These days I’m prone to measure my support for something, not in terms of whether or not I personally like or support it, but rather, I’m almost always drawn to anything today’s popular culture tells me I’m supposed to hate. Therefore, this week I’m cheering comedian Dave Chappelle’s new Netflix standup special “Sticks and Stones.”
Full disclosure: I haven’t even watched it yet .I promise I will and I hope you will too. Not because we’re going to agree with everything Chappelle says. It’s precisely because we don’t HAVE to agree with everything he says. More to the point, that’s exactly what he’s celebrating. “Offensive” is in the eye of the scolder. Comedy – if done well -– isn’t something to be consumed and enjoyed in lockstep.
But that’s exactly what the totalitarian mentality of the American left has wrought. “You can’t say that! You can’t laugh at that! That’s not funny! You aren’t allowed to joke about that!” The early reviews from mainstream critics confirm Chappelle’s response was, “Oh yeah? Watch me.”
Ethan Nicole of The Babylon Bee tweeted, “The scolds came out in full force against the Chappelle special, prompting me to immediately watch it. I’m tempted to say it was brilliant just to get under their skin .As comedy it was good, but more than that, it was an aggressive defense of comedy…”
In preparing for my shows this week, I’ve read a range of left-wing critics pillory Chappelle. The Daily Beast agonizes over whether Chappelle really means what he’s saying in his special or if the jokes were crafted specifically to trigger outraged reviews and deliver his larger point about outrage culture reaction. (The answer is yes, by the way. He played you all like a Stradivarius).
Over at Vice, they flat-out demand their readers “definitely skip” the new standup special because Chappelle “chooses to blatantly ignore the historic criticism against his style of comedy…” Excuse me?! Is “Vice” shorthand for Vice Principal or Vice Squad? How dare a comic ignore Vice’s demands! Didn’t Chappelle get his handbook of things Vice won’t allow us to joke about going forward?
The Atlantic’s Hanna Giorgis may have struck the most goose-stepping, authoritative tone in her final summary of the show. “'Sticks and Stones' registers as a temper tantrum, the product of a man who wants it all – money, fame, influence – without much having to answer to anyone.”
Hear that, Dave Chappelle? Ms. Giorgis says you must answer to someone if you’re to be rich AND famous AND influential in her country! When do we put Chairman Giorgis’ face on our currency and hang her mandatory portrait in our homes?
We’re in an era where comedians are trying to reclaim their freedom to be funny and offensive once again. Yet sadly, they still often pledge lip service to the very political movements assailing their livelihoods and silencing their art.
I read Chappelle opens his show taking a shot at the Founding Fathers, specifically referencing their role in slavery while drafting the Constitution. Of course that’s met with wild, approving cheers from leftists in the crowd. The left hates the founding of this country.
But comedians like Chappelle should not.
The irony in the criticism is our country was designed to promote and protect individuals. Yes, there was the original sin of slavery. We weren’t perfect but the protection of individualism was paramount, even if it didn’t exist for everyone from the jump. It’s what the Bill of Rights was all about. It’s what Chappelle can count on today in the midst of the attacks from the American left.
Democrats bleed collectivism. They are anti-free speech. Their new enforcement tool is mob rule. Specifically, social media mob rule. "Dox him! Fire him! Cancel him! Shame him!" No credible comedian in 2019 can possibly stand with the politics of that kind of ideology and succeed, yet many still claim to.
Comedians make their living as individuals. Collectivism – comedy’s natural enemy – relies on mobs. Individuals can comfortably rely on our founding for protection from collectivism as long as they’re willing to claim it.
The Constitution is what protects comedians from mob rule. And yes, some of the men behind that document left a legacy of slavery. But too few in comedy can get past that to make the connection their freedom to say whatever the hell they want is also the legacy of those old, white men.
Sure, it’s important for comedians to criticize and rant against oppressive attitudes, stuffiness, and political correctness, as Chappelle does in his latest special. But I’d ask him to go one step further and explain to our betters at The Atlantic why it is he can be rich AND popular and no, not have to answer to anyone for any of it. There’s a very good reason.
It’s those founding white men who tried to protect every individual from tyranny. From governments, from media, and from the mobs they would inevitably lead. They knew government instinctively attracts wannabe oppressors and mobs.
Our founding was based on the value of the individual. Comedians are flailing away looking for a non-political solution to stop the mobs from destroying their craft.The only thing that will protect them is embracing the concepts of our founding.Otherwise, a government or mob unrestrained will ultimately dominate.See Hong Kong for more.
The Constitution can and does continue to protect Mr. Chappelle until this toxic, mob rule “cancel culture” wises up. Hopefully he’s willing to fight as hard for it as he’s fighting the mobs in his new special.
Until then, I look forward to being offended.