What's fair game in comedy, and what crosses the line?
Ice Cube has put Bill Maher on blast on Friday night's episode of the comedian host's HBO show Real Time, taking him to task for his use of the N-word during an interview with Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, the politician said: 'We'd love to have you work in the fields with us'. As of now, Maher still maintains employment at HBO, but he spent most of Friday's Real Time repenting for his sins.
Still, Maher suggested that such mistakes shouldn't mean the end of a person's career. "We are a trained thing that just tried to get a laugh".
Dyson told Maher that with today's "resurgence" of racism - he referenced Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions - it's even more important for Maher to fight the "unconscious reflex". But he said a weird thing, the comic mind goes to a weird place sometimes. But first, there is someone who had a worse week than me: "Donald Trump". And that's why I apologized freely, and I reiterate it tonight.
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Maher acknowledged he has said that, but also made the point that he has also said in the past that there are things that people should apologize for.
The NWA founding member reaffirmed earlier in the week that he'd be appearing on the show despite Maher's remarks, promising that he wouldn't back down. Meanwhile, the mid-episode guest was Ice Cube, who was ready to address his perspective on the controversy during the show's usual one-on-one discussion.
Activist Symone Sanders, the former national press secretary for Bernie Sanders and frequent CNN contributor, told Maher that his joke about being a "house" n-word was particularly offensive to black women, and accused Maher of "white-washing" the word.
"There is a lot of bulls, apologizing in America, and I am against that", Maher said. But on Friday, the political satirists found himself apologizing to the black community for his regrettable use of the n-word. Watch Michael Eric Dyson's conversation with Maher below. You can use it as a weapon, or you can use it as a tool. Now I know you heard, it's in the lexicon, everybody's talking. It's been used as a weapon against us by white people, and we're not gonna let that happen again by nobody, because it's not cool.