I haven't always been the biggest Bill Maher fan. I don't know why. I guess for the simple reason that he's a provocateur. And a damned effective one. So he's not doing his job if he's not crossing some line into a territory that pisses you off. But I'll give him a couple of things. First, that he's established himself as an Equal Opportunity Offender, which is huge. You can respect someone who fires his comedy bullets in all directions. Who punches up and down, left and right. Second, that he has been at his absolute best over the last year or so, when the world has been basically on fire. Like his rant calling out people for "Hope Shaming" in the early days of the pandemic. And now this one, which might be as good a diatribe about the current climate of silencing people I've heard yet.
"Cancel culture" is becoming such an overused phrase that you now get people using it to defend themselves when someone is just legitimately giving them shit for their opinions. But some of the examples Maher cites are perfect illustrations of what the term means. When a non-white blue collar worker gets fired because somebody mistakes him for a white supremacist, when Justin Timberlake is forced to apologize for being kind of douchey boyfriend when he was a teenage pop superstar, when we're looking to the host of "The Bachelor" for our moral leadership, and Abe Lincoln is a symbol of intolerance, we are screwing ourselves up beyond the capacity to bring ourselves back. Those poll numbers about how a majority of Americans are afraid to speak their minds and goddamned 80% of us hate political correctness should terrify anyone who cares about liberty.
And the best point he makes is comparing this to McCarthyism. When people justify someone becoming unemployable in Hollywood for their political opinions by saying the studios are private companies who can hire or blacklist anyone they want, it's fucking chilling. Not to mention ignorant of history. It's the Red Scare, but in reverse.
To steal a line from Joe Rogan, the best way to deal with free speech you don't like is more free speech. Or as Maher just said, “When what you’re doing sounds like an Onion headline, stop." Bill Maher becoming the voice of reason might be the strangest thing that's happened over the last 12 months or so. But I'll take all of this content he can bring.