It is illustrative of the severity of the problem Bill Maher finds himself in that he was forced to offer a groveling apology for his use of the “N-word” during the most recent episode of his HBO show, “real time.” HBO has condemned that statement and has sworn that the offending word will be expunged from all subsequent airings of the episode. Everything may be too little too late. Al Sharpton wants to hold Maher “accountable” for his racist language, even if he is a friend and a liberal. That desire can only mean one thing.

Al Sharpton wants to hold Bill Maher accountable

Writing in the Huffington Post, Sharpton lingers for a number of paragraphs over how the “N-word” has been used as a weapon to keep an entire race of people in subjugation.

In living memory, the use of that kind of language was far more acceptable than it is today. The great African-American comedian Richard Pryor would allow the word to pass from his lips with wild abandon until during one concert he announced that he would no longer use it for reasons that Sharpton sets out.

Even so, people who had used the word in the past, when it was considered more acceptable, are still asking for trouble, as Mark Fuhrman and Paula Dean found to their cost. These days, the only acceptable use of the “N-word” is in period dramas.

Bring me the head of Bill Maher

Sharpton does not mince words about what he wants to happen to Bill Maher. He ends his Huffington Post piece with, “Friends told me this morning that if you take this position, you may never be on Maher’s show again (and I have been on frequently).

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My response is simply this: should Bill be on that show again?” In other words, Sharpton wants “Real Time” canceled and Maher to be fired.

The prospect of Sharpton driving Maher from the airways presents one with a quandary. On the one hand, watching the left eat its own is a delicious spectacle to behold. Maher has uttered a word that even the late, great George Carlin would have hesitated to use. It is the word that cannot be said on television or anywhere else.

On the other hand, any lover of the first amendment should be appalled. Bill Maher is a vile human being given to saying horrible things, mostly for shock value. But he is a poster child for what the first amendment is all about. Free speech is free speech, even if it is hateful speech. We do not preserve freedom of expression for the sort that we find comfortable with, but for the kind that makes us mad. It will be poetic justice if Bill Maher is brought down, not by one of the many conservatives he has launched against over the years, but by one of his own.