Liberal comedian Bill Maher has never been a friend to leftist cancel culture and once again condemned it Friday on his HBO show “Real Time.”
Inviting on former New York Times columnist Bari Weiss, who resigned from the paper after claiming she was abused for daring to consider other opinions, Maher discussed how baffled he was by the blowback from the recent Harper’s Letter, an anti-cancel culture screed signed by 153 people, mostly academics and writers.
“As a guy who did a show called ‘Politically Incorrect’ and another called ‘Real Time,’ thank you, because we need a pushback on cancel culture,” said Maher. “What strikes me about it is the pushback is coming from liberals, and almost anyone who signed this letter is a liberal!”
Bari Weiss described cancel culture as being less about criticism and more about “punishment” for people who do not ascribe to every cornerstone of left-wing political and social thought.
“We’re used to criticism. Criticism is kosher in the work that we do,” said Weiss, as reported by The Hill. “Criticism is great. What cancel culture is about is not criticism. It is about punishment. It is about making a person radioactive. It is about taking away their job. The writer Jonathan Rauch [of The Atlantic] called it ‘social murder.’ And I think that’s right.”
“It’s not just about punishing the sinner, it’s not just about punishing the person for being insufficiently pure. It’s about this sort of secondary boycott of people who would deign to speak to that person or appear on a platform with that person,” she added. “And we see just very obviously where that kind of politics gets us. If conversation with people that we disagree with becomes impossible, what is the way that we solve conflict? It’s violence.”
In her letter of resignation, Weiss alleged that The New York Times fostered a culture in which anyone who so much as tolerated dissenting viewpoints was subjected to professional and social ostracization.
“Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor,” wrote Weiss. “As the ethics and mores of that platform have become those of the paper, the paper itself has increasingly become a kind of performance space. Stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences, rather than to allow a curious public to read about the world and then draw their own conclusions. I was always taught that journalists were charged with writing the first rough draft of history. Now, history itself is one more ephemeral thing molded to fit the needs of a predetermined narrative.”