Comedian Bill Maher dropped the N-word during his live HBO show "Real Time with Bill Maher" on June 2 (video below).
Maher was interviewing Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska who asked the host: "Would you like to come work in the field with us?" notes Variety.
Maher replied: "Work in the fields? Senator, I am a house n****. No, it's a joke."
There were laughs, claps and groans from the audience; Sasse was among the laughers.
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Deray McKesson, a lead voice of the Black Lives Matter movement, tweeted his disgust: "But really, [Bill Maher] has got to go. There are no explanations that make this acceptable."
In a follow up tweet, McKesson wrote: "And why did the audience think it was okay to laugh? And Ben Sasse doesn't even flinch. What is happening in the world?"
There was more outrage from Twitter users, notes Raw Story:
I used to love bill maher smh.
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I'm of the opinion that no joke, regardless how funny you may THINK it is (Maher is a funny bastard!) is worth hurting a friend[.]
Kathy Griffin: I really f***ed up in an attempt to gain attention. Bill Maher: Hold my joint....#RealTime #HouseWhat?
Somebody tell Bill Maher that just bcaus brainwashed rappers tell the world that it’s okay or “cool” to say...
And Ben Sasse & the audience chuckle along with Bill Maher's racism...
Just a quick reminder that Bill Maher is trash[.]
Can y'all stop being so damn offended? Its a meaningless word used by everyone. Who gives a f*** if Bill Maher said it or not? It was funny.
Colby Hall, managing editor of Mediaite, opined that Maher was not being racist:
To be clear, Maher appeared to be absolutely joking and mocking the very concept that the n-word would offend (when the audience reacted as you’d expect).
But in this hyper-partisan divide, there are two sets of people who are almost certain to be outraged: 1) Older African Americans who have historically had little patience with the hip-hop generation’s “reclaiming the word”; and 2) Conservatives eager to exemplify Maher’s casual use of a historically dangerous word as an example of a double standard.
Was Maher being racist? Didn’t seem so. But will some people be eager to be outraged over this casual joke? Almost certainly. But here’s a not-so-new rule: given it’s historical significance, if you are a white dude, it’s a good idea to never say the n-word, in any circumstance, comedic or otherwise.