A student group has un-invited America’s bachelor uncle Bill Maher from speaking at UC Berkeley’s fall commencement in December, a request that school administration has refused to honor. The snub comes after a segment on Maher’s HBO talk show earlier this month in which he engaged bat lover Ben Affleck in a heated debate about Islam.
The segment led to the creation of a Change.org petition calling for Maher to be uninstalled as commencement speaker, calling him “a blatant bigot and racist who has no respect for the values UC Berkeley students and administration stand for.” The petition goes on to say, “Too many students are marginalized by his remarks and if the University were to bring this individual as a commencement speaker they would not be supporting these historically marginalized communities.”
In the wake of the petition, the student organization known as the Californians, which is responsible for selecting commencement speakers, held a meeting in which they ruled that no, they did not want to have Bill Maher come to their campus and spread his anti-Islamic views, no matter how good his weed is. (They also ruled, presumably, that Winter’s vegan, gluten-free brownies were incredible and she should make them again for the next meeting.)
However, the ruling failed to resonate with the UC Berkeley administration, which released a statement saying, “The UC Berkeley administration cannot and will not accept this decision, which appears to have been based solely on Mr. Maher’s opinions and beliefs, which he conveyed through constitutionally protected speech.” The statement went on to say that UC Berkeley had no official position on Maher’s comments, and, presumably, that if students didn’t like to they could transfer to Oberlin.
The Californians had originally invited Maher to speak in August, when they just knew him as an atheist blowhard rather than an atheist blowhard with controversial opinions on Islam. Maher has promised to address the issue on Real Time With Bill Maher tomorrow night.