More than 2,500 people have singed a petition protesting Bill Maher's appearance at Cal's December commencement. Photo: Bill Maher
More than 5,000 people have signed a petition protesting Bill Maher’s appearance at Cal’s December commencement. Photo: courtesy Bill Maher

Bill Maher addressed the controversy surrounding his speech at Cal’s December commencement on his show, Real Time with Bill Maher.

Maher said on Friday he had been pleased to be invited to speak. After all, he loves Berkeley and he wasn’t busy in December.

He also said that accusations of him being racist couldn’t be true, because Islam is not a race.

He also thought it strange that students at UC Berkeley, home to the Free Speech Movement, wanted to muzzle him.

“I guess they don’t teach irony in college any more,” said Maher.

So he is coming to Berkeley.

The Californians, a student group that helps plan commencement, had invited Maher in August. Then, after an exchange on his show, two students started an online petition on to uninvite him. They said Maher’s comments were racist. More than 5,000 people from all around the country (not all UC students) signed the petition.

The controversy led The Californians to rescind their invitation. The group’s members were concerned that Maher would overshadow the graduates and their families.

Cal Chancellor Nicholas Dirks overturned the group’s decision and decided on Oct. 30 that Maher must be allowed to speak. Watch Maher address the issue in the video below:

UC Berkeley Chancellor: Bill Maher must speak (10.30.14)
More than 2,500 protest Bill Maher’s speech at Cal (10.28.14)

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Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman...