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Bill Maher has a simple solution for the easily offended: stop listening to people they might find offensive.
The comedian and HBO host writes in a new op-ed for the New York Times that the media landscape has been hijacked by indignation at every turn, citing a long list of recent political controversies that he thinks have been driven by hypersensitivity, from Rush Limbaugh‘s attacks on Sandra Fluke to Robert De Niro‘s joke about white First Ladies.
“When did we get it in our heads that we have the right to never hear anything we don’t like?” he writes. “In the last year, we’ve been shocked and appalled by the unbelievable insensitivity of Nike shoes, the Fighting Sioux, Hank Williams Jr., Cee Lo Green, Ashton Kutcher, Tracy Morgan, Don Imus, Kirk Cameron, Gilbert Gottfried, the Super Bowl halftime show and the ESPN guys who used the wrong cliché for Jeremy Lin after everyone else used all the others. Who can keep up?”
Maher himself has been the target of criticism of late for crude words he used against Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann in the past; President Obama’s campaign adviser David Axelrod recently pulled out of an appearance on Maher’s HBO show, while Bristol Palin penned a letter to Obama asking him to rebuke Maher, who had just given his campaign $1 million. He also defended Limbaugh during the throes of the Fluke controversy, saying that liberals that did not forgive him came off as disingenuous. That said, he’s also said that comparisons between himself and Limbaugh are false equivalencies.
De Niro’s comments, in which he named the wives of the GOP presidential candidates and asked attendees at a fundraiser attended by Michelle Obama whether they were ready for a white First Lady, were slammed by Newt Gingrich on Tuesday and deemed “inappropriate” by the First Lady’s campaign press secretary. For her part, Ann Romney, wife of Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney, said that she was not offended by the joke.
“I laughed. I took it for what it was, a joke. We take everything so seriously, we have to be so correct,” she told Piers Morgan on Wednesday night. “In politics, the fastest way to get in trouble is make a joke.”
To that end, Maher writes that we should have at least one day where we people don’t ask for an apology about a political statement.
“I have a better idea. Let’s have an amnesty — from the left and the right — on every made-up, fake, totally insincere, playacted hurt, insult, slight and affront,” he suggests. “Let’s make this Sunday the National Day of No Outrage. One day a year when you will not find some tiny thing someone did or said and pretend you can barely continue functioning until they apologize.”
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