Bill Maher: ‘Liberal, Western Culture is Not Just Different – It’s Better’

By Michael W. Chapman | September 30, 2014 | 5:12pm EDT

Bill Maher, host of HBO's Real Time With Bill Maher show. (AP)

( – Comedian, political commentator, and outspoken atheist Bill Maher strongly defended the right to free speech in Western societies versus the limited speech and draconian legal practices in some Muslim countries, stressing that, despite some of the distasteful displays of expression in America, “liberal, Western culture is not just different – it’s better.”

Maher, the host of HBOS’ Real Time With Bill Maher, often mocks Christianity and other religions. In the “New Rule” segment on his Sept. 26 show, Maher showed a picture of a 14-year-old boy from Everett, Penn., who had been arrested for desecration: He had climbed atop a statue of Jesus on church grounds and simulated oral sex. (The boy later apologized to the church.)

Maher said the teen’s actions “may not be in good taste” – then joked about praying -- and then used the photo as a starting point to riff on why the freedoms, culture,  and legal structure in Western societies are better than in some other countries that brook no tolerance for certain types of speech or political expression.

“It may not be in good taste, I certainly don't condone this type of behavior — praying, I mean,” said Maher, in reference to the boy atop the statue.  “But it speaks volumes about why liberal Western culture is not just different.  It's better.”

“Saudi women can't vote, or drive, or hold a job, or leave the house without a man,” he said.  “Overwhelming majorities in every Muslim country say a wife is always obliged to obey her husband.  That all seems like a bigger issue than evangelical Christian bakeries refusing to make gay wedding cakes.”

Author and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali (AP Photo, File)

Maher continued, “91% of Egyptian women have had their clitorises forcibly removed.  98% of Somalian women have.  Ayaan Hirsi Ali grew up in Somalia, and is one of them.  She was scheduled to speak at Yale last week, but the school's atheist organization — my people — complained that she "did not represent the totality of the ex-Muslim experience.”

“Meaning what?” said Maher.  “The women who like mutilation?  You're atheists!  You should be attacking religion, not siding with the people who hold women down and violate them, which apparently you will defend in the name of multiculturalism, and then lose your s---  when someone refers to Chaz Bono by the wrong pronoun. “

Actor and director Mel Gibson. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

“Donald Sterling isn't allowed to own a team because he told his mistress not to post pictures with black guys.  Okay,” said Maher.  “But if we're giving no quarter to intolerance, shouldn't we be starting with the mutilators and the honor-killers?  Or will that divert us from the real problem:  that when Mel Gibson drinks, he calls women ‘sugar tits’?

Maher describes his political views as “progressive,” and he regularly criticizes conservatives, although he occasionally takes a few swings at liberals on his program. He publicly supported Barack Obama for president in 2008, and he thinks marijuana and prostitution should be legal. Maher wrote and starred in the 2008 film, Religulous, which mocked religious belief. He is a graduate of Cornell University, class of 1978, where he double majored in English and History.

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