The Last Polite Bigotry

I really did have high hopes for Bill Maher’s podcast.

I started downloading podcasts a couple weeks ago, and when I discovered that HBO offered the audio of Maher’s show for free, I downloaded the last bits of last season.  So on some level I suppose I was like the old men in “Rip van Winkle” who waxed philosophical about six-month-old newspapers.  The events weren’t current, but they had a great time with them.  And so did I, for a spell.

Yes, I know that his endless quips about how much he loves porn get tiresome in a hurry (him and Dennis Prager–just hard to tell sometimes), and I know that he gets sanctimonious about the awful and inexcusable ignorance of the masses at the drop of a hat, but his material is usually genuinely funny, and despite what people say about him, he strikes me as an equal opportunity hatchet man.  Perhaps that’s his Libertarian politics coming out, and now that I think of it, I think that more Libertarians should become comedians, mainly so that they’re not holding public office.

(Okay, that was a bit mean.  I’m sorry.)

But as I listened to the penultimate episode from April, he brought up the Pope’s visit to America, and the anti-Catholic jokes started coming fast and furious.  They’re idiots who believe anything former Nazi priests tell them.  They hate sex and women.  (And presumably sex with women.)  They approve of child molestation.  And so on.  And so on.

I know that anti-Catholicism remains the last socially acceptable bigotry; nobody I’ve talked to can even conceive of a publishing house sending to press a book about a global Jewish conspiracy to turn all white Gentile men gay so that their race will become extinct.  Nobody would publish a book about a worldwide Black conspiracy to confiscate the property of all Mexicans.  Nobody would even think of writing a book about the awful things that the Sikhs are plotting. People would say (and rightly so) that nobody with an ounce of sense in a liberal democracy should be getting off on conspiracy theories about such gigantic segments of the human race.  Such things would be bigotry, pure and simple, and bigotry has no place in places like England or Canada or the United States.

But Catholics?  We’ve had a bestseller recently about a global Catholic conspiracy to keep women powerless and keep people from having sex.  (If I remember right, they also hired albino assassin monks to shoot Tom Hanks, but it’s been a couple years.)  There’s a children’s book series that, according to reviews I’ve read (I plan to read the novels themselves soon, as I did the first Left Behind novel, probably this school year), presents a thinly-veiled Catholic Church as a global organization dedicated to dominating people’s minds and stripping them of their magic weasels.  (It’s a children’s book.  What do you expect?)  For whatever reason, the Catholics, unlike Blacks and Jews and just about any other significant segment of the human race, are acceptable targets for “sophisticated” malcontents and their “hip” fans.  I think it’s garbage.

Back to Maher, I realize that he takes shots at public officials and celebrities that make people laud him as “not politically correct.”  (How that awkward phrase became a term of unqualified praise is a bit of a travesty itself.)  I realize that he’s of the clan of David Letterman, that if I want a Jay-Leno-ish personality I need only tune in to Comedy Central and watch Jon Stewart.  But it’s not the meanness this time that I won’t keep listening to; it’s the bigotry.  I know he wants to ingratiate himself with Dawkins and Hitchens and all the latest pop-atheist superstars, but I don’t have to listen to him as he does it.  I deleted last season’s last episode this afternoon, and I don’t expect I’ll be downloading the new season.

It’s a pity; it was a pretty good little podcast otherwise.



Filed under Gripes, pop culture, Reflections

2 responses to “The Last Polite Bigotry

  1. Jonathan

    Heh. I don’t know why you would have expected any different from him. I watch his show occasionally. I don’t find him to be the least bit funny. I also don’t see him a equal opportunity offender. I also don’t agree that he’s a libertarian. 🙂 His foot-in-mouth disease is what got him fired from ABC. As far political comedians go I’ll Dennis Miller any day.

  2. Well, you know my comedic tastes tend towards the anarchic–I like people who make jokes about the powerful and don’t like people who berate those already underfoot. Hence my moderate enjoyment of the AM radio crowd in the 90’s and abhorrence for them in our decade. I think Maher’s comedy tends toward that direction–his monologues in the nineties almost always took aim at the stupidities of that decade’s administration, and in the last seven years, he’s taken aim at this one.

    What got Bill Maher canned, I think, is that during the months between the public lost its sense of perspective, that we became a whole lot more like Elizabethan subjects than American citizens in our shock. I personally think that both Maher and Aaron MacGruder were right on the money with the jokes that got them in trouble, but people were so taken in by the rhetoric of nationalist unity that they forgot that the president works for us.

    And I do think that Maher is a Libertarian. As I said, during the Clinton years, he could be depended upon to fire shots at that administration from a straight Capitalist standpoint, and when he had academics on his panels in the shows to which I listened, he more often than not reduced their (sometimes quite sophisticated) arguments about the common good to something along the lines of “What you’re saying is that you know better than other people what they want.” His philosophy of government seems to be, “If somebody wants to buy it, nobody should keep anyone from selling it,” and that plays out in just about every show that I’ve watched or listened to.

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