Controversial comedian Bill Maher had a few choice words of advice for the portion of UC Berkeley’s student population whose calls to rescind the chancellor’s invitation to Maher to speak at the university’s upcoming commencement speech were rejected.
“My reputation isn’t on the line, yours is,” Maher said on a broadcast of his Friday night HBO show, Real Time with Bill Maher.
Maher was selected to give the midyear commencement speech in a year that coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement. Berkeley has since become the very embodiment and symbolic home of liberal social movements. Yet over 5,000 signatures were received on the change.org petition to keep Maher from speaking; the signatures were believed to be from both students and non-students.
“I guess they don’t teach irony in college anymore,” Maher said sarcastically. He then went on to give Berkeley students a preview of several life lessons he would be providing them with come mid-year commencement on December 20. His first lesson was on intellect.
Because, you know, I’m a racist. Right, because Islam is a race. You know, this is the level of logic we are dealing with.
His next lesson was tolerance:
By the way, even Reza Aslan, my most strident critics has gone to pains to say he doesn’t think I’m a bigot. Here’s what he said on HuffPost Live — ‘Bill Maher is not a bigot. I know him. We are friends. We hang out with each other backstage. He loves having me on the show despite the fact that he disagrees with me on a lot of things and that shows the kind of person that he is.’
If even my most respectable critic who is a Muslim says this, what leg does the ‘protest’ have to stand on? He and I disagree on some stuff but he’s always welcome on this show.
That’s how it’s done, kids. Whoever told you you only had to hear what didn’t upset you?
And then, Maher vowed to make the day all about the graduating class:
But let me say this to those students worried about that: I promise this will be your day. This is a commencement speech. The issue is you. My speech was, is, I hope, going to be about you and whatever tips I thought that could actually help you in life because I already lived through it.
Maher’s brief dialogue would not have been complete without a controversial joke, seemingly in an attempt to prove a point to the Muslim students who had started the petition in the first place. “That and my funk about how Jewish women hate to have sex,” he said sarcastically.
In short, Maher said “I’m planning to come.” He will be speaking at Berkeley on December 20, and is reportedly planning a trip to the Redwoods the next day.