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Dave Chappelle’s Alma Mater Made a Big Mistake

Comedian Dave Chappelle greets the audience before receiving the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., October 27, 2019. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

Comedian Dave Chappelle’s alma mater, Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Georgetown, initially canceled its planned fundraiser with him this month — though has since changed this cancellation to a postponement — on account of the comedian’s controversial Netflix special, which took aim at transgenderism. As my colleague Brittany Bernstein reported this morning before the walk-back:

Despite invitations for the event having already been sent to multiple patrons, the school elected to cancel the fundraiser, shirking Chappelle, who has given back to his alma mater in a number of way over the years: he donated $100,000 to the school, gave it one of his Emmy awards in 2017, delivered a commencement address, held a master class for students and regularly visited campus with other notable celebrities, including Bradley Cooper and Chris Tucker, the report says.

Apparently, the school caved to pressure from disgruntled students who “threatened to stage a walkout because they were uncomfortable . . .” This is almost as underwhelming as the reports of junior employees at Penguin “crying” because, despite them expressing their ideological opposition to it, the publisher went ahead with Jordan Peterson’s book deal.

From a business standpoint, the school’s hesitation to work with Chappelle over a student tantrum is madness. Why do you think Netflix, despite facing massive pressure to do otherwise, refused to cut ties with Chappelle? Is this decision best explained by the company’s noble commitment to free speech, or might it be that the CEOs of Netflix recognized (as Penguin did with Peterson) that Chappelle’s shows bring in the big bucks?

Chappelle’s continued interest and investment in an otherwise obscure arts school is perhaps the best thing the institution had going for it. If students wanted to walk out — or drop out, frankly — over his involvement, then let them. Snowflake students are easily replaced. A patron as successful and generous as Chappelle is not.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to reflect new reporting by Politico Playbook that the event has now been postponed, rather than canceled. 


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