I'd like to take a rare moment to write about what's likely a "culture war" topic. I usually avoid these because they're a waste of time to me, mostly because whatever the issue is it's presented as (a) there are only two options (b) they're polar opposites and (c) the arguments on either side are so entrenched in cognitive bias it's just impossible to have a conversation about all of the gray in-between.
(And let's face it: the gray is where all of the interesting conversations happen.)
It's worth noting here that any sufficiently complex socio-political issue will never be black and white. There will be nuance, and subtlety, and difficult trade-offs, and from time to time the problem of remaining self-consistent. This is nearly always the case where certain rights are applied selectively, instead of universally.
Another problem here is that nuance requires words .. and who has time for words anymore? Wrap it up in a 20-second TikTok video or GTFO. (This may help explain he popularity of memes, which average maybe a dozen words at most and don't really ask that much of us in terms of thinking).
Cancel-culture is quite a force these days. While it may be the case that some points of view are extremely unwelcome, the idea that someone should be cancelled for articulating a thoughtful opinion about the gray area of a controversial culture-war is pretty offensive.
(And it happens all of the time)
Additionally, I'll always regard cancel-culture as a cop-out: there's no need to address the points brought up by someone else when you can attempt to simply cancel the person's opinion entirely. Personally, I find statements like "that's racist" to be more rhetorical in nature vs. seeking a higher purpose (say: to find an objective truth). If that statement took on the form "that's racist and here's why ...", well that would be just fine (because then it would be discussable), but hanging it out there as a blanket statement of condemnation without backing it up with a specific reason is much more of cancel-culture/rhetorical device than it is a genuine attempt to (a) reach a common understanding (b) find an objective truth or (c) learn something.
Believe it or not, cancel culture has been around for a very long time, and has been skillfully used as a rhetorical device to control the conversation/narrative around certain highly controversial issues. It's not difficult to defend a position when you remove the need to defend it entirely by attacking the individual (and their right to speak) instead of the idea itself.
(File all of this under "World's Longest Disclaimer")
That said, I'd like to discuss Dave Chappelle, who has, over the past couple of years become one of the most controversial comedians in the world, mostly due to accusations that he's "anti-trans" and/or "trans-phobic".
I've spent a lot of time reading about him, and how/why people are attacking him, and I find it all pretty fascinating. I think the part that most jumps out at me is that nobody has reiterated, nor even mentioned, his thesis during the attacks. It's like nobody heard what he's trying to say (he's trying to say something), they just heard what they wanted to hear (a hateful, transphobic man).
I also see a dangerous precedent attempting to be set, which is: if someone finds someone else's thoughts and/or opinions highly objectionable, the listener can seek to silence the speaker.
Before I proceed, I'd like to offer up a couple of points of clarifying context:
What I find most dubious about the criticisms of Dave Chappelle is that absent in any/all accusations against him is an articulation of his central thesis. He definitely has one, and it's a good one. It's just never mentioned. I find this to be extremely conspicuous, as it's a form of "lying through omission".
I'd like to do my best to state Dave Chappelle's central thesis. I'll be paraphrasing it of course, and presenting it in two parts:
Interestingly enough, the subject of the current trans zeitgeist is a peripheral issue to me. I hope kids who are trans have the support of their families, teachers, doctors, and communities. I hope well-meaning and decently-informed people are helping them make the right decisions and to help guide them to a state of existing that feels as real, genuine, true, and comfortable as is possible. I hope they are free from discrimination, harassment, and persecution.
What is very important to me is the idea that someone like Dave Chappelle is allowed to bring his insights, laments, and yes: crude jokes, out for public review, without fear of being cancelled.
And of course because I have been taught life's most painful lesson, I fully expect that not only will many people not feel the same way as I do, but that many will feel the opposite (and that's perfectly okay with me).
Another aspect of the attacks that's totally orthogonal to my defense of his
thesis but is highly germane here is that Dave Chappelle is both
(a) black and (b) highly successful (read: wealthy). In America, this
can be a huge problem for many people (read: racist people who believe
the success of a black man takes away somehow from their individual
potential to be successful). This group would like nothing more
than to see Dave fall, far, and quickly.
To me, this is the "Occam's Razor" take on attacks on Chapelle. It's certainly impossible to ignore as a potential motivation for why he's so enthusiastically attacked.
Obama was the poster child for racist attacks. He rose higher that anyone ever expected a black man in America to rise, and for that he was "rewarded" with vicious, violent, racist attacks.
If Dave Chapelle is aware of all of this (and I'm quite sure he is, as he's incredibly bright), its serves as a [painful] defense of his thesis: perhaps one reason why the African American community isn't making more positive societal change is because so very many people are trying to tear down any black man or woman who begins to experience significant success (and therefore tear down their potential to serve as a role model, and a leader, and to make investments in African American communities to make them better).
And that my friends, is worse than the simple "you don't believe what I believe."