I like Bill Maher: I agree with him about 90% of the time.
I also agree with the way he phrases those opinions about 75% of the time.
I guess that means we’re in lockstep 67.5% of the time.
And I’m not going to quit him for any one single statement, but last Friday’s comments on David Koch are still bothering me. Koch, as you may know, died last week.)
Most of what Maher said about the Koch Brothers' adverse effect on mankind is true: they have almost single-handedly reversed the movement toward environmentalism in the world because such activity would have had a negative impact on their bottom line. (That bottom line combined? $92 billion.)
A Rolling Stone article in 2014 referred to their holdings as a “toxic empire.” It’s true—in 1999 Koch Industries paid the largest wrongful-death judgment of its type in U.S. history, when an explosion in a defective pipeline incinerated two Texas teenagers.
Georgia Pacific, which they purchased in 2005, dumps more pollutants into the nation’s waterways than General Electric and International Paper combined, and the Kochs usually get local authorities to clean it up.
But—they poured hundreds of millions of dollars into Congressional campaigns in 2016, but refused to support Trump, primarily because of the proposed Muslim ban.
They involved themselves in the dirtiest and most carbon-polluting oil deposits in North America: the tar sands of Alberta. They have lobbied hard against solar power.
But—they fought for criminal justice reform, and have provided an estimated $1.5 billion to a variety of causes and institutions including public television, medical research, higher education, environmental stewardship, and the arts. They represent the best and the worst in wealth.
But rather than wishing them dead, why did we allow them to attain that sort of power, that almost obscene fortune? And we did allow it. We didn’t vote. We didn’t learn the issues. We said all politicians were the same...they were all crooks...and then elected a man who, were he not protected by the White House, would be in jail for sexual misconduct and tax evasion. (Yes, Trumpians, allegation never proven, but when you close your eyes at night, you know. You know.)
It’s an easy game to hate the Koch brothers—don’t let me dissuade you from playing it—but when Bill Maher sounds as detestable as Alex Jones mocking the Sandy Hook parents, it’s time to draw the line. Wishing someone dead—wishing someone who died to have suffered greatly—is something we can reserve for the true monsters of history, if then. It says nothing good about us; in fact, it diminishes our humanity to the point where complaining about the Koch brothers, or Trump, or anyone else is arrant hypocrisy.
Comedians? Nothing should be off-limits to them—ultimately the audience is always the censor, stamping something acceptable or offensive with their laughter. Personally, I can’t laugh when someone expresses joy over the death of what Robert Burns called a fellow mortal. But that doesn't mean you can't, at least that 32.5% of the time.