Watch: ‘Real Time’ Panel Debates Maher’s Berkeley Speech

Watch: ‘Real Time’ Panel Debates Maher’s Berkeley Speech

HBO’s Bill Maher, Newsweek Foreign Policy Analyst Rula Jebreal, Gen. Wesley Clark, and Sen. Angus King (I-ME) sparred over Maher’s previous comments on radical Islam and the controversy around Maher’s planned commencement speech at UC-Berkeley on Friday’s “Real Time.”

“I don’t think it’s [the protest around Maher’s speech] about free speech…I’ll tell you why, [it’s] very simple, these same students that signed those petitions, actually invited you for a debate and they said they are welcome, so they can have a conversation…if they don’t like your views on television, they can switch [the] channel.  But a commencement speech, it’s a platform, actually, that doesn’t give the opportunity for questions” Jebreal stated. And “these same students feel offended that your views of Islam [are] a generalization.”

King then asked if by Jebreal’s logic all speeches must have two people.  Jebreal re-iterated her point that there was no opportunity to challenge Maher’s speech and asked “would you accept an openly anti-Semitic person?”

Maher responded by pointing out that Resa Azlan has argued Maher isn’t a bigot, and appeared angry as he said “I rather resent the idea that I’m comparable to an anti-Semite.  All I’ve ever done was basically, read facts.” King then jumped to Maher’s defense, saying “it’s OK to be offensive, that’s what free speech is all about, if free speech is only speech you like, it’s not free speech.”

Clark defended Maher by stating “it’s about whether someone can be invited to give a speech and people will listen, maybe they’ll agree with it, maybe they won’t…that’s the whole essence of the American system is people can give a speech, not everybody has to agree with everything everybody says.”

Jebreal then complained “you never invite them [Muslims],” to which Maher responded, “you’re here.”  And “every time I say something you don’t like it’s not a serious conversation or I’m a bigot, I’m sorry, in your world either I say exactly what you want me to say, or else I’m a bigot.”

The discussion concluded with Jebreal arguing that Maher would be fired if he made the same arguments about African-Americans or Jews as he did about Muslims, which Maher countered was a “false equivalency.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett


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