"We need a place to live": Bill Maher delivers powerful plea for environmental action in UC Berkeley address

On Saturday, the comedian spoke at the university's winter commencement ceremony despite protests

Published December 22, 2014 2:29PM (EST)

Bill Maher                       (HBO/Janet Van Ham)
Bill Maher (HBO/Janet Van Ham)

Bill Maher spoke at the University of California, Berkeley's winter commencement ceremony on Saturday, despite months of student protests urging the university to drop the comedian for his Islamophobic statements. In his 15-minute speech, he mostly stayed on the topics of environmental activism and preparing for the adult world.

"We need a place to live. We're humans," Maher said. "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."

He continued: "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. This is an awful lot for Pat Robertson to blame on gay sex."

Still, Maher couldn't resist throwing in a jab about free speech. "I recognize that this university, on the 50th 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."

It is worth pointing out that no one at Berkeley was protesting Maher's right to say whatever he wants about Islam -- they just didn't want to have to sit silently in an auditorium while he said it.

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Watch the whole speech below.

By Joanna Rothkopf

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