Netflix fired three employees on Monday that forced their way into an executive meeting where the company discussed how they should handle comedian Dave Chappelle's stand-up special that has since garnered outrage among the LGBTQ community over "transphobic" remarks.
The exclusive meeting featured Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos and the company's top 500 employees.
During the two-day business review, Sarandos briefed the company on how they should be equipped to handle backlash from Chappelle's controversial special The Closer.
"Chapelle is one of the most popular stand-up comedians today, and we have a long-standing deal with him," Sarandos wrote in a memo obtained by Variety. "His last special "Sticks & Stones," also controversial, is our most watched, stickiest and most award winning stand-up special to date."
"As with our other talent, we work hard to support their creative freedom — even though this means there will always be content on Netflix some people believe is harmful," Sarandos added.
"Several of you have also asked where we draw the line on hate. We don't allow titles on Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don't believe The Closer crosses that line," Sarandos continued. "I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries. Some people find the art of stand-up to be mean spirited but our members enjoy it, and it's an important part of our content offering."
In Chappelle's latest Netflix special The Closer, the comedian pokes fun at radical feminism, cancel culture, gender identity, and other controversial topics. Chappelle also claimed that he is "Team TERF," an acronym which stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminism.
Terra Field, a senior software engineer and one of the three employees suspended, posted a viral Tweet criticizing the company last week. Field is a member of the LGBTQ community and identifies as queer and trans.
"Promoting TERF ideology (which is what we did by giving it a platform yesterday) directly harms trans people, it is not some neutral act. This is not an argument with two sides. It is an argument with trans people who want to be alive and people who don't want us to be," Field said in a Twitter thread. "This all gets brushed off as offense though - because if we're just "too sensitive" then it is easy to ignore us."
Although early reports alleged that Field's tweet played in a role of her firing, a Netflix spokesperson rejected that notion.
"It is absolutely untrue to say that we have suspended any employees for tweeting about this show," a Netflix spokesperson told Variety. "Our employees are encouraged to disagree openly and we support their right to do so."
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