1978 July 3

Supreme Court Bans Comedian George Carlin’s Seven Dirty Words

 

Comedian George Carlin developed a routine that used a host of dirty words, to great comic effect. At one point the monologue was broadcast on WBAI, a nonprofit radio station in New York City. A listener complained and the FCC issued WBAI a citation for broadcasting obscene material. The Pacifica Foundation, which owned WBAI, took an appeal to the Supreme Court. In FCC v. Pacifica Foundation, decided on this day, the Court upheld the FCC in a 5–4 vote, singling out the seven words.

In case you were wondering, the seven dirty words are: shit, piss, cunt, fuck, tits, cocksucker, and motherfucker. You can find the words in the Supreme Court’s opinion, but you just can’t hear them on the radio (or network television).

The monologue with the seven dirty words (Filthy Words”) is available on the CD Class Clown (1972) and then in a different version, “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” on Operation Foole (1973).

In March 2015 the Library of Congress honored George Carlin by placing his Class Clown album, with its famous seven dirty words monologue, on the National Recording Registry, a preserved collection of America’s greatest cultural, artistic and historical recordings.

You can hear the seven dirty words herehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqvLTJfYnik

The Court: “As Mr. Justice Sutherland wrote, a ‘nuisance may be merely a right thing in the wrong place, like a pig in the parlor instead of the barnyard’ . . . We simply hold that when the Commission [the FCC]  finds that a pig has entered the parlor, the exercise of its regulatory power does not depend on proof that the pig is obscene.”

Buy the CDs and listen to the famous monologue: George Carlin, Class Clown (1972), Operation Foole (1973)

Learn more about George Carlin: James Sullivan: Seven Dirty Words: The Life and Crimes of George Carlin (2010)

Learn more about the FCC’s regulation of indecency: http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/madison/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/FirstReport.Indecency.Levi_.final_.pdf

Visit the Pacifica Foundation here.

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