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'artistic expression'

Netflix releases Dave Chappelle speech blasting his student critics as 'instruments of oppression'

Netflix has quietly dropped a speech by Dave Chappelle, in which the comedian blasts student critics of his controversial jokes about transgender people. 

In a speech titled What's In a Name? that was surprise released on Netflix, Chappelle speaks at his alma mater, the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, which announced plans to name a theater after him. He addresses the students who voiced objections during a Q&A there last year in the wake of his controversial special The Closer, which sparked backlash for its jokes about transgender people. 

"These kids said everything about gender and this and that and the other, but they didn't say anything about art," Chappelle said.

Chappelle went on to say it "sincerely hurt me" to hear "those talking points coming out of these children's faces," as "I know those kids didn't come up with those words," and he accused his student critics of being "instruments of oppression." The comedian defended his "freedom of artistic expression," dubbing The Closer "a masterpiece" and comparing it to the Mona Lisa. 

Since the release of The Closer, Netflix has repeatedly defended Chappelle, including to employees, and in May, the streamer released a Ricky Gervais special that also included controversial jokes mocking transgender people. 

But Chappelle ends his speech by revealing he has declined the honor of having the theater named after him, and it will instead be called the Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression. "Rather than give this theater my name," he says, "I would like to give these students my message to them."