Linguist Geoff Nunberg says the word "sensitive" was complicated long before it was political. These days, "sensitivities" can be a stand-in for a lot of different attitudes -- some more defensible than others. Our modern stress on sensitivities, he says, probably set back cultural understanding as much as it has advanced it.
In the 1970s, George Carlin's seven dirty words routine was the center of a famous obscenity case. More recently, the comic was named the recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Carlin died of heart failure Sunday at the age of 71.
Carlin's seven dirty words routine was the center of a famous obscenity case in the 1970s. He has a new book When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? His other books include Napalm & Silly Putty, and Brain Droppings.