On Calls to Cancel Dave Chappelle

Dave Chappelle sure stepped in it with these transphobic remarks on in his Netfkix special The Closer:

The outrage has been swift and intense including calls by some for Netflix to cancel his show.

Others are defending Chappelle, such as tans comedian Flame Monroe.

Netflix has said it will not cancel the show. I don’t like what Chappelle said, but I think Netflix made the right call here. Censorship and silencing differing opinions — cancel culture — can cut both ways. Those doing the cancelling may next be canceled themselves.

I confess a certain reservation, however. The transgender community and other minority communities — Asians and Jews come to mind — are under increasing attacks motived by hate, both physical assaults and murders. Statements by public figures can give license to these attacks. There’s little question, for instance, that Donald Trump has emboldened white supremacists. Still, driving hate underground won’t kill it. Confronting it politically in the light of day is the answer.

All comments are welcome. I only ask that we remain civil and respectful of one another. If you clicked over from Facebook, please comment here rather than back there.

2 thoughts on “On Calls to Cancel Dave Chappelle

  1. I hope that if you watch this show, you stick with it until the end. I have read several negative articles from those who didn’t watch it at all, or turned it off before it ended. There are some rough moments, to be sure, but in my opinion, you need to watch his show in its entirety to get the full message that Chapelle is trying to get across.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Matt, I am so grateful that you challenged me to watch Chapelle’s The Closing in its entirety. I did so this evening and quite enjoyed it, laughing throughout including some places I probably shouldn’t have. I still have problems with some of what he said, such as his rigid gender definition, but when taking the entire show in context the “offensive” portions are less objectionable than they seemed as isolated soundbites. You also have to realize he’s an Equal Opportunity Offender. Comedy often is.

      Chapelle said a number of powerful things. His empathy came through loud and clear when listening to the whole show. He said, “I’m not indifferent to people’s suffering because I know it’s hard to be everybody.” His recounting of the story of Daphne Dorman, a now-deceased trans woman in San Francisco, was poignant. It’s too long a story to tell here; people will have to watch on Netflix. But the two struck up a friendship, and at one point she pleaded with Chapelle and his audience, “Just believe I’m a person and going through it.” As Chapelle tells the story, she was so hounded by the trans community and others for befriending him, she jumped to her death off a building rooftop. He said “Empathy is not gay. Empathy is not Black. Empathy is bisexual. It must go both ways.”

      That last comment referred in part to racism in the LGBT community, which is a known problem — or should be! He commented too on the disparities between the LGBT struggle and Black struggle. “Why is it easier for Bruce Jenner to change his gender than it is for Cassius Clay to change his name?” It’s a good question. I think he’s challenging everyone to listen to and consider the other.

      A big take-away for me after listening to the entire show is Chapelle’s empathy. Yeah, he’s crude. And yes, he clearly disagrees with the transgender community on some levels — particularly the growing trend to deny the exclusive role of cisgender women in giving child birth. I, too, find this trend very disturbing. Despite all this, I heard in Chapelle empathy and compassion that I don’t find in many of the people I’ve had occasion to debate on transgender issues. They come across very cold, as if transgender people are more things than human.

      All this emphasizes why cancelling people is wrong. People need to be heard out. Had Netflix acceded to demands and taken down Chapelle’s show, I never would have heard about Daphne Dorman. And that would be a loss.


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