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Maher, MacFarlane: Bullying special needs kids

Earlier this week, I wrote about the ugly joke on "Family Guy" made at the expense of Sarah Palin's son, Trig, and all other kids with Down Syndrome. Now comes HBO's Bill Maher making a similarly ugly remark. You can see the video here.

Again, I absolutely support the right of Maher and Seth MacFarlane, creator of "Family Guy," to have such freedom of speech. I am dismayed, however, that they choose to exercise it in such a hateful and bullying way. But there is a larger point to these two remarks this week: I think they are emblematic of how toxic and nasty our public discourse has become.

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Reading some of the comments in reaction to my post from people who found the "Family Guy" joke funny, I was struck by how just how far we have fallen as a society in our anger and need to feel superior to someone else.

It is said that you can judge a society by how it deals with its weakest members.

From Maher and the producers of "Family Guy" making "jokes" about kids with Down Syndrome, to President Barack Obama and his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, making fun of Special Olympics athletes and developmentally challenged children, I think this society must be in a very bad place these days indeed by the way we mock such children.

I like Maher and I have always admired his intellect. But I dare anyone to tell me why he doesn't debase himself and the notion of free speech with a joke like this. I think it is deplorable, and I am disheartened to think that I am in a minority with this opinion.

Bill Maher returns to HBO Friday night at 10, and one his guests is MacFarlane -- what a surprise. Criticizing Palin is one thing, but demeaning special needs children to  do so isn't social or political satire. It's pathetic.

Maher aspires to be a political satirist in the tradition of Lenny Bruce. But with jokes like this he behaves like a third-rate Las Vegas lounge act playing to a half-empty room of surly drunks and losers who couldn't make it in the big gaming rooms.

UPDATE: I had a video up, but it has been "removed." I wonder if it is because Maher and HBO are so proud of it. What the video showed is Maher talking about things that have happened in the news while he was on hiatus from his HBO series. He says, "...Sarah Palin [has] agreed to do commentary at Fox News. Which is actually very similar to her day job - talking to a baby with Down Syndrome."

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