(The Blaze)

As TheBlaze previously reported, some students at the University of California-Berkeley are petitioning to cancel a December graduation speech by comedian and talk show host Bill Maher over what they say are his “racist and bigoted” views on Islam.

Now Maher is firing back.

On numerous occasions Maher has leveled harsh words against Islam, particularly the radical variety, most recently during a tense debate with actor Ben Affleck on “Real Time” that grabbed many headlines.

In the wake of that dustup, a Chang.orgpetition to disinvite Maher from the Berkeley graduation has drawn more than 5,000 signers:

 

“Bill Maher is a blatant bigot and racist who has no respect for the values UC Berkeley students and administration stand for. 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.”

But on Friday night’s edition of “Real Time,” Maher took a few minutes to reply to the Berkeley students, noting that his graduation speech is coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the college’s storied free speech movement.

“I guess they don’t teach irony in college anymore,” Maher said, drawing laughs from his studio audience.

On the charge that his views on Islam “bigoted” and “racist,” Maher chided the students’ language misstep: “Right, because Islam is a race.”

Maher concluded by telling students that when it comes down to it, they have more to lose in this battle when it comes America’s most important founding principle: “Here’s my final plea to youliberal — 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.”

Here’s the clip:

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