Bill Maher is not the Problem

Bill Maher screwed up last Friday.
The N word is so emotionally freighted with the memory of slavery, lynching, and discrimination that it’s never o.k. for a white person to use it, no matter what the circumstances. I learned this lesson from Cornell Brooks years ago. I used the word quoting Bull Connor. Cornell explained to me that he knew I was just quoting Connor and respected my work as a civil rights lawyer. Just the same, I was wrong. I learned my lesson that day. Now Maher has learned it too. He’s publically acknowledged his mistake and apologized.

Maher’s teachable moment is hopefully a learning experience for other well intentioned white people.
But let’s not lose our focus. Bill Maher isn’t the enemy. He’s not a racist. His track record speaks for itself. The avalanche of calls for Maher to be fired is misused energy that would be far better spent on real abuses like police abuse, mass incarceration, and job discrimination.
It’s only human to go after Maher. Fighting the real abuses is hard work and those of us who do it are often frustrated by the lack of response from the powers that be and the public. For all the well-deserved attention Black Lives Matter has received, most of the cops caught red handed on video shooting unarmed black men have gone unpunished and the carnage goes on.

It’s only human to lash out at Maher in our frustration. He made a serious mistake on national television. But spending our energy getting him fired is like masturbation; it feels good but doesn’t accomplish anything.

Maher has been duly chastised for his mistake. He’s apologized and apparently learned a lesson. Let’s move on and refocus on the real problems of racism in our society.

On June 6th, 2017, posted in: Blog, In the News by

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