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Bill Maher: Comedian or bigot?

Armstrong Williams | 4/11/2014, 5:59 p.m.
Armstrong Williams

Comedy has many approaches and subjects—leaders, governments, things we don’t understand. In the vein of the latter, I suppose it is understandable to pick on religion.

In any event, freedom of speech allows it. What is generally not condoned, however, is continuous and sweeping insults to those with differing points of view.

The worst forms of prejudice and racism are bred out of this type of one-sided banter. Blacks in this country were never given the chance to defend themselves against claims of being less intelligent than whites during the time of slavery. Jews and non-Aryans were never given a chance to defend their humanity during the Holocaust, Muslims were never given a chance to defend themselves during the Crusades and on and on.

Whenever a group of people is slanderously described repeatedly with no consideration of a contrary view, intolerance flourishes, and the seedbed of human rights violations is laid.

We should be more careful. Our country still feels the effects of slavery, the Holocaust is an unmentionable tragedy and even the most fervent Christian regrets the Crusades. How is it then, that in this country, we still hear this sort of rhetoric from seemingly intelligent men? Why is it that yet another group is being subjected to one-sided slander? Is it because comedians and some members of the more serious media are only willing to pick on people who generally don’t defend themselves?

This time, the group is Christians, and one of the more recent incidents of this malevolent behavior involves Bill Maher. He’s been known to go on rants, but he made another one recently. I’m certainly not advocating that Maher be stripped of his First Amendment rights, but I’d prefer he show some humanity and attack the belief system rather than the adherents. I can appreciate an equal opportunity comedian, but when the focus is monomaniacally-like focused, it breeds the sort of prejudice that divides people and sanctions prejudice. I hope these are not things that Maher desires and that he simply didn’t realize the historical similarities, but that is the danger.

The rant was incited by announcements for the upcoming movie “Noah” starring Russell Crowe. The movie prompted Maher to say things to indicate that God is a “psychotic mass murderer” and that Christians are crazy for worshipping someone who drowns babies. The rant continued for about five minutes, during which time there was some laughter and applause, but his co-hosts seemed to become increasingly uncomfortable as the tirade continued. In a peculiar twist, Maher claimed to be “pro-death,” indicating that he is in favor of capital punishment and abortion. If this is true, it would seem that he’d be in favor of a God who wiped out people who violated the law. Such is the irony of the sometime comedian, sometime pundit and full-time provocateur.

The sad reality is that people such as Maher often have little to no idea what they’re attacking. In search of irony, he may be inclined to focus on the negative, but even a modicum of balance reveals his uncharity. That he is engaged in “comedy” is a thin defense. Christianity, the favorite target of Maher, is no exception. There are countless schools, hospitals and organizations that help the needy and were founded because of Christians, Christian churches and Christian principles. There are dozens of Christian denominations, each with their own theologies and stances, and no one would describe them as unified about very much aside from the importance of Jesus Christ (though even this is sometimes at issue). To take a broad, sweeping brush and to attempt to apply it to “Christians” reveals Maher’s own bigotry and ignorance. Fortunately for him, in this country, it often seems that intolerance of Christians is the last acceptable prejudice. It seems to be positively welcome in most quarters of what passes for mainstream media.