Bill Maher

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Smart people are very good at rationalising things they came to believe for non-smart reasons.
Michael Shermer (in reference to people just like Bill Maher)[1]

Bill Maher (born 1956) is an outspoken comedian and political commentator, best known for his Comedy Central/ABC show Politically Incorrect and his HBO show Real Time with Bill Maher. He is vocal on several topics to the point of absolute annoyance to many people (most of them being conservatives), most notably his atheistic views and harsh criticisms of religion, and Christianity in particular. However, Maher is vocally opposed to science and scientific discoveries, most notably by spreading anti-GMO and anti-vaccine propaganda (he has also gained some negative press in rationalist circles for his association with PETA). Maher was described as "an object lesson in how one can be intelligent and anti-science at the same time".[2]


[edit] Views and positions

Maher claims to be a staunch libertarian although some people dispute this, calling him a liberal. [3] Maher takes several (thousand) shots at Republicans for being irrational, hypocritical, and immoral. He's somewhat even-handed in his criticism and makes sure the Democrats get their due as well, citing their failure to be strong and decisive against the Republicans. In his opinion, there is no such thing as a left-wing extremist. Apparently, the Party[wp] failed to find him.[4]

[edit] Social issues and politics

Maher is a fierce advocate of both gay marriage and the legalization of marijuana. Recently, Maher has taken a hard stance on the gun control debate, stating his support for the assault weapons ban, background checks and limiting magazine sizes; Maher has criticized the Second Amendment multiple times and suggests changing it, although he claims he is justified in owning a gun because he feels he must protect himself from the "gun nuts" of the country. Furthermore, he states that it is the duty of government to protect their people, including from firearms. However, Maher's extensive use of marijuana and contempt for American drug policies makes him certain that drugs are not something that people should be protected from, as he believes that people put even worse legal substances into their bodies daily. He's a member of NORML, an organization dedicated to furthering this view. In April of 2015, he went so far as to start a petition to make 4/20 a national holiday.[5]

Maher is an environmentalist and animal-lover, often harshly criticizing deniers of global warming on Real Time and serving as a board member of PETA (though he's completely in favor of zoos for some reason). He's also contemptuous of corporations, especially pharmaceutical and health-care industries, on the grounds that they make money by curing people of problems they create through the consumption of unhealthy foods. He has advocated the abolition of corporate welfare.

He has been strongly opposed to the Iraq War, seeing it as a failure and saying that America cannot control the sectarian violence now razing Iraq. He was the victim of a manufactroversy over remarks he made on Politically Incorrect right after 9/11. At times, Maher implied that Iraq was better off under the rule of Saddam Hussein and that America's invasion has increased the threat of terrorism. On the other hand, he has humorously referred to himself as being "pro-death" due to his support of abortion, euthanasia, and the death penalty.

When Occupy Wall Street first began, he endorsed the movement, but eventually, he jumped on the anti-politics bandwagon and told the Occupiers to "get a job."[6]

[edit] Medicine

I’m not into western medicine. That to me is a complete scare tactic. [...] The flu shot is the worst thing you can do [because] it's got mercury. [...] It doesn't prevent [the flu]. [...] [I]f you have a flu shot for more than five years in a row, there’s ten times the likelihood that you’ll get Alzheimer’s disease.[7]

Although Maher's criticisms of the pharmaceutical industries are sometimes legitimate, his views regarding vaccines are wrong and potentially dangerous. Maher has gone on record as a germ theory denialist, claiming that Pasteur recanted germ theory on his deathbed.[8] Some of his views on this matter constitute criticism of vaccination, he is not against all vaccines but believes that being vaccinated for any and all illnesses represents a slippery slope and could damage our natural immune systems.[9][10] In fact, on at least one occasion his anti-vaccine stances were tracked back to[11] He has also recently endorsed anti-GMO propaganda.[12]

In 2009, during one of his Real Time shows, Maher felt he had to "clear up a few things that people have been writing about me that are not true" and went on record to say "I’m not a germ theory denier."[13] This has caused a great amount of confusion for the media. One can conclude that although Bill Maher may claim not to be a germ theory denier and may have some legitimate concerns about the corporate corruption in the pharmaceutical industry, his views on medicine are in contrast with mainstream medicine and his perspective on vaccines may be harmful. In later shows, he stated, during an appearance with former senator (and doctor) Bill Frist, that vaccination is 'not a settled science'.

