Bill Maher Should Use the N-Word Again

So Bill Maher said the N-word on his TV show and the world went berserk. Conservatives were so exasperated by his remark that it almost seemed as if they had forgotten about Hillary’s emails for a minute. Liberals too, joined their call to have HBO fire, Bill Maher. And you say America is divided?

But what exactly happened? Bill Maher was interviewing Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse who at one point said that Nebraskans would be happy to have Bill work with them in the fields. To which Bill replied: Work in the fields? Senator, I’m a “House Ni**er”. Ben Sasse laughed, the audience applauded and surprisingly enough the sky didn’t fall. People took to Twitter to condemn his remark. Some suggested that Bill should apologize while others asked the HBO to fire him.

After sending out a couple of tweets myself, I realized that my opinion about the matter was an unpopular one. I did not find his statement despicable or offensive. Was his JOKE a little unconventional? Yes. Did he mean harm by it? No. Was the public outrage justified? No. Should he be fired? Fuck No.

Looking at the context of his joke; he called himself a “House Ni**er” to imply that he didn’t find the idea of working in the fields with Senator Sasse and his fellow Nebraskans particularly attractive. Important takeaway: called himself. He was not talking about any other person. How does an old white guy calling himself a “Ni**er” qualify as a racist statement?

Having said that, Bill Maher is not even the only white comedian in America to have used the N-word. Many others such as Louis CK have used it almost unapologetically in more offensive ways. Does ‘but they did it too’ give Bill Maher the right to use the N-word in the same way they do? Of course not. Louis CK ‘joked’ about using the N-word to refer to OTHERS while performing to an audience with a number of black attendees. The public was not outraged or offended by this. Even though Louis’s joke was in a dangerous territory, it did not sabotage his career or get him fired. He even went on to host the SNL, which I think was brilliant.

My question is why did the same people who gave Louis CK a free pass, are now asking the HBO to fire Bill Maher even though Louis’s commentary had much more offensive material than Bill’s lighthearted remark?

Bill Maher is not a racist. Louis CK is not a racist. Using the N-word doesn’t immediately make one a racist. You have to look at the context of the statement. Bill Maher is a comedian and a political commentator. Anyone who watches his show has at some point been offended by him. I know I have. But that’s the beauty of it. He invites people to his show who have nothing in common with him. Bill Maher embraces the difference of opinion. His panels are amongst the most diversely opinionated in America. If he were to be fired for offending people, he wouldn’t have had a show for more than a week.

But Bill nevertheless issued an apology and vowed not to make such a remark again, which gave the ill-founded public outrage, validity. It confirmed to the world that Bill, in fact, had made a mistake. Had he tried to explain his remark instead of issuing an apologetic statement, it would have reiterated his stance as a true progressive. Some people might not have agreed with his clarification but nevertheless would have found comfort in knowing that it was not his intention to hurt anyone’s feelings.

Therefore, by issuing a public apology, Bill has substantiated the notion that regardless of the context, it is racist to use the N-word.

I am not for using racial slurs against anyone but no group should be allowed to claim exclusive rights over a word that exists in a universal language.

I sympathize with the blacks just like I do with the Jews, the Irish and all the other enslaved groups but selective outrage is unfair. You can’t say that a particular word brings up horrific details of the past only when a member of another race says it. If your issue is with the word, it should have just the same effect on you when a member of your own race utters it.

— Shah

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