Bill Maher stunned his liberal-friendly audience on Jimmy Kimmel Live Wednesday night with his most recent comments on the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack, demonizing religious extremists and religion in general, true to form for the outspoken and controversial comedian and host of Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO.
Maher was on Jimmy Kimmel Live the night of the attacks in Paris that killed 12, and he had plenty to say about liberalism, freedom of speech, and religion, particularly the Muslim religion, which he has come out against in the past, drawing the ire of his fellow liberals and accusations of intolerance.
After telling the audience he was "a proud liberal," Maher was applauded, but Kimmel cautioned the studio audience that Maher was about to "turn on" them.
"No I'm not turning on them, I'm asking them to turn toward the truth, as I have been for quite awhile. I'm the liberal in this debate; I'm for free speech. To be a liberal you have to stand up for liberal principles. It is not my fault the part of the world that is most against liberal principles is the Muslim part of the world."
Maher went on to cite facts about the Muslim religion's treatment of women and the beheadings done in Mecca, which is to Muslims as the Vatican City is to Catholics. While the audience applauded Bill Maher's declaration of liberalism at the beginning of the interview, they remained silent during his comments about the Muslim religion until Maher drew the analogy between the two and asked the audience directly about the silence of most liberals.
"If they were chopping the heads off of Catholic gay people wouldn't there be a bigger outcry among liberals?"
Maher admitted that as a religious satirist himself, he found the incident scary, and cited the recent controversy over Sony pulling The Interview from release due to threats from Kim Jong-Un as another example of people trying to restrict the freedom of speech of satirists and comedians. Bill Maher made it clear that comedians should be able to make fun of anything they want, religion in particular.
"We have to stop saying... well, we should not insult a great religion. First of all there are no great religions. They're all stupid and dangerous. And we should insult them. And we should be able to insult whatever we want. That is what free speech is like."
Although Maher realizes not all Muslims would have committed a terrorist act like this, he seemed to still hold them accountable for the actions of a few.
"I know most Muslim people would not have carried out an attack like this. But here's the important point. Hundreds of millions of them support an attack like this. They applaud an attack like this. What they say is, we don't approve of violence, but you know what, when you make fun of the prophet, all bets are off."
Kimmell challenged Maher that "hundreds of millions" of Muslims support attacks like the one on Charlie Hebdo, with Maher not backing down that it is a mainstream Muslim principle to support such violence. Bill went on to talk about his record of supporting the downtrodden and his liberal credentials from when he was a boy, before the show cut to commercial.
What do you think of Bill Maher's record of controversial statements about the Muslim faith? Is he being bigoted, or is he right that "liberals" should be speaking up more?
[Photo: publicity still courtesy of WinterComedy.Org]