Perhaps be was trying to bail out Kathy Griffin by drawing controversy to himself – because now Bill Maher is never going to hear the end of it.Maher is now under assault from both the Left-wing outrage police, and even some on the Right looking for an excuse to criticize the liberal host. In an interview with Ben Sasse, the following exchange transpired:
“I’ve gotta get to Nebraska more,” offered Maher.
“You’re welcome. We’d love to have you work in the fields with us,” joked Sen. Sasse.
Then it happened: “Work in the fields? Senator, I’m a house ni**a.”
Obviously, it was the use of the n-word that rubbed people the wrong way. Sasse is also under fire for not “condemning” Maher on his own show for using an inappropriate word in what was obviously a joke.
When Sasse took to Twitter to promote his interview with Maher he initially didn’t even mention the “n-word” comment, given the context. Though after some blowback, he then changed his tune a bit (which did absolutely nothing to calm the outrage police).
Am walking off a redeye from LAX.— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) June 3, 2017
3 reflections on @billmaher
1. I’m a 1st Amendment absolutist. Comedians get latitude to cross hard lines.
2. But free speech comes with a responsibility to speak up when folks use that word. Me just cringing last night wasn’t good enough.— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) June 3, 2017
3. Here’s what I wish I’d been quick enough to say in the moment: “Hold up, why would you think it’s OK to use that word?…
— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) June 3, 2017
The fact is, context matters. If Maher had used the n-word to insult a black person, the outrage would be understandable.
Nearly three decades ago George Carlin explained this much better than I could have ever hoped to [with pretty strong language]:
“Americans have trouble facing the truth, so they invent a kind of a soft language to protect themselves from it. And it gets worse with every generation. For some reason it just keeps getting worse.”
Ain’t that the truth – for those on one side of the political spectrum in particular.