Bill Maher attacks political correctness

Bill Maher, who used to have a show called Politically Incorrect, here takes on the excesses of so-called political correctness. (The usual warning to applies for those with sensitive ears: This is a cable program, and it’s also Bill Maher.)


I think he makes a lot of good points, though I would add that it’s not just the Left that gets outraged over deviations from what they deem politically correct. Consider Bill O’Reilly’s annual hissy about people saying “Happy Holidays,” or the right-wing claims that Obama didn’t refer to “American exceptionalism” often enough. (This despite the fact that Obama is apparently the only president to have used the term “American exceptionalism in a speech.)

But I don’t happen to agree with everything Maher says. For one thing, the term “political correctness” is quite often used for what the rest of us would consider not being a jerk. I don’t think it’s mere “political correctness” to object to mocking a handicapped person or using racial or sexual slurs intentionally to cause offense and pain.

For another, while it’s a minor matter given everything else going on, the name “Washington Redskins” really is pretty obviously racist. I have no particular problem with the Kansas City Chiefs, the Atlanta Braves, or the Cleveland Indians (though their Chief Wahoo logo is pretty stupid). But it’s harder to see “Redskins” as benign. Maher refers to a Washington Post poll that found 90 percent of American Indians surveyed had no objection to the team name, but the poll has been questioned, in part because of the loose criteria for inclusion. See Jacqueline Keeler’s May 24 article in The Nation, for example, or this piece by Nidhi Prakash. Besides, you don’t have to be an American Indian to have a right to an opinion. The name offends me.

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