Dave Chappelle and the Death of Free Speech

 

With apologies for my prolonged absence from Ricochet, I wanted to call the members’ attention to my most recent contribution at The Pipeline, in which I address the Dave Chappelle incident at the Hollywood Bowl and the death of free speech. An excerpt:

In comedy’s long history, practitioners of the trade have been cloaked with what was once known as the “jester’s privilege,” a certain license that protected them from consequences when they made an observation that, from another’s lips, would have been viewed as transgressive. As should now be obvious to all, the jester’s privilege is dead.

I also address the issue of the appropriate charges against Chappelle’s alleged attacker, Isaiah Lee. There has been much criticism of Los Angeles County district attorney George Gascón for his refusal to file felony charges against Lee, and loath as I am to defend Gascón, in this case he is an example of the proverbial stopped clock. Under California law, the attack did not amount to a felony.

If anyone has further questions about the charges against Lee, I’ll be happy to engage in the comments.

Published in General
Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 52 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    Thus if you assault somebody we should assume that your intent is murder and you should be held that way.

    Good heavens. Drunken bar scuffle with a few glancing blows and broken glassware? Attempted murder! Callously shoving someone out of the way in a crowd? Attempted murder! Angry wife throwing a grapefruit at her lazy husband during an argument? Attempted murder!

    Reducto ad absurdum. Nice.

    It is clear what I mean.

    Not really. You and I have talked about this before. I said that perhaps life imprisonment was too harsh for the loser stealing change out of unlocked cars and you said that I was soft on crime.

    Well you are right that I have no problem with life for theft. 

    It is pretty simple: Don’t go into someone’s car and take their stuff. Again, 12 year old knows not to do this. 

    If we lock up the actual criminals, then there will be less crime, because they won’t be on the streets. Criminals don’t just do it once, they do it over and over. I want my car to be safe from being looted. Ergo, I want looters removed from society. 

    I’d also be open to allowing me to use deadly force to protect my property. I catch the thief, I can shoot him in the head. Stealing from me takes away not only my stuff, but the time I took to buy it, and my sense of security and safety. People doing that to others are not fit to be among us. 

    All a lack of prosecution this man does is send the signal that it is OK to attack people. In LA, I can walk up to someone and hit them, but I guess as long as they are successful in fending me off, no harm, no foul. 

    • #31
  2. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Statutes contain a definition of the crime. Elements of that crime are contained in the statutes as are allowable defenses to that crime. On January 1 statutes may change due to legislative actions.

    When I was on the streets, we were issued a new copy of the Oregon Revised Statutes on January 1. When I made an arrest for an offense, I would list the applicable statute or statutes in the case of multiple offenses in my Incident Report. There was a copy of the ORS in my “war bag”. 

    A copy of the Incident Report is sent to the DA’s office. Any property that I seized would include a Property Receipt. The DA’s office and the suspect receive a copy of the Property Receipt. Property Receipts are part of the Chain of Custody process.

    The DA’s office can add charges or subtract charges based upon the Incident Report. Plea deals can and do come into play. A judge has to approve a plea deal.

    Based upon my experiences on the street’s laws do not prevent crimes. Laws provide a consistent process to prosecute crimes.

    The problem with the Soros prosecutors is in many cases they are inconsistent in their duties. They act as advocates for the criminal rather than the victim. The criminal has an advocate, a defense attorney. This has led to rising crime rates, public mistrust and anger, as well as alienating relations between officers and the DA’s office in cities across the US.

    There are many reasons to desire the removal of Gascon but the Dave Chappelle incident is not one that should be on that list for removal. 

    • #32
  3. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Statutes contain a definition of the crime. Elements of that crime are contained in the statutes as are allowable defenses to that crime. On January 1 statutes may change due to legislative actions.

    When I was on the streets, we were issued a new copy of the Oregon Revised Statutes on January 1. When I made an arrest for an offense, I would list the applicable statute or statutes in the case of multiple offenses in my Incident Report. There was a copy of the ORS in my “war bag”.

    A copy of the Incident Report is sent to the DA’s office. Any property that I seized would include a Property Receipt. The DA’s office and the suspect receive a copy of the Property Receipt. Property Receipts are part of the Chain of Custody process.

    The DA’s office can add charges or subtract charges based upon the Incident Report. Plea deals can and do come into play. A judge has to approve a plea deal.

    Based upon my experiences on the street’s laws do not prevent crimes. Laws provide a consistent process to prosecute crimes.

