A petition on Change.org has been initiated to prevent HBO host Bill Maher from speaking at the University of California Berkeley’s fall commencement later this year, according to the school’s student newspaper.
The petition, which had nearly 2,600 signatures as of Tuesday, called Maher, host of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, a “bigot.” Marium Navid, a member of the school’s student body, supported by the Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian Coalition (MEMSA) at UC Berkeley, told The Daily Californian the petition against Maher’s appearance was “not an issue of freedom of speech, [but] a matter of campus climate.”
“The First Amendment gives him the right to speak his mind, but it doesn’t give him the right to speak at such an elevated platform as the commencement. That’s a privilege his racist remarks don’t give him.”
Maher received criticism earlier this month when he singled out Islam on his show:
“It’s the only religion that acts like the Mafia will f–king kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture, or write the wrong book.
“You have to understand, you have to embrace the values of Western civilization. They’re not just different, they are better.”
Maher, a Bergen County, New Jersey, native who is no friend of organized religion, reached out to the University in August asking to be the commencement speaker. The petition, composed by MEMSA member Khwaja Ahmed, makes the following arguments against having Maher on campus later this year:
“Bill Maher is a blatant bigot and racist who has no respect for the values UC Berkeley students and administration stand for. In a time where climate is a priority for all on campus, we cannot invite an individual who himself perpetuates a dangerous learning environment.”
Photo Credit: Penn State (Flickr)
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