Why Dave Chappelle is a Hero

Dave Chappelle came out with a new Netflix comedy special called "Sticks and Stones". Ironically, it hurt some people's feelings. I think the humor is decent, but that's not the most important thing about this. More than the humor, it's the heroic nature of Chappelle's endeavor.


Comedians aren't normally associated with heroism. But, let's look at what heroism is. If I search it online I find this definition: a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.

I think that's pretty good, but I think I can get to a deeper and better definition. A hero is a person that makes sacrifices to fight evil. In other words, a hero has to be both strong and good. That is the essence.

What is the evil that Dave Chappelle is fighting? It's the politically correct culture that enjoys the tyranny of the mob and seeks to destroy individuals. He mentions that it has become "celebrity hunting season" and that he has a "#MeToo headache". He's fighting the cancel culture that seeks to destroy the reputation, through lies and accusations, of anyone they disagree with; the suppression culture that won't let you express an opinion unless they approve of it; the elitist culture that feels it's their right to censor anything that they deem incorrect.

Comedians are an early warning system in society about freedom. Yes, freedom of speech, and the even more important freedom that builds upon it, freedom of thought. The psychologist Jordan Peterson compares them to canaries in a coal mine. The birds are more sensitive to the oxygen levels and will die first. If the bird dies, you need to get out quick or you're going to follow. It's the same with comedians. If comedians don't have freedom of speech (and thought), then you don't either.

The so-called "progressive" left tried to cancel Chappelle for his politically incorrect jokes. The Twitterati went wild and attacked him. The review site Rotten Tomatoes didn't let the public review "Sticks and Stones". Joe Rogan mentioned in his recent interview with Zuby that Rotten Tomatoes assembled a special team of five people to do the review. This team gave "Sticks and Stones" a zero-percent approval rating. Zero. Then, when they finally opened it up to the public, thousands of people reviewed it and it got a ninety-nine percent approval rating.

This is a great example of what I'm talking about. The elite at Twitter and Rotten Tomatoes hate what Dave Chappelle said and attempted to crush him. To manufacture public opinion by manipulating what people were seeing and hearing. This is one of the evils that Dave Chappelle is fighting. He's making sacrifices to do it, because he's getting attacked all over the media for it, but Chappelle is so strong as a person in both spirit and intelligence that he has been able to stand up to the relentless onslaught of attacks, and even prevail. That's a hero.

He knew this was going to happen. That's why the name of the special is "Sticks and Stones". The oldest reference that I found to this saying is from a publication by the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1862, which refers to it as an old adage, and it goes like this: "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never break me."

I disagree with Chappelle on issues, but there is no denying that the man is intelligent, honest, and ethical. Chappelle predicted this turn in his career. In 2006 he did an interview with The Actors Studio. Here are two important quotes from that interview.

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"I don't know how this whole Dave Chappelle thing is gonna end, but I feel like I'm gonna be some kind of parable. About either what you're supposed to do, or what you're not supposed to... I'm gonna be something. I'm either gonna be a legend or just that tragic fucking story. But I'm going full throttle, I'm going all the way, I'm eager to find out how this will resolve itself."

"I think that America needs an honest discourse with itself. It's like the greatest country in the world by default. You know what I mean, we could actually be the greatest country that ever existed if we were just honest about who we are, and what we are, and where we want to go, and if we learn how to have that discourse."

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All of this is what's coming to fruition in 2019.

In 2017 he did an interview with CBS This Morning outside of Allen University and gives the famous line that, "With great power comes great responsibility." Chappelle has always referred to himself as an artist, as all the great stand-up comics do. Here's an important quote from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn from his acceptance speech for his Nobel Prize for Literature.

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"The simple act of an ordinary brave man is not to participate in lies, not to support false actions! His rule: Let that come into the world, let it even reign supreme - only not through me. But it is within the power of writers and artists to do much more: to defeat the lie! For in the struggle with lies art has always triumphed and shall always triumph! Visibly, irrefutably for all! Lies can prevail against much in this world, but never against art." ...

"One word of truth shall outweigh the whole world."

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To express those truths while surrounded by a society that is a sea of lies takes courage, and that is a heroic trait.

Dave Chappelle is the first person in his family to not go to college since slavery. That's right, I said not. His great-grandfather was president of Allen University, Bishop William David Chappelle. In 2017 Chappelle gave a great short speech at Allen University where he talks about bravery. Here are a few excerpts.

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"One thing I did want to say, one thing today just made me think about, for all the things that I've done, I'm most renowned for what I didn't do. I've made decisions in my career a lot of people have called insane. 2004, I had a 50 million dollar deal on the table, and in a crisis of conscience, flipped the table over, and walked away, went to South Africa. Everyone said I was running away from the money, that is not true. In fact, I still want that money. (laughter) The idea that I wanted to just share with you guys is the idea that sometimes you do what you think is best, whether anybody understands it or not." ...

"This idea that what you do in your lifetime informs the generations that come after you is something that I keep thinking about, something that is so much bigger than just ourselves." ...

"I just want you guys to remember that right now there's this thing where ethics aren't what they used to be, this idea that people are trying to replace the ideas of good and bad with better or worse, and that is incorrect. You've got to keep your ethics intact because good and bad is a compass that helps you find the way. And the person that only does what is better or worse is the easiest type of person to control. They are a mouse in a maze that just finds the cheese. But the one who knows about good and bad will realize that he is in a maze." ...

"It's okay to be afraid, because you can't be brave or courageous without fear. The idea of being courageous is that even though you're scared you just do the right thing anyway." ...

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It takes a rare person to be willing to walk away from 50 million dollars for an ethical stance and to escape a toxic environment.

In an epilogue to the "Sticks and Stones" special called "The Punchline" Chappelle takes questions from the audience. I think it's more interesting than the special. Someone asks him what his favorite books is, and he says, "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass". That is a great book, and Frederick Douglass is an epic hero. And you can see where Chappelle gets some of his most important concepts on protecting free thought, free expression, innocent until proven guilty, the ability to defend yourself, and holding fast to your moral principles. Here are just a few examples from Douglass's book.

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There must be no answering back to him; no explanation was allowed a slave, showing himself to have been wrongfully accused. ...

To be accused was to be convicted, and to be convicted was to be punished; the one always following the other with immutable certainty. ...

I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and incur my own abhorrence. ...

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Dave Chappelle has taken up his responsibility to courageously fight the evil of political correctness by defending freedom of thought and expression. And that, by definition, is a hero.

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Read more of what Jeff deems worthy of attention at: http://www.JeffreyAlexanderMartin.com

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