Bill Maher called his use of the N-word “just a mistake.”
On Friday, the 61-year-old comedian invited Georgetown professor and author Michael Eric Dyson, who also contributes to The New York Times, to sit in for an episode of “Real Time,” where he asked Dyson to “school” him, following his controversial use of the racist term.
“I did a bad thing,” Maher admitted, later referring to his word choice as a “dumb interception.”
“For Black folks, that word, I don’t care who you are, has caused pain,” he added. “It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t said in malice if it brought back pain to people, and that’s why I apologized freely and I reiterate it tonight. That’s sincere. I’m not that big of an a–hole.”
As previously reported, during last Friday’s episode of “Real Time,” Maher called himself a “house n—– during a conversation with Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse. While the comment garnered a mixed reaction from the audience — groans as well as laughter — in the days following, celebrities including Chance the Rapper, Ice Cube and D.L. Hughley unleashed a verbal assault on the television host.
“Now, the guy who was here, it’s not his fault. I feel bad about him, the senator, it’s all on me,” Maher continued. “But he said a weird thing, a comic mind goes to a weird place sometimes.
“I’m not here to make excuses. But first of all, the word is omnipresent in the culture, so the fact that it was in my mind is, you know … I just don’t want to pretend this is more of a race thing than a comedian thing. Comedians are a special kind of monkey, so to speak. We are a trained thing that tries to get a laugh, that’s what we do, that’s all we are always thinking … and sometimes we transgress a sensitivity point.”
Later in the show, Maher called on Ice Cube and the two made amends.
“I still think we need to get to the root of the psyche, because I think there are a lot of guys out there who cross the line because they [are] a little too familiar … or [there are] guys who had a Black girlfriend or two that made them some Kool-Aid now and then think they can cross the line, and they can’t,” the rapper explained.
“[The racial slur is] like a knife. You can use it as a weapon or you can use it as a tool. It’s been used as a weapon against us by White people, and we’re not gonna let that happen again by nobody because it’s not cool,” continued Ice Cube. “It’s in the lexicon, everybody talks it, but it’s our word now. You can’t have it back.
“When I hear my homies say it, it don’t [sic] feel like venom. When I hear a White person say it, it feels like that knife stabbing me, even if they don’t mean it.”