George Carlin has been considered as one of many outspoken and controversial people in entertainment, that too, in the world of comedy. But while we may like him, he might have even been an extremist, at least, in the eyes of the Government.
It is significant to note that he had shown no inclination towards violence or even criminal behavior in any manner. It is actually the parts of his comic routines in which he talked about the Government that made him the subject of hard scrutiny. He delved deep into the details of corruption that plagued businesses and Government bodies.
His reputation gained so much notoriety that his work was cited as an instance of profanity in 1978, at a Supreme Court case, FCC vs Pacifica Foundation. In the courtroom, the legal counsel used Carlin’s “Seven Dirty Words” piece to portray the profanity which was used in broadcasts and records. Interestingly enough, the Government interest on Carlin was not limited to just that.
In 1969, Carlin made an appearance at another TV event called Jackie Gleason show. This time, he piqued the interest of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. All because of the fact he joked about the FBI chief at the time, J. Edgar Hoover. As per Government sources, Carlin satirized the Director as well as the Bureau.
It was also considered that this incident was in “poor taste”. According to them, Carlin was utilizing the department and the director’s “prestige” to enhance the performance that he was putting forth.
After his appearance on that show, Jackie Gleason’s staff received quite a few letters from anonymous sources – apparently from the fans of the show. It could actually be from the Bureau. The letters condemned Carlin for talking about the Bureau in the scathing manner that he often used. This tactic is not something new. Threatening letters were sent to people of public significance earlier by the FBI. These letters seemed like ordinary letters sent by disturbed colleagues or even the general public. A few were sent to Dr. Martin Luther King Junior as well.
It’s no surprise that Carlin had a special talent to dissect what was wrong with society.
This goes on to show that it doesn’t matter who you are – a comedian or a terrorist – if you speak against the wrongs of the society, it is bound to throw you into the limelight of the Government. Not for the good reasons, though.
You can find out more about the documents the FBI maintained about Carlin on this website.
IMAGE CREDIT: Reckon, Flickr