Bill Maher told viewers of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” that he will deliver a December commencement address at UC Berkeley even though a controversy has arisen surrounding his invitation. The Los Angeles Times reports that Maher made the announcement on Friday’s show.
“Some students last week sought to have his invitation rescinded because of his on-air remarks last month that they allege denigrated Muslims,” the story reports. “But, citing free speech rights, UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks then ruled that Maher’s address could go on as planned.”
On his show, Maher said, “I want to come, I’m planning to come.” He added, “They invited me because it was the 50th anniversary of something that is legendary on that campus, the Berkeley Free Speech Movement. I guess they don’t teach irony in college anymore.”
The report adds: “Maher insisted that he was not a bigot and defended his past comments about how many Muslims around the world believe that people who leave that religion should be executed.”
Maher reportedly responded to an online petition against his speech with the observation that the signers of the petition don’t grasp the open nature of a democratic society and, in particular, the university setting.
“That’s how it’s done, kids,” Maher is quoted saying. “Whoever told you you only had to hear what didn’t upset you?”