Saturday, March 10, 2012

Bill Maher Still Doesn't Get It Even in Real Time

This week's edition of Real Time with Bill Maher only re-enforced the notion of how enclosed Bill is in the privileged, little bubble of Beverly Hills, which is a sub-division of Left Coast Liberalism at its ugliest.

People have accused me of regionalism. I accept that accusation in the good faith that people who accuse me of that, are practicants of the same regionalism, yet in reverse. Bill, this week managed to prove that he is as clueless as any Republican, about two startlingly disarming points.

Please watch the clip below from the first part of this week's panel, which includes Catherine Crier, Andy Stern and Michael Steel. The action starts right around the seven-minute mark:-

With all the shit hitting the fan this week about Bill's Twitter defence - yes, defence! - of Rush Limbaugh's apology to Sandra Fluke, I knew that there would come a point in the discussion wherein Bill would reference this; anytime he says something either stupid or controversial, he self-obsesses about it on the following show. You can see examples of this here and here. So criticism must sting just a tad - well, enough for Billy-Boy to address the situation.

He does so here, and totally misunderstands the criticism levelled. Whether that's intentional or not or whether he's just stupid, I can't decide. It does, however, make me uneasy to realise that Catherine Crier is either stupid, herself, or enough of a craven coward not to address what Bill did that annoyed and disrespected women in the first place, and that's part of a big problem Progressives need to address amongst themselves.

This whole brouhaha was not about the First Amendment. No one is saying that it is. Rush Limbaugh and, indeed, Bill Maher are entitled to their freedom of speech; but with that freedom of speech comes the common sense ability to speak responsibly.

The problem women on both the Left and the Right had with this situation is thus: Rush Limbaugh cited a unique private citizen and accused her of being no less than a slut and a prostitute. In doing this, he inferred that any single woman who was over the age of consent, who chose to have sexual relations before marriage and who wanted her health insurer to pay for contraception, was, by extension, also a slut and a prostitute; and since the American taxpayer would eventually be responsible for footing the contraceptive bill, they should be entitled to see their "prostitute's" sex films on YouTube.

That is gross slander, not only against Sarah Fluke, but against any unmarried woman in a relationship in the United States.

That is using your First Amendment right in a totally irresponsible way, and that is wrong.

Bill Maher has, on several occasions, referred to Sarah Palin as a "twat" and a "cunt." The word "cunt" is slang for female genitalia. Over the years, especially in English-speaking countries, it's taken on a pejorative meaning and has entered argot as something negative, bad, the worst kind of worst. To call someone a "cunt," whether they are a man or a woman, is the absolute worst kind of insult imaginable.

Taking this one step further, anyone who uses this word as a pejorative, must know it's original meaning; and therefore, it reflects badly on anyone using it as it reveals that person to be someone who has scant or no respect for women. If you think about that part of a woman's anatomy, fundamental to the love-making process (or as Bill would call it, "fucking") and presenting is as the worst kind of insult to hurl at someone you hated, it just re-enforces the age-old depiction of the woman as being a she-devil descended from Eve, little better than chattel and certainly undeserving of any respect.

Bill's behaviour and his reputation concerning women would solidify this assumption as fact as much as the fact that Rush's current wife was certainly a woman whose first flush of virginity probably flew out the window ages ago.

Sorry, Bill, it's nothing to do with the First Amendment and everything to do with misogyny, which is a big, big problem in both the political parties. And Bill only emphasizes his condescension towards women later in the program, when he coyly discusses with Jon Hamm how much "sexier" the term "girlfriend" is as nomenclature for a woman who's spent the past fifteen years co-habiting with a man without marital benefits. Isn't "partner" a far more equalising term?

The absolute no-brainer for me was Catherine Crier's - dare I say it? - Palinesque defence of Bill's position, which was actually nothing more than a word salad which made little sense.

Now, watch the next segment of the panel, specifically from the 10:40 mark:-

I know Mississippi is the poorest state in the United States. I know that, throughout the rural South and, indeed, in parts of the rural Midwest, it's difficult not to run into people like you see in the film. Hell, I grew up 65 miles from DC, and I can point out people like that from the hamlet where I grew up. It's easy to condemn these people as racists, as ignorati and as fundamentalist Christians, and I don't know how much time Alexandra Pelosi put into just shoving cameras in the faces of various people from Mississippi, but it seems to me that when you hang out in Walmart's parking lot, you're not going to encounter a Mark Twain or a William Faulkner. And when you travel the rural byways, especially in a state like Mississippi, you're mostly going to encounter people who haven't been five miles from the place they were born to this very day.

The purpose of the exercise was to show the problem Mitt Romney, a Mormon billionaire, has in connecting with the people of the Deep South. He is a Northern, affluent man, whose religion is held as suspect with these people - indeed, as suspect as the Islam that they believe the President to practice is.

If anything, the people in this film reflect the future of what the Republican party intends for America, in general, because many of the mainstream Republicans today want to rid the country of public schools. Another irony, is that, at the best of times, these poor people would look askance at Catholics as much as they would Mormons, but the language Rick Santorum uses - blue collar in cadence and origin - will resonate with these people. And this is a point that Andy Stern brings up brilliantly in the next part of the panel - which is that the Democratic Party needs to learn how to re-connect with these people again, because the Republicans take advantage of the ingnorance and fear they've engendered in these people, to get them to vote against their interests. Until the Democrats can do that, Stern says, there's precious little difference in "Tweedledum" and "Tweedledee."

Or as Charles Blow reminds us, in his latest column:-

As a Southerner, I’ve never known us to find caricature endearing.

Speaking as a Southerner, myself, I can attest that this is true. So a little less of the toothless jokes and the faux Southern accent, Bill. And invest a little more time in talking to these people - talking with as opposed to talking down to - and start the long process of getting them to see that the difference isn't in the colour of one's skin, it's in who has and who doesn't.

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