The oil continuing to spew into the Gulf, the series of natural and man-made disasters that have struck in recent years, and the ongoing arguments over climate change have all reminded me of this classic George Carlin monologue.
George Carlin first got my attention when I was a teenager in the 1970’s. By that time, Carlin had transformed himself from a tradition old world “show-biz” style performer into a spokesman for the counter-culture. Gone was the clean-shaven face, the suit and tie, in was the long hair and beard, the t-shirt and jeans. He was best known for his “Seven Dirty Words” routine which ended up in a Supreme Court case, but underlying all of his comedy was a philosophical approach and a devotion to language that has never been matched.
In his later years, his hippy-esque (and pot influenced) approach was gradually replaced by an increasingly angry social criticism. No one was exempt from his sharp wit. But his sense of irony and his love of language never left him. He had elevated stand-up comedy to an art form.
In this monologue from his later, post hippy period, Carlin displays his brilliance. He starts out seeming to rage against environmentalists, but then turns the argument against itself. He uses language as masterfully as any great poet and is extremely conscious of cadence.
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