The life and times of George Carlin
I just finished George Carlin's book, Last Words. It's different than anything else he wrote, because it's his autobiography. Interesting and amusing, of course. Well, when Carlin was younger he knew the comedian and social critic, Lenny Bruce. Bruce was before my time, but I heard about him being busted by the police in nightclubs. I always thought it was just for profanity, words that I can't use in this column.
Well, according to Carlin, Lenny Bruce was busted really for being anti-Catholic. For mockery of the Catholic church, icons and symbols of Catholicism and the pope. Seems a lot of police, prosecutors, judges and juries were conservative Catholics at that time, and who didn't tolerate any "blasphemy." Today the Catholic church, and its' defenders, can't imprison you for what you write or say. It only took about 2000 years for that to happen. Not bad.
Carlin was arrested in Milwaukee in 1972 for saying the seven dirty words you can't say on television. Again, I can't repeat them here but you probably have some idea what they are, and you can always google them. This was at Summerfest. In other trouble with the law, then FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover wrote a letter (and started an FBI file on Carlin) to the comedian Jackie Gleason for a skit Carlin put on, doing a parody of Hoover on the Jackie Gleason show. Hoover would have made a good Gestapo chief.
Carlin had also showed great opposition to flag descreation laws, as do I. Indeed, he hated them with a passion that even I don't quite share. Now, the flag is a symbol, but symbols should not be protected by trampling on our rights. Abbie Hoffman, who was a little older and even more radical than Carlin, had been jailed for wearing an American flag shirt. Ironic, because even then, the flag was used to sell many things, but I guess it couldn't be tolerated to be on a shirt.
By the way, in both their books Carlin and Hoffman talk about the police brutality against protestors at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. Hoffman knew the violence though, at a much closer level.
Lastly, Carlin talks about a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1978 that upheld a FCC ban on these 7 dirty words, over the radio.