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Bill Maher calls U.S. cowardly; FedEx pulls ads from show
September 19, 2001 10:42 AM   Subscribe

Bill Maher calls U.S. cowardly; FedEx pulls ads from show It looks like that "Freedom of Speech" thing is too much for some people to handle. What do expect from a show like this? If you can't handle it, don't watch it.
posted by BarneyFifesBullet (86 comments total)

 
Well, just because he has a legal right to say it, nobody is obligated to help him say it to a wider audience. Let FedEx do what it wants, Bill Maher as well.
posted by kokogiak at 10:49 AM on September 19, 2001


I fail to see how FedEx is obligated to pay Bill Maher to say whatever he pleases. Interesting interpretation of rights.
posted by marknau at 10:50 AM on September 19, 2001


I think I would have refrained from using the word "cowardly" right now, though, no matter how I felt about it.

What's that about hindsight being 20-20?
posted by BarneyFifesBullet at 10:52 AM on September 19, 2001


Bill Maher has the right to say what he wants, and FedEx has the right to advertise where they want. Seems like everything is working just fine to me!
posted by revbrian at 10:58 AM on September 19, 2001


Does anyone else find Bill Maher completely annoying and lacking in anything intelligent to say? He seems to only book people who are either smart and generally agree with him, or who are no so smart and don't. I really hate that show!!
posted by eric anders at 11:00 AM on September 19, 2001


I fail to see how FedEx is obligated to pay Bill Maher to say whatever he pleases. Interesting interpretation of rights.

He doesn't work for FedEx, he works for ABC.

ABC pays his salary, I suppose, unless he owns a part of the show.

Then you could have a point.

How is this "interesting interpretation"?

Patrick urged listeners to call KTRK and urge the station to stop carrying the "irresponsible" program. Other hosts of KSEV talk shows made the same request.

FedEx supports what they want via their ad account, that's their buisness.
posted by BarneyFifesBullet at 11:01 AM on September 19, 2001


It is a bit disturbing that people have no problem with advertisers attempting to control the content of what we watch on TV. Because that is what this is.
But then, I agree with Bill Maher, so...
posted by Doug at 11:02 AM on September 19, 2001


I agree with kokgiak.

But as far as the substance of what he said, I think that he wasn't specific enough. The soldiers in the planes aren't cowards for following orders. No, sir.

Our military leaders aren't cowards.

However our military policy might be characterized as "cowardly" because it reflects the will of this nation, which, since Vietnam, has been arguably cowardly.

We haven't had the stomach for a tough ground war since Vietnam, so we lob cruise missiles. Because that is so easy and safe, we do it in places we wouldn't normally place troops. Perhaps this is what has led to some of the anger around the world. When you can push a button from three miles away, you're far more likely to stick your nose into places where it doesn't belong...

Furthermore, I wonder if not having U.S. ground troops in many places has removed the human element of America for many of those around the world. I can't help but think that it leads to a one-dimesional xenophobic stereotyping of Americans.

If you're thinking "Yeah, people would like us so much more if we showed our faces and simply buried a bayonet into their chest", you're not getting what I'm saying...
posted by fooljay at 11:05 AM on September 19, 2001


I think what they were trying to point out was that its not enough to just call the hijackers cowards and move on, but its imperative that we find out why these people were enraged enough to give their lives to any cause stupid or great. The validity of the cause is not the issue, but the issue of staying in planes when u can see a building coming closer and closer is what he was talking about it. Also a point can also be taken that US's emphasis has been more on air strikes and missile attacks than land forces. One reason being that the US is afraid of body bags coming back and any one in White House is reluctant of making such decisions. Is that cowardly ?

Bill Maher has the tendency to pick on President Bush more than he picked on President Clinton. Thats another post though.
posted by adnanbwp at 11:06 AM on September 19, 2001


Television is a privately-funded venture, except for certain public channels. As television is privately funded, it is responsible to the people that fund it, and the people that watch it. It's not either-or. Like any business, they must walk the line of what they can afford to do... they must keep the viewership while placating those that use that vieweship to sell products. I really don't find anything disturbing about that, you must remember these kinds of things every time you enter into a for-profit venture, including as the end user.
posted by eric anders at 11:07 AM on September 19, 2001


There's a larger issue here that's been bothering me for quite a while (before 9.11 as well), and that's the media's definition of "heroism" and "cowardice". I cringe when a news story speaks about a 'heroic' individual who survives a terrible car crash. Why is that heroic? They found themselves in an awful situation and survived, heroism not necessary. And cowardice - I may agree with Maher in a purely semantic sense, that launching missiles from 2,000 miles away might be defined that way, but this 'ongoing situation' we're in has got to rise above semantics, into the deeper meaning and intent behind the acts, which are far from cowardly.
posted by kokogiak at 11:07 AM on September 19, 2001


Bill Maher and even Dinesh D'Souza (I hate saying this- D'Souza's a freaky randroid twit ) were right. It's not cowardly to be a suicide terrorist, though it is many other despicable things; and lobbing "cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away" is cowardly in the sense that your life isn't on the line while you rain destruction on countless people. While militarily it makes sense- why risk troops when you can just shoot a missile from an untouchable distance at an enemy who can't retaliate in kind- that doesn't keep it from being cowardly. And I'm not gonna fall in for that Nationalistic "fighting men and women on the front lines" shit, either.