    The problem with the Soros prosecutors is in many cases they are inconsistent in their duties. They act as advocates for the criminal rather than the victim. The criminal has an advocate, a defense attorney. This has led to rising crime rates, public mistrust and anger, as well as alienating relations between officers and the DA’s office in cities across the US.

    There are many reasons to desire the removal of Gascon but the Dave Chappelle incident is not one that should be on that list for removal.

    It is mind boggling to me that someone can charge a stage, with a deadly weapon on their person, and that is not a felony. The only reason he did not end up with a felony, is that private security pounced. What this says that in LA, if someone attacks me on the street and I am lucky enough not to get hurt, nothing will really happen to the guy. We will wait until he actually does a lot of damage to someone and then we might take action. 

    Those are sick laws. 

    • #33
  4. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Jack Dunphy (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):
    I’ve always heard the mere act of touching someone was assault and battery. It didn’t matter how severe the injury was. But, I’m not a cop, so . . .

    Any unwanted touching can be considered a battery, but obviously there are degrees of unlawfulness.

    Ahhhh . . . that makes sense!

    • #34
  5. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    Jack Dunphy (View Comment):

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    Kevin601 (View Comment):

    Jack Dunphy (View Comment):

    Kevin601 (View Comment):

    I understand that while Lee had a weapon on him, it was not drawn when he attacked Chapelle, hence no felony. But he did draw his weapon on the venue security when they intervened. Why was no felony charged then? While our eyes are naturally drawn to the celebrity, we forget that others were involved as well. Any of the brave security guards could have been injury or killed by Lee. Who speaks for them?

    It was my understanding that the weapon was found in his bag. Where did you learn he had brandished it?

    New York Post article by Guy Shepherd, dated May 12. Article states Lee went for his weapon when confronted by security resulting in broken arm.

    Found it. Here is the key passage:

    The reasoning Gascón’s office provided is tortured and reflects the habit of mind currently torturing Los Angelenos: Chappelle was not hurt; while Lee stormed the stage and tackled Chappelle, he didn’t brandish the weapon. Under such circumstances — caught on tape — Gascón’s office could not “ethically” charge Lee with a felony, though Lee consciously evaded security and brought a lethal weapon to a public event. And while he did not pull the weapon on Chappelle, he did go for it in the ensuing melee with security, which might explain the assailant’s broken arm.

    There’s a fine line to be drawn here. I don’t know what is meant by “he did go for it.” He may have reached into the bag but was prevented from removing the weapon. Absent a clear use or brandishing of the weapon, the misdemeanor charges are appropriate.

    Nor do we know if he “did go for it” in any sense of the word. (Given that news reporting is sometimes wrong and I haven’t bothered to follow this case.)

    It still seems like commiting a crime while in possession of a weapon makes it worse, brandish or not . . .

    • #35
  6. Cassandro Coolidge
    Cassandro
    @Flicker

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    Thus if you assault somebody we should assume that your intent is murder and you should be held that way.

    Good heavens. Drunken bar scuffle with a few glancing blows and broken glassware? Attempted murder! Callously shoving someone out of the way in a crowd? Attempted murder! Angry wife throwing a grapefruit at her lazy husband during an argument? Attempted murder!

    But grapefruit can sting the eyes and cause long-lasting discomfort.

    • #36
  7. Cassandro Coolidge
    Cassandro
    @Flicker

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Personally I’m a proponent of equal sentencing and criminality for any attempted crime that would be based on the crime itself. Thus if you assault somebody we should assume that your intent is murder and you should be held that way. This was a premeditated assault with clear intent to do significant significant bodily damage if not murder.

    Except that plenty of assaults clearly do not include an intent to murder or cause grievous bodily harm. Our problem today is not that there is something wrong with the traditional understanding of misdemeanor vs. felonious assault. Rather, our problem is that leftists have corrupted the institutions of society so that vicious criminals are released to prey again and again, while intellectuals praise them as innocent victims of society.

    This assault was clearly intended to cause damange.

    The man should be locked away forever. He never needs to be out again. Every one knows you should not act this way my kids at 12 knew this. The man is not fit for society and he should be in a cell with other of his ilk until he dies.

    But you wrote “if you assault somebody we should assume that your intent is murder“, which is what I was responding to. Such an assumption would be inappropriate.

    But you can accidentally kill someone with a single blow, even in friendly combat.  It happens.  Unfriendly combat is deliberately endangering a person’s life even if you haven’t thought about it.

