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Poet Saeed Jones attacks Dave Chappelle’s The Closer show for its trans rant, calls it a ‘betrayal’


Award-winning author and poet Saeed Jones became the latest critic to slam Dave Chappelle for jokes that are harmful to the trans community during the comedian’s latest Netflix special, The Closer 

Jones, who is black and gay, said he used to value Chappelle’s comedy, but The Closer made him feel as though ‘I’d just been stabbed by someone I once admired and now he was demanding that I stop bleeding,’ he wrote in an opinion piece for GQ.

At one point in the Netflix special – Chappelle’s sixth on the platform – he joked that the gay community is leagues ahead of the black community in terms of civil rights. 

‘We blacks, we look at the gay community and we go “Goddamn it! Look how well that movement is going,’ Chappelle quipped.

Jones, who won the Kirkus Prize for his 2019 memoir How We Fight For Our Lives, was not laughing.

‘Never mind that, in addition to being both black and gay, I also happen to live in the state of Ohio, as does Chappelle himself, where our governor just signed a provision that will allow doctors and other medical professionals to deny healthcare to LGBTQ patients,’ he wrote.

Poet Saeed Jones slammed Dave Chappelle for his jokes about trans people in his latest Netflix special The Closer

Chappelle's sixth Netflix special has received a slew of criticism from members of the LGBTQ community with some demanding the platform pull the show

Chappelle’s sixth Netflix special has received a slew of criticism from members of the LGBTQ community with some demanding the platform pull the show

The Closer was Chappelle's last standup special on Netflix before he goes on break

The Closer was Chappelle’s last standup special on Netflix before he goes on break 

But it was Chappelle’s defense of JK Rowling – who said transgender women were not actually women and were a threat to her identity – that made Jones cancel the comic.

The Harry Potter author was labeled a TERF, a trans-exclusionary radical feminist, and Chappelle said he embraced the label. 

‘I’m Team TERF. I agree. I agree, man. Gender is a fact’, Chappelle said.

At this point, Jones wrote, he turned off the special ‘because I wasn’t having fun anymore.’ 

The writer later clarified on Twitter that he read a transcript of the rest of the special to continue his review of it.

He wrote in the GQ article that his decision to stop watching doesn’t make him too ‘sensitive’ or ‘brittle,’ but that he would rather not spend his time watching something ‘that could just as well have been a Fox News special.’

‘Watching Chappelle contort himself to justify ashy ideas about gender, queerness and identity is harrowing, because the only thing more brutal than someone saying hurtful s**t is someone saying hurtful s**t moments after making you laugh, moments after cracking you up in a way that’s both fun and deeply needed, moments after making you feel like you all got free together.’

Jones then likened listening to Chappelle’s statement to an experience he said his female trans friend faced recently when a group of guys heckled her and shouted, ‘that’s a man!’ 

He wrote, ‘… watching you spew b******t just as hurtful as the words those men hurled at us last weekend, I didn’t feel like I was being set free. I felt like I’d just been stabbed by someone I once admired and now he was demanding that I stop bleeding.’

Jones shared his article on Twitter and joked, ‘Let the record reflect that I wanted to title the essay “At Lease Use Lube If You’re Going to Insist On Riding Us This Hard.” My editor went with a different approach.’

In a follow up tweet, he wrote, ‘Thanks for reading and sharing my essay, y’all. At this point, I only write for @GQMagazine when I feel like there is an opportunity to interrogate masculinity. I appreciate my editor @bendwilliams for giving me that space.’

He also referenced criticism he’s been receiving for his article and posted a photo of a stick figure with his hand on his hips, tweeting, ‘Aggrieved, unloved white men— I mean, Dave Chappelle acolytes are posted up in my Twitter and Instagram DMs like…’

Other jokes in the special that drew the ire of members of the LGBTQ community  included one that compared the way Chappelle said women view transwomen to the way black people view white women wearing blackface.

Chappelle, onstage with The Foo Fighters when they reopened Madison Square Garden this summer, was called out by Jones Jones, who said: ‘I’d just been stabbed by someone I once admired and now he was demanding that I stop bleeding'

Chappelle, onstage with The Foo Fighters when they reopened Madison Square Garden this summer, was called out by Jones Jones, who said: ‘I’d just been stabbed by someone I once admired and now he was demanding that I stop bleeding’ 

Chappelle argued that women are entitled to feel anger toward transwomen since Caitlyn Jenner won Glamour magazine’s 2015 Woman of the Year award. 

‘I’d be mad as sh*t if I was a woman,’ Chappelle said.

He also joked about the anatomy of transwomen, joking that they lacked real female reproductive organs and that they did not have blood but ‘beet juice.’

In addition to defending Rowling as a victim of cancel culture, Chappelle also brought up the case of East Coast rapper DaBaby, Jonathan Lyndale Kirk.

