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When is a liberal not a liberal?

The wit and wisdom of George Carlin, delving into why government schools suck.

George Carlin Warned us Why Public Education Sucks and Won’t Get Better
Carlin, despite his left-leaning tendencies, could also grasp certain concepts even his fellow liberals could not. For example, I recently came across an old clip of Carlin talking about education—and boy, was it spot on.

In the clip, Carlin talks about politicians who don’t want to improve education, despite always calling for more money to support it. Carlin also criticized the education system’s approach to addressing poor test scores by suggesting that instead of improving the quality of education, they lower the passing grades, a common practice in many schools.

“That’s what they do in a lot of these schools. Now they lower the passing grades so more kids can pass. More kids pass the school looks good, everybody’s happy. The IQ of the country slips another two or three points, and pretty soon, all you’ll need to get into college is a fucking pencil. ‘Got a pencil? Get the fuck in there.’ It’s physics. Then everyone wonders why 17 other countries graduate more scientists than we do. ‘Education.’ Politicians know that word, they use it on you.”

Carlin continued, “There’s a reason for this. There’s a reason education sucks. And It’s the same reason that it will never, ever, ever be fixed. It’s never gonna get any better. Don’t look for it. Be happy with what you got. Because the owners of this country don’t want that.”

“I’m talking about the real owners now. The real owners, the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. They get the politicians — politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses the city halls, they got the judges in their back pockets. And they own all the big media companies. So they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying, lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else.”

“But I’ll tell you what they don’t want. They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking they’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interests.”

Imagine a liberal saying this today. I can’t.

Of course you can’t. There’s about a jillion and one things Carlin used to say that no shitlib today would, nor even could.

I’ve been an avid fan of George Carlin since I was just a kid—and I’m talking here like 13 years old or thereabouts—when I plunked down my entire weekly allowance at my Uncle Gene’s drugstore for a copy of his FM & AM album, brought it home, and put it on the turntable of my family’s big old console-stereo rig. Then, after no more than about five minutes of me and my brother giggling at all the funny cuss-words, my enraged father stormed into the living room, slapped the tonearm off the disk so viciously he dislodged the entire needle cartridge and sent it flying across the room, and ordered me to take that obscene thing straight back to wherever you got it from, he wasn’t about to tolerate having any such filth in HIS house!!!

Although yes, Carlin’s political leanings were Left-wards, when and if he spoke of such piffling things at all, what the man also was—always, quite rigorously, and above all else—was honest. Often brutally so, no matter where that honesty might lead him either professionally or intellectually.

Which, being so uncompromisingly honest had to be extremely painful for him at times, I should think. Then again though, perhaps not so much; as I continued to follow his career over the years, even going so far as to watch his middling-at-best TV series, I began to realize that Carlin wasn’t so much a Leftist as he was a true, bred-in-the-bone iconoclast. Clearly, the man despised official authority in all its forms; I can’t recall him ever mentioning politics at all in his routines other than glancingly, as in the above quotes, and always with searing contempt. Certainly he never endorsed any particular candidate, party, or platform, like all too many of his fellow comics so promiscuously do today.

Like almost every other born-and-raised New Yorker, he thought of himself as a liberal, I suppose. But he wasn’t a guy upon whom the silken fetters of liberalism would ever sit easily or comfortably. A genuine free spirit, he flatly rejected chains of every kind, which is exactly what those silken fetters in reality were, and still are.

There is no common ground to be found between 60s-70s liberalism and liberty, then or now. Those two things being so patently (and ironically, given the Latin root of both words) contradictory, though, I kinda doubt it set off any cognitive dissonance for Carlin just the same. Given the man’s visceral loathing for any sort of political encroachment on freedom, whether his own or anybody else’s, it’s obvious that his first loyalty was always to human liberty, and not to what liberalism had by the close of the 60s come to represent—another vile linguistic traducement I doubt George Carlin would have had any patience with.


5 thoughts on “When is a liberal not a liberal?

  1. I admit to liking Carlin’s work and disliking the man. Dislike because he was a lefty which made little to sense to me given his utter contempt for the government. I never did get it.

  2. Carlin was a lefty … by the standards of 50 years ago. By today’s standards, he’d no doubt be a far right literallyhitler.

    1. Ha, that’s probably true Steve.
      I’m not even sure what he did that made me think of him as being just another commie. But I did think that.

  3. The scum that vex us today aren’t liberals. They are progressives. They have cursed our nation since the Puritans and have held national power since the regime of the first big war, big government, anti American progressive president, Lincoln.
    The Founding Fathers were Liberals. The conservatives fought for the King then ran away to Canada.

    1. Liberal, lefty, progressive, marxist, commie – all the same thing these days. The marxist progressives often refer to theirselves as “liberal”.

      “Classical liberal” might be a useful term, except very few understand even that meaning.

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