- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 2, 2014

Bill Maher fired back Friday night at the University of California, Berkeley students who want to disinvite him from giving a commencement speech, arguing that the students are contradicting free speech principles that liberals are supposed to uphold.

More than 4,000 people have signed a petition calling on university administrators to cancel Mr. Maher’s December speech amid growing criticism about his views on Islam, Time reported.

The petition by The Californians, a campus undergrad committee, was spurred by an Oct. 3 airing of Mr. Maher’s show, in which he called Islam “the only religion that acts like the Mafia that will [expletive] kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture or write the wrong book.”

The students’ petition reads, in part: “In a time where climate is a priority for all on campus, we cannot invite an individual who himself perpetuates a dangerous learning environment.”

Mr. Maher scolded the signatories of the petition during his show Friday. “Whoever told you you only had to hear what didn’t upset you?” he asked.

Berkeley told The Californians that the university is not in the business of censuring speakers who some may deem provocative, and that it would not be disinviting Mr. Maher.

The TV host praised Berkeley administrators, who have “come down on my side, saying what I’d hoped they’d say all along, which is that ‘We’re liberals — we’re supposed to like free speech.’”

He then delivered his own call to action.

“So here’s my final plea to you liberal — in the truest sense of the word — college students, not just at Berkeley but all over the country: Please, weigh in on this. My reputation isn’t on the line; yours is.”

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