Chappelle criticized the public’s push to cancel DaBaby after he made transphobic comments at a recent Miami music festival about people with HIV and AIDS, rather than choosing to cancel him for his alleged involvement in a 2018 shooting that left a 19-year-old dead.

A Netflix software engineer, Terra Field wrote a lengthy Twitter thread about Dave Chappelle's special . She has since been suspended but Netflix say it 'was unrelated' to her tweets

A Netflix software engineer, Terra Field wrote a lengthy Twitter thread about Dave Chappelle’s special . She has since been suspended but Netflix say it ‘was unrelated’ to her tweets

Over the course of more than 40 tweets Field explained the violence felt by transgender the gender non-conforming community

Over the course of more than 40 tweets Field explained the violence felt by transgender the gender non-conforming community

Field then went on to include a list of 38 trans and nonbinary men and women of color who she said had been killed, adding in each case that the victim 'is not offended.'

Field then went on to include a list of 38 trans and nonbinary men and women of color who she said had been killed, adding in each case that the victim ‘is not offended.’

‘DaBaby shot and killed a [man] in Walmart in North Carolina. Nothing bad happened to his career,’ Chappelle said. ‘Do you see where I’m going with this? In our country, you can shoot and kill a [man], but you better not hurt a gay person’s feelings.’

Charges against DaBaby were dropped in 2019 after a key witness failed to show up to testify in court, Fox News reported. The singer claimed he had been defending himself from being robbed by 19-year-old Jaylin Craig.

Netflix recently suspended three employees, including Terra Field, who criticized comedian Dave Chappelle’s new comedy special in a series of tweets.

Field identifies herself on Twitter as a senior software engineer at Netflix and as trans.

‘I work at @netflix,’ Field tweeted. ‘Yesterday we launched another Chappelle special where he attacks the trans community, and the very validity of transness – all while trying to pit us against other marginalized groups.

‘What we object to is the harm that content like this does to the trans community (especially trans people of color) and VERY specifically black trans women.

‘Promoting TERF ideology (which is what we did by giving it a platform yesterday) directly harms trans people, it is not some neutral act. This is not an argument with two sides. It is an argument with trans people who want to be alive and people who don’t want us to be,’ Field tweeted.

‘This all gets brushed off as offense though – because if we’re just ‘too sensitive’ then it is easy to ignore us. I’m surprised I haven’t had anyone call me (ironically) ‘hysterical’ yet today,’ she continued

Heading home: Dave Chappelle was spotted emerging from Hollywood's Peppermint Club last Wednesday in the wake of controversy surrounding his jokes about the trans community

Heading home: Dave Chappelle was spotted emerging from Hollywood’s Peppermint Club last Wednesday in the wake of controversy surrounding his jokes about the trans community

Field then went on to include a list of 38 trans and nonbinary men and women of color who she said had been killed, adding in each case that the victim ‘is not offended.’

According to a person familiar with the matter, the three employees, including Field, joined a quarterly meeting for company directors and vice presidents without gaining authorization.

The person, who wasn’t authorized to discuss the situation publicly, said the workers were suspended as a result of an investigation and not for speaking out, but for attending the virtual meeting uninvited.

‘It is absolutely untrue to say that we have suspended any employees for tweeting about this show. Our employees are encouraged to disagree openly and we support their right to do so,’ Netflix said in a statement on Monday.

A top Netflix executive said Dave Chappelle’s special The Closer doesn’t cross ‘the line on hate’ and will remain on the streaming service despite fallout over the comedian’s remarks about the transgender community.

In an internal memo, Co-CEO Ted Sarandos told managers that ‘some talent’ may join third parties in calling for the show’s removal.

Sarandos said bosses did not believe that Chappelle’s work amounted to ‘hate,’ and that the company would not be removing the show despite pressure from artists.

‘Some talent may join third parties in asking us to remove the show in the coming days, which we are not going to do,’ Sarandos wrote, adding Chappelle is one of the most popular performers working today.

‘We don’t allow titles (on) Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line.

‘Some people find the art of stand-up to be mean-spirited but our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering.

‘I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries,’ Sarandos wrote.

Netflix has declined to comment on the memo, which was reported on Monday by Variety.

His transgender jokes angered LGBQT advocates such as GLAAD, which blasted him on Twitter

His transgender jokes angered LGBQT advocates such as GLAAD, which blasted him on Twitter

National Black Justice Coalition executive director David Johns wants the show cancelled

National Black Justice Coalition executive director David Johns wants the show cancelled 

Other critics of Chappelle’s special included David J. Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, who asked Netflix to apologize to the transgender community and pull The Closer from its streaming service.

‘We do not condone violence against any members of our community and our feelings and existence as trans, queer, and non-binary/non-conforming people matter too,’ Johns said in a statement.

