Tuesday, March 06, 2007

In Defense of Bill Maher... and,oh yeah, Ann Coulter

I had no intention of writing on this topic du jour simply because the blogosphere was all over it with unrestrained glee and nothing short of reckless abandon.

But as the group think outrage continued and built for several days, I found almost no one actually defending free speech or free thought. No one, that is, except Bill Maher. And Maher was actually under attack!

Bloggers, especially conservative bloggers, were attacking Ann Coulter. Somehow conservatives felt morally compelled to condemn Coulter. They felt some sort of need to cleanse their collective souls. To get the full force of the conservative blogosphere's unified condemnation of Coulter, I suggest you read this compilation of conservative reaction to Coulter by
Michelle Malkin.

But the conservatives didn't stop there. In order to claim even more high ground in the "politically correct" debate, conservatives turned their attack on to Bill Maher recent "discussion" of the attempted assassination of Vice President Cheney.

Here's the often repeated conservative mantra: "We condemn our own when they use hate speech, but the evil liberals never raise a peep when similar (or much worse) hate speech is spewed by a fellow liberal.

Here's what Maher said to cause such moral outrage. Edited from a transcript provided by Rick Moran (you can read both the transcript and conservative Moran's outrage

Maher: What about the people who got onto the Huffington Post – and these weren’t even the bloggers, these were just the comments section – who said they, they expressed regret that the attack on Dick Cheney failed.

Joe Scarborough: Right

Maher: Now…

John Ridley: More than regret.

Maher: Well, what did they say?

Ridley: They said “We wish he would die.” I mean, it was (?) hate language.

Barney Frank: They said the bomb was wasted. (laughter and applause)

Maher: That’s a funny joke. But, seriously, if this isn’t China, shouldn’t you be able to say that? Why did Arianna Huffington, my girlfriend, I love her, but why did she take that off right away?

Ridley: It’s one thing to say you hate Dick Cheney, which applies to his politics. It’s another thing to say, “I’m sorry he didn’t die in an explosion.” And I think, you know…

Maher: But I have zero doubt that if Dick Cheney was not in power, people wouldn’t be dying needlessly tomorrow. (applause)

Scarborough: If someone on this panel said that they wished that Dick Cheney had been blown up, and you didn’t say…

Frank: I think he did.

Scarborough: Okay. Did you say…

Maher: No, no. I quoted that.

Frank: You don’t believe that?

Maher: I’m just saying if he did die, other people, more people would live. That’s a fact.

You have to work hard to miss the points that Maher and Coulter were trying to make. Maher was condemning The Huffington Post for deleting readers comments from their website. Arianna Huffington "cleansed" her website of posts implying (or outright saying) they regretted that the Afghan suicide bomber hadn't "taken out" Vice President Cheney.

Coulter was saying (with the most amazing premonition) that you cannot use the word "faggot" without being forced into "rehabilitation" (a joke clearly aimed at television star Isaiah Washington's punishment for his remarks about fellow gays on the set of Grays Anatomy).

Boy was Coulter ever right. She used the word and now faced near total condemnation. She now finds herself in "virtual" rehab.

But I digress. My point is that the only real villain here is Arianna Huffington. She exercised unwarranted and undue censorship by deleting dozens (hundreds?) of comments from her website to simply avoid the negative press.

Coulter comments are just her classic satirical zingers. But all bloggers and conservatives are well within their rights in their verbal rebuke and their efforts to now shun her.

Bill Maher was well within his rights in making the comments he made. He did it in the right venue and reflected the views of many anti-war, anti-neocon people. But, here again, Maher's critics are also well within their rights in condemning Mahar.

This is called debate. So long as no one is actually trying to silence the other side, this is good honest debate.

But Maher was especially right in questioning Huffington's removal of comments by her readers. It was Huffington who denied her own readers of their free speech. In a comments section at that.

By the way, this isn't the first time Huffington has restricted comments and prevented open discussion. Normally her editorial control is used to simply push her "progressive" agenda. You can read about
another flap and my personal experiences here.



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Not Your Mama said...

I thought the whole dust-up was...pretty darn funny.

So what if Coulter said the F word, everyone already knows where she stands so why cloak it? Spit it out there girlfriend.

Maher, well he's smart, truthful, funny and also quite frequently an insensitive dick. This is no revelation. What kind of person dresses up as a dead Amish schoolgirl complete with bloodstained, bullet-holed dress for Halloween? An insensitive dick.

Huge "so what" moment in media.

Huffington: I'm still pissed at Arianna "get a job" Huffington for her antics in CA when she was the tighty-righty wife of Michael "I am a hypocritical buttwipe" Huffington. I rarely even look at her blog. Don't care what she does.

Sucks being older and having a really good memory.

the WIZARD, fkap said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
the WIZARD, fkap said...

not your mama... I couldn't agree with you more!

Now if only I had your gift for brevity. You cut right to the chase!

Vigilante said...

As a host on my own blog, I have a right to censure any comments for any purpose. I have done so. Sometimes for length. Sometimes for being off-topic. Sometimes for advocating the overthrow of the Constitution. Sometimes for advocating assassination. I have no compunction about so doing. And doing so, in no way do I restrict the freedom of the supposedly afflicted writer(s) from expressing his/her/their belief. There is ample opportunity for such expression elsewhere. Ariana Huffington rocks.

the WIZARD, fkap said...

Patrick Goodenough (surely that must be a pen name) has done some homework on the use of the new *F* word by liberals. Posted over on the misleadingly named Cyber News Service (it's actually a hard right wing op-ed source pretending to offer the news) is Of Hate-Speech and Hypocricy.

While I didn't think it merited it's own post, I thought it was good enough to add to the comments section. I suggest you link on over and read it.

Patrick rightly decries the blatant hypocrisy of the left. It does make me simultaniously sad and sick.

But I wonder if he realizes the hypocrisy of the right is just as blatant. You can find lots of it right in his own so-called "news service."

Bill Gnade said...

Vigilante is on to something. Ms. Huffington was expressing her own right to free speech: she said "No."

The right to erase is equal to the right to print, no? If not, it should be. Saying no should be as honored as saying yes, maybe, or go to hell.

That this blog does not allow anonymous comments -- which is a restriction I agree with -- is no doubt to some folks a form of censorship. But it is your right to express yourself this way: Wizard has the right to draw certain lines.

Hooray for speech! Down with the New Puritans.

As for Coulter v. Maher, I don't think the two are on the same plane in this issue. Maher really believes that the death of the Vice President would be a good thing for the world. He said so; while Coulter merely joked about the PC-Nazis watching our every cognitive move in this gulag of the mind they are trying to erect. Maher's opinion, possessing gravitas due to his star status, is utterly dangerous and seditious: whether he likes or not, he has devotees that are not able to dissect his language to its pith. His comments have been outrageous. Shame on him.

Peace, friends!