Bill Maher’s new book, What This Comedian Said Will Shock You, argues that American kids get too many rewards.
“You can run the wrong way on the field and score five goals for the other team, and you’re still a winner. Even though you’re actually a big fucking loser.” (Illustration by The Free Press; photos via Getty Images)

Bill Maher: American Kids Are Way Too Confident

And it’s all Paris Hilton’s fault.

Bill Maher has been my champion, and champion of many other Free Pressers, for years. I don’t remember the first time I went on the show because I was blacked out from nerves, but since then I don’t think I’ve ever missed the monologue that Bill delivers at the end of Real Time. They call it the editorial, and it’s the sanest and smartest five minutes in cable each week. His new book, What This Comedian Said Will Shock You, is the best of the best of these editorials. I hope you’ll buy his book and enjoy the excerpt from it below. —BW

America is a country whose children score low in math and science but off the charts in self-esteem. A study of eight developed countries found that U.S. students were dead last in math skills but number one in confidence in math skills, even though they suck at it. Yes, we’re number one in thinking we’re number one.

The idea that kids have too little self-esteem is antiquated. It’s a Zombie Lie, one of those ideas that perhaps was true in the past but now is not, and yet people keep saying it. Kids now have too much self-esteem, and it’s turning them into angry, screaming grievance collectors.

All of that childhood tolerance is resulting in grown-up tyrants. It’s no wonder that by the time they get to college, just having to listen to an opinion they don’t agree with is considered an act of “violence.” This is what happens when no one ever loses and everyone gets a prize. You can run the wrong way on the field and score five goals for the other team, and you’re still a winner. Even though you’re actually a big fucking loser. No wonder today’s NBA players give each other high fives when they miss a foul shot.

We tell our children they don’t have to fix their flaws, because it’s the world’s job to accept everything about them and love it. Like they say on reality shows, the most important thing is just “you doing you.” But what if “you” is a big asshole?

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