Chance the Rapper, Nick Cannon & More React to Bill Maher Using the N-Word On Air
By Desiree Murphy
Celebrities are not happy with Bill Maher.
During The Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday, the 61-year-old comedian used the N-word while attempting to joke around with Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse. When Sasse playfully asked him, "Would you like to come work in the field with us?" -- referring to jobs in the Cornhusker state -- Maher laughed and referred to himself as "a house n-----" on live TV. Although he told the crowd "it was a joke," unsurprisingly, outrage immediately ensued across all social media platforms.
Nick Cannon was one of the first celebrities to speak out on the controversy, tweeting, "As a Field N---, as soon as @BillMaher walks out the house let him know I want the fade!! LOL" with the middle finger emoji.
As a Field Nigga, soon as @BillMaher walks out the house let him know I want the fade!!✊🏿✊🏿 🙌🏾 💪🏾🖕🏿 LOL
"Bill Maher what the hell were you thinking?" asked Patricia Arquette. "That word has been on teeth and tongue of whites as they committed atrocities. Never funny. Do not say it is a word. The reality is we still see racist crimes every day. A black man was just murdered by a racist w/a sword in NY. No!"
"Racism is not historical fiction," she continued. "It is still alive and well and a horror."
Racism is not historical fiction. It is still alive and well and a horror.
Some viewers also criticized Sasse for not speaking up and saying anything following Maher's comments. He took to Twitter on Saturday to agree with those who thought he should have said more, writing, "Am walking off a redeye from LAX. 3 reflections on @billmaher 1. I'm a 1st Amendment absolutist. Comedians get latitude to cross hard lines."
"2. But free speech comes with a responsibility to speak up when folks use that word," he continued. "Me just cringing last night wasn't good enough. 3. Here's what I wish I'd been quick enough to say in the moment: 'Hold up, why would you think it's OK to use that word? The history of the N-word is an attack on universal human dignity. It's therefore an attack on the American Creed. Don't use it."
Am walking off a redeye from LAX. 3 reflections on @billmaher 1. I’m a 1st Amendment absolutist. Comedians get latitude to cross hard lines.
Maher also spoke out on Saturday, apologizing in a statement.
"Friday nights are always my worst night of sleep because I'm up reflecting on the things I should or shouldn't have said on my live show," he explained. "Last night was a particularly long night as I regret the word I used in the banter of a live moment. The word was offensive and I regret saying it and am very sorry."
HBO issued an additional statement, explaining that they will edit the racial slur from repeats of Maher's show.
"Bill Maher's comment last night was completely inexcusable and tasteless," the statement read. "We are removing his deeply offensive comment from any subsequent airings of the show."