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On the latest episode of his HBO series, Real Time with Bill Maher, comedian and talk show host Bill Maher presented a “new rule” that has people talking. While addressing cancel culture, specifically based around social justice, he suggested the “guardians of gotcha” must stop judging others whose heart is in the right place.

Bill Maher
Bill Maher | Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for HBO

Bill Maher has talked about cancel culture before

Those who watch Real Time with Bill Maher know that the host identifies as a liberal, and he often defends the idea of freedom of speech. But in recent months, Maher has been addressing cancel culture more and more. When talking about MSNBC host Chris Matthews’ resignation after he was accused of “flirting” on the air, Maher called cancel culture a “cancer on progressivism.’ 

Earlier this year, Megyn Kelly came on his show and talked about the backlash she received for appearing in blackface while dressing up as Diana Ross for Halloween. Maher suggested that even though she made a mistake, the “woke” left canceled her before she could learn and grow from it.

“They’re gross because all they care about is getting a scalp on the wall,” Maher said to Kelly. “They don’t care if you’re really a racist, which you’re not … They always want to find the worst version of what any person is.”

He has been critical of the ‘gotcha’ crowd when it comes to race

In a 2019 interview with The New York Times, Maher addressed the “gotcha” movement and suggested politically correct people only try to protect feelings, while liberals try to protect actual people. He said that the “woke” crowd is constantly changing the rules, only to get that gotcha moment. When talking about race, he said he doesn’t follow the evolving rules and sticks to the liberal values he learned from his parents and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr..

“When I was growing up, the most liberal thing you could do is not see color,” said Maher. “Well, that’s wrong now. You see color, always, so you can register your white privilege, but I grew up in the Martin Luther King era: Judge by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. I still think that’s the best way to do it, not see it.”

He added that he believes if someone walks in a room, after a minute, he shouldn’t be thinking about color and doesn’t. “That’s how I have always been,” he added. “I have actual black friends. I don’t think they want me to be always thinking: Black person, Black person, I’m talking to a Black person.”

Real Time with Bill Maher
Real Time with Bill Maher | HBO

Bill Maher’s new rule addresses race and cancel culture

At the end of his June 26 episode of Real Time with Bill Maher, Maher went into the “New Rules” portion of the show. He directly addressed how people are canceling others just for the way they advocate for racial equality.

“Black people have to demand that white people stop culturally appropriating how mad they are about racism,” Maher says on the show. “It’s great that Caucasians have finally joined the fight for racial justice, but hating racism the most? — White people need to stop trying to cancel other people whose heart is in the right place but don’t get it exactly right on the first try.”


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He goes on to describe how Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf launched a hate crime investigation into park exercise ropes constructed by an African American man that were initially reported to be nooses. Maher also says he’s afraid the gotcha culture will divide people instead of bringing them together. 

“I worry that the kind of tensions that the guardians of ‘gotcha’ are creating is going to make people afraid to mingle at all, and thrust us back towards a re-segregation of sorts, where instead of just seeing a person and not a color, now we’re only seeing color,” he says. “Maybe this is old-school liberalism talking, but I don’t think that’s the way to go.”

Real Time with Bill Maher will return with new episodes on July 31 on HBO.