Saturday, January 17, 2015

Real Time with Bill Maher #339 01/17/16 “Free Speech”

Free Speech
Free Speech
by Catherine Giordano

Where does free speech end and hate speech begin? Maher and his guests tried to find the answer on Real Time with Bill Maher, episode 339, which aired on January 16, 2015. 
 
Free speech means free to provoke. 
One thing on Maher’s mind was Pope Francis (no more Pope Frank—the bromance is over.). Maher announced, “You are dead to me now.”) In the monolog, Maher reported that the Pope said that you should not provoke and then to demonstrate his point, he made a punching motion towards his aide “just like Jesus said.”   

Maher returned to this subject in New Rules. It was personal to him because Maher just did a commencement speech at Cal Tech and some students wanted him disinvited because of his remarks about Islam with Ben Afleck.  (See Wake Up, America ) Maher gave his speech any way, and in the New Rules bit, he said, “Where do I go to protest you?” 

Maher said if liberals are throwing around terms like “bigot,” then they are “Je suis part of the problem.” Maher said we should not advocate boycotts of Rush Limbaugh because we don’t like what he says. Countries like France are wrong to make it a crime to deny the Holocaust. The Ku Klux Klan should be allowed to march. The speech is offensive to him, but if we want free speech, it must all be permitted.  

How do I use my free speech to respond to speech that is bigoted except by calling the person saying these things a bigot? Isn’t it my free speech right to call them bigots? 

Maher makes jokes about The Donald looking like an orangutan and goes even further saying Trump is the love child of his mother and an orangutan. I know Trump finds this very offensive. (He tried to sue Maher over the jokes.) I think the joke is funny and laugh because I don’t like Donald Trump. 

I think the movie, The Interview, that ridicules Kim Jong Un and makes jokes about his assassination is funny because I don’t like Kim Jong Un, but what if the North Koreans made a move about the assassination of President Obama? I’d be angry.  

free speech
Free speech?
The cartoons of Charlie Hebdo were very offensive to some Muslims and nothing more than political satire to others. To Muslims it was hate speech. They are just as offended by these cartoons as I am by the Ku Klux Klan. (However, I don’t get a machine gun and start shooting the people who have offended me.) 

It is really hard to support the free speech of people who don’t just disagree with you, but disagree with you in a hateful way. Perhaps we should only draw the line where hate speech turns into hate acts. But it is so easy to cross that line. It happened in Nazi Germany.   

So is the answer then to censor some speech? Now I am right back where I started.

The interview  
Atul Gawande is a surgeon, public-health researcher, professor, chairman of Lifebox, (a nonprofit which aims to reduce deaths in surgery globally), and author of several books. His most recent book is Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. He is also a very engaging guest.
 

Atul Gawande
Atul Gawande
He got into a tussle with Maher about the flu vaccine.  Maher thinks the flu vaccine is, in his word, “b.s.” Gawande explained why the flu vaccine was beneficial, and even worthwhile (saving 15,000 to 20,000 lives) when it is less than 100% effective.  Maher continued to say the flu vaccine was a scam. Is Maher a vaccine bigot? When you continue to state an opinion about something even after your opinion has been shown to be false, isn’t that the definition of a bigot.  
 

Gawande is taking on the subject of death and dying. He reported that the time in your life when you are most likely to have surgery is during the last week of your life.  He said that in the 1950’s most of us died at homes. Now we die in nursing homes and hospitals where we have been put for our own safety. Gawande said, “What old people really want is not safety, but autonomy."  
 
Terrorism
Josh Barro
Josh Barro
Panelist Josh Barro is a correspondent for The New York Times self-identifies as a neoliberal and a Republican.
 
“Neoliberal” appears to be another word for libertarian, and he is very calm and well-spoken for a Republican. Unlike last week’s Republican, Carly Fiorina, he did not pound the table, he did not spout gibberish, he did not give us smug facial expressions). He made sense.

Barro said that in the United States, unlike in Europe, Muslims are integrated into society.  In Europe there is the legacy of colonialism complicating things. (Most European Muslims have immigrated from countries formerly ruled over by the European country where they now live.  There is a lot of resentment. Barro also blames high unemployment and living off of government benefits. It’s true that being on welfare hurts one’s self-esteem, but I hope that Barro’s solution is to address the unemployment and not just to cut off the benefits.
 
Maher added “Sometimes in a melting pot, people don’t melt.” 
 
Obama has been getting a lot of heat lately for using the term “radical terrorism” instead of “Muslim terrorism.” Obama is right not to inflame by implying that these terrorists are terrorists because they are Muslim. Barro said that in Europe, only 5% of Muslims attend religious services. He said the problem is not religion but a lack of social integration.
 
Mitt Romney  
Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney
 
Mitt Romney is running for president again. He made a speech about his intentions on a “moth-balled aircraft carrier that had outlived his usefulness.” Do you think Romney saw any hidden meaning in that? 
 
Romney appears to be trying to reinvent himself as the anti-poverty candidate, just one more reinvention in a long series or reinventions. Earth to Romney: 1)Republicans don’t like anti-poverty candidates. 2)You are the last person in the world anyone would believe was sincere about anti-poverty. 
 
Cuba 
Wes Moore
Wes Moore
The United States is ending the embargo with Cuba.  Maher asked if the pace of change with Cuba would go as fast as it did with gay marriage and the legalization of pot. 
 
Panelist Wes Moore is a businessman, U.S. Army veteran, host of "Beyond Belief" on the Oprah Winfrey Network, author.  His first book, The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, became an instant New York Times bestseller. His most recent book is The Work: My Search for a Life That Matters.

Moore said that his grandmother was from Cuba and that Europeans have freely visited Cuba all along. They have some of the best beaches in the world and it is an inexpensive place to visit.  
 
Prison Reform 
Maher mentioned that it is ironic that U.S. embargoed Cuba while maintaining a prison, Guantanamo Bay, on the island.  This was a segue into a discussion of prison reform. Maher pointed out that the U.S. has more people in prison than any other country.  Barro mentioned that during the last recession, the prison population went down because it was too expensive, but now the number of prisoners is on the rise again.

Josh Gad
Josh Gad
Panelist Josh Gad, an actor best known for voicing Olaf in Frozen, asked “Where is the
money to reform people?” Prisoners are warehoused, but most of them will eventually be released unprepared for re-entry. I agree.
 
Maher said that he liked the idea of free college for two years.  He said, “It would get people ready for a job, so they don’t sell pot.” So true, a year of college is much less expensive than a new of imprisonment.  Yet there is always money for building new prisons, but not for education (in or out of prison).
 
Hollywood 
In the monolog, Maher joked that the best British movies this year were about a brilliant astrophysicist (Stephan Hawking, The Theory of Everything) and a brilliant mathematician (Alan Turing, The Imitation Game). "In the United States the biggest movies were about a wrestler, a drummer, and a sniper—everything a boy wants to be when he is ten." 
 
The 25 biggest movies in recent years have all featured superheroes, aliens, wizards, or talking animals of some sort. The only exception was The Titanic. 
 
Maher talked about the new movie Selma about Martin Luther King.  Some have faulted the movie because they say President Johnson’s support for the Voting Rights Act is not sufficiently shown.  Maher said, “A biopic doesn’t tell the whole story. When you don’t leave things out, you get 17 hours of The Hobbit. (By the way, Selma is a great movie—go see it.)
 
Mid-Show Guest: Kathryn Bigelow 
Kathryn Bigelow
Kathryn Bigelow
Kathryn Bigelow is a director, producer and screenwriter. Her two most recent movies are Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker.  She was on the show to promote her  campaign to prevent the extinction of elephants and her animated/live action short/PSA called  Last Days.   
 
She told us that elephants are the most intelligent and sensitive communal creatures on Earth (she didn’t exclude humans), and that they could be extinct in the wild in 11 years.  They are being killed or their ivory. She claims that the profits from this illicit ivory trade are funding terrorism.
   
Her film is very short, very beautiful, and very important.  Please watch it now.
 
Mid-Show Comedy Segment
Politicians getting ready to campaign for office always have a book.  Maher had fun renaming some of these books. 
  • Marco Rubio’s book: Hispanic But Not Too Much.
  • Rand Paul: Just Like My Dad Without the Crazy Parts
  • Sarah Palin: Hey Sucker. Yeah You. Give Me $29.95
  • Donald Trump:  Me Want Banana. Me Climb Tree. Inside the Mind of a Half-Human Half-Orangutan Billionaire
  • Mitt Romney: What Do I Have to Do to Be President? Suck Your Dick? OK, I’ll Do It.

Read more on this and see the video clip here: Bill Maher: So Sue Me

More Free Speech
 
The last two book titles are very offensive, but free speech means never having to say you are sorry for being offensive.
 
 
Bill Maher’s Guests January 16, 2015.
 
Josh Gad: actor best known for voicing Olaf in Frozen 

Atul Gawande: surgeon, public-health researcher, professor, chairman of Lifebox, (a nonprofit which aims to reduce deaths in surgery globally) and author of several books. His most recent book is Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End 

Josh Barro: Self-identifies as a neo-liberal and a Republican, correspondent for The New York Times. (I checked the definition of neo liberal—it sounds like just another word for libertarian.) 

Wes Moore: businessman, U.S. Army veteran, host of "Beyond Belief" on the Oprah Winfrey Network, author.  His first book, The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, became an instant New York Times bestseller. His most recent book is The Work: My Search for a Life That Matters 

Kathryn Bigelow: director, producer, screenwriter. Her two most recent movies are
Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker.  She has started a campaign to prevent the extinction of elephants and has produced an animated/live action short/PSA called  Last Days.