Real Time with Bill Maher 3/10/06 - Anyone still watch? Even morbid curiousity?

This one was another mediocre show - even the New Rules pretty much sucked. As well-informed as Gloria Steinem appears to be, it seems more likely that she’s either misquoting the polls or selectively using polls with slanted questions in saying that a vast majority of Republicans are pro-choice. Then she went on to say that the majority of South Dakotans are pro-choice. Uh, what? Given that South Dakota is chock full of “abortion is murder” billboard signs and that no native South Dakota doctor performs abortions in the state because of the stigma, I find Steinem’s claim hard to believe. It seems she’s spent a bit too much time on the coasts and not enough anywhere else.

Speaking of spending too much time on the coasts, Bill’s logic train was running a bit late for his last New Rule concerning polygamy. He basically argued that if you accepted gay marriage, then as a consequence you had to accept polygamous marriages as well - since the main argument that it isn’t the government’s business to define or sanction relationships applied to both. Not to get too cliched, but wouldn’t this same rationale then apply to beastiality or pedophilia as well?

Further, while I have no bones against legally recognized gay marriage, I’m not sure I understand Bill’s treatment of laws somehow regulating formal sexual/social relationships as a sacred cow. Local, state, and federal laws touch upon nearly every aspect of people’s lives already - from the regulations you must follow in building an addition to your home on your own property to requiring parents to get certain vaccinations for their children and to educate them. Bill is an ardent supporter of environmentalism and tougher environmental regulations. He doesn’t seem to understand, however, that this is part of government’s job to provide for the safety and well-being of its citizens - both physically and socially. While a law or a government policy may be wrong, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the government had no business making a law in that area to begin with.

I haven’t watched him yet this season. When I’m scrolling through the choices and come to his show, I ask myself if I want an hour of griping and lame humor and whining and partisan (either way) political spin, and I answer “Nope”.

It’s nice to see that I’m not missing anything.

My sorta kneejerk response to the marriage debate: If the marriage is good for “the fabric of society”, then it should be okay. Marrying multiple partners, children, and animals isn’t good for society.

Yep, that’s kneejerk, alright.

What didn’t you like? My conclusion, or the lack of in-depth analysis? Which part of “multiple partners, children, and animals” do you disagree with?

Not at all. I don’t agree with allowing polygamous marriages but Maher clearly limited his argument to consenting adults. Animals and children below the age of consent lack the mental and/or legal capacity to consent to such relationships.

Incidentally, I strongly suspect that Maher’s New Rule on polygamy was just there to plug his employer HBO’s new “Big Love” series.

I watched it. Steinem was pretty good, and her explanation for why so many Dems voted to authorize the war in Iraq (“They had legal advice that said their vote didn’t matter anyway, that since we were attacked, Bush had the legal power to respond without Congressional approval, so why take a political risk on a moot point?”) was new to me, but still lame. (They were taking a political risk either way, their failure lay in not calculating the risk of voting to authorize a war that turned out disastrously.)

I wish someone had engaged Larry Miller, he appeared to be spewing lard-brained crapola. So many of his opinions were based on his not knowing things.

There were some major technical difficulties with the show however. The Indian-looking guy’s mike wasn’t properly adjusted, his words were barely audible at times. Even if he had a soft voice, it’s the sound guy’s responsibility to turn up the gain on his mike.

Not a great showing, but at 11 o’clock when it’s a choice between local news (woman gives birth to child!) and Skinamax and leftover parts of movies, some discussion of current events via Maher can look pretty darned good.

That begs the question of who decided animals and children are incapable of giving consent - legislatures. If Bill was arguing, as he seemed to be doing, that government had no business in getting into the sexual lives of its citizens, then to take his argument to its logical extreme, government has no business in regulating who (or what) a person has sex with.

You committed the logical fallacy called denying the antecedent:

*If P then Q


Even if the premises If P then Q and ~P are true, the conclusion ~Q may or may not be true; i.e., the argument is invalid. Your argument takes this same fallacious form:

*If a marriage is good for society, then it’s permissible
Unorthodox marriages are not good for society

Unorthodox marriages are not permissible*

Even if we assume the truth of the premises—both of which one might argue are false—the conclusion doesn’t follow. Notice that my response has nothing directly to do with the content of your claims, but with the logical form of your argument. You rushed headlong into an invalid argument—thus the “kneejerk” character of your response.

All right then. :slight_smile:

That only works if one accepts your premise that the idea that animals and children can’t consent is basically arbitrary. Legislatures may recognize that animals and children can’t consent, but the fact that they can’t render consent is obvious even without the law as our guide. You have a funny kind of logic if it means ignoring obvious reality.

I think it has to do with consenting adults. The difference is huge.

Interesting article in the NY Times OP-Ed this weekend about polygamy.

Sorry, Times SELECT required.

He makes an interesting case that it doesn’t make much sense to outlaw polygamy.

As to Maher – I still like to watch. He still makes some good points that no one else on TV seem to be talking about. His interview with Pete Rose was cracking me up.

He’s best in his monologue, talking to people one-on-one and in New Rules. Unfortunately, the panels often suck. The problem is usually that he’s got one TV pundit who is used to the debate format and shouts and talks over people, one interesting thinker who probably has good ideas but gets pwn3d by the talking head because of the format, and some actor/comedian who either embarasses himself by trying to play along or just waits for opportunities for wise-cracks. It rarely works.

I used to watch regularly and talk with my friends about it. Last year we all drifted away. Just isn’t as good as it used to be.

Isn’t it somewhat arbitrary? I can think of nothing that illustrates this more than the fact that states have varying ages for consent. There is no hard and fast standard. Further, is it obvious that children would not be able to consent? Throughout history, adults males have essentially taken child brides. It is only since the 20th century that this practice largely became taboo and illegal.

I think all the episodes this season have been just a little flat and dull. Good topics, but not necessarily NEW topics mean that the debates are just a little too familiar to really get anyone going.

Larry Miller was good. Smart guy, can talk easily, and had a sort-of opposing viewpoint on a few issues.

They need Belzer to come back on. Or Tim Robbins. Or PJ O’Rourke.

That might be my dream panel.


In the case of animals it isn’t. It’s apparent to anyone with a functional brain cell that animals do not have the same mental capacity as a normal human being.

As for children, while the age to consent may vary slightly according to state, the basic principal remains the same everywhere: people below a certain age lack the maturity and mental capacity to consent to a sexual relationship with an adult. That too is readily apparent to anyone. It’s also the reason why we don’t consider contracts signed by minors without the consent of their parents to be valid or allow children to drink alcoholic beverages, drive, or vote.

As for the existence of child brides before the 20th century, you have to consider that these marriages were often arranged beforehand by the parents to secure a good relationship with a rival family, clan, tribe, or kingdom. Also, until modern times the average lifespan was around 30 to 35 years. Technically, people at age 15 were “middle-aged.”