I always love it when Leftist idiocy highlights some sort of life lesson I just imparted to young people. Today’s life lesson is that fairness should be a reasonably objective standard, rather than one that, as Bill Maher would have it, depends on whether you, personally, are benefiting from the standard imposed.
Back in 2008, all the Marin children with whom I had contact were claiming that they “would vote” for Obama “because he’s black.” They were taken aback when I said, “That’s racist.” To them, racism means negative treatment based upon race. It never occurred to them that racism includes any treatment that sees one so dehumanize a person that the person becomes nothing more than the color of his or her skin. I suggested that, if they were indeed interested in the election, they should consider Obama’s history, statements, and ideas, rather than his skin color, in determining whether he was fit for office. I wish the opportunity had arisen (which it did not) to make the same point to their parents.
Yesterday, I again had the opportunity to help a couple of kids understand that things are not always as they seem. We were talking about good and bad teachers. Good teachers, obviously, were the ones who communicated well and, even better, made the material seem meaningful and sometimes exciting. Bad teachers were poor communicators and managed to make every subject boring.
Within these good and bad divisions, though, something interesting cropped up: One of the hallmarks of the bad teachers was that they treated students differently within the class. This didn’t just mean picking on some students, which the kids easily classified as “unfair.” It also included playing favorites, something that the kids didn’t like, but didn’t recognize as equally “unfair.” To them, “fair” is good treatment, “unfair” is bad treatment. A teacher who is too good to some students therefore cannot be considered “unfair.” They were quite taken aback when I suggested to them that any equal treatment is unfair. Sometimes the lack of fairness can be justified, but it’s still not “fair.”
I thought of this inability to comprehend that it’s just as unfair to treat people too well as it is to treat them too badly when I read about Bill Maher’s defense when Jake Tapper queried him about the truly vile statements he’s routinely made regarding conservative women:
Bill Maher: The bit I did about Palin using the word c—, 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.
Jake Tapper: And that’s not comparable to what Limbaugh said about Sandra Fluke?
Bill Maher: 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.
John Nolte nails down precisely what is wrong with Maher’s self-serving analysis:
Bill Maher is a comedian and commentator. Rush Limbaugh is a commentator. But for some reason, Maher is apparently under the absurd impression that there’s some kind of caveat in the First Amendment that gives him super, secret, double free speech rights over the rest of us.
Well, I’ve read the First Amendment and no such caveat exists.
If there’s a difference between what’s happening to Maher and what’s happening to Limbaugh, it is that Maher is under fire from private citizens and Limbaugh is under fire from a stealth campaign led by the government — specifically, the President of the United States.
Private citizens exercising their free speech rights to protest Bill Maher is the purest form of democracy there is.
The government, however, joining a crusade to silence one of their critics is the very definition of censorship.
(Nolte has much more to say, which you can read here.)
What’s pretty apparent is that, when it comes to fairness, Maher’s understanding of the word is stuck in the middle school years. For all his sophisticated patina, he’s still a little boy who thinks that his emotional reaction to something determines whether something is fair or not. If it works in his favor, it’s fair; if it doesn’t, it’s unfair. Easy-peasy analysis for the small, immature mind, right?