By Jonathon Van Maren
Ever since the trash-talking (and over-rated) George Carlin used his comedy stand-up tours to engage in longwinded and profanity-laced defences of abortion, edgy comedians seeking to shock and offend have followed in his footsteps in an attempt to use their platforms to fire up support for feticide. Sarah Silverman triggered widespread outrage in 2012 when she tweeted out a photograph of her flat stomach and the caption: “Got a quickie aborsh in case R v W gets overturned.” She later admitted that her abortion jokes weren’t funny — but she’s certainly not the only one giving them a try.
Many late-night hosts go for abortion jokes, as well, but they have so transparently abandoned neutrality and so brazenly embraced Planned Parenthood’s agenda that they can scarcely be called comedians. Samantha Bee returns to the subject obsessively and peppers her performance with outright lies about abortion. Chelsea Handler devotes a good deal of time to it as well and has used her own prior abortions to lend credibility to her position. Michelle Wolf got explicit at last year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner while mocking Mike Pence: “He thinks abortion is murder. Which, first of all, don’t knock it ’til you try it — and when you do try it, really knock it. You know, you’ve really got to get that baby out of there.”
Louis CK also tackled abortion, expressing in stark terms the position on abortion that most of his ideological ilk are moving toward: abortion “definitely kills a baby” but should be permitted. “Either abortion is like [defecating], or it’s like killing a baby. It’s only one of those two things,” he told his visibly uncomfortable audience. Interestingly, he even defended pro-life protesters: “People hate abortion protesters,” he noted, his expression indicating he was clearly enjoying the audience’s discomfort. “They’re so shrill and awful! They think babies are being murdered! What are they supposed to do? Well, that’s not cool. I don’t want to be a d‑‑‑ about it though. I don’t want to ruin their day as they murder several babies all the time.”
And this brings me to the legendary Dave Chappelle’s latest comments. I’ll state up front that I haven’t watched his Netflix special because I do not have Netflix (for a long list of reasons that I’ll deal with some other time). Additionally, Chappelle (like Louis) is famously crude and profane. However, several clips of his sketches on abortion are currently making the rounds through pro-life Twitter, and (especially since millions of people will be watching Chappelle’s take) I found his subversive formulation clever — especially since people seem to be divided on whether his take is genius or horrific.
After noting that he doesn’t like abortion and then reeling out the boilerplate talking point that as a man, he shouldn’t have anything to say about the choice, he then headed into new territory. “If you can kill this [baby],” Chappelle noted to nervous titters, “I can at least abandon him. It’s my money, my choice. And if I’m wrong, then perhaps we’re wrong. Figure that s‑‑‑ out for yourselves.” That’s precisely what people are attempting to do right now — and they’re also trying to figure out what Chappelle’s opinion on abortion actually is.
His opinion is so clever precisely because he highlights the hypocrisy of the pro-choice position so subtly and effectively. In reality, it has nothing to do with choice and everything to do with granting women the ability to have their children killed if they find them inconvenient. While many men are enormous fans of this so-called right, as it gets them off the hook as well, their responsibility is harnessed directly to whether or not the woman decides to keep the baby. And so, as Chappelle noted, if it is so insane to say men shouldn’t have to pay child support, maybe it is also insane to say we can kill those children in the first place: “Figure that s‑‑‑ out for yourselves.”