stewart or Rachel Maddow, so we use one of the only tools we have: citizen activism.
Again, it’s not about restricting free speech — it’s not about shutting down a comedian who made a joke that included the word “cunt”. By the way, I don’t see any liberal Democratic lawmakers rushing to legislate in support of calling Sarah Palin a cunt, but I see nearly every Republican-controlled legislative body attempting to pass laws based on Limbaugh’s misogyny — specifically, laws against women who are asking taxpayers to pay for them to have sex (in Limbaugh’s vernacular). That’s one of the major contextual differences between Maher, most stand up comics, and Limbaugh. Conservative Republicans do, in fact, legislate right-wing misogyny. Liberals most certainly do not legislate left-wing misogyny.
If we’re not allowed to hold Premiere Radio Networks and the free market accountable when it engages in activities that hurt us, what power do we have left?