But of course FedEx has every right to not sponsor this particular program if their customers complain or they dislike the program and its content. I'm sure ABC will find another advertiser to take FedEx's place.

I watch PI regularly, and while Maher is often ignorant of relevent facts (for the millions he makes, you think he'd have a better research team) he at least has some balls for speaking truth to power or questioning those shibboleths of our society (god, I love the word shibboleth- I've been using it ad nauseum lately!). I've been watching PI for these last two nights as well, and I think Maher's doing a good job- he sounds a good note of sadness and seriousness at the beginning of the show, but doesn't try to make the entire show a maudlin sobfest. They're keeping the discussions lively and thoughtful, without a lot of false piety or holding their tongues because such-and-such and idea might hurt feelings. Booking David Horowitz was a mistake, but it alwasy is- that man is a maggot and it showed last night as well. Otherwise, the show's been broaching subjects people sometimes don't want to talk about. That's a healthy thing, even if you don't always agree with it. Compare PI to the "debates" on talk shows hosted by Fox News or MSNBC or CNN, and what you'll see on PI is a less pin-striped but more honest discussion at work.
posted by hincandenza at 11:08 AM on September 19, 2001



fooljay,

I know what you're trying to say, but when you're fighting a war, the goal is to kill people without getting your own people killed. Not to meet people and add a human element to war.

My friend once had a bumper sticker that read

Join the Army: Travel to fascinating places, meet strange, interesting people... and kill them

If we want to add human element to war, it should be our relief agencies going there after we're done killing people.
posted by eric anders at 11:09 AM on September 19, 2001


Furthermore, I wonder if not having U.S. ground troops in many places has removed the human element of America for many of those around the world. I can't help but think that it leads to a one-dimesional xenophobic stereotyping of Americans.

fooljay, you might want to pay Okinawa a visit.
posted by lia at 11:11 AM on September 19, 2001


billmaher (bil-märr), latin word meaning:

1. sniveling rodent
2. arrogant asshole
3. no-talent fourth-rate comic

But I will defend to the death, his right to sound like a moron.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:12 AM on September 19, 2001


When some people or groups try to get a show yanked because of the content, that's wrong.

Complain all you want, that's your right.

Don't watch it if it bothers you, if enough don't watch, it will go away soon enough.

Otherwise, your're out of line.

It worked for that Dr Laura thing.
posted by BarneyFifesBullet at 11:14 AM on September 19, 2001


[He doesn't work for FedEx, he works for ABC.]

ABC works for their audience and their advertisers. The size of their audience sets the rates they can charge their advertisers. Advertisers are the customers, the audience is the consumer.

If you disagree with the FedEx decision, ship via another means and tell them why. That's the way it's supposed to work.
posted by revbrian at 11:15 AM on September 19, 2001


Perhaps this is what has led to some of the anger around the world. When you can push a button from three miles away, you're far more likely to stick your nose into places where it doesn't belong...

Cruise missiles don't dictate foreign policy. If the US is intent on blowing up the Sudan's pharmaceutical factories then they will. If cruise missiles didn't exist, there are many other ways to accomplish that goal.

What's the difference between an old fashioned saboteur blowing something compared to a cruise missile. Nothing. Except the missile runs about 1 million dollars per launch and the saboteur might be caught.

Technology is a tool, it serves those who use it. It does not control the will of our leaders. If resentment exists its because of the policies and decisions, not if we have the stomach to fight a ground war or what type of explosive we used.
posted by skallas at 11:18 AM on September 19, 2001


[But I will defend to the death, his right to sound like a moron.]

No one is taking away his right to say anything. FedEx just decided they didn't want to sponsor it. What's the problem?
posted by revbrian at 11:18 AM on September 19, 2001


i wonder how many of the people who called FedEx to complain are infrequent users of FedEx who didn't see the show and only called because the host of a radio talk show, Dan Patrick, told them "Bill Maher believes that Americans are cowards and hijackers are warriors."

also, i like the "But Disney does not have to give him a TV show..." contrasting the wholesomeness associated with Disney against the apparent evil-spawn-of-the-foulest-pit-of-Hell that is Bill Maher.
posted by tolkhan at 11:19 AM on September 19, 2001


Yeah, but he's our apparent evil-spawn-of-the-foulest-pit-of-Hell! ;)
posted by kokogiak at 11:22 AM on September 19, 2001


I've thought of the hijackers as cowards mostly because they attacked the defenseless. Its one thing to attack a soldier who's born to fight, versus a janitor/stockbroker/whatever at work. But yeah, I suppose its semantics anyway.

