The topics covered on Bill Maher‘s Real Time on Friday were no laughing matter – inflation, crime, the suppression of free speech, the war in Ukraine, antisemitism on campus.
One area of special interest was when the talk turned to crime. Guest Jane Ferguson, an award-winning special correspondent for PBS NewsHour, contributor to The New Yorker, and author of the book No Ordinary Assignment, was randomly attacked on a New York subway.
Her fellow panelist, John Avlon, senior political analyst and anchor at CNN and the former editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast, noted how “we brought down crime in the mid-1990s. We seem to have forgotten a lot of those lessons.”
Maher then made a somewhat surprising confession, bringing up Jason Aldean’s song Try That In A Small Town, a country anthem that dares miscreants to try various antisocial activities and “see how far ya make it down the road.”
“I ain’t mad at it,” Maher said of the song, adding that “I wish we could have that in big cities,” with the caveat that “crime in red states is just as high.”
Earlier, Maher had a one-on-one with Greg Lukianoff, president and CEO of the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) and coauthor of The Canceling of the American Mind.
Maher probed him on the rise of campus antisemitism. While the host backed the right of groups to call for an Intifada (“one of those vague terms,” he said) and the chant “From the river to the sea,” he drew a line on the promise “by any means necessary. Now I’m kind of peeing my pants. So where do you draw the line on this?”
His guest said that things were starting to cross the line to true threats. He said it was “embarrassing” seeing college leaders not being able to define an answer.
Maher also lamented the stifling of free speech on the campuses. “We all seem to be resigned to it, squelching a thought,” he said. As for the people advocating for more suppression, “You owe us for all the thoughts that never got uttered, all the jokes that never were told.”
In his “New Rules” editorial, Maher took on the grinches who attack charitable actions by the likes of MrBeast, the online philanthropist who has backed projects from drinking wells in Africa to restoring orphanages.
“How did we get to this weird place?” Maher raged. “That positive difference in the world makes you the problem?”
He gave several other examples of people trying to help the disabled, and getting criticized for those efforts.
“Let me take this moment to go on the record,” he said. “If I am blind, deaf or paralyzed, don’t praise me – fix me!”
He asked, “When Adele lost weight, she betrayed the unhealthy?”
The woke have skewed priorities, he concluded. “The Woke thinks the No. 1 job is to protect the homeless from stigmas. I think the No. 1 job is to protect them from rain.”