Dave Chappelle: humanity and humility | Photo: Mathieu Bitton / Netflix / Disclosure
Dave Chappelle holds an almost unique distinction among comedians: every time he puts out a special, it’s news. His latest Netflix show, “The Closer” (“Closing”, in Brazil), immediately saw him charged with “insane transphobia and homophobia” (The Daily Beast), “Betrayal” (GQ) and “anti-LGBTQ diatribes” (GLAAD – Alliance Against Lesbian and Gay Defamation).
‘Closing’ isn’t one of Chappelle’s best shows – he’s done nine of those specials, including six for Netflix, and the new one is probably the least funny of them – but in his compassion it’s the opposite of transphobic. Chappelle displays a lot of humanity, a lot of humility and a lot of questioning while doing her best to address the question of how to be respectful of transgender people, while recognizing that in comedy nothing should be forbidden, especially if your stand-up style is saying the unspeakable. Chappelle insists on the right to keep telling the truth as he sees it, but he’s not interested in the antagonism per se. What he does is not troll. He really doesn’t want to hurt people. He goes out of his way to clarify how important he thinks it is to be sensitive to trans people. To say that there can be humor in transgender is simply to say, “Welcome to humanity. Everyone is funny. “
The centerpiece of Chappelle’s special is a long reminiscence of a trans artist he knew named Daphne. “Knew” in the past because Daphne committed suicide in October 2019. Daphne Dorman was a comedian whose family defended Chappelle. Nothing in ‘Closing’ would have bothered Daphne, two family members said.
“Daphne was amazed at Dave’s kindness,” Dorman’s sister Becky wrote in a text for The Daily Beast. “She didn’t find his jokes rude, rude, obnoxious, rude, nothing. She found his jokes funny. Daphne understood humor and comedy, she didn’t mind. Why would the family be offended? “
After Chappelle mentioned Daphne in a previous Netflix special, Dorman bragged about it on social media. Another sister, Brandy, said in a Facebook post that Chappelle “loved my sister and sympathized with her human experience and, yes, he makes terrible jokes that are funny too. Our whole family does that. Our funeral is laughter. through tears, we regret remembering the times we laughed together, and yes, a bit of inappropriate humor too… Every time Dave defends Daphne, we are there for Dave. This man is our tribe, and we let us cry by his side.
Chappelle noted on that previous special, “Sticks & Stones,” that Daphne particularly laughed at the jokes he made about the genre.
Becky told the Daily Beast that it was completely wrong to blame Chappelle for the suicide. “No one knows what life was like for me and my brothers. We are products of the way we were created. Dave was the brightest point for Daphne; she fell in love for the first time. Blaming Dave is beyond the wrong thing to do. He helped her and let her get comfortable while talking to her. She had a lot of demons; Dave Chappelle was NOT one of them. “
Chappelle is known to have a strong affection for Daphne, so calling him transphobic requires ignoring the content of his comments and focusing very narrowly on a single sentence, which boils down to four words: “Gender is a fact. ” said Chappelle. And he said he was part of the “TERF Team,” which means he agreed with JK Rowling that males and females are defined biological categories. (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist, a term coined by the trans movement to insult and marginalize popular views).
The trans movement would have us believe that referring to DNA intransigence amounts to hate speech. This is not only wrong, it is doomed to fail. If the trans movement is to be accepted, it must stop insisting that others buy into its revolutionary biology, built around the insistence that men can give birth.
“Gender is a fact” wouldn’t have been a controversial statement 20 years ago, and only a small minority disagree with that statement to this day. If saying ‘gender is a fact’ makes you transphobic, no matter how respectful you are towards trans feelings, no matter how kind you are to trans people, no matter if you (like Chappelle the did) created a trust fund for the daughter of a trans person (Daphne), so the trans movement insists on excluding the views of most people.
When you state that most people are transphobic, you are only marking your own position as extreme. This is not the way to be accepted, and the angry calls from trans activists for the Chappelle special to be canceled strikes most people as far more disturbing than anything Chappelle has ever said. What happened to “agreeing to disagree”?
Chappelle tells trans people, “I respect you, but I don’t agree with you.” Trans people and their allies respond that disagreement is itself disrespectful, and it’s not just disrespect, it’s hateful and beyond boundaries. Must be punished. Chappelle is one of the best of his art in the USA. Reversing it may not be the answer to the question of how trans people can gain respect.