They are assholes though, I think we can agree on that.
posted by owillis at 11:24 AM on September 19, 2001


Bill Maher's show used to be OK when it first started (on Comedy Central, I believe), but has just become idiotic over the last few years.

Although I've watched it from time to time, I don't think I could stomach ever seeing Ann Coulter again.
posted by cps at 11:24 AM on September 19, 2001


I know what you're trying to say, but when you're fighting a war, the goal is to kill people without getting your own people killed. Not to meet people and add a human element to war.

So, that's a really nice way of saying what I said in my last sentance.

After the tanks roll through and the fighting stops in an area, there are people left: our soldiers and the civilians who live(d) there. Regardless of whether or not it is an aim of the military, there is a face which is not evil (Vietnam memories perhaps excepted). With cruise missiles, there is no face.

I agree with you, though, on the relief agency thing.

fooljay, you might want to pay Okinawa a visit.

lia, care to expound?
posted by fooljay at 11:26 AM on September 19, 2001


Attacking the defenseless != cowardly
Attacking the defenseless = (mean || evil || awful)


Shaggy & Scooby = cowardly
posted by kokogiak at 11:29 AM on September 19, 2001


If you disagree with the FedEx decision, ship via another means and tell them why. That's the way it's supposed to work.

Here's the feedback form for fedex.
posted by skallas at 11:33 AM on September 19, 2001


Forgive me for pointing out the obvious, but it seems idiotic that FedEx would advertise during a show titled "Politically Incorrect" and then be suprised when un-pc things are said....
posted by skittles at 11:41 AM on September 19, 2001


Revbrian.

I have no problem with what Fed Ex did (pardon my irreverence and apparent hatred for anything Bill Maher).

Talk about bad timing on his part. Every other entertainer had the tact to step back for a few moments and measure their words which in these times, is probably a good thing. Bill did not. Maybe thats what makes Bill "different". At any rate, his show will suffer the consequences.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:49 AM on September 19, 2001


Good call skittles.
posted by kokogiak at 11:54 AM on September 19, 2001


funny, but I thought Disney was the evil-spawn-of-the-foulest-pit-of-Hell! for its relentless and aggressive marketing to children and its unholy alliance with McDonalds. As for Bill Maher, you can always change the channel. I agree that it is scary to see MeFi users advocating economic censorship of dissenting voices -- but then there has always been a vocal 'conservative' contingent on the site. Plus ça change...
posted by fellorwaspushed at 11:54 AM on September 19, 2001


Apparently the station mentioned knows on which side its bread is buttered: KTRK said it received a number of calls -- "in the low hundreds," the station said. The station said it receives triple that amount when it pre-empts a soap opera. It had no further comment.
posted by Vetinari at 12:01 PM on September 19, 2001


Sears just cancelled all PI advertising as well.
posted by aaron at 12:09 PM on September 19, 2001


Documentation, aaron? Or just wishful thinking? :)
posted by hincandenza at 12:17 PM on September 19, 2001


** sigh **

I can't say a damn thing since I laughed like hell each time an advertiser pulled their ads for the Dr. Laura show
posted by bitdamaged at 12:19 PM on September 19, 2001


Sears story.
posted by barkingmoose at 12:26 PM on September 19, 2001


Here's proof on the Sears pullout.
posted by tdstone at 12:27 PM on September 19, 2001


It is a bit disturbing that people have no problem with advertisers attempting to control the content of what we watch on TV.

Did you read the link you posted? FedEx didn't make any demands about the content. If cancelling an ad qualifies as controlling content, buying an ad does also. Where was your complaint when FedEx started advertising during PI?
posted by rcade at 12:28 PM on September 19, 2001


The reason it is considered cowardly to attack the defensless is that the attacker is not risking bodily harm. These guys knew that they would, in fact, have no chance of survival. Not really cowardly. Evil, yes. Cowards? Not really.
posted by Doug at 12:32 PM on September 19, 2001


Rcade, thats pretty naive to think that because they made no overt demands that Fedex wasn't trying to control our television content. What they were saying to PI, and all tv shows, is to be as bland and boring as possible, or risk losing all revenue. Wonder why tv is so bad? This is the reason.
I was against the doctor laura protests, and I'm against this. I don't think we should use advertisers as leverage in clearing the airwaves of ideas we don't like.
posted by Doug at 12:36 PM on September 19, 2001


There is a customer service email form for Sears here. I had some trouble making it work, however, so I sent an email using the website feedback form, explaining my problem and asking them to forward it... who knows if it'll get where it's going. I think the problem may have been the length of the letter I sent, though the error message read as a required-fields problem. If you have problems, try complaining more concisely than I did.

A copy of my letter (one each for FedEx and Sears) is here. (self-link: I promise I'll self-flagellate for it.) Feel free to use it as a starting point for your own email, or alternatively, to excoriate me here for having written it. Either way, glad I could help.
posted by Sapphireblue at 1:01 PM on September 19, 2001


Doug: I was against the doctor laura protests, and I'm against this. I don't think we should use advertisers as leverage in clearing the airwaves of ideas we don't like.

