Originally Posted by The Prankster
I can't fully dismiss his basic point though. We live in an era when most avenues of free speech are governed by huge corporations and other parties who put the emphasis on profits first. In the abstract, the idea that people can have their platforms taken away because it threatens the bottom line is worrisome; it's not technically censorship, since the government isn't involved, but it seriously limits the options for getting your message out.
Gotta call bullshit on this too. We live in an era with unprecedented, increasingly cheap access for almost anyone to get their message out, regardless of credentials or connections. Maybe huge moneyed interests have taken a tighter grip on traditional media. That is debatable, and I'd leave it to better students of history to argue it, but the fact is that the options for getting your message out have never been wider at any point in human history. It still helps to have money, of course, because that's what money does, help you get things.
What's so frustrating about it is that Maher is sort of halfway making the principled stand he thinks he is, but it is muddied by his entitled mindset. Yes, freedom of speech is important and protecting a certain amount of offensive or downright hateful is vital to maintaining it. But you have to have lived in a bubble where you have your own privately-funded TV/radio show for many years to get to the point where you genuinely believe that losing that show is a blow not just to your pocketbook and ego, but the nation's founding principles. Maher's argument presumes that he (and perversely, Limbaugh as well) has an inalienable right to private funding to broadcast their opinions around the globe. That's not a right, Bill, it's a privilege you have come to take for granted. Because you are an entertainer. It's great if you legitimately try to educate while you entertain, but you're not an elected or appointed official. You are not even a journalist. You're a pundit at best, and a comedian when you want to skirt around a particularly embarrassing statementa
Freedom of speech is not freedom from any negative blowback from the speech. And hell, when you style yourself as an provocateur like Maher does, you need that blowback to be there. If saying controversial things is free from negative consequence, how can you pat yourself on the back for having the courage to say them?