Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2257607
 
 

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Comedy and Liberty: The Life and Legacy of Lenny Bruce


Ronald K. L. Collins


University of Washington - School of Law

June 1, 2012

Social Research, Vol. 79, No. 1, pp. 61-86 (Spring 2012)
University of Washington School of Law Research Paper No. 2013-15

Abstract:     
Comedy takes liberties. Hence, it depends on liberty to survive. Sometimes it is divine, other times farcical, sometimes operatic, other times poetic, and still other times shamelessly vulgar. As it moves from sauciness and scandal to sacrilege and sedition, comedy mocks everything in its sardonic path. Over the ages comedy has been tapped to punch out the likes of the mighty or to make swift shrift of their imperatives. Such actions point to the role of the First Amendment in all of this. Conceptually, the two intersect whenever comedy is offensive, that is, when it mocks, scorns, derides, ridicules, or pokes fun at person, creed, or cause. In this regard, no figure stands out more in American history than the always offensive and often funny Lenny Bruce. How a society protects or prosecutes the likes of Lenny Bruce is a barometer of how much it values freedom of speech.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 27

Keywords: comedy, religion, obscenity, trials, First Amendment, free speech, freedom of speech

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Date posted: April 30, 2013 ; Last revised: May 1, 2013

Suggested Citation

Collins, Ronald K. L., Comedy and Liberty: The Life and Legacy of Lenny Bruce (June 1, 2012). Social Research, Vol. 79, No. 1, pp. 61-86 (Spring 2012); University of Washington School of Law Research Paper No. 2013-15. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2257607

Contact Information

Ronald K. L. Collins (Contact Author)
University of Washington - School of Law ( email )
William H. Gates Hall
Box 353020
Seattle, WA 98105-3020
United States

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