Shed Seven Dirty Tearson June 23, 2008 at 1:56 pm
George Carlin died yesterday, leaving behind a legacy as one of the leading comedic voices of his generation.
Most people are familiar with Carlin for his bombastic, incredulous commentaries on all things cultural and political, and his persona of being your dad’s cool dope dealer. But his greatest contribution to society is undoubtedly his invention of the now commonplace “seven words you can’t say on television”: shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits.
Carlin invented these words in a Da Vinci-like streak of creativity between 1974 and 1977, premiering them one at a time during his stand-up performances. And though rumors persist that “cocksucker” may have been appropriated from a transient Carlin picked up hitchhiking outside of Las Vegas and later tricked into overdosing on heartworm medication, his overall genius cannot be denied.
Eventually, concerns about public decency led to the landmark 1978 Supreme Court decision in FCC vs Pacifica Foundation, where the seven words were prohibited from public airwaves altogether (this case also became the foundation of the Court’s later decision to make the phrase “I don’t know” subject to the FCC’s notorious “green slime rule”).
Despite this, the field of profanity continues to flourish due to George Carlin’s impact, and we clearly owe that motherfucker a debt of gratitude.