Conservatives often ask me why I appear on liberal shows like “The View” or “Real Time with Bill Maher.” But how can I possibly hope to win people over to my view if I don’t engage with them? That doesn’t mean both sides yelling at once, but actually holding a civil conversation. You might be surprised to hear that some of the people who disagree with me the most are quite friendly and cordial about having me on their shows, and we do occasionally find common ground. Besides, I’ll take whatever forum I can get to reach their audiences, because some of those folks desperately need to hear a different point of view.
I’m glad to see that one of my points of agreement with Bill Maher is on condemning the “Twitter mob” mentality that seeks to gin up Internet pressure on corporations to pull their ads from TV hosts who don’t toe a particular political line. In this case, Bill actually defended Fox News host Laura Ingraham from the exodus of advertisers drummed up by teenage anti-gun activist David Hogg, who was upset that Ingraham talked about his alleged difficulties at getting into college (of course, Bill first had to exercise the standard virtue-signal of assuring everyone he thinks Ingraham is a horrible person before defending her right to free speech.) He noted that Hogg chose to put himself in the public arena, and when you do that, you risk being criticized.
The most chilling aspect of this is the way his studio audience cheered and clapped when he first mentioned the campaign to silence her – he had to lecture his own fans that that’s “un-American,” and that he had also been the target of advertiser pressure when he said things some people disagreed with. Some of his liberal guests later tried to argue that the Twitter mobs are just exercising free speech and Ingraham would still have free speech even if she were fired (she could talk, she just couldn’t be heard – reminds me of a friend who always says, “God save me from having to depend on liberals to defend my civil rights”). Thankfully, Bill would have none of that.
This isn’t the old-style justified boycott to force firms to make needed change, such as desegregating lunch counters. This is abusing social media to gin up fake outrage and threaten and panic companies into destroying people’s careers, just for holding an “unapproved” opinion. That’s not democracy, it’s mobocracy. Kudos to Bill Maher for having the guts to stand up against it, even when it means defending the rights of someone he disagrees with. Believe it or not, that used to be considered a standard liberal virtue.
PS – Fox News refused to be cowed, and Laura Ingraham is now back from vacation, as planned.
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