Bill Maher Defends Chappelle: ‘You’re Not Automatically Right If You’re Trans’

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On Friday’s episode of “Real Time” on HBO, host Bill Maher discussed the Dave Chappelle controversy with his guests, former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang and linguist John McWhorter.

Dave Chappelle’s latest Netflix special, “The Closer,” led to a flurry of media coverage centering on jokes the comedian told regarding the transgender community. After initially seeming to defend Chappelle, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos walked back his remarks, and a small number of trans activist employees staged a walkout to protest the special and make demands of the company.

After establishing that he and his guests support “laws that protect trans people,” and that they “believe in all the dignity, equality, and respect that can be afforded to trans people,” Maher noted his concern with what he called “the one true opinion.”

“That’s what bothers me to begin with, that there is … what I call the one true opinion … and there isn’t,” Maher said. “There isn’t just one true opinion. I’m a free speech guy. Now, I’m team Dave, but that doesn’t mean I’m anti-trans. We can have two thoughts in our head at the same time.”

Maher then addressed the issue of watering down language: “Words have meaning — but not anymore. And when I hear ‘transphobic,’ phobic has a meaning, fear. I’m not transphobic if I merely disagree with you; it’s not hate.”

The host then read a comment from an activist who claimed that “this is not an argument with two sides,” but “an argument with trans people who want to be alive, and people who don’t want us to be.”

“Well, that’s just ridiculous. Dave Chappelle does not want you to not be alive,” Maher stated. “You’re not automatically right if you’re trans. You’re completely equal; you’re just not automatically right.”

Regarding this kind of activist thinking, John McWhorter later added:

These people — people who do this about race, who do this about trans, who do this about anything — think of themselves as ahead of the curve; they think of themselves as indicating some sort of higher wisdom. Really, it’s a very simple way of looking at things. People like this, no matter what they’re arguing on the basis of, are telling us, the way you would have thought of it when you were five years old is the proper way to think of it. That doesn’t work; never will.

…to get back to this simplicity idea … Dave Chappelle is a comedian, there [are] layers of wit and irony and attitude going on, and instead, we’re told to just read it as if it was “The Three Bears,” and we’re being told that that’s sophisticated, when really, that means that these people who are, you know, so annoyed that anybody says some words or expresses some ideas are saying that most of America aren’t sophisticated…

“The Closer” currently sits at a 38% on Rotten Tomatoes with eight critic reviews, and a 95% audience score.

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