The joke (not the one Bill Maher allegedly made) goes like this. Kathy Griffin says, something to the effect, that she had really wrecked her career with the severed head stunt. Bill Maher replies, “Hold my beer.” Something like that must have gone through the host of “real time” when he blurted out the ”N word” on his show, according to The Wrap.

Sen Ben Sasse suggests that Bill Maher work in the fields

Maher’s latest outrage occurred when he was interviewing Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska who was hawking his new book, “The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance.” For some reason, Sasse’s publicist thought that Maher’s audience would benefit from reading the book.

In any case, the conversation drifted to the role that hard, physical labor plays in building character. Maher suggested, sarcastically, that he ought to get up to Nebraska more often. Sasse, no doubt agog at imagining someone like Maher in a rural, red state, quipped, “We’d love to have you work in the fields with us.” At that point, Maher replied, “Work in the fields? Senator, I’m a house n----.”

The usual social media firestorm

The dropping of the “n” bomb has sparked the predictable social media firestorm. Many have tweeted demands that Maher’s show be canceled and that the host be barred from showing his face or speaking in public ever again. Even the audience seemed nervous, groaning and clapping with a distinct lack of enthusiasm. Oddly enough, Sasse is getting some grief for not looking sufficiently shocked at what Maher did.

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The word he uttered has become one of the most toxic in the English language. Even many African American comedians hesitate to use it any longer, having concluded that it is a term of racism and degradation. To paraphrase the late George Carlin, the “N word” is a deadly word that should never be said ever.

Why Maher will likely survive

Bill Maher will likely survive the latest flap. For one thing, not a lot of people watch “Real Time,” his long-running HBO show anyway. Maher’s audience is divided into two types of people. They are the vanishingly small number who still find his style of edginess and vulgarity funny and writers looking for material.

The other reason is that Maher traffics in being outrageous. He substitutes a genuine sense of humor for shock and disgust, like a little boy who utters obscenities and then enjoys the nervous tittering of the adults. A few years ago Maher called Sarah Palin a “c---“ and had to fend off charges of misogyny for a couple of weeks. He will surely be able to do the same on racism because he is Bill Maher and that is what he does.