Editor, White Cover Magazine
Democracy is not what everyone in a democracy thinks it is. People assume it is the freedom to do anything you want, but that’s never the case. Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. Fat free foods. Tax free savings. Free t-shirts. Free. Free. Free.
Democracy isn’t just freedom. Democracy isn’t democratic. And, that’s what Bill Maher gets across every Friday. And, thanks to the world’s only free medium — the Internet — we can watch it whenever we want.
Maher doesn’t just scream obscenities and then wait for a response. He doesn’t allow the loudest guy in the room to win every battle — even though he often is that person.
Even someone like Jon Stewart is the only voice in an entire tandem of writers and audience members who are all selected to believe the same thing before the show begins. Fox News is a joke, but a very successful one, and that’s what allows them to continue.
Because, after all, isn’t someone free make money in a free country, too?
Maher doesn’t win the argument by holding a microphone. He wins it by bringing the opposer on his show. Then, he gives them a teammate. And then, he brings on others who believe different.
Bill Maher doesn’t give us some kind of old-age face-off. He has a real debate. He gives us topics and those who can speak to them. It’s a debate. That is democracy. That is freedom.
It’s dissension, not disloyalty, as someone very important once very importantly said.
You don’t get freedom by allowing it all to run wild without shackles. You get freedom by turning it on its head and saying, “Fu*k you. This is democracy. This is what we want.” You don’t need chaos or anarchy. Quite the contrary. You need order and stability and rules, but you need to converse. You need to ask. You need to not be afraid of answering.
It’s never so, of course.
Religion is never free, otherwise it wouldn’t be religion. Nobody is allowed to believe what they want. How can a country have freedom of religion when the line “IN GOD WE TRUST” is branded on the top of the $1 bill like the date on a milk carton.
Speech is never free, or else Quentin Tarantino’s newest movie wouldn’t receive such knee-jerk social criticism from a throng of people who haven’t seen it and pledge they never will.
Bill Maher, rather, is democratic in almost every way. His show is democratic. The world he inhabits and gives life to is democratic, even if he — as an individual — can never be unbiased. He shouldn’t be. He’s human, and it’s a common mistake of the modern world and moder journalists to believe it isn’t their job to show their opinion or — even worse — to have one.
Sometimes, you have to flip it on its head. You have to throw the gerbil into the hamster wheel and leave it in a hurricane. You have to change something. Shake it up. Let it ride.
Democracy is only democratic when it’s kept in check, as it is on that show called Real Time where one host moderates — and debates with — several important and intelligent people of various viewpoints.
But, really, isn’t it just perspective?
Take a line from the BBC’s brilliant show The Hour, which investigates its own history and its government’s own history with a soap opera-like storyline: “Being in a nobody in a country where everyone thinks they can be a somebody. It’s infectious.”
Fu*k. That’s democracy.