In 1972 George Carlin was arrested for saying out loud in front of a public audience the seven words you could never say on TV. There was no Internet then to run to and find out what he said. The radio stations would have found themselves unplugged the minute they even hinted at what he said. The few newspapers who dared to print approximations of the "offense" were so filled with dashes and asterisks they might as well have been written in a foreign language.
We all had to guess and draw from our very large collection of "bad" words we thought they might be, words many of us, including the moralists who enforced the ridiculous laws, used on a daily basis. Any one of us could have landed in jail at the time for saying fuck in public or telling someone they were full of shit and have it overheard by the morality police.
But the most absurd thing is that it wasn't only kids who were trying to find out what the words he said were, it was also adults, people like me who were already in our 20's, 30's and older who had to guess at what verbal crime occurred to warrant a comedian dragged off in handcuffs and charged with violating OUR public decency.
The temptation is to refer to then as a simpler, more quaint, innocent and quiet time until you remember it was also the decade of assassinations, anti-war demonstrations where people actually died for daring to get out on the streets, and where university students were gunned down by the national guard during a peaceful protest.
There was nothing simple about that time. Nor was it especially moral. In fact, it was the very government who was prosecuting a comedian for saying forbidden words on a stage who were also running an illegal and immoral war where thousands were dying, and who were trampling on civil rights and the constitution in a way that was unimaginable...until Bush became president and brought it all back, even in some cases, with the same cast of evil-doer characters like Kissinger, Rumsfeld, Cheney, and the whole Iran-Contra lie, cheat and steal your ass off murdering thugs.
But the important thing for people like me to remember is that I owe George Carlin big time. I make my living by selling t-shirts on Cafepress with designs and words that consist of just about every single word that he was arrested for saying in public. I write in this blog and use language I could have been arrested for just a few short years ago.
Without George Carlin I would never be able to sell a shirt that says "Fuck your lies, Mr. President" and have people buy it to wear in public without fear of being arrested.
Without George Carlin, I would never be able to sell stickers and buttons that say "Dick Cheney is an evil, lying cocksucker."
Without George Carlin, no one would be able to drink from a coffee mug that says "Why is that lying sack of shit still President?"
Without George Carlin, I probably would be working as a Squall-Mart greeter instead of happily making designs that would have landed me in jail not so long ago.
So from this old rabble-rousing child of the anarchic part of the 60's (I couldn't afford the mandatory designer hippie clothes so I became an anarchist as they didn't give a fuck what you wore) a big, heartfelt fucking thank you, George. We'll miss you.