Bill Maher has made a career out of pissing people off, saying whatever thought pops into his head—sometimes brilliant, usually infuriating—at maximum volume, and in the way most calibrated to get people to call him an asshole. But for all his years on the air, Maher has nothing in the field of professional dickery on racist and sexist attention vampire Milo Yiannopoulos. Yiannopoulos has literally made a career out of being hated; advance sales for his upcoming Simon & Schuster book reportedly skyrocketed after violence broke out at a planned speaking engagement he was scheduled for at UC Berkely this week.
Now the two are apparently going to meet, with Maher noting that he’s working to book Yiannopoulos on his HBO show Real Time, for what we can only assume will be an asshole-off of record-shattering proportions. A famous advocate for free speech above pretty much anything else, Maher lent a measure of support to Yiannopoulos over the Berkely incident, saying, “I’ve been a longtime critic of colleges shutting people up. Free speech should be something we own” on a recent episode. Still, it seems like he might be biting off more than he can chew here: Yiannopoulos, for all his truly staggering number of faults, has refined prickishness into an artform, from petty cruelties—like calling a Buffalo Wild Wings server a “faggot” instead of leaving him a tip—all the way up to acts of actual evil, like exposing trans people to public threats and inciting online mobs to drown people in hate speech. ”Provocateur” or not, then, it’s probably not a great idea for Maher to give him a platform to Ghostwatch his views into the homes of the HBO-watching public.