Bill Maher offered one of the rare public defenses of embattled celebrity chef Paula Deen on Friday, asking why "we always have to make people go away" for saying bad words.
"I'm just wondering," Maher began on his HBO show "Real Time," "if you're 66 years old and you were raised in Georgia and you were a child before the civil rights movement, do you get a bit of a pass -- "
"No -- " members of his panel cut in.
" -- or you say no, you've had 40 years to get used to -- I agree," Maher said. But he added a few moments later, "I also think people shouldn't have to lose their shows and go away when they do something bad."
"It's just a word, it's a wrong word, she's wrong to use it, but do we always have to make people go away?" Maher asked.
The panel again disagreed, with former New York Times columnist Bob Herbert saying, "For me that word is the line...nobody should be using that word."
Maher asked whether "we should ban rap records" and said that in America, "you've gotta be a free country, even to be an a--hole."
See the clip below: