“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Edmund Burke (1729-1797)
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10 Controversial Comedians On Their Right To Be Offensive
October 13 is Lenny Bruce’s birthday, and we couldn’t celebrate the scathing satirist’s legacy without a little help from a few fellow controversial comedians. Bruce is most famous for his highly publicized 1964 obscenity conviction, which found well-known personalities like Woody Allen, Allen Ginsberg, and Norman Mailer speaking in support of the stand-up. He was granted a posthumous pardon in 2003. Bruce’s straightforward style and struggles against censorship helped paved the way for other comics. We highlight a few of their stories, below.
“Take away the right to say ‘Fuck’ and you take away the right to say ‘Fuck the government.’”
When it comes to “naughty” words upsetting people, Carlin believed it was all about repression:
“I think that people should say what they feel. I mean, you know, I don’t give a (censored) if it’s racism or whatever ism it is. I mean, whatever, man. Just to be yourself is such a nice thing. I like to be accepted, you know, but usually in order to be accepted by white people, you have to compromise so much from your hello. You know what’s obscene to me? The presidents of the United States stands on television and tells people that we are helping to fight communism in South America by killing the people. I would never do that.”
“I think it’s natural that women are the cruder, more graphic comics right now because women are going through some real-life shit right now and comedy naturally reflects that. So when society tells us our body parts are gross or that we shouldn’t be allowed to make decisions regarding our very own bodies, that shit — that anger is gonna be reflected in comedy. It makes perfect sense to me.”
“Another thing. This idea of ‘I’m offended.’ Well I’ve got news for you. I’m offended by a lot of things, too. Where do I send my list? Life is offensive. You know what I mean? Just get in touch with your outer adult. And grow up. And move on. Reasonable people don’t write letters because… A: They have lives and B: they understand it’s just TV. C: If they see something they don’t like, something they do like might be on later. I’ve seen many comics I’ve hated. I’ve seen many shows that have offended me. I’ve never written a letter. I just go about my life.”
“I’ve played every comedy club and every theatre across the country for the last 25 years and seen a lot of audience members from different ethnic persuasions. I have been using these words since I started in comedy and guess what, people? I won’t stop anytime soon, just because your A$$ is up on Twitter. I have always used in my act every racial slur there is for Asians, blacks, gays, and Hispanics. To me, it’s acceptable if the joke is funny and if it is said in a context of no hate. It’s about taking the hate out of the word.”
“People have different fans, and on the Internet, everybody can say something, everybody gets a voice. And if people who aren’t into you don’t like something, what is that? I said this in The New York Times the other day: ‘You can only offend me if you mean something to me. You can’t break up with me if we didn’t date.’ So there’s a lot of people proclaiming the breakup, but we didn’t date, we didn’t go out.”
“God wants us all to just get along. He doesn’t give a shit about the profanity. The bitch fucking invented profanity. He thinks it is hilarious. He just wants you to talk to him, and he doesn’t care what you have to say. He just wants to keep the conversation going. Like Jay-Z, he just wants to love you. He just wants you to be able to make your own decisions. God is all about you and what you need. God is happy that you are gay. God made you fucking gay cuz he thinks it is awesome. God understands if you need to have an abortion. That is why he created abortion, on the 8th day. God accepts. God forgives. God loves all of us, even though some of us might have a problem with each other.”