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Challenge Bill Maher, but don't silence him

To the editor: University of California student Regent Sadia Saifuddin does a disservice to UC Berkeley students by trying to stop Bill Maher from speaking at the midyear commencement because of his controversial comments on Islam. ("UC's Muslim student regent tackles Bill Maher, tuition and more," Op-Ed, Dec. 10)

Different ideas and challenges should always be welcome. Saifuddin should be above ad hominem arguments, criticizing Maher the man rather than specifically dealing with what he says. She is too smart to have to do that.

If Saifuddin doesn't like Maher's statements, she needs to challenge his ideas on their merits instead of using blanket put-downs. Covering your ears or a speaker's mouth certainly isn't the UC Berkeley way.

Harvey Barkan, Studio City

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