For some he was a comedic genius as well as a master of
satire and to others he was just another angry old man voicing his displeasure
about anything and everything he disliked on radio which was his main medium of
communication. Despite varying opinions it was clear to most though that George
Carlin was an icon of broadcasting and his death from a heart attack at the age
of 71 in Santa Monica, California leaves another huge gap in the history of
modern broadcasting as we know it today.
George Carlin left his impact on everyone, from housewives
to kids and even Supreme Court judges as evident in the landmark “Carlin Case”
(more officially known as the Federal Communication Commission vs. Pacifica
Foundation), where Manhattan radio station WBAI-FM was sued for broadcasting
what the FCC called “obscene words” in its airing of a Carlin broadcast titled
“Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television”. WBAI-FM lost the case 5-4 according
to the vote count on the Supreme Court bench. But this was the case that
defined the power of the government over broadcasting that it termed “indecent”
and Carlin was widely remembered for this case due to the fact that it centered
on the issue of free speech as a basic human right.
Though Carlin’s preferred medium was through comedy and
satire, he touched other aspects which are fundamental issues in life as we
know it today. He had a witty insight into issues concerning politics, religion
and a mélange of other topics and subjects. He had something to say and he said
it well and in a funny way which left even those who did not agree with him,
laughing. With the death of Carlin, broadcasting and the world as a whole has
not lost only a comedian, but a philosopher, an advocate of free speech and a
trendsetter whose landmark statements and observations will remain points of
reference for many for centuries to come.
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