UPDATED with video of Bill Maher on Jimmy Kimmel Live: Late-night TV hosts last night grappled with Wednesday morning’s attack at the offices of a satirical newspaper in Paris that left 12 people dead and more critically injured.
While TBS’ Conan O’Brien and Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart opened their shows with short commentary about the violence at the Charlie Hebdo offices, and those who would exercise their right to free speech, HBO’s Bill Maher spoke loud and long on the subject as guest on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live:
“We have to stop saying when something like this that happened in Paris today, we have to stop saying, ‘Well, we should not insult a great religion.’ First of all, there are no great religions. They’re all stupid and dangerous. And we should insult them and we should be able to insult whatever we want. That is what free speech is like.
“There are certain people in the world who want waivers on free speech. Kim Jong-un in North Korea says you cannot make jokes about our country, and there’s a lot of Muslim people in the world. I know most Muslim people would not have carried out an attack like this. But here’s the important point. Hundreds of millions of them support an attack like this. They applaud an attack like this. What they say is, ‘We don’t approve of violence, but you know what, when you make fun of the Prophet, all bets are off.'”
At the top of his show, Stewart said, “I know very few people go into comedy as an act of courage…mainly because it shouldn’t have to be that. Those guys at Hebdo…were killed for their cartoons.”
“There was a terrible tragedy in France today; 12 people were killed because a satirical newspaper made jokes that some group found offensive,” O’Brien began, noting the news “really hits home for anyone who, day in and day out, mocks political, social and religious figures.”
The attack is a reminder for Americans that freedom of speech is “a right some people are inexplicably forced to die for.”
Meanwhile, comedian Louis CK showed his support by wearing a T-shirt with the words Charlie Hebdo on it at his Madison Square Garden show Wednesday night, as reported by MTV News.