“I don’t have pet peeves, I have major, psychotic hatreds.”
those were just two quotes i took out of the new york times' obituary this morning of one of my absolute heroes, george carlin. i fucking loved george carlin. he was brave. he was brazen. he was angry. he was profane. he was whip- smart. he was punk rock. he was always right on.
the world is a shallower, less intelligent, and certainly less hilariously funny place today now that he has passed. his social criticisms blazed a trail for everybody from bill hicks to jon stewart. he was an outsized legend in my mind, right alongside john lennon, joe strummer, charlie chaplin, and lenny bruce. who else could come up with "when someone asks you, 'a penny for your thoughts,' and then you 'throw your two cents in,' what happens to the other penny?"
you couldn't "shut him up" and you couldn't "dumb him down." he was a little glimmer of truth in a world full of lies. he will be missed.
In 1972, comedian George Carlin was arrested for disturbing the peace when he performed the "Seven Dirty Words" at a show in Wisconsin. In 1973, Carlin recorded a monologue known as "Filthy Words" containing seven obscenities. The Pacifica radio station WBAI-FM broadcast it uncensored on October 30 of the same year. A man driving in the car with his son heard the broadcast and complained to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) because he was unhappy his son had heard it.
Following the lodging of the complaint, the FCC proceeded to ask Pacifica for a response, then issued a declaratory order upholding the complaint. No specific sanctions were included in the order, but WBAI was put on notice that "in the event subsequent complaints are received, the Commission will then decide whether it should utilize any of the available sanctions it has been granted by Congress."
Pacifica appealed against this decision, which was overturned by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The FCC in turn appealed to the Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the FCC, see: FCC v. Pacifica Foundation 438 U.S. 726 (1978) and First Amendment Library entry on the case.
This decision formally established indecency regulation in American broadcasting. In follow-up rulings, the Supreme Court clarified that the words might be acceptable under certain circumstances, particularly at times when children would not be expected to be in the audience.
The words are (with examples):
- Shit - The bird shit on the statue.
- Piss - I have to piss like a race horse.
- Fuck - Fuck you.
- Cunt - She has a rancid cunt.
- Cocksucker - Go to hell, you cocksucker.
- Motherfucker - You are a motherfucker.
- Tits - Hey, nice tits.
Later, Carlin referred to three additional "auxiliary" words: He has since added it back, claiming the bit's rhythm doesn't work without it. Carlin didn't believe that "tits" should be on the list because it sounds like a nickname.