A Cautious Man
June 23, 2008
George Carlin
We learned today that he died. To be perfectly honest, George Carlin meant a lot more to me as a personality, as a commentator, and as someone who challenged the powerful, than Tim Russert ever did.

Sorry, that's just how I feel.

Kevin Smith has a great essay on him, in Newsweek.

I know that everyone is talking about his "7 Dirty Words". When I was a kid (we're talking '76, '77, here), we had the "Class Clown" album, which that routine is on. My mom wasn't a big fan of that one, but my seriously Catholic mom would laugh her head off listening to another routine on that album, "I used to be Irish Catholic" -

And just before the "7 Words", was Mr. Carlin's piece on Muhammad Ali, which also made an impression on a high school kid back then (Ali had lost his title because of his conscientious objector status, although he later won it back) -

(Ali) had an unusual job: beating people up.

It's a strange calling, you know? But it's one you're entitled to.

Government didn't see it that way. Government wanted him to change jobs. Government wanted him to kill people.

He said, "No, that's where I draw the line. I'll beat 'em up but I don't want to kill 'em."

And the government said, "Well, if you won't kill 'em, we won't let you beat 'em up! Ha ha ha ha!"



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