Monday, October 16, 2017

Constitution Daily: 'Looking Back: George Carlin & The U.S. Supreme Court'

Source:National Constitution Center- The great comedian George Carlin.
"On July 3, 1978, the Supreme Court issued its historic verdict in the George Carlin “seven dirty words” case, a decision that still holds sway over the use of indecent and obscene language on television, and in a new era of mass communications.


Carlin himself wasn’t involved directly in the case, which was called Federal Communications Commission V. Pacifica Foundation. He had already won a legal verdict in an unrelated case several years prior to the FCC decision when a judge threw out his arrest in for performing the comedy routine at a Milwaukee summer festival.

It was a New York radio station owned by the Pacifica Foundation that was in hot water with the FCC for playing a recording of Carlin’s “Filthy Words" monologue on October 30, 1973, at 2 p.m. in the afternoon. The broadcast was heard by John H. Douglas, who said he heard the words while driving with his young son in a car. Douglas then complained to the FCC, although the case wasn’t decided until almost five years later. FCC ended in a 5-4 split among the Justices, with Justice John Paul Stevens writing the majority decision.

Prior to the case, the FCC had warned Pacifica that the language in Carlin’s routine was indecent and prohibited by FCC statutes. The FCC didn’t fine Pacifica, but instead issued an order that threatened to take into account any complaints when Pacifica next sought to renew its broadcast license.

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed the decision in 1977 by a 2-1 margin, with each judge writing separate opinions. Judge Tamm said that the FCC’s order represented censorship.Chief Judge Bazelon said the FCC’s order “must be narrowly construed to cover only language that is obscene or otherwise unprotected by the First Amendment.”

But Judge Leventhal argued the FCC correctly concluded that the content was indecent because it was broadcast during the daytime and the FCC had a legitimate interest in protecting children from hearing such indecent content.

Despite the humor in Carlin’s monologue, the Court was faced with a very serious question: Did the First Amendment deny the federal government any power to restrict the public broadcast of indecent language under any circumstances?

Justice Stevens agreed with Judge Leventhal from the District of Columbia appeals court.

“We have long recognized that each medium of expression presents special First Amendment problems,” Justice Stevens said. He stated that because “the broadcast media have established a uniquely pervasive presence in the lives of all Americans” and “broadcasting is uniquely accessible to children,” the FCC had the right to impose an order on the radio station warning it about the consequences of the broadcast.

The FCC had the right to treat indecent speech as a nuisance, in this one instance, because the Court said that limited civil sanctions could constitutionally be invoked against a broadcast of words dealing with sex and execration.

Stevens then referenced a Court decision from 1926 and a quote from Justice George Sutherland: "Nuisance may be merely a right thing in the wrong place, - like a pig in the parlor instead of the barnyard."

The decision officially gave the FCC the ability to impose penalties on broadcasters who presented obscene, indecent, or profane language outside of certain time periods or in certain cases. It also limited the First Amendment rights of broadcasters.

Justice William Brennan wrote the dissent. “I find the Court's misapplication of fundamental First Amendment principles so patent, and its attempt to impose its notions of propriety on the whole of the American people so misguided, that I am unable to remain silent.”

“The Court's decision may be seen for what, in the broader perspective, it really is: another of the dominant culture's inevitable efforts to force those groups who do not share its mores to conform to its way of thinking, acting, and speaking,” he added.

In 2012, the Court had a chance to revisit the Pacifica decision when it considered three incidents where the FCC wanted to punish Fox and ABC for what it deemed as offensive content. Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority decision ruled against the FCC, but for procedural reasons. Kennedy saw no need to revisit the Pacifica decision.

But Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, while concurring with Kennedy’s overall opinion, stated her objections to the FCC case ruling. “In my view, the Court’s decision in FCC v. Pacifica Foundation was wrong when it issued. Time, technological advances, and the Commission’s untenable rulings in the cases now before the Court show why Pacifica bears reconsideration,” she said.

As for Carlin, he said in his 2009 autobiography, “FCC vs Pacifica has become a standard case to teach in communications classes and many law schools. I take perverse pride in that. I’m actually a footnote to the judicial history of America.”

