UC Berkeley students petition to drop Bill Maher from commencement

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Berkeley students post petition to remove Bill Maher as commencement speaker

Change.org petition says Maher's statements on religions and cultures are offensive

Petition had more than 2,200 signatures as of Tuesday morning

CNN  — 

TV host Bill Maher started his career as a standup comedian. But students at the University of California, Berkeley aren’t laughing at his latest antics; they’re petitioning to have him removed as their 2014 fall commencement speaker.

“Bill Maher is a blatant bigot and racist who has no respect for the values UC Berkeley students and administration stand for,” a petition on Change.org states. “In a time where climate is a priority for all on campus, we cannot invite an individual who himself perpetuates a dangerous learning environment.

“Bill Maher’s public statements on various religions and cultures are offensive and his dangerous rhetoric has found its way into our campus communities.”

The petition points to a recent episode of Maher’s HBO show “Real Time” as an example. (HBO, like CNN, is a division of Time Warner.) When actor Ben Affleck appeared on the program in early October, their conversation turned into a heated debate about Islam that many in the Muslim community found hurtful.

“Islam is the only religion that acts like the mafia that will f***ing kill you if you say the wrong thing,” Maher said during the episode, which is cited on the students’ petition as an example of Maher’s “hate speech.”

The Change.org petition had more than 2,200 signatures as of Tuesday morning. It appears to have been written by Khwaja Ahmed, an active member of the Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian Coalition, according to Berkeley’s student newspaper.

This isn’t the only petition on the site about Maher. Several have called for his firing from “Real Time,” though they don’t seem to have garnered much traction. Maher has been on the show for 12 years and has become known for his controversial statements on a wide range of topics.

One of Maher’s favorite targets is organized religion. His 2008 documentary “Religulous” grossed more than $13 million, according to Box Office Mojo.