A Netflix employee walkout turned contentious on Wednesday as protesters and backers of transgender rights clashed with supporters of Dave Chappelle over the comedian’s recent Netflix special, Variety reported.
In a walk-out aimed at placing their support behind the transgender community, Netflix employees on Wednesday protested Chappelle's "The Closer," arguing that some of the comments he makes in the special are transphobic.
The stand-up comic in the special proclaims "Gender is a fact" and "I'm Team TERF!" — referring to trans-exclusionary radical feminists. He faced backlash immediately, and Netflix has found itself in further hot water for its defense of "The Closer."
“Trans people are in the middle of a holocaust,” Joey Soloway, the creator behind Amazon's “Transparent” reportedly said. “Apartheid, murder, a state of emergency, human rights crisis, there’s a mental health crisis. There’s a suicide crisis, a bullying crisis, an anxiety, depression, self-hatred state of emergency crisis.”
Signs from the protesters reading “Transphobia is Not a Joke” and “Trans Lives Matter” were met with others on the opposite side saying “Netflix Don’t Cancel Free Speech” and “Jokes Are Funny.”
Supporters of the comedian argued that Chappelle had a right to freely express himself.
“We are protesting this walkout. They have the right to do it, but we have the right to standup for Dave Chappelle and his freedom of expression,” a counterprotester said, according to Variety. “This boils down to equality, and if people want equality they to be put on the same level as anybody else. Comedians are equal opportunity destroyers. You can’t pick and choose who you’re going to make fun of.”
Prior to the walkout, Netflix said that it respected the decision of its employees to participate and acknowledged the “deep hurt” that had been caused following the Chappelle special and previous comments on the situation from the company's CEO.
“We value our trans colleagues and allies, and understand the deep hurt that’s been caused,” a spokesperson for Netflix told ITK in a statement on Wednesday.
“We respect the decision of any employee who chooses to walk out, and recognize we have much more work to do both within Netflix and in our content,” the spokesperson added.