Hey, Bill Maher: Don't Knock Civility

Let's draw a line between satire and 'hateful' speech: WaPo editors
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 23, 2012 10:04 AM CDT
Hey, Bill Maher: Don't Knock Civility
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JULY 28: TV Host Bill Maher speaks during the HBO portion of the 2011 Summer TCA Tour held at the Beverly Hilton on July 28, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California.   (Getty Images)

Bill Maher is right to call for an end to political groups' "phony umbrage" at every potentially offensive remark. But the comedian's argument is "obviously self-serving," write the editors of the Washington Post. They note that in his New York Times editorial, Maher didn't mention the furor over his own comments—calling Sarah Palin a "vile" name and her family "inbred weirdos," for instance. "This is rhetoric that goes beyond ridiculing or satirizing political adversaries to dehumanizing them."

Yes, Maher and Rush Limbaugh deserve the right to free speech, but some of us are looking for a conversation in which "not every opponent is seen as an enemy." Language like theirs prompts us to despise or just ignore each other. Yes, "incivility is subject to partisan manipulation. But that doesn’t make it a phony issue," the editors write. There's a difference between "the merely risque and the corrosively hateful"—one that even those who occupy the dual worlds of politics and entertainment should observe. Click through for the full editorial. (Read more Bill Maher stories.)

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