Bill Hicks on Freedom of Speech

Site note: Problem with site, cached version here: Letter Of Note

American FlagThis is beautiful. Via Letters of Note:

In May of 1993, deeply offended by its “blasphemous” content, a priest wrote to Channel 4 and complained about the recent screening of “Revelations,” a recording of Bill Hicks‘s live show at London’s Dominion Theatre some months before (a show which, incidentally, can be seen in its entirety here).

Upon receiving said complaint, Channel 4 passed it on to Hicks himself. Hicks then responded to the priest directly with the following letter. It doesn’t disappoint:

8 June 1993

Dear Sir,

After reading your letter expressing your concerns regarding my special ‘Revelations’, I felt duty-bound to respond to you myself in hopes of clarifying my position on the points you brought up, and perhaps enlighten you as to who I really am.

Where I come from — America — there exists this wacky concept called ‘freedom of speech’, which many people feel is one of the paramount achievements in mankind’s mental development. I myself am a strong supporter of the ‘Right of freedom of speech’, as I’m sure most people would be if they truly understood the concept. ‘Freedom of speech’ means you support the right of people to say exactly those ideas which you do not agree with. (Otherwise, you don’t believe in ‘freedom of speech’, but rather only those ideas which you believe to be acceptably stated.) …

Read More: Letters of Note

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  • zombieslapper

    Nothing at the link. Please post the letter in its entirety as I am DYING to read it. We need more Bills in this world. And Carlins. And anyone willing to spit in the face of dogma.

    • http://disinfo.com ralph

       Please check the cached link.

      • zombieslapper

        Just read it. Brilliant! That man was a genius.

  • Fusionism

    where’d the link go? 

  • rileyrifle

    Indeed repost with a proper link!!!!

  • Fusionism

    Now even this article is missing from the disinfo page. What is going on? Ralph?

    • http://disinfo.com ralph

       Check the cache link at the top of the article. Really bizarre.

      • Eric_D_Read

        It’s gone entirely from Letters of Note.

  • GoodDoktorBad

    Great letter by Hicks!

    What might be more interesting is the priests reply to it  -which of course probably never happened…

    • Liam_McGonagle

      I understand that crayon fades within 5 or 10 years, so I’m sure it’d be illegible by now even if it did still exist.

  • tooCents

    And you have a right to boycott and complain to radio channels, for example, about their programs and complain to advertisers of those shows (Imus, Limbaugh, Beck,evangelical preachers, etc.), as many politically correct citizens “left-of-center” (hate that fucking term, but it is useful) will attest. 
    Is that against the law and the Bill of Rights? That’s to say, the right to freedom of speech? Fuck nope. Is it open minded and tolerant?? Shit fucking no, niggas!. But as we all know,’Mericans and their religious douchebag leaders have the right to be bitches and bitch speech and boycott. And so do our pussy liberals that care about identity politics more than the working class. “Nappy Haired Hos” Ohhhh boy..cott. Slut? Right to remain ..silent. Whatever. Hicks was great tho.

    • Liam_McGonagle

      I think you’ve covered nearly all the points that had occurred to me.  I love Hicks, too.

      But one other point that may be worth considering:  the priest, more than likely, actually believed that Jesus died and rose again on the 3rd day in HISTORICAL FACT.

      Hicks, on the other hand, I believe, likely regarded the significance of the Christ story primarily as morality, not history.  So Hick’s critique centers on the naivete of people mistaking morality fables for fact as well as their perverse misinterpretations of Christian morality.  To that extent, Hicks was challenging what was, for the priest, a settled matter of fact.

      I personally suspect that this priest was some kind of mental defective or pervert.  But a society can’t afford to be slipshod in its approach to factuality.  Do that too long and you get bizarre economic meltdowns and an unstoppable succession of government bailouts for parasitic banks who simultaneously claim to be the single most powerful engines of economic growth.

      Hicks’ response was 1,000%[sic] correct with regard to controversies over subjective value judgments.  But the priest would have had a powerful point if they were discussing a point of empirical fact.

      Just a shame that the priest was so f*cking stupid that he didn’t know the difference.

      • tooCents

        Hey good post. Something that just popped into my mind was this interesting satirical piece Alexander Cockburn did at Counterpunch.org a couple weeks ago as tribute to his former friend Christopher Hitchens, “At the Pearly Gates” –>
        http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/04/20/at-the-pearly-gates/

  • Nunzio X

    Anyone here not a Bill Hicks fan? Anyone?

    OK, you’re not? Good. Kill yourself. No, seriously. It’s not a joke. Just kill yourself.

    Etc.

    Bill was great. I’d love to see him and Frank Zappa rise from the dead and figuratively eviscerate the Proud Ignorants / American Taliban who want to run the show…what an ass-whipping that’d be…

    • Redacted

      Actually, I had never read anything or known much of Bill Hicks before I read the letter. I can now say I am a fan though.

    • .Toctr

      Actually, I don’t really get the “genius, ahead of his time ” hype. Not particularly funny to boot.
      I like what he says, but its no different that what I or many others were saying at the time. I think he rides a “died too young” wave and that is unfortunate, because all his missives just seem to be stranded in the near distant past. Really would dig to hear what he might be saying now… 

  • Mrtchops

    feel like kinda a douch-bag, fan-boy posting this, but…
    it’s just a ride..
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7criyE09uy0
    another dead hero.

    • Monkey See Monkey Do

      “I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit.” – Bill Hicks

  • DeepCough

    Bill Hicks’ wit is as incisively blunt on paper as it is on the stage.

    • rtb61

       Freedom of speech is the right to express your opinion not the right to express false statements of fact (lie), it is the right to talk not shout and, the right to discuss not threaten.

      • DeepCough

        Yo, dawg, I put a No Establishment Clause with your Free Exercise Clause in your First Amendment so you can have Freedom of Religion while you havin’ Freedom From Religion!

  • Dude

    Taken down, looks like Willy is still rockin’ it from the grave.
    RIP

  • Bruteloop

    That ‘wacky concept’ has become pretty eroded since Hicks wrote this.
    A semblance of free speech is hardly the same thing.

  • http://twitter.com/jasonpaulhayes jasonpaulhayes

    ‘Mohammed the TWIT’ and ‘Buddha, you fat PIG’ … classic Bill.

    RIP Brother, I miss the strength and reason you lent me for so many many years.

  • jameshogg

    To all you fools who even dared to defend Salman Rushdie’s enemies or in any way shape or form attempted to exculpate the true degree of threat behind the killing of Theo Van Gogh, the threats against Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and the total international pogrom against Denmark over a few silly cartoons, know this: even Bill Hicks, the would-have-definitely-been-anti-Bush-Jr-ist, peace-loving soul that he was, would have demolished you in a heartbeat.  And this letter proves it.

    Death to fascism and totalitarianism.

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