George Carlin: A Four-Letter Threat to Authority
, by Butler Shaffer
, 24 Jun 2008
A memorial tribute to George Carlin (and Lenny Bruce) on their irreverent attitude towards authority and to Carlin as a "standup philosopher"
"... George Carlin ... was the successor to the man I continue to regard as the most significant dismantler of authority in my lifetime, Lenny Bruce. To most people, Bruce and Carlin were nothing more than dealers in four-letter words; men who loved to shock the sensibilities of others. But there was a deeper meaning in their humor, and modern libertarian thinking would not have been possible without their important groundwork. ... Bruce and Carlin understood that there is nothing that can more quickly undermine this aura of obeisance than for those who command others to be referred to in vulgar terms."
H. L. Mencken, America's Wittiest Defender of Liberty
, by Jim Powell
, The Freeman
, Sep 1995
Biographical essay, highlighting Mencken's tenure at the Baltimore Sun
, the books he authored, the founding and his work at the American Mercury
monthly and his brief relationship with Sara Haardt
"Biographer William Nolte reports that Mencken ranks among the most frequently quoted American authors. Certainly Mencken was among the wittiest. For example: 'Puritanism—the haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy. ... Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard. ... The New Deal began, like the Salvation Army, by promising to save humanity. It ended, again like the Salvation Army, by running flophouses and disturbing the peace.'"
The Case Against God Sequel
, by George H. Smith
, 31 Jul 1999
Speech given at the Freedom From Religion Foundation mini-convention in San Francisco; based on excerpts from then to be published Why Atheism?
"Does God have a sense of humor? ... Can God, a perfect being, tell a perfect joke?--a joke of which nothing funnier can be conceived? Can an infinite being tell a joke that is infinitely funny--and, if so, could it cause people to die laughing? ... Humor plays an important role in human life. Laughter is an intrinsic value, something we enjoy as an end itself rather than a means to something else. Laughter is a moveable feast, something we can take with us anywhere and enjoy at our leisure. To laugh with another person is among the purest forms of social interaction, a spontaneous intermingling of thoughts and emotions."
The Political Sterility of Jon Stewart
, by Sheldon Richman
, 7 Nov 2014
Highlights the dearth of poltical satire, as evidenced by Jon Stewart's backtracking on his answers about voting and earlier comment about Harry Truman
"Throughout history, satirists have risked their liberty and even their lives using humor to engage in deep commentary about the reigning political system and its exalted political figures—they're called leaders, though surely better terms are rulers and misleaders. But no satirist risks his life or liberty in America today, which makes the scarcity of good satire so puzzling."