On MSNBC’s News Nation, free speech advocate Greg Lukianoff and Ibrahim Hooper, the National Communications Director at the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR), debated the merits of rescinding Bill Maher’s invitation to speak at UC Berkeley’s fall commencement.
“You can’t understand this case without seeing the big picture,” Lukianoff began. “My concern is that we’re teaching a generation to think like censors. When we have this debate, people fixate on the one speaker they really dislike, without seeing the bigger picture.”
“When you say one little thing wrong, it’s not just that you’re not invited to be honored, to speak at commencement, but speak at all,” he continued. “Students increasingly believe they should have freedom from speech, as opposed to freedom of speech.”
“Bill Maher is being honored with a keynote address at a commencement,” Hooper said. “That’s a tacit endorsement of his hate-filled views by the university. Our position is, if Bill Maher was invited by a student group, and wanted to spew his anti-Muslim hate, maybe we’d tell people to hand out literature — but we wouldn’t ask that he be cancelled.”
“But when he is being honored and endorsed by the university itself, that’s when we believe you have the right to say, ‘No, not in our name.'”
Lukianoff responded, “if you disagree with them, that’s all the more reason to hear them out. This is an art that’s being lost on our campuses. We should at least be teaching people to at least hear people out before you try to get them kicked off campus.”
“So if they invite the Grand Dragon of the KKK,” Hooper began to ask before Lukianoff interrupted him.
“So Bill Maher is the Grand Dragon of the KKK?” he asked. “I can’t wait until Bill Maher hears that. So Bill Maher’s like the Grand Dragon of the KKK? He’s going to love that.”
“Let’s be clear,” host Tamron Hall interjected, “we know Hooper’s not saying that Bill Maher is the Grand Dragon.”
Watch the entire debate below via YouTube.