The post I wrote last week felt naggingly incomplete to me for some reason. My purpose was to note that President Obama shouldn’t have gone to the Paris march since he of course wasn’t “Charlie” and had a record of being critical of satire aimed at Islam. And also to note the irony that the world leaders who did show up at the march were not “Charlie” either. They came from governments that restricted free speech in one way or the other.
It was another grim reminder on how rights can be taken for granted at the same time they are being quietly taken apart. And this brings me to Bill Maher.
Maher isn’t in any way a favorite of mine, and the last time I watched him with any regularity he had a show on ABC. Hey I wonder whatever happened to that… But for someone who is part of the American left in the 21st Century, he still retains a little of the old 20th Century liberal in him. Gather round children, because you may not believe it, but there was a time when liberals actually favored free speech, even when it wasn’t politically correct! Even when they opposed the message! I know, it’s hard to believe huh?
Of course Maher has had more reason than most liberals to care about freedom of expression as a concept, rather than merely as an obstacle that still allows enemies of the left to voice their opinions. Just a few months ago he was heavily protested by his fellow leftists at a speaking engagement at UC Berkeley.
So it was not quite surprising when I ran across a Daily Caller story about Maher. The story, written by Daily Caller writer Chuck Ross (who must be single handedly producing ¾ of the Caller’s content), was taken from Maher’s show Real Time in which he criticized a group trying to organize a boycott of sponsors of the Rush Limbaugh show. That’s what old time 20th Century liberals would do; defend, in Voltaire-like fashion, speech they hate. I think Maher would much rather be on the attack Rush side than on the defense, but he’s mad at official liberalism right now so he’s firing back. Wait until he starts defending Palin….
The problem with Maher is that his liberalism hasn’t really evolved since the 1970’s. Liberals used to really care about free speech, and took seriously the Voltarian maxim that I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it. But that’s when they perceived themselves as the underdogs against “the establishment.” Now of course, they are the establishment. And guess what? They don’t like free speech. That’s why they want to regulate the internet, regulate political speech, and that’s why they’ve been pushing the doctrine of political correctness. Whatever speech they can’t make illegal, they want to make it unacceptable.
I’ve been surprised just how quickly the left has abandoned free speech. Social Justice and Identity politics will not compromise with the Bill of Rights. They demand total allegiance.
Maher is a dinosaur, and when his kind passes over to…well nothingness since he’s an atheist, the only defenders of free speech will be on the right.