Riddle us this:
How does Bill Maher get a New York Times op-ed piece calling for a moratorium on apologies for intemperate language without the Times noting that Maher is smack dab in the middle of an intemperate-remarks rumpus of his own?
First, Maher’s op-ed:
Please Stop Apologizing
THIS week, Robert De Niro made a joke about first ladies, and Newt Gingrich said it was “inexcusable and the president should apologize for him.” Of course, if something is “inexcusable,” an apology doesn’t make any difference, but then again, neither does Newt Gingrich.
Mr. De Niro was speaking at a fund-raiser with the first lady, Michelle Obama. Here’s the joke: “Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?”
The first lady’s press secretary declared the joke “inappropriate,” and Mr. De Niro said his remarks were “not meant to offend.” So, as these things go, even if the terrible damage can never be undone, at least the healing can begin. And we can move on to the next time we choose sides and pretend to be outraged about nothing.
Except the outrage over Maher’s remarks is about something: How Democrats can defend his offensive comments about Sarah Palin (among others) while getting the vapors over Rush Limbaugh’s offensive comments about Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke.
Don’t get us wrong: The Times is well within its rights to offer op-ed space to Maher. But the paper owes it to its readers to note Maher’s role in this debate as well.