Just a short post to commemorate one of my favorite stand-up comedians of all time. I always appreciated Carlin’s often brilliant and subversively funny meditations on language and his righteous anger at an often corrupt system (his rant against golf courses from 1992’s Jammin’ in New York has always been a personal fave). He may be best remembered for his “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” (audio NSFW, as you might imagine), which famously led to an FCC fine against New York radio station WBAI, which broadcast the performance. The Supreme Court upheld the fine, and those words are still banned from broadcast television to this day. But that only reflects his status as an important cultural and political critic who questioned norms and regulations, often in a very funny way. Carlin was also an important part of my own personal development. I can’t remember how many times I watched Jammin’ in New York with friends during my senior year of college, in part because Carlin was asking some questions that I needed to hear.
Update: See McChris’s comments below for a clarification on the precise status of the “seven dirty words.” Also check out John Nichols’ Carlin tribute in The Nation, which helps to clarify Carlin’s contributions to American political discourse, even if Carlin himself refrained from voting after 1972.