The great Union general William Tecumseh Sherman once said, “War is the remedy that our enemies have chosen, and I say let us give them all they want.”
War with Dave Chappelle may not have been Netflix’s aim, but given that the company has now allowed itself to be used as a weapon by a few trans-activists determined to exert their will over the legendary comedian and his art form, Chappelle should give them all the war they want.
For a moment, about a week after his special, “The Closer,” dropped, it looked like the streaming giant might have enough integrity to stand by their man — and free expression. When a trio of unhinged, low-level trans employees leaked confidential financial information to the press and tried to crash meetings above their pay grade, Netflix execs calmly fired the worst offender and suspended the others. When a few more staffers waxed histrionic on internal communication channels, co-CEO Ted Sarandos informed them their antics would not be indulged.
“Chappelle is one of the most popular stand-up comedians today,” he said in defense of the special, adding, “As with our other talent, we work hard to support their creative freedom…We don’t allow titles that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe ‘The Closer’ crosses that line…stand-up comedy [exists] to push boundaries.”
Sarandos added that he did not believe Chappelle’s jokes that include observations like “gender is a fact” are harmful to the transgender community.
Sarandos’ co-CEO Reed Hastings echoed this commitment to free speech, saying in an internal memo, “I do believe that our commitment to artistic expression and pleasing our members is the right long term choice for Netflix, and that we are on the right side [of history].”
Further pressed by a disgruntled employee about whether Netflix would commit to more trans-promoting programming to act as a counterweight to Chappelle’s supposed bigotry, Hastings replied, “We disagree with your characterization and we’ll continue to work with Dave Chappelle in the future. We see him as a unique voice …” He concluded, “We do not see Dave Chappelle as harmful, or in need of any offset.”
From there, there was no reason for Netflix to back down. A few C-list, faux-intellectual personalities like lesbian spoken-word artist Hannah Gadsby (name might ring a distant bell) and “Dear White People” producer Jaclyn Moore (is that a show?) might have carped, but the real star power was firmly
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