Sympathy for Bill Maher

Posted: January 1, 2012 in Gibberish
Tags: , , , , ,

Social media has given a voice to the voiceless. But its rise in popularity seems to have brought with it a loss in the art of listening. The virtues of silence, sincerity, and moderation seem to have little place in the age of Facebook and Twitter. In today’s program, we discuss the role these virtues play in the world of social media.

TRANSCRIPT

BOB BURNHAM, host: Happy New Year, and welcome to the first Moron Quotient of 2012. I am your host, Bob Burnham. After the Denver Broncos 40-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills, comedian Bill Maher issued a now infamous tweet, mocking Broncos’ quarterback, and apparent Messiah, Tim Tebow.

That tweet did not win Bill Maher any new friends. Calls for a boycott of Maher’s show on HBO have been accompanied by his expulsion from the liberal barn by Bob Beckel, and his condemnation to Hell by Eric Bolling.

These are strong words. But are they really helpful? Do such strong statements really do anything productive? In a world where speaking has more value than listening, do such virtues as silence, sincerity, and moderation have a place?

Joining us in a little while will be our Panel of Morons. But first I’d like to introduce a man of wealth and taste: the Prince of Darkness, the Morning Star, Satan. Satan, welcome to the Moron Quotient.

SATAN: Please to meet you. Just call me Lucifer.

BOB: So Satan–excuse me, Lucifer–do you see a lack of virtue in public discourse, and do you see it as a problem?

SATAN: Is there a lack of virtue? Sure there is. But is it a problem? I really don’t think so. First of all, humans have only inconsistently and half-heartedly applied virtues to their actions. Social media just amplifies this inherent lack of virtue. Second, what good is virtue anyway?

BOB: Don’t virtues help us determine between right and wrong? Don’t they help us to do unto others as you would have them do unto you?

SATAN: That sounds noble, but it is hardly practical, isn’t it? What is more practical is to do unto others as they do unto you.

BOB: You mean, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth?

SATAN: Exactly. And if you see, if you look at what has happened in the wake of Bill Maher’s tweet, you see exactly how this is put into practice. Tim Tebow’s public display of faith challenges Bill Maher’s world view. Maher responds in kind, which offends Eric Bolling and Bob Beckel, who decide to offend Maher. It’s this escalation of offense. They are all pursuing their own self-interest. That is the only virtue I know of.

BOB: But how does that build tolerance?

SATAN: It doesn’t, and that’s the point–I foster  intolerance. That’s the nature of my game. You forget that I have been around for a long, long time, and have seen many moments of doubt an pain.

BOB: So, you see nothing wrong in Eric Bolling calling Bill Maher  “disgusting vile trash” and wishing that he would go straight to Hell?

SATAN: Look, if the only virtue is to act in one’s own self-interest, then that is an entirely virtuous act. Besides, I’d love to have Bill Maher down there. Hell could use a few laughs.

BOB: And Bill Maher, saying that you were celebrating the Broncos’ loss? Is there nothing wrong with that?

SATAN: Well, yeah, but not for the reason he thinks. I mean, if people think that God has anything to do with the Denver Broncos winning, and if they use that to support heir faith, then that makes my job so much easier. No, the reason I was celebrating is because I’m a Raiders fan, and a Denver loss will help my team get into the playoffs!

BOB: It looks to me like the only person who rose above this whole scandal is the man who was the target of Bill Maher’s attack, Tim Tebow. Satan, I know you have to go, but thank you for stopping by and sharing your views.

SATAN: No problem, Bob. It’s been my pleasure. And don’t worry, I’m not going away anytime soon.

BOB: I’d now like to turn to our Panel of Morons. I am joined by Professor Stuart Gumbie and Gov. Samuel Bribescam. Professor, Governor, Happy New Year to you both.

PROF. STUART GUMBIE, B.S., M.S, Ph.D, FOS, NCCS: Happy New Year, Bob. Glad to be here.

GOV. SAMUEL “SANDY” BRIBESCAM, former Democratic Governor: Hi Bob. Happy New Year to you too.

BOB: Professor, let me start with you. Having heard what Satan had to say, what is your opinion. Is there a lack of virtue in what passes for public discourse?

PROF. GUMBIE: Well, I think the situation is a little more complicated. In my book,  Modeling Morality: How to Make Morality Your Brand, I explain that what we call “virtues” are boundary values for the equations that model behavior. The variables in these equation are ambition, ego, envy, and conflict.

BOB: And these are what you call your “factors of motivation?”

PROF. GUMBIE: Exactly. Virtues provide limits on each of those factors in order to maximize value. The correct limits, of course, vary from situation to situation.

BOB: So virtues, as we know them, are not stable, but vary from situation to situation?

GOV. BRIBESCAM: You see this all the time in politics. We are not motivated to do what is virtuous or right. We are motivated by what is expedient. The trick, though, is the spin. How do we make our actions, dictated as they are by what is politically expedient, seem virtuous?

BOB: That’s very cynical.

GOV. BRIBESCAM: It’s politics. Virtue doesn’t have the same political value that wealth and the power that flows from it does.

PROF. GUMBIE: That’s why you need to make virtue part of your brand image.

BOB: I still think that society would be better served if we spoke only that which benefits others, using no hurtful deceit. We should think honestly and justly, and speak accordingly.

GOV. BRIBESCAM: You’ll never win elected office with that attitude.

BOB:  I’m afraid that is all the time we have for today’s show. I’d like to thank our two panelists, Professor Gumbie and Governor Bribescam for joining me today.

PROF. GUMBIE: Thank you, Bob.

GOV. BRIBESCAM: It’s been a pleasure, as always.

BOB: And may all of you have a Happy New Year, and may it be a year filled with peace and goodness!

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