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Irving, Chappelle should consider who’s cheering them

7 mins read

Sports can be brutal at times, but overall I enjoy them for the lessons they teach.

“When one of us succeeds, we all succeed.”

“Every person has a role to play.”

“Sometimes no feedback is good feedback” (ask any offensive lineman).

“It matters who lines up beside you.”

I think this last one is overlooked by people like Kyrie Irving and Dave Chappelle, because if they were thinking about it, they might reconsider the stances they have taken recently.

Irving is a professional basketball player who, as I’m writing this, is missing out on playing with the Brooklyn Nets because he has refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The Nets decided Irving will not play or practice with the team until he gets at least one dose of vaccine, which would bring him in compliance with a local mandate established by New York City.

He is a truly gifted point guard with the ability to score, defend, control the pace of a game and, most importantly, elevate the play of his teammates. His lack of playing time is hurting his team — and his wallet, to the tune of about $380,000 per home game he misses.

Unfortunately, Irving also is a high-performing conspiracy nut.

Not only does he believe and help spread anti-vaccine theories that specifically try to discourage Black people from getting the shots — including allegations the vaccines contain chips that will enlist Black people in Satanic plots — he admits he thinks the Earth is flat and that the Federal Reserve played a role in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

I would never tell any athlete to just shut and play, but Irving is not one I’d ask to substitute-teach a civics class. But his vaccine-resistant views have found support from some surprising corners.

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas rallied to his defense. Though he is fully vaccinated, Cruz said he supports Irving and other players who have stood up to “tyrannical politicians,” tweeting “#YourBodyYourChoice.” Even Donald Trump Jr. chimed in, tweeting, “Kyrie just sacrificed more than (Colin) Kaepernick ever did.”

I would argue there’s a considerable difference between being blackballed from the NFL for protesting racism and being able to end his “sacrifice” anytime Irving decides to, but that’s the problem with arguing with foolish people. As Mark Twain said, from a distance, people won’t be able to tell which of you actually is the fool.

Comedian Dave Chappelle finds himself in similar uncomfortable circumstances over his insistence on making jokes about “the alphabet people.” It’s a reference to the overall LGBT community, but he focuses on transgender women.

“The Ts hate my … guts!” he said during one special, to raucous laughter from the audience.

Many of Chappelle’s barbs, which range from the mildly clever to the surprisingly tasteless, can be found in a 25-minute supercut on YouTube. They range across a series of shows he performed as part of a multimillion-dollar deal with Netflix.

He admits, “I can’t stop telling jokes about these [people]!”

In his most recent special, “The Closer,” the comedian revisited some of the jokes he made earlier and the ensuing fallout. He said he aligns himself with “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling and other trans exclusionary radical feminists, who reject trans women.

He tries to give himself an out by discussing a trans comedian he supported. But he also continues to make jokes at her expense, saying her family told him she would appreciate them (she committed suicide by jumping from a building, an act Chappelle says proves she was a man: “Only a man would do some gangster (expletive) like that.”)

The transgender community revolted, with some Netflix employees staging a walkout. But who came to Chappelle’s defense? Fellow comedians, most of them straight and male. Caitlyn Jenner, who blamed “woke culture.” And Fox and Friends host Brian Kilmeade, who said the comedian was another target of “cancel culture.”

When Kilmeade is on your side, you have to know you’re doing something wrong. A broken clock is right more often than he is.

I love Chappelle’s observational humor, but he needs better supporters. And funnier jokes. And more deserving targets. We live in dangerous times, and he has spent too much going after people who are just trying to live their lives.

I literally just saw where entertainer Ice Cube lost a role in a Disney film because he refused to get vaccinated. I’m eager to see who from the conservative community joins the cause of a man who rapped about being “Amerikkka’s Most Wanted” and has an album cover of an American flag covering a body with a toe tag that reads “Uncle Sam.”

Logic and consistency are no longer standards for this crowd. So who knows?

Terry E. Manning lives and works in Savannah, Ga. He is a Clemson graduate and worked for 20 years as a journalist. He can be reached at teemanning@gmail.com.

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