Was Bill Maher's use of the N-word on CNN acceptable?

Posted 8 years.

19 Comments

  • Alvaro Pirado - 8 years ago

    There are very few circumstances in which it would have been acceptable for someone as priviliged as Bill Maher to use that word. This is one of them.

    Our public discourse is full of code-words used to summon a strongly negative image of black people in listener's minds, without being explicit enough to make the speaker accountable for what they're saying: 'Inner-city', 'low test scores', "Luo tribesman" and their opposites 'all-American' or 'one of us'. Public figures, especially conservative ones, use those code words to talk about black people (and other opressed groups) in hateful, fearful ways: they use them to hide an implied racial slur. Outright bigots know who is being talked about, 'colour-blind' moderates think the speaker sounds civil, and the targets of the code words hear the implied slur as well because they're so very familiar with them.

    This last presidential election, "Kenyan" was used in this way, and that's what Bill Maher is pointing out. He was making the implicit slur hiding under the (misattributed) nationality explicit, and that is shocking, but mostly to people who didn't already know it was hiding there.

  • james talbot - 8 years ago

    context, context, context.

  • John Smith - 8 years ago

    "...African Americans. which is the correct term for those of African decent."

    Um, no. It's *a* term. There is no "correct" term. There are simply terms, which change and mutate and are deemed offensive or inoffensive as the years roll by. "African American" can be more offensive, if said with the "right" tone in the "right" context, as "nigger" can be inoffensive, if said in the "right" tone and the "right" context.

  • sean - 8 years ago

    Bill's hoping that people are up in arms over his comment. The fact is not enough people watch Larry King or care about Bill Mahr. His is boring and his same old talking points are wearing thin. Liberals are in trouble, desperation is setting in and this Presindent, Black or White is failing. Fact! The one fortunate thing is in 2012 Bill will be relevent again, basing conservatives because they will be running this country again. Thank you, Obama!

  • will shetterly - 8 years ago

    When I was young and involved in civil rights, I was called a niggerlover. Am I now supposed to say I was called a n-wordlover?

  • Mary - 8 years ago

    It really isn't acceptable under any circumstances. My grandchildren have never heard the word and we are caucasian....they also go to school with African Americans. which is the correct term for those of African decent.Bill Mahr is usually unacceptable, anyway.

  • Anton Tango - 8 years ago

    Reeser,

    Mr. Maher is the last one on this planet with a racial bone. Use of N word during a discussion? It was used to denounce a sublte racial intent by opposing political figure. If that's not enough to justify its use, then go ahead and erase the word, "black," from description of someone's skin color. Oh, was that politically incorrect as well?

    Unbelievable.

  • bob maher - 8 years ago

    N-word??? Nuclear??

    I do not understand the problem

  • shvartze - 8 years ago

    I don't see a problem. I think it's perfectly appropriate to use the term nigger. Niggers use it all the time.

  • f. carter - 8 years ago

    Bill has two brains one lost and one looking for the other one...N word, who cares coming out of bill what do you expect from an ignorant person!!!

  • SeanMoo - 8 years ago

    You dumb idiots that have such blatant double-standards should kill yourselves. Do us all a favor. Thanks.

  • stevie - 8 years ago

    I would never root for a team named Washington Kikes. Everybody knows that jews have no athletic abilities.

  • Dubya - 8 years ago

    As long as we have thousands of people running around proudly using Redskins as a moniker, I don't see a problem. If we had the Washington Niggers, or Washington Kikes, or Washington Spics, or Washington Wops, or ... would there be as many fans?

    In Mahr's case, as in all cases, we need to look at the context.

  • Ram - 8 years ago

    I don't see the problem, is it that word not offensive when is used by afro americans themselves, so do they have a monopoly over that word?
    He didn't use the word to try to denigrate anyone. Get over with it.

  • Josh Brimstead - 8 years ago

    Bill is fine using the word because he's using it to point out the inherent racism of the tea party. Them using his being a Kenyan as a negative thing is racist and most people can't see that. So he compared it to them using the word nigger because they're basically saying we don't like him because he's "not like us". Dr. Laura used the word and then made statements that are statements used by racists plain and simple. I as a black man know Dr. Laura is against poor black people and anyone defending her is either a racist, closet racist, or a really stupid person. Which is sadly par for the course for the teaparty.

  • sue - 8 years ago

    I'm sorry but I think there is a huge difference when someone calls someone the N word and when when someone is just discussing the actual word. I admit when I heard him say it I cringed, but only because I knew people would overreact. As a female I hate the C word. However, if someone is telling me a story where they heard someone say that word I take no offense.

  • Bob - 8 years ago

    So Dr. Laura's caller was actually Bill Maher's wife. Who knew?

  • Richard - 8 years ago

    Different use in context. It wasn't only the use of the N-word that was outrageous, but her insane take on matter. She actually told the caller on her show that if she didn't like her husband's friends humor, then she shouldn't have married outside her race. That was the most insane thing she said.

  • Reeser - 8 years ago

    The "N-word" is not acceptable for Bill Maher's, Dr. Laura, former Sen. Robert Byrd and anyone else! We shouldn'l let radio commentator's, television comedians or news programs get away with racist slurs, like Bill Maher's is getting away with it!

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