Bill Maher is an ignorant man

I promised I wouldn’t do this again, but I can’t get this guy out of my head. It’s difficult for me to understand why HBO — or anyone, for that matter — gives the guy a stage. There’s nothing funny about him. He’s not clever. He’s not informed. He’s rude, obnoxious and boorish to the max.

But most of all, he’s ignorant. And this is the irony that is Bill Maher, for throughout his shtick — if that’s what you call it — ignorance is his enemy. As a Liberal (I know he often calls himself a Libertarian, not), Maher represents the worst. If the Democratic Party wants to know why it has difficulty getting conservatives to cross over, it needs to look no further than Maher.

I’ve written previously about his disdain for the South and the way he broad brushes the entire region by ridiculing certain groups of people who live here. He says we’re “a region still dominated by prejudice,” as if his form of prejudice is more righteous. He’s ignorant about this, because he chooses not to examine the truth. He doesn’t live here. He’s unlikely to have spent much time with people here. He doesn’t have a clue about southerners. His “problem” with us is that we don’t all think the way he does, so ridicule is actually a form of self-validation. How convenient.

Last month, Maher staged an Islamic women’s fashion show, wherein he ridiculed the hijab that many Muslim women wear. The audience laughed as the same outfit was paraded across the stage to the self-righteous mockery of Maher in the form of grandiose fashion show prose. Again, this proves his ignorance, because he knows nothing about the customs of the culture and he proved it by using his podium to spread stereotype and prejudice.

My daughter Jenan and her husband WaseemRegular readers here know of my daughter and son-in-law. They live and raise their family in Amman, Jordan, and theirs is an amazing love story. I visited them a year ago and used the opportunity to immerse myself in the Arab culture and learn, something Maher — and those of his ilk — would be well-advised to do. I blogged the entire experience, and here’s a part of what I wrote about Muslim women.

She (Jenan) wears the hijab (covering) not only because belief in Islam requires it (although there are many women here who do not), but she also wears it because she wants to wear it, for it honors her husband. The concept of honor is significant here, and it runs both ways.

When I visited my grandson Osama’s school, I asked to take a picture of the woman principal. She asked that I not take her picture, because it might somehow dishonor her husband. This was not a demand or law or requirement. It was her wish, and this is the nature of most of the culture.

Call it tribal, if you wish, but the family unit is everything here. If the families are strong, the culture is strong, and this Islam teaches.

As such, women are supposed to be revered in Islamic culture, and I have seen this with my own eyes. The idea that they are chattel is ancient Arabic and predates Islam. There are bad relationships and spousal abuse here, but this is also true in the West. Waseem and Jenan are very much husband and wife.

Like I said, Maher is an ignorant man.

Last week, he did a bit on the Bible and the Ten Commandments, wherein he essentially stated that we don’t need them anymore. Again, how convenient. In his usual smugness, he made statements that are simply untrue. The book of Exodus doesn’t say, for example, “thou shalt not tell a lie,” but that’s the interpretation Maher required to validate his ridicule, so that’s what he used. And in that sense, he is an ignorant man.

His bio on the HBO website calls him “one of the most politically astute humorists in America today.” The odd thing for me is that I don’t regularly watch his show; I just happen to “pass by” while surfing the channels before bedtime, but every time I do, he’s demonstrated that one man’s astute humorist is another’s fool.

I’m all for humor, but not when it’s based in the ignorant ridicule of those who can’t answer back.

There. I feel better.


  1. The man makes my blood boil. I don’t watch him either, but I come across his clips as I make my rounds for our paper. Those brief snippets are more than enough to make me wonder about those who find him entertaining and informative.

  2. Your daughter and son-in-law have a beautiful family. Bill Maher should be so lucky as to ever spend five minutes in a room with love so true. I doubt he would know it if it walked up and bit him in the face.

  3. Maher will say whatever he thinks he needs to for people to think he’s hip, clever, and in the know. The downside of fractured audiences is you can cater to a small-minded niche and make a good living at it. We didn’t see this when there were “fewer tubes,” because no one could afford to piss off huge chunks of potential audience and still remain economically viable.

    That’s the reality, and one of the downsides of disintermediation: Even assholes get a podium.

  4. I like Bill Maher, but he was way off on this issue. There was one person on the panel who was trying to educated Maher about the issue, but he got shouted down. I think it’s funny that while they were lamenting about how women are forced to wear these clothes, they’re all sitting there in their suits and ties, which they wear out of custom, and which are about the most uncomfortable, restricting clothes in the world.


  1. […] January 24, 2008 by Katherine Coble Terry Heaton does a better job than I could of articulating why I dislike Bill Maher. Except for the Muslim daughter story. I don’t have a Muslim daughter. But everything else is dead on. […]

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