King Glibertarian of Fauxgressistan Bill Maher was inexplicably provided space by the New York Times today to argue in favor of offending people. Or, at least not apologizing for it when you do.
There's a lot of stupid crap there, but I'm just going to make three brief points:
1. The problem with a lot of the garbage for which public figures end up having to apologize isn't that it's "offensive" (although it is). The problem is that it creates, entrenches, and maintains oppressions: It is the pervasive, ubiquitous, inescapable little things that create the foundation of a kyriarchal culture on which the big stuff is dependent for its survival. It's the little things, the constant drumbeat of inequality and dehumanization, that inure us to increasingly horrible acts and attitudes toward non-privileged people.
2. Maher routinely mistakes for "offended" what is actually contempt, and reads calls for an apology as a game of gotcha instead of a request for meaningfully accountability. See previously.
3. This line, ugh, this line: "I don't want to live in a country where no one says anything offensive." My question to that is WHY. Why would he not want to live in a country where no one ever says anything offensive (marginalizing)? What's the net positive of people saying marginalizing things?
Of course it comes down to the reason he doesn't want to live in a country where no one says anything offensive is because HE WANTS TO SAY OFFENSIVE THINGS, and the only kind of country in which no one says offensive things that he can imagine is one in which IT'S NOT ALLOWED.
Whereas, when I imagine a country where no one says offensive things, it's because it's populated by people who give a fuck about not offending other people, and thus CHOOSE not to offend them, no censorship required.
Unlike Bill Maher, I expect more. Firstly of myself.