In early 2015, after a long respite from anti-vaccine rhetoric, Maher dove into the issue again in a series of incidents, claiming the flu shot is "bullshit" and nothing but a scam by "big pharma", justifying his vaccine skepticism by claiming medical science is (somehow) not as reliable as climate science (which he completely agrees with), and inviting none other than Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. on his show.

In 2016, he outdid himself yet again by inviting Samir Chachoua, who claimed to be able to cure HIV with the milk of arthritic goats, on his show. To add insult to injury, he ended his "New Rules" segment of that episode bemoaning how the internet has allowed misinformation to spread easily.[14]

[edit] Political endorsements

  • In 1996, Maher endorsed Bob Dole on the basis of Dole's status as a war hero and being an old-style Republican.
  • In 2000, he ultimately supported Ralph Nader for president, having previously promised his vote to Libertarian Party candidate Harry Browne.
  • In 2004, Maher was stalwart in his opinion that Bush should not be re-elected and that Kerry was the best candidate for president. Possibly knowing the mistake he and many had made in 2000, he went so far as to kneel down on his show Real Time and beg Nader publicly to drop out of the race (along with his guest at the time, Michael Moore).
  • In 2008, he showed deep support for Barack Obama's campaign while also being highly critical of John McCain. But the greatest amount of Maher's bile was directed at Sarah Palin before her $40,000 premature resignation as Governor of Alaska; whom he called a "Category-5 moron," a "bimbo" and unfit to even be mayor of Wasilla, Alaska. He viewed her as the ultimate example of theocracy, religious extremism and blind faith. Maher was also very critical of Bristol Palin's pregnancy and engagement, calling it a loveless marriage and insinuating that Palin's Down Syndrome baby Trig was really Bristol's first child.
  • As November approached, with the Republican Party swimming in crazy by stretching out to the likes of Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, making Mittens seem like an A+ candidate, Maher "endorsed" Obama once more, promising to donate a staggering $1 million to the President's SuperPAC, to illustrate the audacity and easy manipulation of Corporate personhood and unlimited SuperPAC campaign donations.

[edit] Religion

Maher's militant opposition to religion is probably what he is most famous for: he calls it a kind of neurological disorder that keeps people from thinking; a detriment to the world in general. He has spoken about his anti-religious views at almost every possible opportunity, making an entire movie devoted to ridiculing several religions (the film was directed by Larry Charles, the same man who directed Borat). Maher has taken many shots at religion for what he sees as it's hypocritical nature and its purportedly giving people permission to do terrible things in the name of morality. He is a vocal critic of the Religious Right, mocking especially their preaching on the "immorality" of abortion and homosexuality.

While critical of all organized religions, and holding that "they're all stupid and dangerous", Maher says all religions are not alike, and has drawn comparisons and contrasts between them.[15][16] He has declared that, "[b]y any standard, Mormonism is more ridiculous than any other religion".[17] He has referred to tenets of Judaism as "insane" and "funny", and has said Buddhism "includes crazy whack shit that doesn’t exist, that somebody made up, like reincarnation."[18]

He has described Christianity and Islam as more "warlike", and has asserted that, like historic Christianity, present-day Islam needs to undergo its own reformation and enlightenment.[19] In defense of his criticism of Islam, Sharia law and Muslim culture, Maher says he is "...someone who believes in the values that Western people believe in that a lot of the Muslim world does not. Like separation of church and state. Like equality of the sexes. Like respect for minorities, free elections, free speech, freedom to gather. These things are not just different from cultures that don’t have them...It’s better...I would like to keep those values here."[20] Citing studies and poll results by Pew Research Center, the World Economic Forum and others, Maher claims the human rights violations and "illiberal ideas" he finds in Islam are not extremist views merely held by a small minority, but are supported by a majority of citizens in Muslim countries. This ignores that the same polls he cites claim that many people in muslim countries are either middle ground in their support of illiberal (Bangladesh) or hardly support it at all (Albania, Indonesia) and that the results vary from country to country (i.e. while certain countries like Pakistan have a lot of support for illiberal views other countries like Indonesia Albania, Kosovo and Tunisia are either more diverse in their opinions or don't support illiberal ideas.) He also tried to justify the racist campaign Netenyahu pushed in 2015, and is seen as giving a pass to Judaism.

