“New Rules” is a popular segment in “Real Time with Bill Maher,” the show HBO gave Bill Maher after ABC fired him from “Politically Incorrect” for being—how dare he!—politically incorrect. In “New Rules,” he skewers the pompous, the ridiculous, and the irrational in American politics and culture, offering simple rules as correctives. Exhibit A, which calls for an end to quasi-spiritual Asian tattoos: “Just because your tattoo has Chinese characters in it, it doesn’t make you spiritual. It’s right above the crack of your ass and it translates to ‘Beef with Broccoli.’ The last time you did anything spiritual, you were praying to God you weren’t pregnant.”
Rules are important, Maher believes. They are “the signposts that define where our rights end and those of our fellow citizens begin,” he writes in the foreword to his hilarious collection, “New Rules: Polite Musings from a Timid Observer.” “Adhering to rules and abiding by a code of civility—this is what separates us from the apes…and Tom DeLay. Stop following rules and you start stepping on toes.”
We all need rules, he writes, especially children; with proper discipline and structure, they can go anywhere: “Just look at what the Hitler Youth did for the pope.”
Maher did not set out to rehash the out-dated rules of yore, but to “establish new ones for a self-obsessed, success-by-any means, get-mine culture. These are the rules that frankly, were not necessary back when we practiced those old-fashioned time wasters: courtesy, consideration, and commonsense… When we disregard the rules altogether we get anarchy or, worse yet, Enron.”
Among Maher’s many targets, of course, is religion, which he has called a “neurological disorder,” and who could blame him? To read some of his "New Rules" for religion, click here.
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