Friday, February 18, 2005

Bill Maher's upset again

Bill Maher, recently heard from telling Joe Scarborough that "flying planes into buildings is a faith-based initiative," is upset about that survey of high-school kids.

Or maybe he's not really upset, but just in need of grist for a column lambasting people of religious values. It's too bad he didn't actually read the survey; I wonder what he would have said about the comparison between the adults' answers in the survey and the kids'.

He calls the kids Stalinists because, he said, "almost one in five said that Americans should be prohibited from expressing unpopular opinions. Actually, the numbers are that 7 percent disagreed with the premise "People should be allowed to express unpopular opinions," and 10 percent said, "Don't know." Which amounts to fewer than 1 in 10 saying that Americans should be prohibited from expressing unpopular opinions, and if the question had been worded that way, the answer might have been entirely different.

But he's not going to be detained from a good rant by mere facts. Here's the bone in his teeth:
And what's so frightening is that we're seeing the beginnings of the first post-9/11 generation -- the kids who first became aware of the news under an 'Americans need to watch what they say' administration, the kids who've been told that dissent is un-American and therefore justifiably punished by a fine, imprisonment -- or the loss of your show on ABC.
Like most of his kind, he doesn't make any distinction among a fine, imprisonment or losing his show on TV. He thinks there's something strange about having to watch what he says, even though most of us in the real world have to do it every day -- to keep from hurting our families, disgusting our friends, getting fired, deceiving people, lowering the level of discourse for everyone, and so forth. Some of us are even told in our faith-based terrorism manual that the tongue is capable of great harm, and we should keep it bridled at all times. Of course, that doesn't apply to satirists on TV.
But the younger generation is supposed to rage against the machine, not for it; they're supposed to question authority, not question those who question authority.
In other words, it's only "authority" who's supposed to be questioned--those enlightened few who have ascended to the heights of ABC TV shouldn't have to be accountable to anyone, not their stockholders, managers or viewers. And if they fall into the "anti-authority" camp, then those pesky kids should look at them in wide-eyed wonder, saying ony, "Gee, Mr. Maher! I want to be just like you someday!"

In the meantime, though fearing for his "unpopular opinions," he still gets a show on HBO and a column in the LA Times.

NOTE TO MR. MAHER: Stalin's dissidents didn't get shows on cable TV or columns in major metropolitan daily newspapers.

If this column is any indication, he might have lost his TV show because it was empty and stupid.

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