Although that's admirably consistent on your part, hasn't it been a fact of our airwaves for a long time that advertisers subsidize, and therefore in numerous (if subtle) ways influence content?

I think it was in Adbusters magazine that I saw the statement that "the product is you", i.e., what magazines sell is not a product to consumers, but consumers to companies (as those 200 pages of glossy full color cannot be economically produced for the sale price). The same could be said to apply to television, except stations such as PBS or HBO.
posted by cps at 1:01 PM on September 19, 2001


Doug: If I understand your point, then you think advertisers should be forced to sponsor shows regardless of any opinions they have about their appropriateness. Or are you saying they have the right to choose where to spend their money, but that you're upset when they exercise it?
posted by mw at 1:06 PM on September 19, 2001


FedEx has no obligation to support Bill Maher. Why would anyone expect FedEx not to exercise its own freedom of speech by pulling its ads?
posted by Rubicon1 at 1:26 PM on September 19, 2001


Heres how it works:

Mr. Maher makes some insensitive comments, ratings go down (though i think the controversy may actually help him). Ratings are lower. Advertising rates are lowered. Advertisers don't want to advertise on a show no one watches. Advertiser pulls ads. Show ceases to exist, citing poor ratings.

FedEx is simply cutting out the middle man. Don't like what he said? Don't watch. It won't make any difference, the result is going to be the same.
posted by jbelshaw at 1:32 PM on September 19, 2001


Amen, Doug. I submitted my complaints a moment ago.
And Rubicon1, they are indirectly censoring others, not exercising free speech. I'm sure none of you are for censorship.
posted by fusinski at 1:32 PM on September 19, 2001


Maher is merely speaking the truth, an overwhelmingly unpopular thing to do in America. No wonder businesses are up in arms.

America is oh so brave in starving Iraqi children in order to keep our SUVs humming. That takes real guts. Our intestinal fortitude runneth over when we launch Cruise (TM) missiles that kill civilians on the ground and in jetliners, and destroy factories manufacturing aspirin. We were truly the home of the brave when we payed and equipped Afghani rebels to fight our wars against those dirty commies. Kept us from breaking so much as a nail.

What balls we have. Put up another flag and light another candle.

Curious how many in this country balked at using force to try to prevent another holocaust in the former Yugoslavia, yet are screaming hysterically for blood now that American business has been attacked. Must be that morally imperative "profit" thing again, I reckon. Of course, it is not the rich that will fight and die, so they can sputter and fume bravely and also safely about the need for war. Of course, it is overwhelmingly the poor in this country who will suffer in Barksdale Bush's new war.

(Hell, even if we bring back the draft, the rich will just follow Bunker Bush's Vietnam example and wangle cushy little stateside "assignments" that won't muss up their hair).

As far as FedEx goes...no doubt they looked at the title of the show and thought "Hmmm...'Politically Incorrect'...the show must bash left-leaning anti-capitalists and tout money-grubbing scum like us...sounds like a good place to reach our customer base." Of course, in their hearts they know that most "politically correct" ideas are mostly also just and ethical ideas...but often just not "profitable" ideas. Can't get in the way of "profits", now can we?

Of course FedEx has a right to pull their ad. And of course, in our petty, power-worshipping society, they have a "right" to put out their own particular message (be it political or not) infinitely louder than one citizen yelling on the street corner. That's American democracy.

As an amusing aside, and as one who has worked closely with FedEx' management, I can assure you that there is no more dysfunctional an organization, from top to bottom, than FedEx. Sell short, they are in decline.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 1:33 PM on September 19, 2001


Based off of this statement, what Maher said isn't really all that substantial, considering what I've seen expressed in the European media on a daily basis. The question here is whether advertisers will depart in droves from other news programs if someone were to express something more insightful or someone were to be ballsy enough to actually question the actions of the U.S. government. This decision could have significant ramifications for minority viewpoints expressed in traditional media outlets, which are much needed in these troubled times.
posted by ed at 1:40 PM on September 19, 2001


hincandenza - It's not cowardly to be a suicide terrorist

I'd argue with that. Making a statement, or performing an action that will lead to consequenses you have no intention of facing - because you are dead - is the very heart of cowardice.
posted by schlyer at 2:16 PM on September 19, 2001


I don't spend my money at Jack in the Box, cause they suck--maybe FedEx finally figured out that BM sucks enough to stop spending their cash there too. FedEx's cash, FedEx's decision.

What a contrast though from earlier in the week when members suggested signing a petition that Bush officially condemn what Falwell said, and others said 'People can't and shouldn't ever have to stomach statements such as the ones made by Fallwell and Robertson,' and 'how dare they have the audacity to talk this way,' and 'He is the worst kind of traitor and coward, and should be ridden out of the country on a rail,'' after his comments. Why should Falwells comments be deemed as intolerable here on this board but when FedEx says they don't like BM's comments that ain't ok?
posted by nwduffer at 2:29 PM on September 19, 2001


America is oh so brave in starving Iraqi children in order to keep our SUVs humming[....]

Nice sensationalism! Can I get a link to that article?
posted by fooljay at 2:36 PM on September 19, 2001


Committing suicide - Is that not considered the easy way out? Isn't it cowardly because you cannot or will not attack or face your problems?

Add to that the Hi-Jacking of a plane full of UNARMED civilians, and flying it into an UNDEFENDED building full of unarmed civilians who cannot defend against your actions.

This, in my book is cowardice in the 1st degree. They are not attacking our military (although the Pentagon was hit, the WTC was the bigger and better targets). They are not attacking our government. They are attacking our people.

Cowards, through and through.
posted by da5id at 2:38 PM on September 19, 2001


mr. fife's bullet would seem to be sadly lacking knowledge of how advertiser-supported broadcasting works. fedex, which freely chose to purchase advertising time on the show, is now freely choosing not to purchase advertising time on the show. um, what has that got to do with free speech? does mr. fifes bullet actually believe he has a constitutional right to view television broadcasting? is mr. fife's bullet really that ignorant of reality? i mean, i suppose it is possible that having watched television from the time he was born, he even watched television instead of doing his civics, government and economics homework and actually thinks it's his right, but even given the general level of ignorance present in today's college graduate, i'd say that was a long shot. he MUST be a troll.
posted by quonsar at 3:07 PM on September 19, 2001


Americas policy (a policy shared by most western states) of using long range smart weapons leaves America open to the perception of being cowardly. If/When the less than perfect weapon kills innocent people instead of hitting the target, people will see America as having chosen to risk the lives of foreign innocents over their own soldiers.

Possibly why OBL and other extremists perceive the USA and the west in general as weak.
posted by iain at 3:27 PM on September 19, 2001


haven't seen anyone note Maher's other comment that night regarding profiling:

"Political correctness, in my view, was always about pretending that certain things were when they weren't, and we pretended, for example, that the next terrorist could just as easily be Swedish…Well, we can't afford that anymore, can we, folks? I mean, the people who hate us aren't Swedish; they're not even North Korean. The people who hate us are the ones who blew up those planes and the ones who do it next time, and it could be even worse, they're going to be from the same group, so don't we have to change our ways and put political correctness out to pasture?"

any thoughts?
posted by justkurt at 4:00 PM on September 19, 2001


[T]hey are indirectly censoring others, not exercising free speech.

Even though this has been mentioned 3 or 4 times already, I'll give it a shot: say you send a few dollars to a charity because you like what they do. Say they start putting babies on spikes with your dollars. Are you obligated to send in money when next year's envelope comes around? If PBS starts airing white supremacist talk shows 24 hours a day, do you still have to reup during the next pledge drive (which, sadly, would be far more . . . uhm, interesting than their current drives) to avoid "censoring" them?

I'm sure none of you are for censorship.

Oh no, I am, I am! Where do I sign up, oh giver of straw men?
posted by yerfatma at 4:03 PM on September 19, 2001


cowardice and suicide:

It's interesting to see one-sided takes on the subject.

Yes, one could argue that taking one's own life is an act of weakness; the suicide doesn't have to deal with anything the next day, because he/she is dead. To die is to be released, from some perspectives; to take one's own life, then, is to cowardly demand release?

On the other hand, to willingly face a hopeless situation in order to serve what you see as the correct and righteous path, to lay down your life for your beliefs? That sounds an awful lot like what has, over the years, been asked of (among others) American infantrymen. Going over the top, then, is an act of cowardice?

I think it's unfair to make a blanket statement in either direction, frankly. Flying a plane into a building, and killing yourself in the process, is not a light-hearted, stress-free act. The contents of the plane and the building have very little to do with that, specifically. All context aside, a person is sitting in a plane, giving up their life for some cause.
posted by cortex at 4:11 PM on September 19, 2001


Thanks for the Sears customer service link Sapphireblue, I used it to exercise my First Amendment rights in support of their move. You say they "should have know what they were getting into"? Well, so should Bill Maher.

Free speech is guaranteed, a funded public forum in which to espouse that opinion is not. I don't neccessarily think Sears or FedEx were right or wrong but to accuse them of censorship is just wantonly ridiculous. Likewise, to say that they may not remove their funding due to dialog which they find objectionable is also ridiculous. If you oppose their decision, don't fund THEM by buying their goods or using their services. It's called a free market economy - get used to it, it's all around you.
posted by RevGreg at 4:20 PM on September 19, 2001


Rcade, thats pretty naive to think that because they made no overt demands that Fedex wasn't trying to control our television content. What they were saying to PI, and all tv shows, is to be as bland and boring as possible, or risk losing all revenue. Wonder why tv is so bad? This is the reason.

