10 Controversial Comedians on Their Right to Be Offensive


George Carlin

The Priest of Profanity, George Carlin was never at a loss for words when it came to social critique and total exasperation with the general populace. The angsty funny man was arrested for performing his “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” routine and dragged to court when the bit appeared on radio. “I felt like I was being called to the big principal’s office in Washington,” he told Playboy in 1982. “That these nine men had summoned me into their presence to question my conduct absolutely thrilled the perverse and rebellious side of my nature. I thought, Even if I just become a little footnote in the lawbooks, I’ll be a happy footnote forever.”

When it comes to “naughty” words upsetting people, Carlin believed it was all about repression:

“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.”

He continued:

“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.”