Rev. Bill Maher preaches to his choir
Bill Maher fancies his comedy "edgy." At least that's what he told Elizabeth Hasselbeck in his recent interview on The View. "Somebody has to live on the edge to know where the edge is," he said. And Bill Maher is apparently that guy who is doing the hard work of setting the cultural standards of political acceptability. In just one of her many acerbic zingers from the exchange, Hasselbeck responded, "Thanks for being the hero."
But for those not among Maher's adoring audience, his comedy would better be described as "redundant." Most of us can easily recognize that his act is something of a one-trick pony.
It's as flawlessly predictable a phenomenon as the sun rising. Every time Bill Maher has an opportunity to speak, he will verbally assault religion and Republicans.
Take this interview on "The View," for example. When asked about the Penn State scandal, he took the opportunity to link religion and pedophilia by remarking that anytime women are not present, like "in the church," "it all goes to hell." Later in the interview, he completed his act by saying that Herman Cain and Rick Perry are both idiots, and that "the Republican Party doesn't care about knowledge or knowing things."
For reasons we may never know, Maher has found comedic success by doing little more than calling people he disagrees with dangerous and stupid. And for reasons that are even more obscure, this success has convinced him that he is among the most profound political thinkers in America. And perhaps the greatest mystery of all is that legions among the American left have been convinced that he is the intellectual, scientific-minded giant that he thinks he is.
Perhaps we don't understand it because it's all just a grand delusion- concocted by a hypocrite, and assimilated by the impressionable.
Maher has fervently demanded that there is no God, and in common atheist fashion, deems anyone with religion a useful idiot that is marching to the beat of a manipulative drum. But somehow, he doesn't reserve the same judgment for the useful idiots of Occupy L.A.
While taking an afternoon drive in his $120,000 car to visit the Occupy L.A. protestors last month, he was met with what can only be described as worship and exaltation. But these progressive acolytes aren't like the religious kooks that gather on Sundays. They get it. They're just out for social justice like Maher is -- to take down the corporations that get to keep too much of their earnings while holding the little man down. Maher praised these poor souls for their work, and begged that they continue braving the cold, uncomfortable conditions to meet their common goals. "Don't let them convince you to come inside and put on a suit and hire a lobbyist," he said. "That's how you lose. This is how you win." Then, after Maher's flock had been thoroughly inspired, he drove his car (which is worth more than double the median annual income, mind you) back to his large estate home that is paid for with the cold, hard cash of that corporate monster known as Time Warner, parent of HBO, where he lives like a "Reagan Republican," according to Lloyd Grove of Newsweek.
Sure, this might seem a bit hypocritical. Like a priest telling his congregation not to steal only to later pilfer the collection trays. But as hypocritical as it is, it is just an isolated event, and mild in comparison to the overall hypocrisy of Maher's ideological position.
Maher's most scathing criticisms have certainly been against religionists in the conservative right. He believes them to be self-righteous and fanatically devoted to the legislative application of their chosen brand of morality, particularly when it comes to abortion laws, gay rights, and sexual repression. But the very notions of social justice and the communal redistribution of wealth (which Maher feels to be much loftier ideals) are predicated upon a socialist's moral imperative -- he would demand that we seize wealth from the rich and use it for government administrated social programs, because this is what would be fair and right in his worldview.
This ideology, a standard of the left, can truly be called progressive, as it flies in the face of what civil societies have held true throughout history. From ancient times, Aesop's "The Ant and the Grasshopper" has been an instructive lesson to convey a historically secular, constant truth: A man is not entitled to receive that which he did not earn, regardless of how vital the product; be it food, shelter, or healthcare. Maher's chosen morality of redistributive social justice is less a secular observation of human nature and more a derivative of Marx's "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs" dogma, which is but a century and a half old, and has yielded disastrous results in nearly every application.
And since all Maher has really done is assimilate this philosophic worldview, build his morality around it, and then insist that others legislatively embrace and practice his chosen morality, how again does that make him any better than the religionists that he routinely lambasts?
Bill Maher is the living, breathing template of the curious hypocrisies that afflict many among the American left. So the next time you happen upon "Real Time with Bill Maher" and he goes into his controlled "edginess" about how Republicans like Perry and Cain are stupid, just consider that Perry and Cain have achieved his level of education or beyond in scientific disciplines from respected universities. And the next time he blathers on about how religionists are just blind sheep or he's giving a lesson on why corporate America is evil, listen to how his congregation emotionally and spontaneously reacts with claps and yells in support of his comedic sermons about social justice.
Anyone who's ever been inside a church might find it familiar. Only the worshipers of Maher's chosen doctrine are far more fanatic in their devotion.
William Sullivan blogs at politicalpalaverblog.blogspot.com