'Genius' Carlin Broke Boundaries

Irreverent sense of humor led to legal troubles
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jun 23, 2008 7:51 AM CDT
Milwaukee Police officers lead comedian George Carlin off the Summerfest grounds in Milwaukee, Wis. after he used allegedly profane language during his act, July 22, 1972.   (AP Photo/file)
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(Newser) – George Carlin was an anti-establishment legend who constantly pushed the boundaries of free speech and comedy, writes Keith St. Clair for the AP. No doubt, his “Seven Words You Should Never Say on Television”—he was arrested for uttering them in 1972, and they eventually led to a Supreme Court ruling upholding the government's right to punish public obscenity—will be widely quoted today. "He was a genius," said the former partner of the comic, who died Sunday of heart failure.

"The whole problem with this idea of obscenity and indecency, and all of these things—bad language and whatever—it's all caused by one basic thing, and that is: religious superstition," Carlin said in 2004. "There's an idea that the human body is somehow evil and bad and there are parts of it that are especially evil and bad, and we should be ashamed. Fear, guilt and shame are built into the attitude toward sex and the body. It's reflected in these prohibitions and these taboos that we have."