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Lenny from heaven.

Lenny Bruce, the potty-mouthed wit who turned stand-up comedy into social commentary, was posthumously pardoned yesterday by Gov. George E. Pataki, 39 years after being convicted of obscenity for using bad words in a Greenwich Village nightclub act. The governor said the posthumous pardon was "a declaration of New York's commitment to upholding the First Amendment."

--The New York Times

LENNY: So dig this: George Pataki pardons me thirty-seven years after I died. The schmuck has some gall. "Freedom of speech," he says--I got the clip right here--"is one of the greatest American liberties, and I hope this pardon serves as a reminder of the precious freedoms we are fighting to preserve as we continue to wage the war on terror." This is a politician who kvells over the USA Patriot Act! Now the putz drafts me in the war on terrorism! He wants comedians to be able to go on stage and yell "Fuck Osama!" Hey, I wonder if Georgie boy cleared this with John Ashcroft? That cat's not too cool with the four-letter words. He shmeers Mazola oil on himself before praying. I can just see Pataki clearing it with Ashcroft ...

"(Noo Yawk accent) Yo, John, George Pataki ... God bless you too, John.... No I can't get down on my knees right now. I'm sitting behind this big desk in Albany. Can I take a rain check on that prayer?... Great. Reason I called is I'm going to pardon Lenny Bruce and I thought I'd give you a heads up. A bunch of these liberal lawyers are after me, so I got to cover my New York City ass--you know what I'm sayin'? ... Lenny Bruce is the comedian who was busted for using four-letter words in a nightclub act back in 1964.... No, John, I don't think pardoning him will encourage children to use four-letter words and cause them to go to Hell.... The religious right?--the hell they care? He's been dead for thirty-sev years. He's not gonna resurrect anytime soon.... OK, tell you what I'll do. You been takin' a lot of flak about the Patriot Act, right? Trampling civil liberties and all that crap. So I'll issue a proclamation that ties the pardon to support for the war on terrorism and support for free speech. So we have it both ways! I'm upholding the Patriot Act and also the precious freedoms our boys are fighting for in Baghdad, blah blah blah.... I knew you'd love it. Thanks, John, I'll pray for you too.... God bless you too, John."

You know this posthumous-pardon bit could catch on. Save the death penalty. You fry an innocent guy, then you pardon him!

"(Texas accent) The State of Texas regrets to announce that we executed an innocent man last week. A DNA test just in proves that the pubic hair found on the victim did not belong to Jermyn Johnson, the unfortunate executionee. Our investigation has determined that the pubic hair actually came from a Coke can belonging to Justice Clarence Thomas. The Great State of Texas apologizes to the family and friends of Jermyn Johnson and grants him a full pardon. Your Department of Corrections regrets the inconvenience."

Man, you know the pardon that took the longest? That was the Catholic Church springing the Jews for killing Christ. Yeah, the Pope finally admitted it was a bad rap and apologized. The Inquisition? Big mistake. "Sorry, guys, but conditions were different in the 1400s. The Jews didn't have a lot of smart lawyers to get them off like today."

So that's how the pardon came about. The Jews hired themselves a good mouthpiece who took their case to John Paul II:

POPE: (buzzer sounds) Yes?

SECRETARY'S VOICE: Your Holiness, there's a Mr. Finklestein to see you. He has an appointment.

POPE: Finklestein? Doesn't ring a bell. (Rings a bell. Singsong chant) In nomine Patris et Filii et...

VOICE: Your Holiness, you're wandering again. This man wants to see you. His card says Feinstein, Finklestein, Debevoise and Plimpton. He says he's representing the Jewish people.

POPE: Oh yeah, I remember. Send him in. Kvetch, kvetch, kvetch. That's all those people do. Ah, Mr. Finklestein. Velcome to the Watican. Or wherever. How can I help you? A glass of sacramental wine?

FINKLESTEIN: No thank you, Your Holiness. I'll get down to business. Time is money. I bill $400 an hour.

POPE: Well, your people wrote the book on that! Just kidding, counselor.

FINKLESTEIN: As you know, I am handling the case of Original Tribes of Israel, LP, v. Church of Simon Called Peter, Inc. My clients believe they have been deeply hurt, injured, libeled and otherwise persecuted as a result of anti-Semitic doctrines propagated with malice and reckless disregard of the truth by defendants and specifically that said defendants accused plaintiffs of crucifying the said Messiah a k a Jesus Christ a k a Our Lord and Savior, on or about Easter Sunday 1 Anno Domini ...

POPE: (singsong chant) Anno domini pax vobiscum rick santorum--oh, sorry, reflex action...

FINKLESTEIN: No problem. And furthermore, the second part of our complaint, alleges ex parte...

POPE: (chanting) Nostrum rostrum summum bonum sonny bono... Oops, there I go again...

FINKLESTEIN: In the second part, my clients charge that the Catholic Church is in violation of copyright in that it did steal the teachings of Jesus of Galilee, a prominent Jewish person, and his twelve disciples, including Simon called Peter, authors Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, all of them Jewish persons, and Paul of Tarsus, also a Jew, and wrongfully converted them into what is known as the Christian religion. We demand $50 trillion in punitive damages for copyright infringement plus 10 percent in royalties off the collection plate.

POPE: Ooh, that's pretty rich. Can't we settle out of court? How about if I pardon you all. I'll even go to Israel and do it personally. I'll say, Boy, when we make a mistake it's a doozy. (Clap of thunder)

JEHOVAH: Leonard, this routine is over the line. I told you nix on the blasphemy in the afterlife! For this little caper you draw another millennium in Purgatory.

LENNY: Oy gevalt, busted again!
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Title Annotation:Comment; Lenny Bruce
Author:Lingeman, Richard
Publication:The Nation
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 26, 2004
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