‘What’s being missed at this moment is the extreme rate at which Black trans women are murdered, annually. All of this to say, we should think and engage more critically so we can all get free.’

His jokes also didn’t sit well with America’s leading LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD, which issued a scathing statement about his standup routine.

‘Dave Chappelle’s brand has become synonymous with ridiculing trans people and other marginalized communities,’ GLAAD tweeted.

‘Negative reviews and viewers loudly condemning his latest special is a message to the industry that audiences don’t support platforming anti-LGBTQ diatribes.’

Last week, Jaclyn Moore, pictured, a trans showrunner on another Netflix show said she will no longer work for the streaming service following Dave Chappelle's 'transphobic' remarks

Last week, Jaclyn Moore, pictured, a trans showrunner on another Netflix show said she will no longer work for the streaming service following Dave Chappelle’s ‘transphobic’ remarks

Dear White People showrunner Jaclyn Moore said she’ll boycott Netflix for airing the special

Dear White People showrunner Jaclyn Moore said she’ll boycott Netflix for airing the special

Dear White People showrunner Jaclyn Moore, who is transgender, said she’ll boycott Netflix for continuing to ‘put out and profit from blatantly and dangerously transphobic content.’

‘I love so many of the people I’ve worked with at Netflix,’ Moore tweeted.

‘Brilliant people and executives who have been collaborative and fought for important art… But I’ve been thrown against walls because, I’m not a “real” woman. I’ve had beer bottles thrown at me. So, @Netflix, I’m done.’

NPR TV critic Eric Deggan said Chappelle also ventured into anti-Semitism during his routine by kiddingly pitching a movie called ‘Space Jews,’ about a diaspora of former Earthlings who return to the planet to take it over.

‘I don’t really care what point he’s trying to make,’ Deggan wrote. ‘A joke that sounds like anti-Semitism gets a hard pass from me.’

But not everyone’s a critic.

The sisters of Daphne Dorman – a transgender friend of Chappelle’s who died by suicide in 2019 – said they were appalled at suggestions the comedian was transphobic.

‘Daphne was in awe of Dave’s graciousness,’ her sister Becky told The Daily Beast. ‘She did not find his jokes rude, crude, off-coloring, off-putting, anything.

‘Daphne understood humor and comedy – she was not offended. Why would her family be offended?’

The family of transgender woman Daphne Dorman, who died by suicide, defended Chappelle

Dorman (pictured at right with an unknown woman) was a comedian and friend of Chapelle

Dorman (pictured at right with an unknown woman) was a comedian and friend of Chapelle

Her younger sister Brandy told The Daily Beast that Chappelle is an ally to the LGBTQ community.

She said: ‘His entire set was begging to end this very situation.’ Chappelle’s family said she also appreciated that humor was about the ability to offend everyone equally – and to be able to laugh at being mocked.

Chappelle was spotted emerging from Hollywood’s Peppermint Club on Wednesday evening in the wake of controversy surrounding the trans community.

The comedian, 48, kept a low-profile as he left the Hollywood club while puffing a cigarette shortly after he enthusiastically backed JK Rowling in her spat with the transgender community, saying he is ‘Team TERF’.

TERF stands for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist. The term is used to apply to cisgender women – women born the sex they continue to identify with – who do not think transgender women should have equal access to female spaces.

Looking solemn, the funnyman was flanked by his aides and maintained a steely expression as the scandal rages on about his latest thoughts.

Chappelle earlier faced backlash for his jokes, with trans actress Taylor Ashbrook tweeting, ‘As a trans woman, I have usually defended Dave Chappelle’s specials because I think they’re hilarious and his jokes about trans women never felt intentionally malicious.

‘The Closer changed my mind on that. That special felt so lazy and disingenuous and I’m really disappointed.’

Vulture Writer Kathryn VanArendonk also tweeted, ‘I just have to believe by this point that even the most devoted chappelle audience would love to hear material on something other than his obsession with trans bodies.’

Another Twitter user, with the handle Thisguyhere, even accused Chappelle of being Trump-like in the new special.

‘Dave Chappelle spent more time and jokes on gay and Trans people than he did white people, the supposed people all his jokes are directed at. This dude has reach trump level gaslighting in The Closer.’

This is not the first time Chappelle has targeted drama in the trans community during his standup.

In 2019, Chappelle received backlash for the alleged transphobic remarks he made during his Sticks & Stones special.

During the latest standup special, which is set to be his last before he goes on break, Chappelle had said he would not be doing anymore LGBTQ jokes as long as the community stops trying to cancel black men for making derogatory remarks.

‘Until we are both sure that we are laughing together. I’m telling you, it’s done. I’m done talking about it. All I ask of your community, with all humility: Will you please stop punching down on my people.’



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