You're still missing the point. If FedEx is controlling TV content by cancelling an ad, it's also controlling TV content by purchasing an ad. If you support commercial TV at all, you're accepting the practice of making content available through sponsors who are free to buy or cancel ads on any show.

If commercial TV is a bad thing, toddle off to PBS -- no, wait, many of those shows also receive sponsor dollars that can be taken away at any time.

I don't see the beef here. Advertisers are free to choose shows they want to be associated with. Programmers are free to accept ads from sponsors they want to be associated with. Both are free to break those associations.
posted by rcade at 4:33 PM on September 19, 2001


On the "cowardace" issue:

Sorry, but I truly believe that the terrorists who committed these acts were cowards of the lowest stripe as are those who funded and supported them. Did the suicide attack feed any children in Afganistan? Did it improve their way of life? Did it encourage anyone who wasn't already on their side to agree with them or did it force many who were previously behind them to remove that support? No, it has perpetuated the conditions in their country, accelerated tensions and brought their people to the brink of war.

How could they have been "heroes" in my opinion? They could have finished their pilot training, gotten relatively high paying jobs and used that money to improve conditions for a small number of people. They could have lived in peace with others and slowly built their country by working with others instead of working against them. In other words, they could have behaved the way immigrants to this country have for hundreds of years. They could have set their differences aside and worked to improve their world instead of blindly lashing out out those who have done so.

One choice was a path to instant "glory", the other choice was to be a common man. One didn't require a lifelong commitment, just the commitment of lives - theirs and others. One was an act of vilest evil and the other an act of love. I'm sorry if I find people taking the easy way out cowardly but I do. Real courage would have been demostrated by WORKING hard to improve the world for themselves and others. Real courage is not found in destruction.

The problem is that the true cowards are not the men who executed the plan, the true cowards are those who sent these men out to do their evil for them. They are the one's who have consistently closed their people off from the rest of the world and then blamed the rest of the world for their problems. No, America isn't perfect but at least we're making an attempt at it...
posted by RevGreg at 4:50 PM on September 19, 2001


I think I would have refrained from using the word "cowardly" right now, though, no matter how I felt about it.

Sounds cowardly to me. If you think it, and you're in an appropriate forum (which Maher's SURELY is), then say it.
posted by rushmc at 4:54 PM on September 19, 2001


'Nother reason why I like the good ol' BBC.

(Sadly, I live in Atlanta and can't see much of their output.)

"I stayed in bed and watched TV/Thanking Christ for the BBC..." as the Pogues put it.
posted by Vidiot at 5:14 PM on September 19, 2001


Bill Maher exercises his 1st Amendment rights and calls lobbing cruise missiles cowardly.

FedEx exercises its rights and pulls its advertising dollars.

Um, isn't that the way this whole freedom thingy is supposed to work?
posted by sacre_bleu at 5:30 PM on September 19, 2001


RevGreg: Sorry, but I truly believe that the terrorists who committed these acts were cowards of the lowest stripe

Um- wouldn't cowards of the lowest stripe have, say, installed remote-controls into the planes? The point of Maher- and those on this thread who agree the "coward" thing is misplaced- is that no matter evil, irrational, hateful, blah blah blah the hijackings were, they WEREN'T cowardly. The GIs on the beach at Normandy had plenty of reason to believe they would die, but that doesn't make them cowards. While obviously there are stark ideological and political and moral differences between why someone charges into battle knowing that they'll die and why someone flies into a building knowing the same thing, the idea that they are "cowards" doesn't hold water.

And besides, suicide isn't cowardice either, as a general principle. It's no more an "easy way out" than is numbing yourself into a banal life of middle-class largesse where your day consists of going to work, coming home to plop in front of the tv for a few hours, eat, sleep, repeat until you die. Suicidal people aren't cowards, they are simply open to a possibility for problem-solving that really cowardly people would never consider (because suicide is "scary" or "taboo" or "a sin"). It really chaps my hide to hear that old refrain of suicide being cowardly. Until you can look down over the edge of a 900-foot skyscraper and make your legs take that one more step, until you can pull the trigger knowing that in the next split-second your former life will be all over the wall, until you can put into your mouth and swallow what you know for a fact will burn you away from the inside out- until you can do these things without hesitation while a billion years of programmed self-preservation are screaming "NO NO NO!" inside your cells, you have no right to call someone else "cowardly". Misguided, depressed, self-destructive? Oh the case can be made for those adjectives... but "cowardly". Not on your life...

the true cowards are those who sent these men out to do their evil for them

Ah, now you're getting it!! Some men send cruise missiles 2,000 miles through the air to do their murderous work for them, knowing their target cannot reach them, cannot retaliate in the same manner. Others send misguided zealots in hijacked airplanes to do their murderous work for them, knowing their target cannot find them, will not retaliate in the same manner.
posted by hincandenza at 7:18 PM on September 19, 2001



Others send misguided zealots in hijacked airplanes to do their murderous work for them, knowing their target cannot find them, will not retaliate in the same manner.

