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Sunday, March 25, 2012


“…In religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing…”
-- Autobiography of Mark Twain

OVERDUE BILL--Robin Hood is a metaphor for the little guy bettering the thugs of the world with dashes of daring and wit. Let’s focus on the latter. The Robin Hood I admire is when he’s at his best using his rapier wit instead of a pointed arrow. That’s why in the American political scene I prefer Bill Maher’s wit over Rush Limbaugh’s bombast. Does this make me a pinko leftist? Who cares about me? What is appealing about Maher’s writing is he has a gift of making his points with a clever writing style reminiscent of Robin Hood or Mark Twain. For my taste, Limbaugh steps in the gutter too often to make his points.

It’s too reminiscent of arguing with a bully. Offer civilized debate to a thug and they will dismiss any and all arguments with a rude epithet similar to “…Fok you and the donkey you rode in on…” It’s as if the laws of winning debate are tilted toward who ever envokes God or the F-Bomb first. Americans are smarter than that—when will the red-faced, eye-bulging debaters in either party get that message?

In a recent New York Times opinion page essay TV pundit Bill Maher makes a few points showing his appeal to the left, but done so in a graceful, intelligent package. Reading Maher is preferred than wiping the spits of vitriol off my glasses.

Here are a few lines:

“…When did we get it in our heads that we have the right to never hear anything we don’t like?”

“…Let’s have an amnesty — from the left and the right — on every made-up, fake, totally insincere, playacted hurt, insult, slight and affront. Let’s make this Sunday the National Day of No Outrage.”

“…If that doesn’t work, what about this: If you see or hear something you don’t like in the media, just go on with your life. Turn the page or flip the dial or pick up your roll of quarters and leave the booth.”

“…The right side of America is mad at President Obama because he hugged Derrick Bell, a law professor who believed we live in a racist country, 22 years ago; the left side of America is mad at Rush Limbaugh for seemingly proving him right…”

“…The answer to whenever another human being annoys you is not “make them go away forever.” We need to learn to coexist, and it’s actually pretty easy to do. For example, I find Rush Limbaugh obnoxious, but I’ve been able to coexist comfortably with him for 20 years by using this simple method: I never listen to his program. The only time I hear him is when I’m at a stoplight next to a pickup truck.”

“…I don’t want to live in a country where no one ever says anything that offends anyone. That’s why we have Canada. That’s not us. If we sand down our rough edges and drain all the color, emotion and spontaneity out of our discourse, we’ll end up with political candidates who never say anything but the safest, blandest, emptiest, most unctuous focus-grouped platitudes and cant. In other words, we’ll get Mitt Romney.

Sources: Bill Maher is host of “Real Time With Bill Maher” on HBO and A version of this New York Times op-ed appeared in print on March 22, 2012, on page A31 of the New York edition with the headline: “Please Stop Apologizing.”

You can find Maher’s essay in the New York Times website by copying and pasting the following long URL into your search engine:

Images: Mark Twain: Photograph by Mathew Brady, National Archives.
Bill Maher:

And, let’s end where we began praising wit over the witless.

“He who jumps for the moon and gets it not leaps higher than he who stoops for a penny in the mud.”

― Howard Pyle, The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood

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