"I never loved Dave’s trans material before but this time it felt different," the Dear White People co-showrunner, who is transgender, tells Variety of her decision to publicly cut ties with Netflix over Chappelle's new The Closer special. "The fact is that’s the exact rhetoric and language that is used against us. I have had beer bottles thrown at me," adds Moore. "I have been thrown against a wall for using a women’s bathroom. I would just say it’s ironic that for somebody who famously walked away from a TV show because he felt like the messages of the joke got lost, he doesn’t see what the messages of these jokes do to people. He talks about our feelings being hurt. My feelings are fine, but being thrown against a wall hurts or worrying at night if I can get home safe. That stuff is not theoretical. I’m really tired of my existence being a matter of debate, that this is something that we all just get to have an opinion about. We all get to have an opinion whether or not I am what I say I am. Look, I have no desire to cancel Dave Chappelle. He should make whatever he wants to make but I will say to Netflix, it’s not like this was a live special. They saw this and were like, 'Yeah this seems okay to put out there.' The truth is it’s not. It’s dangerous and it has real world physical violence repercussions. People like to say, 'Oh, it’s just a joke.' I get the joke. By the way there’s a lot that’s funny about being trans, but the idea that it’s funny that we call ourselves women, which was the subtext of a lot of those jokes, is not one of them. It’s actually the same language used by people who seek to hurt us." Moore was asked how Netflix, known for its inclusivity, would approve of Chappelle's transphobic jokes. "I don’t know how it got passed because I will say having worked on a show there, I know that they think about these things and have conversations about these things. I think probably part of it is that Chappelle has carte blanche to say whatever he wants, and I think that’s great. I do believe in freedom of speech," says Moore. "I really do. But I have the freedom of speech to say that somebody’s speech bothers me, and I don’t want to work with a company that promotes that speech. It’s dangerous. It’s dangerous language. I can’t say it any clearer."
Jaclyn Moore says she's not out to censor Dave Chappelle: Moore says she just wants people to know what life is like for trans and other LGBTQ folks who face discrimination, harassment, violence and abuse on a regular basis. “It is much easier to commit violence against someone that you think is immoral or a liar or … sorry,” Moore tells The Hollywood Reporter, choking up. “Someone not worthy of your respect. That makes it much easier to hurt me. He says, ‘Please stop punching down.’ I don’t know in what world trans women control the universe because from where I’m sitting, Dave Chappelle has all the specials, all the money, all the things. I just want my friends to not get killed.” Moore adds: "There’s another mode that Dave Chappelle has that is almost professorial. It’s why he’s brilliant because he can break the world down for his audience. In (The Closer), I feel this is where the trans material lands because it felt like he was breaking down the world and I cried in a couple of moments, specifically, because of that. The one that broke me came when he was talking about Caitlyn Jenner, who, by the way, of course is someone I’m not a fan of. He talked about Caitlyn Jenner winning a Woman of the Year award, saying that she’d only been a woman for about a year and had never had a period. If he were a woman, he said, that would make him mad. 'It does make me mad,' he said. A decent amount of the audience clearly agreed. And then he called himself 'team TERF.' Those moments broke me because it crystallized the feeling that they don’t believe me. They think it’s absurd that I call myself a woman. They don’t like me. Isn’t it absurd that you could be a woman and have never had a period? And isn’t it absurd that someone who was not assigned female at birth could be a woman?"
Chappelle's words matter because he's been appointed a cultural arbiter: "In the years since The Chappelle Show launched, we have coronated him not just as a brilliant comedian, but a cultural arbiter," says Kevin Fallon. "Therefore his musings aren’t just profound, they’re indisputable. We do that often for comedians. They tell a joke that’s relatable about how we feel about airplane peanuts, and suddenly they speak on behalf of the entire human experience. (I’m being glib, but the point is there.) Chappelle’s whole thing is saying the things we’re not supposed to say, let alone think, and then making us consider what it says about us that we quiet those parts of ourselves. But what if those things don’t actually have value when they’re articulated? What if they’re just, at face value, wrong? Saying 'this is bullshit' isn’t being too woke, or a hater, or reactionary, or dumb. It’s taking the material on that face value, which is ostensibly what an entertainer like Dave Chappelle wants. Watching The Closer was an uncomfortable experience. Not because what he was saying made me rethink my own thoughts and values. But because of how embarrassingly it didn’t."
There is a responsibility that comes with a tongue as mighty as Chappelle’s: "He’s not a history teacher or an activist, but there is a responsibility that comes with a tongue as mighty as Chappelle’s," says Justin Tinsley. "When he talks, he has the power to shift discussions with that wicked combination of storytelling and delivery. And, at least in terms of this discussion, he’s done the complete opposite. Chappelle says The Closer is his last stand-up for some time. He says that he’s done addressing the LGBTQ community and that whenever he does return everyone will be laughing together. In the days since watching the Netflix special, I’ve asked myself this question a thousand different ways: Can Dave actually pull that off? The answer is, I don’t really know. Yet, there’s one thing for certain. Whenever he returns, the world will be different from what it is now. We’ll all just have to wait and see if the same happens for Chappelle."