Bill Maher says his use of the N-word was "just a mistake."
The 61-year-old comedian invited Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson, who covers race, politics religion and culture for The New York Times, to Friday's episode of Real Time, where he asked Dyson to "school" him.
"I did a bad thing," Maher admitted.
"For black folks, that word, I don't care who you are, has caused pain," he continued. "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."
On last Friday's episode of Real Time, Maher called himself a "house n*****" during a conversation with Nebraska senator Ben Sasse.
"Now, the guy who was here, it's not his fault. I feel bad about him, the senator, it's all on me," Maher said on this week's episode. "But he said a weird thing, a comic mind goes to a weird place sometimes."
"I'm not here to make excuses," he later said. "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."
Maher also called his word choice "just a mistake" and a "dumb interception."
Later in the show, Maher welcomed Ice Cube to the panel, who accepted Maher's apology.
"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 is 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 expressed.
"[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," Ice Cube continued. "It's in the lexicon, everybody talk it, but it's our word now. You can't have it back."
"When I hear my homies say it, it don't feel like venom," the rapper explained. "When I hear a white person say it, it feels like that knife stabbing me, even if they don't mean it."