We wrote previously about UC Berkeley students’ attempt to block comedian Bill Maher from speaking at the university’s commencement ceremonies. Students circulated a petition citing “hateful” statements like the one contained in the tweet below as reasons why Maher should not be allowed to speak at the ceremony.
— Bill Maher (@billmaher) October 23, 2014
Unfortunately for Berkeley’s future community organizers, Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks disagrees with the premise of their petition, and has overturned a student vote blocking Maher from speaking at graduation.
Via Inside Higher Ed:
“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,” said a statement from the university. “For that reason Chancellor Dirks has decided that the invitation will stand, and he looks forward to welcoming Mr. Maher to the Berkeley campus. It should be noted that this decision does not constitute an endorsement of any of Mr. Maher’s prior statements: indeed, the administration’s position on Mr. Maher’s opinions and perspectives is irrelevant in this context, since we fully respect and support his right to express them. More broadly, this university has not in the past and will not in the future shy away from hosting speakers who some deem provocative.”
Bravo, Mr. Chancellor. For the first time in perhaps forever, someone at Berkeley has admitted to a full and fair understanding of what it means to have free speech in America. I applaud this decision not because I’m a fan of Maher (that only happens about 60% of the time) but because for once, someone has taken a stand and said “no” to the budding ranks of the thought police.
Comments on the original petition have gotten more and more colorful since the Chancellor’s announcement:
“The administration claims to be upholding free speech by letting Bill Maher speak at the commencement. What the administration fails to realize is that it has turned its back on MANY other values that it is supposed to uphold such as equality and anti-discrimination. Also, having a speaker who has said offensive and ignorant things about certain members of society is not just about free speech. It is, in some way and to some extent, endorsing his beliefs since he is allowed to address the graduating class.”
Curious about what Maher has to say about all this? You’ll have to wait until Friday—but I’m sure it’s going to be colorful!
Every news outlet asking me 4 comment on this Berkeley thing but then i remembered: I'VE got a show!And thats where I'll address it,Fri nite
— Bill Maher (@billmaher) October 29, 2014
That being said, wouldn’t it be a gas if Maher went on national TV and told the students at Berkeley where to get off? Talk about “hate speech!”DONATE
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