Thursday, October 1, 2009

Divinipotent About Blasphemy and Obscenity

“Of all the strange 'crimes' that human beings have legislated of nothing, 'blasphemy' is the most amazing — with 'obscenity' and 'indecent exposure' fighting it out for the second and third place.”
~ Robert A. Heinlein

As Banned Books Week 2009 nears its end, Divinipotent Daily cannot fail to comment on blasphemy and obscenity, categories of censorship that are as personal as they are irrational.

Prosecutions in modern times tend to focus on well-known names. Comedian Lenny Bruce was arrested for obscenity multiple times in the so-called "Swinging Sixties"; in that same decade, mobs of the angry and easily manipulated, led by fame-seeking radio hosts and ministers (sound familiar?), smashed and burned Beatles records after John Lennon simply said, "We're more popular than Jesus now."

In the 1970s, George Carlin was arrested for his famous "Seven Words" rant and British gay rights activist Denis Lemon was charged with blasphemy for publishing a poem in his paper, Gay News. In the most famous blasphemy case of the 1980s, Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses resulted in a fatwa calling for the author's death.

Even in this age of Internet porn-on-demand, the urge to control and silence is very much with us. Just last year, over 500 challenges were brought against everything from the Gossip Girl TV show to best-sellers like The Kite Runner and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and classics including The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Catcher in the Rye and In the Night Kitchen.

Here, in celebration of the First Amendment, we offer the late George Carlin speaking the forbidden seven words. Please note: even now, this is not safe for work or suitable for young children.

"Not when truth is dirty, but when it is shallow, does the enlightened man dislike to wade into its waters."
~ Friedrich Nietzsche

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