Dave Chappelle’s Netflix Trans Shocker

Comedian Dave Chappelle had a history of offending some trans activists. His latest Netflix special, Closer, focusing on that subject, sparked a firestorm. Netflix was assailed and picketed, some employees joining in, demanding the show’s cancellation.

My wife and I decided to watch it, to see what the fuss was about.

And I was shocked.

Not by anything Chappelle said. Instead, what shocked me was that something so mild provoked so much umbrage. Chappelle actually seemed quite empathic toward trans people. Venting envy at what he saw as their success, compared to Blacks, in combating discrimination. One long riff concerned a trans comic he befriended and mentored. Though her act had bombed, Chappelle honored her as a great human being. The story’s gut-punch coda was her suicide. But also, Chappelle did skewer trans activist extremism — a subset of “woke” censorious intolerance.

It’s understandable that the trans community, as longtime social outcasts, would be coming from a sense of beleaguerment. But now that’s turned 180 degrees, with any deviation from their rigid catechism deemed a cancelworthy offense.

Wokeism weaponizes linguistic hair-splitting to delegitimize its targets. I’ve written about a man savaged for almost saying “colored people.” He quickly corrected it to “people of color.” But that didn’t forestall denunciation by, among others — get this — the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

As a lover of language, I believe words do matter. And have meaning. But there are two sides to that coin. Some trans activists, even while fixating on how words are used, in other ways reject the concept that words have meaning. Witness J.K. Rowling’s condemnation as transphobic for holding there’s a difference between trans women and what we’re now supposed to call “cis-gender” women. If allowed to say “women” at all. Yet these words simply denote physiological differences. Which trans activists want to deny; while their own promotion of “cis-gender” terminology is itself differentiating. Otherwise why not just call them all “women?” Yet still it’s somehow deemed a crime to acknowledge the differentness.

This is the kind of thing Chappelle was deconstructing. He pointedly observed that every person alive was born through the birth canal of a woman. “Woman” is a useful category word applicable there. A transgender woman, even if considered female for most purposes, nevertheless differs from cis-gender women in certain respects. “Transgender” too is a useful category word. That’s what language is for. Where is the offensiveness?

Scientist Richard Dawkins was also pilloried for the same notional offense as Rowling. The American Humanist Association revoked his long-ago “Humanist of the Year” award. And when I posted an essay defending people changing gender, but also criticizing the attack on Dawkins, and trans extremism more generally, some ferocious responses illustrated exactly what I was talking about. For example, bashing my calling gender dysphoria biological, a brain-body mismatch. (Bizarre, because if they’re right, then trans haters might have a point in considering it a psychological perversion.)

Dave Chappelle got similar bashing. What a pity; the activists doing this seem blind to how harmful it actually is to their cause, generating far more antagonism than sympathy. It’s an old truism that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. James Carville ascribed recent Democratic election setbacks to excesses of “stupid wokeness.” Though why didn’t voters punish the Republican counterpart? Apologists for a coup attempt, the deranged “stolen election” lie, covidiocy, etc. Wokeism versus Trumpism — we’re whipsawed between the two countervailing pathologies.

15 Responses to “Dave Chappelle’s Netflix Trans Shocker”

  1. Don Bronkema Says:

    1. Male & female are not identical.
    2. Censorship is never ok.
    3. Minding Aristotle, insultees must protest.
    4. Virtue is most persuasive when demo’d.

  2. Lee Says:

    Labels can be useful and they can be poison. It all depends upon why the label is being used. One shouldn’t segregate, say, men and women in the workforce, unless the goal is something like curing disparities between them or making sure that they are all supported. Likewise for segregating White from People of Color or cis-gender from trans-gender in pretty much any setting.

    Yes, if you are doctor and the treatment depends upon whether the patient is cis-gender or trans-gender then of course you should do what’s best for the patient. But if you aren’t the doctor or don’t have some other valid reason for making the distinction, and the distinction that you make is regarding a marginalized group of people then chances are too high that the distinction that you make will be causing harm. Unless Chappelle / Rowling / Dawkins is doing something like teaching medical students about treatments, they are in treacherous territory. What is their goal in highlighting these differences? It is to be helpful? I don’t see evidence of that.

    Poisonous labeling of trans-gender people quite literally leads to death in terms of significantly increased levels of murder and suicide. Avoiding this poison is not a manifestation of overzealous wokeness, it is a matter of life and death.

  3. Don Bronkema Says:

    Sadly, true…

  4. rationaloptimist Says:

    Re Lee’s comment, one obvious realm where the difference makes a difference is athletic competition, where many people, with some justification, deem it unfair for trans women to compete against cis-women. But the real point is how trans activists demonize anyone who takes notice of the difference. Trying to repeal reality is not a route to greater acceptance.

  5. Don Bronkema Says:

    Duzzent matter to us sport-haters, but wood seprit contests for trans be feasible? Go, asportheit!

  6. Lee Says:

    > one obvious realm where the difference makes a difference is athletic competition.

    Is that what Chappelle / Rowling / Dawkins was talking about? I see no evidence of that.

    If you are rescinding your entire article and want to change the topic to this very minor aspect, of trans people in athletic competitions, I can follow you there. Is that’s what is going on here, or did you want to defend any aspect of your original article before we make that move?

  7. Don Bronkema Says:

    Lee: yes, mean athletic performance is bound to differ at the record-setting margins. Non sodor amicus meus: soon we’ll CRISPRize germ cells & zygotes to give evribadi a fair shot at halcyon life.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    A middle path; tolerance, acceptance, compassion.

  9. Don Bronkema Says:

    Anon: H. semper unsapiens is a co-op species, as Aristotle & Darwin agree, but when its axiology is threatened, it lashes out w/grievous butchery, per Sumeria to present day. Still, contrary to JP Sartre, there is an exit. We can exploit Doudna’s CRISPR to regineer the amygdala for a seamless, planetary connubium. Absent one of 14 terrestrial & cosmic calamities, our ascendants will provolve into new species & genera at Colonia Martialis & in realms beyond–or plunge to extinction. Vide: MIT Tek Review.

  10. David Lettau Says:

    The wokery madness emanating from the Jacobin left will be used by the fascist right to win the 2022 midterms and the White House in 2024. I also believe it undermines the moral foundation of the civil rights movement.We need honesty in civic discourse,not a war on truth and a nation afraid to speak its mind. Ironic is it not,that “wokery”, is helping to lead to the sleep of reason. And we all know where that leads.

  11. Don Bronkema Says:

    Waking mankind to gender ignorance is splendid, so long as it doesn’t eventuate in censorship, punition, career jeopardy, retro- Trumpism etc. New movements Jacobinize when majorities plug their ears. Applying gentle but relentless pressure is an irrefrangible right intrinsic to sentients.

  12. David Lettau Says:

    Agreement here. You have stated what the legitimate goals of the gender- awareness movement should ideally be better than I could

  13. Don Bronkema Says:

    No, aye defer to your eloquence–keep on!

  14. butimbeautiful Says:

    I do get that some people would like to be the other sex. Unfortunately it’s not really possible, any more than you can be a cat at will. The best you can do is pretend, hard. This is, sadly, obvious to anyone with eyes. But I don’t have anything against pretending, and I don’t support finger pointing and rude remarks.

  15. Don Bronkema Says:

    Time, tolerance & CRISPR = justice & wisdom. Misology will be repudiated as infeasible. All will be well–or not. Cosmos keeps its counsel.

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