Dave Chappelle
Courtesy of Wikimedia

Comedian Dave Chappelle released two controversial Netflix comedy specials on Dec. 31. Throughout his nearly two decade long run as a comedian, Chappelle has frequently been the center of media attention with his political and

social commentary.

For years, Chappelle only concerned himself with the free press. In recent years, Chappelle has been at odds with a less avoidable medium: social media. Social media is an omnipresent tool ingrained into the fabric of our lives.

Chappelle has never been politically correct as his profession makes this character trait nearly impossible. In his comedy special, Chappelle uses obscenities to ironically describe how sensitive society is to vulgar words, a popular criticism in our political climate. The common observer has failed to identify a hidden pattern that backlash to such controversial statements may not have grown, but exposure to it has become more common.

Social media has given the public access to numerous cultures and opinions. One of the main objectives of social media is to expose people to views other than their own. No matter how much we surround ourselves in an echo-chamber of people with similar views, there is no escaping the outside world.

Too often the idea of free speech is used to criticize universities for denying public speakers, to belittle those who are offended and to criticize our society’s sensitivity. We must remember the true definition of freedom of speech and how it applies to our current society.

In his recent special, “Dave Chappelle: Equanimity,” Chappelle comments on his quarrel with the LGBT community caused by his satirical pieces about transgender people. A supporter of Chappelle may defend his right to use free speech to satirize these groups.

However, the LGBT community is using their own right to free speech to criticize Chappelle. Both sides have the right to

express their opinions.

The First Amendment protects individuals from government persecution of speech. It does not grant you immunity from judgement by everyday citizens and peers. No government is prosecuting Chappelle.

Many people accuse Chappelle’s critics of being over-sensitive to his material. Chappelle claims to support the LGBT community. But just as

it is his right to satirize the community, it is their right to criticize him for it. Their ability to protest his speech is another right given by the Constitution.

Our society has begun to use personal freedom

of speech in attempts to suppress others’ freedom of speech. Greater exposure to differing beliefs will reveal to us that just as we have the right to speak freely, others have the same right to express their perspectives. We mustn’t forget freedom of speech does not solely extend to those with similar opinions to us.

Soheil Saneei is a 19-year-old biological engineering freshman from Metairie, Louisiana.

 

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