    • #37
  8. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    Thus if you assault somebody we should assume that your intent is murder and you should be held that way.

    Good heavens. Drunken bar scuffle with a few glancing blows and broken glassware? Attempted murder! Callously shoving someone out of the way in a crowd? Attempted murder! Angry wife throwing a grapefruit at her lazy husband during an argument? Attempted murder!

    Reducto ad absurdum. Nice.

    It is clear what I mean.

    Not really. You and I have talked about this before. I said that perhaps life imprisonment was too harsh for the loser stealing change out of unlocked cars and you said that I was soft on crime.

    Or we could chop their hands off like the Islamic extremists do. 

    • #38
  9. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    It is mind boggling to me that someone can charge a stage, with a deadly weapon on their person, and that is not a felony. The only reason he did not end up with a felony, is that private security pounced. What this says that in LA, if someone attacks me on the street and I am lucky enough not to get hurt, nothing will really happen to the guy. We will wait until he actually does a lot of damage to someone and then we might take action. 

    Those are sick laws. 

    Once again, the problem is not the laws but the people enforcing the laws. America got along very well for generations with the fine distinctions that you seem to deplore and wish to dispense with–felony vs. misdemeanor, assault vs. assault and battery, varying degrees of seriousness of the preceding, and distinctions between use of a weapon, possession of a weapon, and so on.

    And speaking of the people enforcing (or not enforcing) the laws, have you noticed the sharp increase in people arrested for serious felonies who were out on bail for other serious felonies? And the increasingly brazen criminals who admit that they are now unafraid of arrest and prosecution? We have plenty of laws. We lack politicians and officials willing to enforce those laws.

    • #39
  10. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    It is mind boggling to me that someone can charge a stage, with a deadly weapon on their person, and that is not a felony. The only reason he did not end up with a felony, is that private security pounced. What this says that in LA, if someone attacks me on the street and I am lucky enough not to get hurt, nothing will really happen to the guy. We will wait until he actually does a lot of damage to someone and then we might take action.

    Those are sick laws.

    Once again, the problem is not the laws but the people enforcing the laws. America got along very well for generations with the fine distinctions that you seem to deplore and wish to dispense with–felony vs. misdemeanor, assault vs. assault and battery, varying degrees of seriousness of the preceding, and distinctions between use of a weapon, possession of a weapon, and so on.

    And speaking of the people enforcing (or not enforcing) the laws, have you noticed the sharp increase in people arrested for serious felonies who were out on bail for other serious felonies? And the increasingly brazen criminals who admit that they are now unafraid of arrest and prosecution? We have plenty of laws. We lack politicians and officials willing to enforce those laws.

    Criminals should be locked up.

    Right and wrong is easy in most cases. People should pay.

    • #40
  11. Jack Dunphy Contributor
    Jack Dunphy
    @JackDunphy

    Doug Watt (View Comment):
    There are many reasons to desire the removal of Gascon but the Dave Chappelle incident is not one that should be on that list for removal. 

    Exactly.

    • #41
  12. Jack Dunphy Contributor
    Jack Dunphy
    @JackDunphy

    Stad (View Comment):
    It still seems like committing a crime while in possession of a weapon makes it worse, brandish or not . .

    In California, there are sentence enhancements for various scenarios involving weapons.  Additional time can be added to a sentence upon conviction of certain crimes if the defendant is found to have possessed or used a deadly weapon, or if a co-principal possessed or used one.  See here, for example.

    • #42
  13. Ammo.com Member
    Ammo.com
    @ammodotcom

    Kevin601 (View Comment):

    I understand that while Lee had a weapon on him, it was not drawn when he attacked Chapelle, hence no felony. But he did draw his weapon on the venue security when they intervened. Why was no felony charged then? While our eyes are naturally drawn to the celebrity, we forget that others were involved as well. Any of the brave security guards could have been injury or killed by Lee. Who speaks for them?

    The distric attorney, who doesn’t care about them.

    • #43
  14. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    Stad (View Comment):

    Jack Dunphy (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Kevin601 (View Comment):
    I understand that while Lee had a weapon on him, it was not drawn when he attacked Chapelle, hence no felony.

    Since when is physical assault not a felony? I haven’t seen any video of the incident, so I may be missing something . . .

    To summarize the law very briefly, absent significant injury to the victim or use of a weapon, crimes of this type are charged as misdemeanors.

