"Real Time" host Bill Maher took a moment Friday night to tip his hat to Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who offered a candid response to a question over what the difference is between equity and equality.
During last week's "Overtime" segment, Maher read a viewer question, "Are we confusing equality of opportunity with trying to guarantee equity in outcomes?"
"I think this word ‘equity’ has come into the language in the last few years and before that we didn’t hear it a lot, and I think a lot of people hear ‘equity’ and they hear ‘equality’ like it’s the same word, but it’s not the same word and the same concept," Maher said.
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He asked Sanders if he knew the difference between both terms.
"Well equality, we talk about — uh, I don’t know what the answer to that is," Sanders responded.
Maher revisited that moment during Friday's panel discussion.
"It made a little news… I said what's the difference. And God bless him, he said, ‘[Honestly], I’m not sure I know.' And Bernie, you're not alone," Maher told the progressive lawmaker.
"I can't find anybody who actually knows or people — they have a different view of it," Maher added.
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Author and linguist John McWhorter blasted equity as a "wormy" term, which he described as "having equality by forcing the issue" like "bringing people into positions they're not qualified for yet so everything looks ‘like America.’"
"They're trying to slip in without letting you know that it's going to be equality accomplished in a way that you probably wouldn't like," McWhorter said. "And the people who do this think it's the right thing because they're on the side of the angels."
"This DEI [Diversity, Equity and Inclusion], it's not accident that ‘D-E-I’ is the first three letters of deity. These people think of themselves as gods. None of this is an accident," McWhorter added about the "weasel word."
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Maher claimed CBS writers' room requirements now seek at least 50% BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) writers for the network's shows, indicating he believes that's an example of equity.
"They're saying, like, ‘Well, these aren’t the best people perhaps to write the show’ — what if it's a show about a polka band in a ski town?" Maher quipped.
Meanwhile, journalist Josh Tyrangiel offered a "slight defense" of the equity efforts in government and corporate America.
"I don't disagree with a lot of what you're saying. At the same time, if you're one of those people who has been trying to crack a writers' room, it's hard. It's really hard because historically in this town, writers' rooms, I say this as a Jew, it's like diversity was like one member of each of the 12 tribes, right?" Tyrangiel joked. "There's a lot of Jews in those rooms, and that's great."
"Jews are funny!" Maher exclaimed.
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Tyrangiel later continued, "While I wouldn't say it's got to be 50%, it's got to be tomorrow, I think the impulse here is not something that we should make fun of even as we make fun of the ways in which it might be implemented because ultimately, without a forcing mechanism, change doesn't happen very much. So I don't think it's a bad thing to say we need to strive to get this done and we may need to put some pressure."
Fox News' Jeffrey Clark contributed to this report.