From the Mailbag: Responses to My Letter To Dave

Update after the Rittenhouse trial: If you construe my letter to Dave as diminishing the struggle of Black people in the US, you’ve got two problems. It ain’t either/or – both can be true. Second, you got the wrong guy.

My letter to Dave Chappelle was published in the Dayton Daily News last week, and I’ve … heard back … from some folks. I haven’t gone looking for comments or letters back to me (though the coffee invite is still open to Dave), both because I’ve been on the internet long enough to know not to, and because, I didn’t write it for my ego.

I wanted to showcase two recent messages [1] – apparently sent within two hours of each other – because they are pretty representative of the two main types of (negative) response that I’ve gotten, and I think there’s something to learn from each.

The first started out civil:

THEM: Dave Chappelle article- Why don't you report the actual jokes so we can judge for ourselves? ME: Thank you for a civil question (I've gotten more than a few that were emphatically NOT.) Two reasons: First, the show is available on Netflix and lots of other ink has been spilled about them. You are more than welcome to watch it and make your own opinion there. My letter was my opinion, not a debate. Everyone's free to have a different one. Secondly, I already feel icky about repeating - even as quote - what I did cite. Have a great day!

Reasonable enough, right? Turns out it was an invitation to try to belittle me:

THEM: I've seen it. I purposely challenged you because there's nothing there. I can remain civil, but what you did was besmirch his name without presenting any evidence. That's a terrible thing you did. Shame on you

This is… well, silly. On several levels. Before I wished them a good day (and blocked them), I took a moment to actually answer, and it’s an answer I’ll stand behind.

I am fairly certain that a multimillionare does not need protection from a dude in Dayton. Again, I am entitled to my opinion and its expression, just as Dave is entitled to his opinion and its expression. It came across as bullying to me, it didn’t to you (and presumably not to him). That’s what freedom of speech means.

The consequences of his speech are that I (and others) had issues with it, just as you (and others) have issues with what I said. That’s what is SUPPOSED to happen.

Me, in reply

This is one of the big ironies of those who whine about “cancel culture”: They seem very very interested in silencing and harassing those who disagree with them – especially after they’d gone to some efforts to be “offensive” or “edgy”. I’d actually seen this screenshot on imgur just this morning, and it kind of fits:

Twitter user @Rschooley: 90% of right wing humor is, "Oh, does my behaving like a garbage person TRIGGER you?"

The bigoted and bullying “edgy” comedy is not just morally repugnant…. it’s bad comedy. It’s just repeated hacky schlock. It’s “Airline food, am I right?” except with a side dish of prejudice.

And then followed by faux shock and outrage when their offensive statements cause offense. Go figure.

The second I present to you because sometimes the way someone represents themselves can tell you a lot about them.

User icon is a skull wearing a WWI-style german helmet and and iron cross. The text of the message is "Your letter to Chappelle just shows what a wuss you are. You just became his next punchline but that's appropritae [sic]; you're a fucking joke anyways! LMAO!!!

Johnny’s user icon is a skull wearing a WWI-style german helmet and and iron cross. Both have been appropriated by white nationalist and white supremacist groups.

While that’s not a definite that this guy is a white supremacist or part of those groups, I’m pretty sure the skull and gleaming red eyes are, er, historically accurate “heritage”.

I didn’t bother to check or respond. I just blocked him and continued onward. I’m only presenting it to you here now because of a quotation from, appropriately, Germany.

“As we say in Germany, if there’s a Nazi at the table and 10 other people sitting there talking to him, you got a table with 11 Nazis.”

Y’all might want to take a good look at who’s sitting at the table with you.

Featured Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

[1] Regarding both messages: Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act in 1976; Allowance is made for “Fair Use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use. All rights and credit go directly to its rightful owners. No copyright infringement intended.

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  1. November 6, 2021

    I’m glad the paper published your letter. It was courageous of you to put it out there, and it is sad that thoughtful public discourse does now require so much courage. Sometimes I feel that hate has won.

    • November 6, 2021

      I’m not sure I’d call my actions “courageous”, but I do appreciate the support!

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