In the past week, two big-names in sports and entertainment had headlines named after them for politically incorrect and/or culturally insensitive statements.
- A New York Times article published emails written by Raiders former head coach Jon Gruden. The emails contained derogatory, racist, sexist, and homophobic language.
- Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special, ‘The Closer’ saw backlash from trans employees at Netflix. Chappelle joked about the trans community and said that he is a TERF (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist).
- Gruden resigned as head coach following the emails. Chappelle’s special is still up on Netflix and is garnering favorable reviews from fans.
Two stories. Two different endings.
Gruden’s email was littered with foul and telling language that put the NFL in a difficult position. Here’s what we took home from the Gruden story – Jesus said “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks,” If your political, cultural, or theological convictions are creating hate against others in the heart, it might be time to reevaluate and reread some scripture. It’s okay to have convictions, but it shouldn’t lead us to hate others. Here are 6 things to ask yourself before posting something online for others to see (if only Gruden had asked himself these things before sending the email):
- Does what I’m posting use offensive, disrespectful, or belittling language?
- Might what I’m saying cause people to question the standards of Jesus, based on knowing that I’m a Christian and am willing to speak or conduct myself in this way?
- Is the way I’m speaking gracious, or is it driven by extreme annoyance or unfiltered emotion
- Does what I’m sharing have the potential to cause factions within the church?
- If Jesus was my only follower, would I be too ashamed to share this?
- Would Jesus “like” this video/photo/quote/article I’m sharing?
The Chappelle story is surprising because he normally never does stuff like this. Lol jk. This is par for the course with Chappelle and it’s what’s made him super famous and rich. What would be shocking would be if he didn’t cause controversy with his comedy. In the Court of Public Opinion, it feels like Chappelle gets a pass and Gruden doesn’t. After all, Netflix has (so far) not canceled ‘The Closer’ but Gruden’s career is done.
In fact, Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos commented in a Variety exclusive that “distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries” while he noted Chappelle’s success on Netflix and no current plan to remove “The Closer” special.
Even if what Chappelle said in his Netflix special rang true in your ears, it was also crudely done (although intentional). So does he “deserve’ canceling like Gruden? That’s what many Trans activists and allies are calling for. There is a walk-out planned for October 20th for any trans employees at Netflix.
Cancel culture levies a heavy toll against the accused and the accuser. We’ve all fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), and we all also have to answer for our own actions (Romans 14:12). We want to speak truth to a deceived world, but we also want to do it with love.
The call to be gracious might feel weightier at times, but love and forgiveness often speaks louder than speaking loudly.