Comedian Bill Maher on Friday addressed the ongoing Rush Limbaugh controversy, following a week of comparisons between Limbaugh’s “slut” remark about a Georgetown Law student and the litany of vulgar comments Maher has made about women himself, including calling former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin a “c–t.”
Maher prefaced his comments on his HBO show “Real Time with Bill Maher” by saying he “didn’t ask” to find himself in the news. Guest and former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele cut in: “You wrote a check, brother” — referring to the $1 million donation Maher recently made to a pro-President Barack Obama super PAC, which some have called to be returned in light of Obama’s public scolding of Limbaugh.
“I got crap from both the left and the right this week,” Maher began, adding that he found the the reaction from the left “disheartening.”
He continued, “I tweeted that people like Rush Limbaugh — who I absolutely disagree with, I’ve never said a good word about him, I did a whole monologue about what an a–hole he is — I said I don’t like it that people are made to disappear when they say something, or people try to make them disappear when they say something you don’t like. That’s America, sometimes you’re made to feel uncomfortable.”
Asking for the Limbaugh controversy to be put in perspective, Maher added: “No one died. A guy made a bad joke. A bad joke because it was a disgusting sentiment that he was evoking, and also because it wasn’t even a joke. He’s a stupid fat f–k who’s not funny.”
“It annoys me that people who cannot keep to disparate thoughts in their own mind lump me in together with him and say I’m defending him. I’m not defending him, I’m defending living in a country where people don’t have to be afraid that they might go out of the bounds for one minute,” he said.
To prove his point, he read a quote from the American Civil Liberties Union, which said it is “easy to defend freedom of speech when the message is something many people find reasonable, but the defense of freedom of speech is most critical when the message is one most people find repulsive.”
“I would rather put up with Rush Limbaugh and live in a country where we all do have freedom of speech and the people who I’ve heard say you know what, when they put pressure on his sponsors the system is working,” Maher said. “No it’s not, that’s the system being manipulated.”
Regarding criticism he received this week from the right, Maher said that whenever a conservative gets in trouble, “they trot me out” — something he said is a “false equivalency.”
“I am a potty mouth. That’s different from a misogynist. I will admit to being a potty mouth,” he said. “If I offended women I’m sorry, I have no problem saying I’m sorry.
About his specific comments about Palin, Maher added: “I don’t know why women would want to ally themselves with Sarah Palin, I don’t know why an insult to her is an insult to all women, but if it is I’m sorry.”
He then moved on to a different topic he said was truly misogynistic: An anti-abortion bill that just passed the Arizona state senate that would make it legal for doctors to lie about an unborn child’s potential birth defects, which some have said would be a way to trick patients into not opting for an abortion.
Watch a portion of Maher’s discussion below — content warning, strong language. Full clip available at Mediaite.