During Friday’s episode of HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher, the titular host addressed the controversy surrounding Chappelle’s The Closer—his sixth Netflix comedy special that some have denounced as transphobic.
“What the fuck was that reaction?” Maher asked in his opening monologue. “Everyone needs to Netflix and chill the fuck out on this one.”
“Really? Dave’s special is offensive but not the show where the Koreans murder each other for money?” Maher continued, referring to the wildly popular Squid Game series. “I think people jump to conclusions, people haven’t seen it. Just because people call Dave ‘transphobic’ doesn’t mean that he is. Also, Larry? Not a real cable guy.”
The Real Time audience was noticeably hesitant to laugh at Maher’s quips, prompting the host to say, “Well, get used to this because we’re going to be talking about it a lot here … We can’t be afraid to speak in America.”
Maher revisited the topic during the panel discussion with author John McWhorter and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang. Maher argued “there isn’t just one true opinion,” before declaring himself a “free speech guy.”
“Now, I’m Team Dave, but that doesn’t mean I’m anti-trans,” he explained. “We can have two thoughts in our head at the same time. Am I right about that?”
Activists and civil rights organizations have called on Netflix to pull The Closer from its services, alleging Chappelle’s rhetoric poses a danger to the trans community. During the special, the 48-year-old comedian called himself “Team TERF” (trans-exclusionary radical feminists) and made several offensive remarks about trans women’s genitalia.
Fellow comedian Jon Stewart also weighed in on the controversy earlier this and offered his support for his friend Chappelle.
“He’s one of my favorite people on the planet ...” Stewart told TMZ. “I know his intention is never hurtful. Like, he’s just not that type of person.”