PC Culture

Defending Dave Chappelle

Comedian Dave Chappelle campaigns for Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang in Charleston, S.C., January 30, 2020. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Asked whether men can give birth, most people wouldn’t respond the way the transgenderism-obsessed Left would prefer. Understanding this, the Left is trying to hector, bully, and censor its way toward establishing a ridiculous new conception of gender as a matter of personal choosing rather than biological fact. That project requires changing the language, ignoring science, and discarding common human experience. Now, it appears to require policing comedy, too.

For espousing the common-sense view in his new Netflix special The Closer, however, comedian Dave Chappelle is being attacked as a “transphobe” by a small but angry mob of Netflix employees and outside observers who claim Chappelle is doing actual harm to transgender individuals by making jokes about them. These people should avail themselves of the opportunity to not watch Chappelle’s act or to not work for Netflix. Instead, they seem to think Netflix should either pull the special or remove the content they find displeasing.

So far, though, Netflix isn’t yielding, and its polite refusal to entertain the mob’s wishes is providing a model for how corporations should respond to demands that they enforce a far-left orthodoxy of speech codes that swept into the mainstream from the radical campuses where it first caught on. As usual, the Netflix critics claim that their goal is not to control speech but merely to enhance “safety,” which is supposedly diminished by Chappelle’s remarks.

Netflix co-CEOs Ted Sarandos and Reed Hastings have repeatedly defended Chappelle in internal communications to angry employees: “In his special, Chappelle makes harsh jokes about many different groups, which is his style and a reason his fans love his comedy and commentary,” Sarandos wrote. “Stand-up comedians often expose issues that are uncomfortable because the art by nature is highly provocative. As a leadership team, we do not believe that The Closer is intended to incite hatred or violence against anyone.”

Hear, hear. As a private corporation, Netflix is free to air or refuse to air material in accordance with whatever standards it deems appropriate. But free speech would not long survive if every private business could be bullied into a single orthodoxy by a small group of extremists. Only an extremist would be outraged by Chappelle’s carefully considered thoughts on transgenderism, and we find it heartening that in at least one case, at least one outfit in the entertainment business still has the courage to reject the activist Left’s increasingly ludicrous thought policing.

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