    I’ve always heard the mere act of touching someone was assault and battery. It didn’t matter how severe the injury was. But, I’m not a cop, so . . .

    Yes that seems to be the case. Twice I was manhandled by not wearing a mask in a store. I had already mentally rehearsed that no matter what was done to me, I would not touch any store mgr or store employee. Because my grabbing them back would be seen as assault. Their grabbing me, which involved their being six inches away, not six feet, seemed ridiculous since if they really thought an unmasked human was a plague carrier, wouldn’t they obey the 6 feet rule?

    But then, none of it made sense.

    Basically, “touching equalss assault, if the person being touched has some shield of authority, like store mgr. Or being a police officer.

    We as mere civilians aren’t allowed the same provisions.

    • #44
  15. The Girlie Show Member
    The Girlie Show
    @CatIII

    I appreciate the info about the law and why Isaiah Lee wasn’t charged with a felony.

    It’s funny that no one has mentioned Lee was a rapper who wrote a pro-Trump song, “Maga my n**ga” (sic). According to Chappelle himself, Lee said the attack was to bring attention to his grandmother who lost her home to “gentrification.” This seems like some mentally ill guy trying to get attention.

    Lee was beaten to a pulp and has been charged with a crime. Will Smith tanked his career with that slap. Assaulting comedians is not being incentivized.

    • #45
  16. Jack Dunphy Contributor
    Jack Dunphy
    @JackDunphy

    The Girlie Show (View Comment):
    Lee was beaten to a pulp and has been charged with a crime. Will Smith tanked his career with that slap. Assaulting comedians is not being incentivized.

    It remains to be seen what will become of Will Smith’s career, but I’d be surprised to see that it has tanked.  I’m sure that even now the rehabilitation campaign is being orchestrated, which of course will feature the tearful interview with some hand-picked interviewer.  If Hollywood thinks he can put fannies in the seats, his career will be just fine.

    • #46
  17. Justin Other Lawyer Coolidge
    Justin Other Lawyer
    @DouglasMyers

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    Thus if you assault somebody we should assume that your intent is murder and you should be held that way.

    Good heavens. Drunken bar scuffle with a few glancing blows and broken glassware? Attempted murder! Callously shoving someone out of the way in a crowd? Attempted murder! Angry wife throwing a grapefruit at her lazy husband during an argument? Attempted murder!

    Reducto ad absurdum. Nice.

    It is clear what I mean.

    Not really. You and I have talked about this before. I said that perhaps life imprisonment was too harsh for the loser stealing change out of unlocked cars and you said that I was soft on crime.

    Well you are right that I have no problem with life for theft.

    It is pretty simple: Don’t go into someone’s car and take their stuff. Again, 12 year old knows not to do this.

    If we lock up the actual criminals, then there will be less crime, because they won’t be on the streets. Criminals don’t just do it once, they do it over and over. I want my car to be safe from being looted. Ergo, I want looters removed from society.

    I’d also be open to allowing me to use deadly force to protect my property. I catch the thief, I can shoot him in the head. Stealing from me takes away not only my stuff, but the time I took to buy it, and my sense of security and safety. People doing that to others are not fit to be among us.

    All a lack of prosecution this man does is send the signal that it is OK to attack people. In LA, I can walk up to someone and hit them, but I guess as long as they are successful in fending me off, no harm, no foul.

    Nah–simply locking people up can be unjust.  For theft crimes, I’m much more in favor of requiring restitution on the biblical model (seriously).  A repentant thief should be required to repay to the offended party in full, plus 20% (Lev. 6:4-5), and an unrepentant one should be required to repay up to 5x the cost of the theft.  If he cannot pay, then his wages should be garnished as long as it takes to make the offended whole.  If he will not work, then other more drastic measures should be taken, but all those measures should be geared to restoring the offended party.  Chuck Colson has written beautifully on this topic: https://www.regent.edu/acad/schlaw/student_life/studentorgs/lawreview/docs/issues/v10/10RegentULRev1.pdf

     

    • #47
  18. Henry Racette killed the Black Dahlia Member
    Henry Racette killed the Black Dahlia
    @Misthiocracy

    It has been reported that Dave Chappelle is paid about US$20 million per Netflix special.

    In other words, the jester privilege ain’t quite dead yet.