Scott Bomboy is editor in chief of the National Constitution Center." 

Source:Constitution Daily 

"George Carlin on his reaction to the Supreme Court case about his Seven dirty words" 

Source:Foundation Interviews- Comedian George Carlin, talking about his seven dirty words.
"George Carlin on his reaction to the Supreme Court case about his Seven dirty words."

From Foundation Interviews

The blog writes a lot about political correctness and fascism, because we write a lot about comedy and write comedy ourselves and without free speech which is what political correctness and fascism tries to restrict (obviously, duh, you don't say!) there would't be any comedy and even political satire. Which is why I'm always amused if not confused when so-called left-wing comedians and other entertainers make calls for political correctness because they think some material is offensive.

Because without free speech there wouldn't be any comedy. I mean, if political correctness ran this country instead of the First Amendment, comedians wouldn't be able to crack jokes about anybody. Especially the people who deserve to be made fun of. Like our politicians, just to use as an example. Entertainers attacking free speech is very ironic. Because speech is what fuels comedy, as well as self-awareness and what's going on around you in life. Even comedians have stood up for political correctness against free speech, like Michael Moore and others. Even John Oliver, Stephanie Miller, John Fugelsang, would be other examples.

A comedian attacking free speech, is like a race car driver saying oil and gas are bad for the environment and therefor should be outlawed. Oil and gas literally fuel that race car driver's career. Without it, he might be flipping burgers or selling lemonade. Or a pro football player saying football is too violent and therefor tackling should be outlawed. Who would go watch professional flag football? As the great comedian Mel Brooks has said political correctness is destroying comedy because comedians are worried about offending oversensitive tight asses, who think they're the only perfect human beings on the face of the Earth who don't deserve to be made fun of. Brooks has said political correctness is destroying comedy. The second part is my line.

George Carlin is not the first victim of political correctness when it comes to comedy. You could argue at least that Lenny Bruce back in the 1950s and 60s has that uthonorable title. But George and Lenny, are from the same generation. Lenny would literally go on stage using cuss words as part of his act and I'm not talking about hell or damn, but he would talk about sex and talk about how people would have sex with each other and put it bluntly. And then would literally be arrested on stage for using foul language. George has  a similar but different story.

George would go on stage and literally use words like shit, fuck, mother fucker, mother fucking fucking, and others and these were part of the so-called seven dirty words that comedians weren't supposed to use in Phyllis Schlafly's 1950s America, where you weren't even allowed to say God, Jesus, and hell, at least not on TV.

Liberal democracy which has a practically guaranteed right for free speech in America under are First Amendment. The only exceptions having to do with falsely libeling, inciting violence, or harassment, like leaving obscene message on someone's voice mail, to use as an example. This is not the place for oversensitive tight asses who look at the mirror and only see perfection. Or have a glass jaw for an ego and can't take the smallest bit of criticism without breaking out in tears and flooding their homes from all of their perspiration. I don't know, maybe Canada is a country for people like that.

If you don't like offensive material, then don't watch it or listen to it! Only watch PBS and C-SPAN if you can't handle criticism about yourself and groups you believe have constitutional protection not to be criticized that no one else has. With liberal democracy comes a lot of individual freedom, but with that comes responsibility and the fact that you're not the only one who lives here and you have the same freedom and responsibility that everyone else has. And might from time to time hear and see things that you disapprove of. But so will everyone else. 

You can also see this post at The New Democrat, on Blogger.

You can also see this post at The Daily Press, on Blogger. 

You can also see this post at FRS FreeState, on Blogger.

You can also see this post at The Daily Press, on WordPress.


  1. You can also see this post at The Daily Press: on Blogger.

  2. You can also see this post at FRS FreeState: on Blogger.

  3. You can also see this post at The Daily Press: on WordPress.

  4. You can also see this post at The New Democrat: on Blogger.


Anyone is welcome to comment on The Daily Review, as long as their comment or comments are relevant to the post or posts that they're commenting on and are not trying to sell something or make their comment or comments personal. Anything else won't make it to the post or posts and will be marked as spam.