partially a free speech blog, so we’d be remiss in failing to note the passing
of George Carlin. He failed to convince the Supreme Court of the absurdity of
the Federal Communications Commission’s “broadcast indecency” rules that
scrubbed the airwaves during the day and evening (when, presumably, the kiddies
are awake) of those naughty words that we all hear and (if the truth be told)
many of us use quite regularly. The real outrage of the high court’s idiocy in that case was that Carlin
had clearly used the “seven dirty words” in the context of a parody of
broadcast censorship. The FCC has no self-recognition, apparently, and the
Supreme Court justices have no sense of humor.
course, Carlin had the last laugh.
In addition to bringing his biting wit and jokes into his audiences’ lives, he
also was a hero to those who take
the First Amendment seriously, as well as to those who try hard to understand
some of the less proud legacies of Puritan America. As H. L. Mencken has noted,
a Puritan is someone who has the nagging feeling that somewhere, somehow,
someone is enjoying himself. Well, Carlin has proven Mencken correct, and
that’s no small service for him to have performed before dying, all too soon,
of heart failure.
Even in his
death, the ironies of his anti-censorship message continue to resonate. Today’s
Boston Globe’s Opinion Page, in the VoxOp feature, excerpts blogger Jill at Brilliant at Breakfast, lamenting Carlin’s passing: “I suppose one can’t have as finely honed a [garbage] detector as
he had, and use it so expertly for so many years, and have much of it left
after the last eight years of the Bush administration. But no one cut through …
modern life the way Carlin did…” Phoenix
readers may recall my gripes with the Boston
Globe’s censorship policy (which I wrote about here and here), so I was curious as to whether “[garbage]” was in Jill’s original text,
or whether it was the word Carlin would have used – bullshit. Turns out that
the Globe censored not one, but two
bits from the post: garbage replacing “shit,” and the “cut through … modern
life” replacing “cut through the bullshit of modern life.” Carlin was a lone
pop culture voice for free speech, but sadly he died before his work was
Carlin – Rest in Peace. What are we going to do without you??