Dave Chappelle and the Loss of Argumentative Nuance

There’s a point being made here, and people are largely missing it

Jay Sizemore
10 min readNov 1, 2021

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Dave Chappelle in The Closer, via Netflix

It seems to me that the only phrases anyone heard Dave Chappelle make in his most recent Netflix special, The Closer, were, “I’m on team TERF,” and, “Gender is a fact.” Just these two phrases seem to solidify for much of the LGBTQ community, or as Chappelle calls them, “The alphabet people,” his status as a rampant and unforgivable homophobe and transphobe. But hold on. That’s not quite fair or true, is it?

The truth is that the truth is rarely of much interest when it comes to these virtue signaling bouts of online community outrage. What’s most important is using the outrage to assert a narrative, the illusion of progress, while simultaneously granting those seeking publicity and a platform their fifteen minutes of media fame. The proof of this is in the details, if anyone cares to actually look.

It would seem that no one really does. Instead they would rather host protests and walk-outs over Netflix refusing to remove Chappelle’s work from their platform. They would rather make blanket claims that Chappelle’s work is “harmful” in its offense. They would rather try and ensure that Dave Chappelle’s image is hurt to the degree that he can no longer find sponsors for his material, and that he is in effect “cancelled” for being the unrepentant sinner that he is.

Dave Chappelle is not a transphobic person just because he has made some offensive jokes regarding trans persons, or because his opinions on gender don’t align with the accepted narrative currently pervading the “identity politics” of the day. The ideals and personal prejudices of a person can rarely be boiled down to a few statements taken out of the context of the entirety of their character. People contain multitudes, and this should be allowed.

No person is an island of specific moral principles. People are people, they are not comic book characters.

But to accept that there are varying degrees of certitude within any argumentative stance would be to admit that these notions of “right and wrong” or “us versus them” are little more than categorical boxes meant to divide us.

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Jay Sizemore

Provocative truth teller, author of APNEA: a novel of the future. Cat dad. Dog dad. Currently working from Portland, Oregon. Learn more at: Jaysizemore.com.