Bill Maher said something stupid on his show last week.
He referred to himself as a "House N------"
The outcry was immediate, as it should've been.
Maher is a rich, white guy, who was doing a live show and was trying to be funny.
What is most discouraging about his dumb attempt is that he is also a left-wing pundit who crucifies others for their blatant racism and poor word choices.
So, much like Kathy Griffin, the problems he is having now, are well-deserved.
"We're screwed," a 50-something guy said to me on a job site, "Because we grew up calling each other colorful names that can't be used anymore."
The guy had a point!
We used to bash one another using derogatory names about one another's nationality as well as perceived sexual orientation.
My brothers and sisters and friends called me every name in the book.
A lot of those names are no longer welcome in today's society...
...Maher knows this.
He screwed up epically.
And the outrage is justified for those who have been hammered by the prejudice of an awful word that means more than just a simple word to them.
"Everyone is so offended," the guy on the site said. "We need to toughen up."
"So Maher shouldn't be fired?" I asked.
"Well, I hate him," the guy said, "but nah. Make him pay a huge fine to a black group, and move on. Hit these idiots in the pocketbook and they'll stop saying it."
Not a bad idea.
Yet before you say toughen up, think about those who have slandered you for something that is prejudicial. I was once in court and while on the stand as a witness in a construction incident involving one of my clients a lawyer asked me to say my last name. I did. He then asked me if I had once been in a laborers union in Buffalo.
I was surprised, but said yes.
"And some members of that union were in trouble for corruption, right? You a proud Italian-American."
I did the math.
He was trying to paint a picture based on my nationality even though I had been out of the union for ten years by the time the corruption was discovered.
I will never forget how angry I was with that guy.
He withdrew his questions.
Yet the damage was done.
I think of that when I hear someone say, "Toughen up!"
It's not right.
Maher was colossally stupid.
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