Cheaper than missiles, dontcha know, and in much more abundant supply.
posted by rushmc at 7:53 PM on September 19, 2001


Who's the coward now? Bill apologizes for his statement. Is this the actions of a man meekly facing up to the fallout of his verbalizing ill advised private thoughts in a public forum a la Jerry Falwell. Or a more calculated response to the advertising dollars rapidly disappearing. Either way, as stated many times before, isn't this what this show is all about?
posted by tdstone at 8:11 PM on September 19, 2001


I bet he's not sorry so much as interested in keeping his show and continuing to work for ABC...
posted by fooljay at 8:20 PM on September 19, 2001


He has a history of apologizing for comments he makes on his show. I don't know if this makes him sensitive to the unintended consequences of his words or just a wuss.
posted by rushmc at 8:33 PM on September 19, 2001


In his statement Wednesday, Maher said his criticism of U.S. military actions ``was meant for politicians who, fearing public reaction, have not allowed our military to do the job they are obviously ready, willing and able to do, and who now will, I'm certain, as they always have, get it done.''

However, this seems very credible to me.
posted by rushmc at 8:35 PM on September 19, 2001


"It looks like that "Freedom of Speech" thing is too much for some people to handle. What do expect from a show like this?"

Fed Ex has as much of a right to pull/place ads as they please as Bill Maher has to say what he wants.

That said, Bill Maher is an asshole. And in America, you can be whatever you want.
posted by RoyalJack at 10:40 PM on September 19, 2001


regarding Okinawa:

America has had bases there since the end of WWII, covering more than 50% of the main island. U.S. Military personnel have from time to time done some horrible things to the residents of Okinawa.

This is lia`s point.

Of course, some of these things are just accusations. Others are real.

Every few years there`s an incident like this (with Okinawa being the flashpoint, rarely if ever one of the bases near Tokyo). But at the same time, as the link says, a lot of people there love the American presence. Lots of people in Japan have a totally irrational love for America (and for many other countries, too.) Part of this stems from relationships that have developed between Japanese people and Americans from the bases.

This is your point.
posted by chiheisen at 11:02 PM on September 19, 2001


> Bill apologizes for his statement.

Because he has seen America suddenly take a big step back towards McCarthyism, and he doesn't want a lot of flag-tangled imbeciles to wreck his life.
posted by pracowity at 11:44 PM on September 19, 2001


Personally, I think Bill Maher is a dumbass. Would you take political advice from anyone that was in "D.C. Cab"?
posted by ttrendel at 1:48 AM on September 20, 2001


Suicidal people aren't cowards, they are simply open to a possibility for problem-solving that really cowardly people would never consider (because suicide is "scary" or "taboo" or "a sin")

Bravo. I was going to bring that up. This thread has really run its course, but its worth mentioning that extremists LOOK for the depressed and the disenfranchised and offer them all sorts of goodies to do something they've been contemplating for years. A typical mentally unstable person is easy to manipulate especially with promises of the afterlife. What happens after death weighs heavily on a suicidal person and to suddenly make new friends with your political leanings, albeit extremists, is a classic be nice to them then teach them hate brainwashing technique.

If I'm going to point my finger at cowards its going to be the high ranking terrorists safe in their cell hierarchy turning young lives into living bombs. This certainly has a parallel with Maher's quote of US hiding in the stealth bombers and warships launching missiles that can seek out targets over 1,000 miles.

In a war of every kind the only people who aren't cowards are those on the front lines, those with their lives truly at risk. The decision makers will always be safe. Draft or brainwashing, what's the difference.
posted by skallas at 2:36 AM on September 20, 2001


It's no more an "easy way out" than is numbing yourself into a banal life of middle-class largesse where your day consists of going to work, coming home to plop in front of the tv for a few hours, eat, sleep, repeat until you die.

So the suicide bombers aren't cowards, but the people who went to work in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 are cowards?

If you ever get a talk show, hincandenza, good luck finding advertisers.
posted by rcade at 6:46 AM on September 20, 2001


So the suicide bombers aren't cowards, but the people who went to work in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 are cowards?

wow. such a graceful and fluid twisting of words. i'm in awe.
posted by tolkhan at 9:06 AM on September 20, 2001


That's probably a fair cheap shot, tolkhan, but I don't have a lot of respect for the cheesy intellectual sneer about "a banal life of middle-class largesse." And I've always thought that people who commit suicide and leave their loved ones behind to deal with the consequences are incredible cowards.
posted by rcade at 9:23 AM on September 20, 2001


That's probably a fair cheap shot, tolkhan, but I don't have a lot of respect for the cheesy intellectual sneer about "a banal life of middle-class largesse." And I've always thought that people who commit suicide and leave their loved ones behind to deal with the consequences are incredible cowards.
posted by rcade at 9:25 AM on September 20, 2001


You could say that again.
posted by rcade at 9:26 AM on September 20, 2001


It's no more an "easy way out" than is numbing yourself into a banal life of middle-class largesse where your day consists of going to work, coming home to plop in front of the tv for a few hours, eat, sleep, repeat until you die.

