Some University of California, Berkeley students attempted, unsuccessfully, in October to stop comedian and HBO TV host Bill Maher from speaking at their winter commencement ceremony, due to his controversial comments about Islam.
Maher responded in November by highlighting the irony that Cal students wanted to stop him from speaking because they disagreed with him while simultaneously celebrating the the 50th anniversary of the historic Free Speech Movement. Maher spoke in December, and has continued criticizing those students for opposing free speech in January episodes of "Real Time with Bill Maher."
UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks explained to The Huffington Post at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday why he "disallowed" his students from stopping Maher from speaking on campus.
"I didn't like actually what he said about Islam, but on Free Speech campus, you don't disinvite somebody to come and speak," Dirks told HuffPost. "So we used it as a kind of teaching moment."
"Education is not about making people feel comfortable," Dirks added. "It's often, in fact, about confronting people about things they don't like, but teaching them as well how to engage, how to make arguments that ultimately will prevail in the court of public opinion."