Comedian Dave Chappelle is set to be honored by Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C. after he was heckled by students there.
Initially the school planned to rename their Theatre after Chappelle in 2021, but held off after students at the school heckled the comedian for making jokes about transgender people.
The students were upset over Chappelle’s Netflix special “The Closer” which has been criticized for being cruel to the transgender and LGBTQ communities despite the comedian being well known for his insult comedy.
While the angry college kids wanted the honor revoked entirely, they decided to turn the honor into a game, saying whoever could raise the most money for the school would get to name the theatre. In the long run Chappelle won the challenge handedly. He chose to name it the Theater of Artistic Freedom and Expression instead of using his own name, which he waited to announce during the naming ceremony.
According to a statement by the school, the honor is meant “to demonstrate the importance of carefully listening to every voice within our diverse and inclusive community.”
Despite the protests against the comedian, the LA Times reported that most of the student body wanted to name the theater after Chappelle. They said the school told them that “a clear majority of students at Ellington apparently favor naming the theater for the Emmy- and Grammy-winning star.”
Dave Chappelle also put out his own statement after winning the right to rename the theater, saying, “Talk is cheap (Unless I do it). The Duke Ellington School is a glorious institution. Within those walls I found a context to explore my creativity seriously. Duke Ellington, in large part, prepared me to undertake this noble and difficult profession.
He continued, “It was a fine institution before any of its current occupants got there. God willing, it will be a fine institution long after their tenure is done. My only intent is to insure Duke Ellington the opportunity to train its artists, unfettered.”
Chappelle has refused to back down on his right to free speech.
Netflix has frequently defended the comedian after his special, going as far as to tell their staff to quit if they didn’t like working there after the special. Chappelle has always refused to censor himself to critics. Do you think he is helping to lead this country out of cancel culture and back to free speech?