Theater Which Cancelled Dave Chappelle Show Misunderstands What Art is About.
I believe in people popping by unannounced to use my pool anytime. I’m deeply committed to this. But if you show up at my pool without calling first, I’ll shoot you with one of my crossbows. (I have an extensive collection).
If you feel that the previous two sentences were conflicting and incongruent, you would be right. And if you thought they were perfectly consistent, you would be wrong. It’s actually fairly simple.
Yet, this is exactly the construct used by a theater called “First Avenue” in Minnesota in a statement justifying their recent, last minute cancellation of a show by comedian Dave Chappelle. First Avenue, which bills itself as “Your Downtown Danceteria since 1970”, which is a deeply troubling red flag, cancelled Chappelle’s show just hours before he was set to take their stage.
They did so because they received social media backlash from people upset at jokes Chappelle previously told that are perceived as making fun of people in the transgender community. These people are upset because Chappelle is still allowed to perform and earn a living despite telling jokes that they didn’t like.
Some people have referred to this as “cancel culture”. As a result most of these people have themselves been cancelled and are no longer welcome at the most exclusive drum circles. I prefer to use the more time-honored term “nuts”.
First, while I am defending Chappelle’s comedy, it has nothing to do with the specific topic of the jokes in question. I am strongly pro-trans rights. When I was in the Pennsylvania Senate, a bill targeting the transgender community came to the floor. I was the only senator to speak publicly against the bill at the time. I have opposed bathroom bills, the denial of appropriate medical care for trans children and the banning of trans athletes from competition.
That said, I have taken to heart what a law-school professor once said. “To see if you really believe in free speech, find the speech that most offends you, and defend that!”. He was a very wise professor, although, horrifically unfair. My paper on “Things I don’t know about butterflies” had EVERYTHING to do with the French Revolution.