Bill Maher, who was widely criticized (including by me) for booking M1l0 Y on his show Friday night, is still belligerently defending his decision to give a platform to the abusive bigot under the auspices of "exposing" him, only to conduct a segment best described as "chummy"—and he is further taking credit for M1l0's downfall.
In an interview with the New York Times, Maher claims he invited M1l0 to his show because "sunlight is the best disinfectant," then elides that what finally did M1l0 in was the surfacing of audio in which he defends child rape, in order to claim that his show was solely responsible for the fallout that led to M1l0's getting disinvited from CPAC, losing his book deal, and being forced out at Breitbart.
Given all that has transpired since Friday's show, how do you feel now about your decision to have [M1l0 Y] as a guest, and how those segments transpired?Cool. Also cool is Maher's admission, which he clearly doesn't believe to be controversial, that M1l0 was "just getting on [his] radar." M1l0 has been "on the radar" of the people he's targeted and harassed for years, but Maher dismisses them as lefties with a "propensity for outrage," and positions himself as some kind of expert on M1l0 uniquely able to "expose" him. Breathtaking arrogance.
Well, let's recap. About a week ago, I went on Van Jones's show, and somebody asked me about the booking. I hadn't really gotten into the details of [M1l0] yet. He was just getting on my radar. I said, specifically, sunlight is the best disinfectant. Then we had [M1l0] on, despite the fact that many people said, "Oh, how dare you give a platform to this man." What I think people saw was an emotionally needy Ann Coulter wannabe, trying to make a buck off of the left's propensity for outrage. And by the end of the weekend, by dinnertime Monday, he's dropped as a speaker at CPAC. Then he's dropped by Breitbart, and his book deal falls through. As I say, sunlight is the best disinfectant. You're welcome.
You think his appearance on "Real Time" helped lead to his downfall?
That's what I was just saying.
It's a theme to which Maher returns later in the interview, when he comments on M1l0's contention that trans people have "a psychiatric disorder." Says Maher (emphasis mine): "I don't agree with that. But I don't know that much about the situation. If somebody feels like they're a woman, fine, then you're a woman. I'm okay with that. If they've studied that, and they say it's not a psychiatric disorder, I'm okay with that too."
How magnanimous of him.
Not so magnanimous he didn't defend transphobes' right to hold "the opinion" that trans women doesn't belong in women's bathrooms, though.
When I say, "That's not unreasonable" [to not want to share a bathroom with a transgender person] it's because women have said that to me: "I want to know," or "I'm not comfortable with someone in the bathroom, even if they, in their minds, have decided they are a woman." Doesn't that opinion count at all?Why not, right? After all, he doesn't know "that much about the situation," but his opinion (which is not actually an opinion, but the policing of someone else's identity) counts.
He doesn't know much about a lot of things on which he's willing to make definitive pronouncements, it seems. Like how M1l0, who just got on his radar, is mostly harmless, and liberals are just oversensitive, reactionary hysterics.
Could there have been more accountability in your segments with him? For instance, it seemed like he was allowed to grossly understate his role in harassing Leslie Jones on Twitter.There are about a dozen different reasons why that metaphor is colossally wrong (starting with his gross depiction of teenage girls), but let me just stick to this one: Some people are legitimately afraid of spiders.
It's not my job to hold him accountable to everything he's ever said or done. I had eight minutes with him, on the show itself. Sorry I don't have time to go over everything everybody else would want to do. We just had time to, sort of, start a discussion of the broad view of who he is. I don't think he frankly knows what he's going to say half the time, or knows what his philosophy is. But to see him as this monster is a little crazy. You know what he is? He's the little impish, bratty kid brother. And the liberals are his older teenager sisters who are having a sleepover and he puts a spider in their sleeping bag so he can watch them scream.
In fact, it's such a common fear that most people know it by name—arachnophobia.
I don't happen to be afraid of spiders: I'm the kind of person who finds most creepy-crawling things fascinating, and is infinitely more likely to pick up a spider with my bare hands and carry it outside to release it than squish it.
But just because I'm not scared of spiders doesn't mean I don't understand that lots of other people are. It doesn't mean I tell people who are that they're being stupid or irrational or oversensitive.
And I certainly don't get a kick out of tormenting people who are scared of spiders by shoving one in their sleeping bags so I can delight in watching them scream.
That Maher even uses this example to indicate a dynamic of over-reaction is extremely telling. What he views as a juvenile provocation with no real stakes, I see as one of the earliest examples in many girls' lives (including my own) of a hostile disrespect for our safety to boys' (and men's) amusement.
Scaring girls, in combination with invading our private spaces (and nothing could be more private than a sleeping bag), is actually a pretty good metaphor for what M1l0 did, not because it's no big deal, but because it is a big deal. It's a big fat fucking deal that girls' sense of safety and privacy are considered irrelevant by boys who want to amuse themselves at our expense.
Who want to tickle us even when we ask them to stop. Who want to pull our pigtails just to get a rise out of us. Who want to throw spiders in our sleeping bags.
Those boys turn into men who harm us for fun in much more serious ways.
M1l0 is one of those men. And instead of recognizing that, Maher gives him a pass with some "boys will be boys" bullshit, and tasks his victims with being the problem, because we object to being victimized.
An easy position to take, I guess, when you've never been someone whose sleeping bag gets filled with spiders.