BERKELEY, Calif., Dec. 22 (UPI) -- Comedian and talk show host Bill Maher delivered the commencement speech at the University of California-Berkeley Saturday, despite protestors' calls to replace Maher after controversial comments he made about Islam.
In October, Maher called Islam "the only religion that acts like the mafia" for actively threatening the lives of those who "say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture or write the wrong book" in the eyes of its leaders.
Although he did not directly address the protestors or his remarks about Isalm, Maher seemingly alluded to the controversy by framing Berkeley's decision to have him as commencement speaker around the University's history as a bastion of civil rights and the first amendment.
"I recognize that this university, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Berkeley free speech movement, made a statement by choosing me for this speech, and I would like to say I appreciate that, and I'd also like to say I think you made the right statement... Come on, it's Berkeley. I think I can speak freely here. I mean, I hope I can."
Maher also spent considerable time discussing the environment with the roughly 500 students in attendance.
"All over the world we see the devastation that pollution is causing -- heat waves, oceans that are dying and rising, glaciers melting, species disappearing, droughts, wildfires, Frankenstorms," Maher said, before ribbing, "This is an awful lot for Pat Robertson to blame on gay sex."
"We need a place to live," he said. "We're humans. We need a crib! And the world desperately needs a generation -- your generation -- to make this a priority the way the Vietnam generation, on this very campus, made stopping that war a priority. Now some people would say, well, the Vietnam kids, they had skin in the game. They didn't want to get drafted. You have skin in the game! You don't want to get roasted!"
Berkeley today:"Be freethinkers - ask what's true, not who else believes it", I told them. Goes for all of us. pic.twitter.com/xxulHj1QVj— Bill Maher (@billmaher) December 21, 2014