Abortion is certainly no laughing matter, which makes it a delicate dance for a topical comedian to broach. Bill Maher worked both sides of the street on Friday night’s Real Time on HBO, starting with a few quips and then embarking on a serious discussion on the ultra-sensitive issue.
Starting with a riff on Cinco de Mayo – “If you can’t remember what you did last night, you might want to get an abortion now” – Maher noted several states with ultra-restrictive laws. “Suddenly, getting the right pronoun doesn’t seem so big.”
On the bright side, those in states with draconian abortion laws can use the car pool lane if driving to another territory, Maher said.
The panel discussion featured Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor Paul Begala and former NBC sports reporter and guest co-host for The View,” Michele Tafoya.
“People hate talking about abortion, so let’s talk about it,” said Maher to kick things off. “Is this going to be the galvanizing issue the left thinks it will?”
Begala said the apparent demise of Roe v. Wade would take the nation back to 1931, and pointed out that Texas and Michigan have laws that offer no exceptions for rape or incest. “They want to punish and control.:
Tafoya said she was pro-choice, but said, “There’s gotta be a point at which we say, ‘This is a human being capable of living outside the womb.” She brought up a colleague who works in the maternity ward of a hospital and saw five-month old premies who survived to be 20-year-olds. “Why would you extinguish that life?”
Maher noted that abortion “didn’t used to be a partisan issue until it became an issue for the Christian right.”
Tafoya noted the advent of sonograms may have raised temperatures, before Maher delivered his own views.
“It really comes down to, ‘Do you like women, or do you like babies?’ I never thought life itself was particularly precious. I really don’t. I’m serious. I think life is for the living. Until you’re born you’re not living. We wouldn’t miss you if you’re not born.” He allowed, “I get that’s not most people’s position.
Begala noted that most people support three positions on abortion: “Rape, incest and if my daughter gets in trouble.”
Invoking the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Tafoya said that the former Justice thought Roe v. Wade was not constructed right. “I do think there is some middle ground.”
Wrapping up with New Rules, Maher said that looking after you and keeping you safe is not Twitter’s job. “It’s your job,” he said, noting how some people feel that the social media audience is “All helpless dumb blondes ready to believe anything. Like Donald Trump.”
He ran down a list of technological innovations that prompted fears in the past. “Lies can spread faster, but so can truth. This idea that we can clean up Twitter and protect you, it’s ridiculous. It’s like fact-checking graffiti on a dive bar bathroom wall.”
Every age is the misinformation age, Maher asserted, and suggested, “Develop a better bullshit detector. That’s a better solution than me giving up what I’m allowed to read.”
Sometimes, Maher said, misinformation is just history’s first draft. “This is America,” he said, laughing when an American flag waved to back him. “Where people have the right to express what they thin, including the right to be wrong, to lie, and to be an asshole.”
Opening guest Chloe Maxmin, former Maine State Senator and coauthor of Dirt Road Revival: How to Rebuild Rural Politics and Why Our Future Depends On It, called for a new effort to address the needs of rural Americans through dialogue.