Comedian Bill Maher is known for a great many things, but encouraging unity and co-existence isn't generally one of them. Yet in an op-ed published by The New York Times today, this is exactly the message he's touting.
"We need to learn to coexist, and it’s actually pretty easy to do," Maher writes. The subject of the piece focuses upon free speech and the outrage that so often comes from the left and the right when pundits, comedians and media figures make controversial statements.
Here are some selections from the article:
When did we get it in our heads that we have the right to never hear anything we don’t like? In the last year, we’ve been shocked and appalled by the unbelievable insensitivity of Nike shoes, the Fighting Sioux, Hank Williams Jr., Cee Lo Green, Ashton Kutcher, Tracy Morgan, Don Imus, Kirk Cameron, Gilbert Gottfried, the Super Bowl halftime show and the ESPN guys who used the wrong cliché for Jeremy Lin after everyone else used all the others. Who can keep up? [...]
The right side of America is mad at President Obama because he hugged the late Derrick Bell, a law professor who believed we live in a racist country, 22 years ago; the left side of America is mad at Rush Limbaugh for seemingly proving him right.
If it weren't for throwing conniption fits, we wouldn't get any exercise at all.
Maher, who has also been criticized for calling former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin the c-word, among other controversial statements, goes on to say that it's time for "amnesty" for those on the left and the right. He also jokes that this Sunday should be dubbed "National Day of No Outrage" -- a supposedly annual day during which no American finds "some tiny thing someone did or said" to lament and rail on about.
Then, on a more serious note, he tells people to simply turn the page or change the channel if they hear something they don't like. Maher references his own personal example of an individual who he finds annoying, yet is able to "co-exist" with -- Limbaugh.
It's no coincidence that the comedian invokes the radio host's name twice in the op-ed, as Limbaugh's Sandra Fluke comments set off a national firestorm (and also led to some finger-pointing at Maher for his refusal to apologize for past offensive comments).
"For example, I find Rush Limbaugh obnoxious, but I’ve been able to coexist comfortably with him for 20 years by using this simple method: I never listen to his program," Maher writes. "The only time I hear him is when I’m at a stoplight next to a pickup truck."
Of course, Maher couldn't help but insult pickup truck owners, Canada, Limbaugh listeners -- and Mitt Romney. He concluded his piece with the following:
"I don’t want to live in a country where no one ever says anything that offends anyone. That’s why we have Canada. That’s not us. If we sand down our rough edges and drain all the color, emotion and spontaneity out of our discourse, we’ll end up with political candidates who never say anything but the safest, blandest, emptiest, most unctuous focus-grouped platitudes and cant. In other words, we’ll get Mitt Romney."
You can read the entire op-ed here. Stripping away the political quips, what do you think of Maher's statements about toning down outrage over public figures' comments? Take our poll, below: