Well, no…he’s actually not. Or if he is, the fact that he used the word “nigger” on Larry King isn’t proof of that.
Listen, I’m not a black man, and I don’t presume to speak for them, but Bill Maher’s use of the word was purely technical. It’s a word–an arrangement of letters to form a distinct, discrete sound. The word, itself, without context is meaningless. The only invective implied in Maher’s use of it was directed toward birthers and their ridiculous ilk who employ codewords like “Kenyan” to substitute for other words that would more overtly put their racism on display.
Simply saying the word, itself, is not intrinsically racist, and I’m actually embarrassed for rational human beings everywhere that the word has become some sort of Beetlejuice-like boogey man so terrible that it can’t ever be spoken out loud, as if the institution of slavery is going to magically come back into existence if a white person says “nigger” three times in a row. No, it has to be “the n-word”, as if there’s any difference. There isn’t.
Words are nothing more than mostly-arbitrary sound formations meant to embody things or ideas. If you call it the “n-word” or not, we’re still talking about the same idea, the only difference being it sounds really childish to say “the n-word”. This is akin to when, as a boy, my mother told me I wasn’t allowed to call my brothers “stupid”, so instead I started calling them ‘”stew beef”. When somebody tells you that you can’t say a word so you use the loophole of calling it something else, I’m sorry…it’s just silly, kids stuff and it detracts from being able to have a serious conversation.
Are we really so infantile that we can’t even hear this word without collectively getting the vapors about it?
Hell, just the other night some shitberg in downtown Reno made some sexual remark about my nine-months-pregnant wife and we walked by and ignored it, yet I really think that’s about a million times more offensive than having to hear the word “nigger” employed with no malice in an academic discussion.
I want to be clear here–I’m fairly certain it’s only dumbasses with the intellectual reasoning capacity of a five year-old who have attacked Bill Maher for this. You won’t see Al Sharpton calling Maher out for this any time soon. Still, it pisses me off that I have to share this country with so many willfully stupid people.