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Cole Reflects on Comedian’s Legacy for Broadcasters

‘For broadcasters, Carlin’s most noteworthy legacy is the FCC’s indecency policy in all its tortured, blurred inconsistency.’

When George Carlin passed away last week, Harry Cole heard the news with more than general interest.

Cole is an attorney for Fletcher, Heald and Hildreth and a Radio World contributor. In the late 1970s he was part of the legal team for Pacifica Foundation in the Supreme Court case involving Carlin’s “Filthy Language” routine, aired on WBAI(FM).

Cole reflected in his blog on Carlin’s death and legacy for broadcasters. “By crafting a comedic monologue based on the fictional premise that there did exist some absolute FCC ban against the broadcast of certain words, Carlin managed to draw the FCC into embracing his notion. So Carlin’s art became the FCC’s reality.”

Cole said Carlin’s monologue itself illustrates the futility of broadbrush governmental proscription on language.