Spoken like a true übermensch. Without that "banal middle-class largesse" you deride so scathingly, we too could live in an undeveloped wasteland with little to eat, no material goods and no hope for the future while a small group of self-absorbed elitists insisted we were much happier that way. The only way society works is if we appreceate the contributions that everyone makes, from nobel prize winning scientist to convenience store clerk to garbage man to corporate CEO - and, yes, we even have to appreceate the banal middle-class largesse (along with the banal intellectual elitists I suppose.)

As Harry Tuttle said in the movie Brazil, "We're all in this together."
posted by RevGreg at 2:59 PM on September 20, 2001


No one is taking away his right to say anything. FedEx just decided they didn't want to sponsor it. What's the problem?

Because it only takes a persistent minority to scare off advertisers, which in turn means ABC could be forced to cancel the show, and then those of us who like that there is a progressive voice on the airwaves—who's audience doesn't just say "ditto"—are SOL.

I for one, will speak up and tell FedEx and Sears that I won't shop at the stores of people who try and squash free speech.
posted by terrapin at 7:39 PM on September 20, 2001


Terrapin, I hope you are similarly aghast at all of those advertisers who caved to pressure and pulled their commercials from Dr. Laura's show. Oh, you're not? Double standards much? Okay.

This thread is frustrating beyond words.
posted by Dreama at 8:31 PM on September 20, 2001


rcade: So the suicide bombers aren't cowards, but the people who went to work in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 are cowards?
various: cheesy intellectual sneer; Spoken like a true übermensch

Well, my comment was obviously wholly misunderstood! By "banal life of middle-class largesse" I meant specifically those who keep existing out of sheer momentum, despite suffering under a sort of nihilistic unhappiness (or as Thoreau put it, "quite lives of desperation") that others see as reason to end their lives. Or as yet another fine writer put it:

To die,--to sleep,--
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to,--'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd.

Suicidal feelings are derided by our society as an errant, diseased way of thinking, as flawed or lazy or yes cowardly (I'm not just thinking of the subset that is suicide terrorists). But I contend they are not errant or cowardly- that ideally one doesn't have such feelings, or can see and feel a better path than suicide. But when faced with that quiet life of desperation, some give up by ending their lives of misery and despair, while others give up just as much by swallowing and choking on their despair, hating their lives but never acting to change them. In that context, those who end their lives seeing no hope are in some sense braver than those that don't find joy in their lives except in shallow hedonistic distraction, who feel that existential angst (I couldn't avoid using the phrase "existential angst" in this post, of course) but never act on that in any direction- too scared or timid to do anything, whether the boldness of suicide or the boldness of drastically changing the course of one's life even in ways that shift us from the comfort of familiarity. I'm not saying those who worked in the WTC were cowards (I don't know the story of their lives, although it's safe to say the odds are there were cowards among the 5,000) but rather that suicide is NOT cowardly.

ttrendel: Would you take political advice from anyone that was in "D.C. Cab"?

No, but I would take political advice from someone who'd been in "Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death"- a USA 'Up All Night' staple way back in the Rhonda Shears era... :)
posted by hincandenza at 9:27 PM on September 20, 2001



Dreama: Terrapin, I hope you are similarly aghast at all of those advertisers who caved to pressure and pulled their commercials from Dr. Laura's show. Oh, you're not? Double standards much? Okay.

What's really frustrating is when someone makes statements like that. Hey Dreama- instead of slandering terrapin, perhaps you ought to fucking search MeFi or other sources to find where he took a different hypocritical stance about Dr. Laura. Oh you didn't? Sucks to be you. Because I sure searched, and couldn't find anything at MeFi. For all you know, terrapin was one of the most strident defenders of RxL's right to free speech. If you have a resource to show terrapin is holding double standards- such as supporting the protests that led to dropping Dr. Laura's show- please post. Otherwise, shut yer trap. Remember, accusations of "double standards" don't hold water just because you think, suspect, or secretly wish a person were being hypocritical. Mmm-kay?

Dreama is frustrating beyond words...
posted by hincandenza at 9:55 PM on September 20, 2001



I for one, will speak up and tell FedEx and Sears that I won't shop at the stores of people who try and squash free speech.

If it's OK for you to do that, why is it so wrong for others to complain to FedEx and Sears about comments made by Bill Maher?
posted by rcade at 2:25 AM on September 21, 2001


rcade : That's probably a fair cheap shot, tolkhan

no no, i was sincere about what i said. that was a heartfelt 'wow.'
posted by tolkhan at 3:07 PM on September 21, 2001


Atrocity and the US military : the continuation of a life-long romance

Read if you dare : http://www.iacenter.org/fireice.htm

For Those of you who still want to go to bed tonight believing in the innate 'goodness' and 'moral superiority' of the US government please do not click on the link. Thank you.
posted by Outspoken at 1:34 AM on September 25, 2001


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