After Bill Maher unapologetically used the n-word on his show, ignoring a long history of violent oppression surrounding the word, many people called for him to be fired. Maher offered a lazy first “apology” and after more outcry, he took a different path with the whole thing.
Maher’s first apology wasn’t really an apology. His statement, “The comic mind goes to a weird place sometimes,” doesn’t excuse what he said, and at this point, he doesn’t even seem to think that he did anything wrong at all.
After the public wasn’t appeased with that lax apology, Maher tried again, this time having Georgetown professor, Michael Eric Dyson, talk to him about the use of the slur, and what it means, historically. Maher’s reply after this, was, “We’re all evolving. We’re all who we are.” Maher continued, “By the way, this happened once. A guy said a weird thing, I made a bad joke. Yes, it was wrong and I own up to that. But it’s not like I made a career of this… It happened, and it was wrong. People make mistakes, we’re all sinners.”
The immediate issue with this statement is his insistence that this happened once. Generally, white people that are comfortable with saying the n-word as a “joke” on TV have been comfortable with saying it for a very long time. Just because there isn’t another recorded instance of Maher saying it on his show, absolutely does not mean that this was a one time deal. Especially considering the fact that Maher has been called out before for racism, Islamophobia, sexism, defending wife-beating, and basically everything else that makes you human scum.
Maher offered another half apology, mostly trying to clear himself, by saying, “I just don’t want to pretend this is more of a race thing than a comedian thing. Comedians are a special kind of monkey.” Using the n-word as a white person does actually make it a race thing, because it is a word that white people should not touch, ever.
Maher’s latest apology came after a conversation with Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson, on his show who “schooled”, according to the media, Maher over the host’s use of the racial slur. Later in the show, Maher welcomes Ice Cube, who also explains why what Maher did was so wrong,
While, obviously, it was entertaining to watch Ice Cube be kind of mean to Maher on his own show, it feels like an obvious PR stunt. Maher’s wildly trying to swing this scandal as a one-time deal, when anyone that’s paid attention to the trash that falls out of the “comedian’s” mouth, knows he has no problem with being a raging bigot. He’s trying to show that he’s actually a “cool” guy who learns from his mistakes, even though people have tried for years to educate him on what he’s been saying.
Ice Cube tells Maher, “I love your show, but you been bucking up that line a little bit. You got a lot of black jokes… Sometimes you sound like a redneck trucker.” Making it seem even more like Maher’s black friend telling him that he crossed the line this time, but everything else he was doing was okay. It gives Maher a pass for being offensive “that one time” and it also gives white people that were watching an internal pass for supporting him because “everyone makes mistakes” and he “knows what he did wrong now”.
The idea that any grown white person, especially a grown person that works on TV, didn’t know that they were going to get backlash for saying the n-word as a “joke” on their show, is laughable. Maher knew it was offensive, and he said it anyways because he thought his viewers would like it. His viewers did like it, for the most part, they laughed and cheered, and the senator, who Maher made the statement to, also laughed.
Ice-Cube obviously made some good points to Maher, more of his statement included saying,
“I accept your apology, but I still think we need to get to the root of the psyche, because I think there are a lot of guys out there who cross the line because they a little too familiar… or is guys who had a black girlfriend or two that made them some Kool-Aid now and then think they can cross the line, and they can’t.“
His accepting Maher’s apology though, seemed like Maher was just getting a free pass. People that were listening simply heard, “Ice-Cube forgives Maher for using the n-word” and didn’t listen to the details that Ice-Cube as saying. It’s not Ice-Cube’s fault, but the media is spinning the whole controversy in Maher’s favour, and is now promoting he’s been “forgiven” for his “one transgression”.
Ice-Cube added that hearing white people use the slur is “like a knife. You can use it as a weapon or you can use it as a tool. It’s been used as a weapon against us by white people, and we’re not gonna let that happen again by nobody, because it’s not cool. It’s in the lexicon, everybody talk it, but it’s our word now. You can’t have it back.”
Don’t let Maher skip away from this scandal unharmed. Hold him accountable for all the other trash that he spews on his show. He’s walking away from this “educated” now, and anytime people are going to try and criticize his racism, or any of his other hateful bigotry, he’s going to try and bring up this interaction, and clear himself from all wrong doing. Hold Maher accountable because the general public seems like the only ones that want to do that.