I don't know about you, but most Friday nights by 10:00 I am drifting off to dreamland in my chair. It just happened that the past two Friday nights I was lucid enough to watch Bill Maher on HBO.
I don't like the guy, even though his politics are similar to my own. I find him pompous, never more so than when he has a Republican guest for an interview. If I treated bored deities the way he treats Republican guests, I'd be smote into oblivion.
So it was that, during an interview with a Republican senator, Maher dropped the "n" word. Hours later, he was issuing apologies and mea culpas. And this Friday, he had three guests of color on the show, probably to prove that he's a cool white dude who loves African Americans and feels their pain.
His Black guests basically took him to the woodshed.
It was typical Maher hubris to invite Ice Cube on the show in the first place. Here's a rapper who has made a lavish living mining his people's pain and injustice, and he wasn't going to give Maher a pass. You go, Mr. Cube. His best remark was, "That's our word. It belongs to us." And it does.
The "n" word should never escape the lips of a white person. Never. Pagan readers, don't you hate it when the word "witch" is used in a pejorative, or even joking, way? Now multiply that by 1,000.
As a teacher in a school that is 99 percent minority, I hear that word all day long. Students call each other "n," in an affectionate way. It's their word. If I'm teaching a passage of literature that has the word in it, I don't utter the word out loud.
Bill Maher had a million excuses for letting the "n" word slip. He blamed the Republican interviewee, for one thing (bad form). He blamed the nature of live comedy (flimsy). He said he shouldn't be judged by one offhand tasteless remark (slightly less flimsy but still flimsy). You know what he didn't do? He didn't say, "I won't use that word again. Ever."
It's tough work being a comedian, especially in live situations. Improv comedy requires a mental acuity that's daunting to say the least. But it's not that hard to expunge your vocabulary of an offensive word and -- this is overlooked -- the racist way it was dropped in reference to a type of slavery. I've never heard Bill Maher call anyone a "cunt." If he can bypass that word, he can remove the "n" word from his oral vocabulary.
I'm sure he will from this day forward, so would it have hurt to promise? Humble people work to change their ways.
Sitting at the top of a mountain of righteousness today I am,
Your most humble and obedient servant,