Maher slams liberals as hypocritical for defending these core liberal values and ideals only at home, while not condemning the oppression of these values and groups in Muslim culture.[19][21] This view has generated controversy, but Maher insists, "I’m just shining a light on the reality of the situation. I don’t even understand why this is so controversial."[19] This would be more legitimate if he didn't willingly ignore the polls he cites when they disagreed with him (for instance, he claims the fact that most of the people in Egypt support the death penalty for apostasy is proof that most muslims hold those views......even though the actual poll states that most of the 20 countries polled either had a majority opposed to it, or were somewhat more evenly split on the matter). At times, he has been specifically criticized for being anti-Catholic due to his repeated references to Pope Benedict XVI's being an ex-member of the Hitler Youth, the Catholic sex abuse scandals, and for drawing parallels between Catholicism and pedophilic cults. But then again, calling someone anti-Catholic is just not as much fun as calling someone an Islamophobe.

[edit] Rush

Maher has repeatedly defended Rush Limbaugh's attacks on Sandra Fluke,[22][23] likely because of the events that led to the cancelation of Politically Incorrect.[24][25] However, Maher himself[26] and others[27][28] claim such comparisons constitute false equivalence.

[edit] Quotes

Religious people don't need to be ethical, because religion is mostly about salvation. It's about closing your eyes, very tightly, and believing in someone so much, without question, that when you die he will save your ass. Religion is about saving your ass. And that ain't ethical. There's a million reasons I could give you as to why a religious person is less moral than an ethicist, but here's just one. Religious people think that animals don't have a soul - we're so sure people do - so it's okay to torture and kill and do anything you want to animals because there's some bullshit in the Bible about how we have dominion over them and they don't have a soul. For that reason alone I dislike religion.
Jesus is great — is there a better role model? No. It's religion, it's the people who get in between — the bureaucracy, you know. ... It's the way people abuse Jesus. Was there ever a greater victim of name dropping?
If you have a few hundred followers, and you let some of them molest children, they call you a cult leader. If you have a billion, they call you Pope.
Couldn't we just get together and agree on the few basic Commandments that are laws? Like 'I won't slaughter you, and don't take my shit.'
Republicans are always saying we should privatize things like schools, prisons, social security -- hey, how about we privatize privacy! Because if the government forbids gay men from tying the knot, what is their alternative? They can't all marry Liza Minnelli.
If you think Democrats are going to take away your Bible, you're an idiot. If you think they are going to take away your gun, you're an armed idiot. If you think they're going to take away your gun and give it to a Mexican to kill your God, you're Bill O'Reilly.
How do we know Bush wasn't behind September 11th? Because it worked. AND, it involved: PLANNING.

[edit] External links

[edit] Footnotes

  1. Penn & Teller: Bullshit! - "The Bible - Fact or Fiction?" (S02E06)
  2. "After five years, Bill Maher lets his antivaccine freak flag fly again",
  3. Is Bill Maher a libertarian?
  4. The joke failed.
  5. [1]
  6. "Bill Maher: Occupy Protesters Are 'Douchebags' Who Need To 'Get A Job'"
  7. CNN transcript of 2005 interview between Larry King and Bill Maher
  8. As though Pasteur's recantation, had it even happened, would trump the fact that the science has since been tested, and applied.
  9. Larry King Live interview
  10. Pharyngula article
  15. Bill Maher on Paris massacre: ‘There are no great religions — they’re all stupid and dangerous’; Raw Story; January 8, 2015
  16. Schwarwtz, Ian (September 23, 2012). "Bill Maher On Islam: 'All Religions Are Not Alike'". RealClearPolitics.
  17. Walker, Joseph (January 8, 2012). "Group lists Top Ten Anti-Mormon Statements of 2011". Deseret News. 
  18. Berrin, Danielle (November 29, 2012). "Bill Maher on Israel, uncut and uncensored". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Kohn, Sally (December 2014). "Petition All You Want, Bill Maher Will Speak at Berkeley". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 13 April 2015. 
  20. "Bill Maher Stands By Mohammed Remarks: ‘I Don’t Need To Apologize For Being A Proud Westerner’". November 1, 2010. Retrieved March 13, 2011. 
  21. Sasson, Eric (9 October 2014). [ "Yes, Bill Maher Is Boorish. But We Shouldn't Be Af raid to Criticize Islam"]. New Republic. Retrieved 3 May 2015. 
  22. Maher defends Rush
  23. Maher defends Rush again
  24. Maher calls Sarah Palin a cunt
  25. Maher calls Palin and Bachmann bimbos
  26. Bill Maher defends Limbaugh's Free Speech Rights, Responds to False Equivalency From Right
  27. Bill Maher is not the liberal equivalent of Rush Limbaugh
  28. Jimmy Dore Comedy: Bill Maher

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