Bill Maher: Bullied No More
BY Lucas Grindley
October 19 2011 5:00 AM ET
Having experienced bullying as a kid growing up, being
ostracized, a lot of comedians say that's when they developed a sense of humor
as a defense mechanism. Is that you?
That is not me. I didn't think there was anything funny
about that. I developed my sense of humor because my parents were pretty witty
and I had a TV.
So what got you through it?
What was the alternative, you know? Also I didn't get it the
worst. There was one kid who got it just for no reason. That's the other thing
about bullying is it's so arbitrary. I remember this kid in school and he got
it year after year. He didn't do anything. He was just a nice sensitive kid and
that was reason enough. I was having this debate with Penn Jillette — I guess
it was on the Overtime part of the show — and he was saying he thinks human
nature is basically good. I don't. I really don't. I think there are certainly
good people in the world, and there is good in people, but I also think there
is just something in human nature that despises what they perceive as weakness.
Instead of helping the weak — which is what they would really do if we were
really good people — they see it as something to be exploited, and hated. And I
don't understand that. Sensitivity somehow is bad? We won't be a good people
until we evolve to be a people where sensitivity is seen as good.
In your video, you said that is one of things you would
do over, that you would go back and stand up for that kid, for example.
Yeah, I mean, I was petrified to stand up for that kid
because I knew if I did, then it would be me.
But you’d do it anyway now?
Looking back, yes, I would do a million things different. If
I knew what I know now; we've all had that fantasy. If I could just go back to
school knowing what I know now, I would stand up to bullies and I would know
that, hey, even if you do ostracize me for standing up for this other kid, so
what? Because I'm going to turn out to be a famous, rich comedian. [Laughs]
That's kind of what you do now. You are a pretty tough
guy now. You say what's on your mind.
No, that doesn't make me a tough guy. A tough guy is a
Marine or a cop or a, you know, a fireman or something. I am not a tough guy.
You took on President Obama recently, saying he should be
supporting gay marriage, especially since Dick Cheney already does.
Yeah, when Dick Cheney and Laura Bush are to the left of you,
Barry, not a good sign. [Laughs] That's
what's disappointing about the Democrats. Even on these no-brainier social
issues like gay marriage and pot, where the public is already ahead of them,
they still can't find the political courage to somehow get behind the issue. We
could have passed medical marijuana in this state if one politician in the
Democratic Party had gotten behind it. It only failed by a few percentage
points. “Don't ask, don't tell” in the military was polling at 75% approval,
including a majority of conservatives were for repealing it, and at that point
Obama still asked for another study to see if it was impeding readiness in the
ranks. Look, there are only two parties, we only have two choices. I'm not
saying vote for Mitt Romney, I'm just saying Barack Obama sometimes, you know,
is a real disappointment. On the whole, I'm glad we have him. I'm going to vote
for him. I’m going to give him money. And I'm just hoping that being half black
and half white, the first term was the white term and the black term is coming
You think he can do things in the second term that he
actually doesn't campaign for, like same-sex marriage?
People dream he's going to do same-sex marriage in his second
term but he won't campaign on it.
Yes, I think that's true, he can't campaign on certain
things. And I understand that he has a calculus in his head, that you and I
cannot begin to appreciate what he has to deal with. I'm sure his days as a
community organizer when he was organizing a bunch of crack heads to clean up a
vacant lot seems like a dream compared to working with John Boehner and Mitch
McConnell. [Laughs] So I do appreciate
what he has to deal with, and he can't obviously come out on the left side of
every issue because he's dealing with a dumb, you know, somewhat conservative
country. I don't think it's as conservative as people think it is. But, yeah,
he's obviously thinking about what the attack ads are going to look like in
2012 and they can be devastating. So I think there are things he can't say out
loud. Look, he's always talking about what a Christian he is, I don't believe
that for a minute. But he can't say that out loud.
What other types of things do you think he would do that
can't be said out loud? There's same-sex marriage.
Yeah, I think same-sex marriage, definitely a
big one. I don't know about marijuana, but that would be a great one if he
could do that. Certainly, the environment. He has been awful on the
environment, and that's something he ran on in the first term. There was an
article in the New York Times yesterday that said this is the issue that has just disappeared —
global warming. Even in 2004 it was a bigger issue than it is now. When the
politicians take a powder on that issue, more and more people think, Oh, it
really is a hoax — which is what they want
to believe. And that would be the big one that I would hope he would come
around strong on if he gets reelected.