Confusing? The reaction to the Bruce pardon by Ronald K. L. Collins, a First Amendment scholar and pardon proponent, is unlikely to clarify things. "You see, there is a God," said Collins to The New York Times upon hearing the news. (A letter to the editor only deepened the muddle by describing Bruce as having "died for our sins.") The New York Times, by the way, has practically run more stories on the Bruce pardon than on the capture of Saddam Hussein. Funny how the same paper -- along with the rest of Big Media -- has put a veritable gag order on the recent doings of the obvious heirs to Lenny Bruce, those foul-mouthed comedians who have come out to raise money for Howard Dean.
It took the New York Post's Deborah Orin to report in any detail on the "X-rated, epithet-ridden" comedy-fund-raiser held for the Democratic front-runner last month in New York City. The event included Judy Gold calling President Bush "this piece of living, breathing s---"; Janeane Garofalo deriding the Medicare prescription-drug bill Bush recently signed as the "you can go f--- yourself, Grandma, bill"; and Sandra Bernhard insulting Condoleeza Rice "in racial terms with a 'Yes Massa' accent at another Dean fund-raiser the same night." Dropping the n-word for blacks, David Cross "joked" that Republicans are racists, while Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter Mary was derided as "a big lezzie." Dean, "fuming," according to his aides, did nothing to stop the session. Republicans, Orin wrote, "say that if anything like this had happened at an event where a top Republican was present and did nothing to stop it, the media would rage about it for weeks."
The fact is, censorship is no less a part of our society because comics are free to cuss and soil; indeed, the lines that cannot be crossed without social sanction are as indelible as ever. The difference lies only in the location of the lines. With four-letter-language -- and insults against Republicans -- you're on terra firma; when it comes to holiday greetings, you're on your own. H---- N-- Y---.