Bill Maher spoke with ABC’s Jake Tapper about whether there was a double standard for liberals using offensive language towards conservative women. In the interview, the HBO host responded to the criticism over his obscene remarks about former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, and defended calling her the c-word.
Tapper asked Maher, in the wake of the controversy over Rush Limbaugh‘s comments about Sandra Fluke, whether there was a double standard, with the media accepting offensive language when it is used by liberals against conservative women. “Is that a fair comparison? You have certainly used offensive words to describe some politicians you don’t like.”
“I’m a comedian, not just a guy who says he is, like Rush, but someone who -– well, you saw me do stand-up last year in D.C. There’s a big difference between just saying you’re a comedian and going out and getting thousands of people to laugh hard for 90 minutes,” Maher argued.
Tapper asked how he knew if he took things over the line.
“I let the audience be the guide,” Maher responded. “The bit I did about Palin using the word cunt, one of the biggest laughs in my act, I did it all over the country, not one person ever registered disapproval, and believe me, audiences are not afraid to let you know. Because it was a routine where that word came in at just the right moment. Context is very important, and it’s also important to remember that stand-up comedy is the final frontier of free speech. Still, I stopped doing that routine, but I would like someone to replace that word if it’s so awful with another one that has the same meaning for a person – not just women, it’s a word you can and lots do (all the British, for example) use for both sexes. It has a very specific meaning.”
“And that’s not comparable to what Limbaugh said about Sandra Fluke?” Tapper pressed.
“To compare that to Rush is ridiculous – he went after a civilian about very specific behavior, that was a lie, speaking for a party that has systematically gone after women’s rights all year, on the public airwaves. I used a rude word about a public figure who gives as good as she gets, who’s called people “terrorist” and “unAmerican.” Sarah Barracuda. The First Amendment was specifically designed for citizens to insult politicians. Libel laws were written to protect law students speaking out on political issues from getting called whores by Oxycontin addicts.”
It should be noted that Maher in the past has also gone after “civilians,” for instance, in 2007 when he criticized women for breastfeeding at Applebees.
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