    • #48
  19. Henry Racette killed the Black Dahlia Member
    Henry Racette killed the Black Dahlia
    @Misthiocracy

    Furthermore, everything I’ve read about the attacker (Isaiah Lee) suggests his cerebral wiring ain’t installed properly and the attack was no more politically-significant than the murder of John Lennon.

    i.e. Just another crazy person obsessed with a celebrity.

    • #49
  20. The Girlie Show Member
    The Girlie Show
    @CatIII

    Jack Dunphy (View Comment):

    The Girlie Show (View Comment):
    Lee was beaten to a pulp and has been charged with a crime. Will Smith tanked his career with that slap. Assaulting comedians is not being incentivized.

    It remains to be seen what will become of Will Smith’s career, but I’d be surprised to see that it has tanked. I’m sure that even now the rehabilitation campaign is being orchestrated, which of course will feature the tearful interview with some hand-picked interviewer. If Hollywood thinks he can put fannies in the seats, his career will be just fine.

    Smith has spent decades crafting his public image. His career is built on it. He’s not a Daniel Day Lewis who can get by just on his acting skills. He’s a capital-c Celebrity. Keeping in the public’s eye by say appearing at awards shows is a big part of his branding. He’s made Tik Toks and/or Instagram posts from the Oscars. He also likes to make the occasional prestige movie and that’s going to be less appealing without the possibility of an Academy Award.

    He’s fashioned himself an affable, upstanding good guy with broad appeal and that image is in jeopardy probably for the first time in his career. This incident has brought newfound attention to his marriage woes, which weren’t hidden before but are now under a microscope. The opportunity costs are what will probably haunt him since he’s unlikely to know all the projects he’ll get passed on.

    Is this the last time Will Smith will star in a movie? Of course not. Can his career recover from this? Yes, he’s shown plenty of savvy up to this point, but it’s going to be work. That stupid outburst cost him a lot.

    • #50
  21. Taras Coolidge
    Taras
    @Taras

    Justin Other Lawyer (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    Thus if you assault somebody we should assume that your intent is murder and you should be held that way.

    Good heavens. Drunken bar scuffle with a few glancing blows and broken glassware? Attempted murder! Callously shoving someone out of the way in a crowd? Attempted murder! Angry wife throwing a grapefruit at her lazy husband during an argument? Attempted murder!

    Reducto ad absurdum. Nice.

    It is clear what I mean.

    Not really. You and I have talked about this before. I said that perhaps life imprisonment was too harsh for the loser stealing change out of unlocked cars and you said that I was soft on crime.

    Well you are right that I have no problem with life for theft.

    It is pretty simple: Don’t go into someone’s car and take their stuff. Again, 12 year old knows not to do this.

    If we lock up the actual criminals, then there will be less crime, because they won’t be on the streets. Criminals don’t just do it once, they do it over and over. I want my car to be safe from being looted. Ergo, I want looters removed from society.

    I’d also be open to allowing me to use deadly force to protect my property. I catch the thief, I can shoot him in the head. Stealing from me takes away not only my stuff, but the time I took to buy it, and my sense of security and safety. People doing that to others are not fit to be among us.

    All a lack of prosecution this man does is send the signal that it is OK to attack people. In LA, I can walk up to someone and hit them, but I guess as long as they are successful in fending me off, no harm, no foul.

    Nah–simply locking people up can be unjust. For theft crimes, I’m much more in favor of requiring restitution on the biblical model (seriously). A repentant thief should be required to repay to the offended party in full, plus 20% (Lev. 6:4-5), and an unrepentant one should be required to repay up to 5x the cost of the theft. If he cannot pay, then his wages should be garnished as long as it takes to make the offended whole. If he will not work, then other more drastic measures should be taken, but all those measures should be geared to restoring the offended party. Chuck Colson has written beautifully on this topic: https://www.regent.edu/acad/schlaw/student_life/studentorgs/lawreview/docs/issues/v10/10RegentULRev1.pdf

     

    As I recall, only about one in a hundred burglaries is solved, so under restitution the burglar gets to keep 99% of the loot, and has to pay back 1%.  

    Not much of a deterrent, I think!

    • #51
  22. Nick Plosser Coolidge
    Nick Plosser
    @NickP

    https://ktla.com/news/local-news/man-who-attacked-dave-chappelle-charged-with-attempted-murder-for-unrelated-stabbing-of-roommate/?fbclid=IwAR0QUJpLNdI7gTsuI6b2qRSBJCNpfJXNYwSKDSXnz6pdpekwk__SI_Z9Dh8

     

    • #52
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.