Bill Maher wants you to forgive Rush

A privileged white guy who makes sexist comments would like us to pardon a privileged white guy for doing the same

Topics: Bill Maher, Contraception, Rush Limbaugh, ,

Bill Maher wants you to forgive RushBill Maher and Rush Limbaugh (Credit: Reuters/Fred Prouser/AP/Gary He)

This week in rich, delicious irony: A privileged, middle-aged man known for making sexist, derogatory comments would like America to forgive a privileged, middle-aged man for making sexist, derogatory comments.

After admitting that he does “Hate to defend #RushLimbaugh,” Bill Maher went on to tweet Tuesday, about the radio host: “he apologized, liberals looking bad not accepting. Also hate intimidation by sponsor pullout.” Wait, who looks bad here? My sides, they’re splitting!

Maher, of course, is a professional provocateur, a guy who views himself as an equal opportunity fly in everyone’s ointment. But he’s also the man who recently gave a cool million dollars to Obama’s super PAC and once suggested “don’t ask, don’t tell” be overturned purely “because it will make Rush Limbaugh explode like a bag full of meat dropped from a helicopter.” As such, he no doubt felt uniquely qualified to appeal to the left’s sense of justice. And no doubt there are plenty of talking heads – the ones who erroneously keep insisting that liberals and feminists have no problem with Maher’s track record of offensive remarks – who’d go along with him.

But as a matter of fact, lots of us were revolted when Maher called Sarah Palin a “cunt” and a “dumb twat,” and were grossed out by his ill-timed assessment of Lara Logan’s “intrepid hotness” last year. We actually don’t find sexism adorable just because someone lets Marc Maron on his show.

You Might Also Like

Maher has, quite rightly, said that “When you are a public figure you’re out there and you’re fodder for comedians to make comments on you.” And when you’re a comic and a genuinely smart guy, you can probably do it without reducing a woman to her genitals. Women can take criticism and satire just fine. It’s the misogyny that gets old.

Moreover, here’s a reminder. Limbaugh’s remarks about Sandra Fluke were not about a “public figure” –- they were about a relatively unknown law student. They were made again and again, dozens of times, over a full three-day period in which he called her a whore and a slut and demanded she post videos of herself having sex. They were followed by a deeply unsatisfying statement that “my choice of words was not the best.” Since then, the marketplace has asserted itself, American style, with both consumers and advertisers deciding what form of conversation they choose to support with their time and money.

Rush Limbaugh may still have a road-to-Damascus moment and express some genuine contrition for his three-day hate binge. But until that time, what we don’t need is another smug, condescending, overpaid white dude telling us to accept a phony olive branch, suggesting that our disgust makes us “look bad.”

Mary Elizabeth Williams
Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and the author of "Gimme Shelter: My Three Years Searching for the American Dream." Follow her on Twitter: @embeedub.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    DAYA  
    Young Daya has yet to become entirely jaded, but she has the character's trademark skeptical pout down pat. And with a piece-of-work mother like Aleida -- who oscillates between jealousy and scorn for her creatively gifted daughter, chucking out the artwork she brings home from summer camp -- who can blame her?

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    MORELLO   
    With her marriage to prison penpal Vince Muccio, Lorna finally got to wear the white veil she has fantasized about since childhood (even if it was made of toilet paper).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CINDY   
    Cindy's embrace of Judaism makes sense when we see her childhood, lived under the fist of a terrifying father who preached a fire-and-brimstone version of Christianity. As she put it: "I was raised in a church where I was told to believe and pray. And if I was bad, I’d go to hell."

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CAPUTO   
    Joey Caputo has always tried to be a good guy, whether it's offering to fight a disabled wrestler at a high school wrestling event or giving up his musical ambitions to raise another man's child. But trying to be a nice guy never exactly worked out for him -- which might explain why he decides to take the selfish route in the Season 3 finale.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    BOO   
    In one of the season's more moving flashbacks, we see a young Boo -- who rejected the traditional trappings of femininity from a young age -- clashing with her mother over what to wear. Later, she makes the decision not to visit her mother on her deathbed if it means pretending to be something she's not. As she puts it, "I refuse to be invisible, Daddy. Not for you, not for Mom, not for anybody.”

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    SOSO
    We still don't know what landed Brooke Soso in the slammer, but a late-season flashback suggests that some seriously overbearing parenting may have been the impetus for her downward spiral.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    POUSSEY
    We already know a little about Poussey's relationship with her military father, but this season we saw a softer side of the spunky fan-favorite, who still pines for the loving mom that she lost too young.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    PENNSATUCKY
    Pennsatucky had something of a redemption arc this season, and glimpses of her childhood only serve to increase viewer sympathy for the character, whose mother forced her to chug Mountain Dew outside the Social Security Administration office and stripped her of her sexual agency before she was even old enough to comprehend it.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CHANG
    This season, we got an intense look at the teenage life of one of Litchfield's most isolated and underexplored inmates. Rebuffed and scorned by her suitor at an arranged marriage, the young Chinese immigrant stored up a grudge, and ultimately exacted a merciless revenge.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    HEALY
    It's difficult to sympathize with the racist, misogynist CO Sam Healy, but the snippets we get of his childhood -- raised by a mentally ill mother, vomited on by a homeless man he mistakes for Jesus when he runs to the church for help -- certainly help us understand him better.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NORMA
    This season, we learned a lot about one of Litchfield's biggest enigmas, as we saw the roots of Norma's silence (a childhood stutter) and the reason for her incarceration (killing the oppressive cult leader she followed for decades).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NICKI
    While Nicki's mother certainly isn't entirely to blame for her daughter's struggles with addiction, an early childhood flashback -- of an adorable young Nicki being rebuffed on Mother's Day -- certainly helps us understand the roots of Nicki's scarred psyche.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>