The Invisible Web

Your Trip Into the Chapel Perilous

How George Carlin Made Legal History

Posted by invizweb on July 23, 2008

Copyright: Robert Anton Wilson, from Quantum Psychology

Everybody understands that you cannot drink the word “water”, and yet virtually nobody seems entirely free of semantic delusions entirely comparable to trying to drink the ink-stains that form the word “water” on this page or the sound waves produced when I say “water” aloud. If you say, “The word is not the thing,” everybody agrees placidly; if you watch people, you see that they continue to behave as if something called Sacred “really is” Sacred and something called Junk “really is” Junk.


This type of neurolinguistic “hallucination” appears so common among humans that it usually remains invisible to us, as some claim water appears invisible to fish, and we will continue to illustrate it copiously as we proceed. On analysis, this “word hypnosis” seems the most peculiar fact about the human race. Count Alfred Korzybski said we “confuse the map with the territory.” Alan Watts said we can’t tell the menu from the meal. However one phrases it, humans seem strangely prone to confusing their mental file cabinets—neurolinguistic grids—with the non-verbal world of sensory-sensual space-time.


As Lao-Tse said in the Tao Te Ching, 2500 years ago,

The road you can talk about is not the road you can walk on.

(Or:

The way that can be spoken is not the way that can be trodden.)

We all “know” this (or think that we do) and yet we all perpetually forget it.

For instance, here in the United States—an allegedly secular Democracy with an “iron wall” of separation between Church and State written into its Constitution–the Federal Communications Commission has a list of Seven Forbidden Words which nobody may speak on the radio or television. Any attempt to find out why these words remain Tabu leads into an epistemological fog, a morass of medieval metaphysics, in which concepts melt like Salvador Dali’s clocks and ideas become as slippery as a boat deck in bad weather.

One cannot dismiss this mystery as trivial. When comedian George Carlin made a record (“Occupation: Foole”) discussing, among other things, “The seven words you can never say on television,” WBAI radio (New York) played the record, and received a fine so heavy that, although the incident occurred in 1973, WBAI, a small listener-sponsored station, recently announced (1990) that they have not yet paid all their legal costs in fighting the case, which went all the way to the Supreme Court. The Eight Wise Men (and One Wise Woman) thereon upheld the Federal Communications Commission.

The highest court in the land has actually ruled on what comedians may and may not joke about. George Carlin has become something more than a comedian. He now has the status of a Legal Precedent. You will pay a heavy fine, in the U.S. today, if you speak any of the Seven Forbidden Words on radio or television–shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits.

Read more.

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