Is it time to cancel Dave Chappelle again?

Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

It feels like it wasn’t that long ago that people on the left were outraged about Dave Chappelle’s new comedy special on Netflix. Looking back it was more than two years ago in August of 2019. Remember this impression?

So here we are two years later and Chappelle has another new special out on Netflix called “The Closer” and once again people on the left are upset. Here’s CNN with the recurring news:

Dave Chappelle is back in some familiar hot water.

The comic has drawn backlash for some of his comments in his latest Netflix comedy special, “The Closer.”…

He then goes on to make explicit jokes about the bodies of trans women.

The article ends with CNN saying they asked Chappelle to respond to this tweet from a trans activist with 1,000 followers.

Meanwhile, here’s how NPR is promoting its review of the special:

That was apparently the headline of the piece but it has since been changed. The review itself doesn’t accuse him of bigotry but does suggest he’s almost daring the audience to disapprove:

Dave Chappelle does not make it easy.

He is one of the most brilliant stand-up comics in the business. But he also makes a sport of challenging his audience — putting ideas in front of them that he knows are uncomfortable and unpalatable to those invested in modern notions of how to talk about feminism, gender, sexual orientation and race…

And the message Chappelle has for those who have criticized him about transphobic, homophobic or any other phobic jokes seems to be: Race trumps all.

This idea surfaces when he talks about rapper DaBaby, who was pilloried publicly for making homophobic comments during a concert in July.

Here’s the joke about DaBaby which was circulating on Twitter yesterday:

The Daily Beast has a review which criticizes his comments about gender and his decision to side with JK Rowling.

Chappelle then tries to convince the audience—in the crowd and at home—that he’s never made any explicitly anti-transgender jokes, requesting that the audience “go back” and revisit his specials. (He most certainly has, and you can read the great trans writer Samantha Allen on it here.) He defends J.K. Rowling against being “canceled” over her transphobic remarks (which he deeply misrepresents), before saying, “I’m team TERF!”—the term for trans-exclusionary radical feminist, or feminists who are transphobic and do not believe trans women are women.

What’s most interesting about these very similar pieces criticizing Chappelle is that they are all careful not to call for him to be canceled or deplatformed. Don’t get me wrong, I think that’s what the authors want to say but they have learned there’s not much profit in trying to get Chappelle to shut up. But people on Twitter keep denouncing him.

But Chappelle has a lot of supporters too.

Of course if you don’t like what he’s saying you can always not watch. That’s what the left used to say to the right about offensive topics that appeared on TV. Why don’t they take their own advice?