Bill Maher is saving for tomorrow to give his statement about the latest development in an effort by University of California Berkeley students to uninvited him as their 2014 fall commencement speaker. Because, why should he give a statement to the press today when he can give it exclusively to himself tomorrow to goose his HBO late-night show’s ratings?
A group of undergrads at the University of California is getting one of those important life lessons that will serve them so well in years to come, about the pitfalls of inviting an outspoken, politically minded, avowed atheist comic with a TV show, to deliver their commencement speech — only to have him make provocative comments on his TV show with which they strongly disagree.
This week the committee of undergrads tasked with selecting the speaker – The Californians, they’re modestly called — met and voted to withdraw the invitation they had extended to Maher in August to speak at the December clambake. But, the very next day, UC Berkeley told The Californians to go peel and eel, explaining, “This university has not in the past, and will not in the future, shy away from hosting speakers who some deem provocative.”
“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 school said in a statement, adding that “the administration’s position on Mr. Maher’s opinions and perspectives is irrelevant in this context.”
Oh, and the school noted, Tuesday night’s Un-invite Bill Maher meeting was held without administration participation – not cool.
It all started when on the October 3 episode of his politically provocative show Real Time With Bill Maher, when the “fierce satirist,” as he has been called by friends and foes, said Islam “is the only religion that acts like the mafia that will f***ing kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture, or write the wrong book.” This comment inspired a petition on Change.org to have Maher yanked as commencement speaker, complaining, “Maher is a blatant bigot and racist who has no respect for the values UC Berkeley students and administration stand for,” and that, “In a time where climate is a priority for all on campus, we cannot invite an individual who himself perpetuates a dangerous learning environment.”
So far, it has 4,000 signatures — but that could change after tomorrow night’s Real Time.