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The American Dream

I have tried to keep this blog free from “funny blog posts”. This is an exception.

I got the link to the video from my boss. I guess he sent it to me because I just returned from a seven-month visit to California.

If you didn’t know it yet we are involved in this “education business” here in Helsinki. We are running this Media Lab. It is a department at the University. We are luky to have a chance to work with creative people – students, designers, artists and researchers. We are doing pretty ok. I am happy to be back here. Almost feel like at home.

I have learned to like many things in US and especially in California (*. Ultimate freedom of speech is obviously one of them. On a meta level this video is about it. George Carlin’s points are relevant largely in the whole western world. The question is why people in the audience are laughing? Is anyone listening?

*) There are also many things in US that are simply impossible for me to understand, but so are there in every country – especially in Finland.

4 replies on “The American Dream”

I'm glad you generally enjoyed your trip to the US. Yes, it's not so easy to understand weird things from other countries. To answer your question and that great video, people are laughing not because they don't get it or aren't paying attention. People are angry/rueful and know there is a lot more than a kernel of truth in what he's saying–they could shout in anger in agreement, however the venue dictates that they laugh in sympathy at his frank declarations.I wonder how power distribution might change due to what we and other like-minded folks do with the Internet?


Hi there,I wondered the same thing the first time I saw the video last year. But it looks like it's hard to listen, even more if the person who says it is a comedian. I agree about the notion of ultimate freedom of speech in the US. There are a few TV shows -The Daily News, let's say- which are very hard on politicians and the government (with good reason), but I found it interesting that many of these shows are comedies and parodies. I wonder if, in the end, that makes the message "softer" (Would that be the purpose?), so people laugh about these ideas, instead of listening, reflecting and, eventually, acting upon them.I just finished reading Cory Doctorow's novel, Little Brother, so I'm wondering now a few things about freedom of speech: how real is it, how valuable is it, and how fragile can it be. Also, how fear impacts our freedom of speech.To me, the things Carlin says are not funny (so it's not really a funny post), but very unsettling. Such a pity he passed away.


About the freedom of speech. From the Wikipedia: "In societies where the Freedom of Speech was not recognized as a right, the court jester – precisely because anything he said was by definition "a jest" and "the uttering of a fool" – could speak frankly on controversial issues in a way in which anyone else would have been severely punished for, and monarchs understood the usefulness of having such a person at their side. Still, even the jester was not entirely immune from punishment, and he needed to walk a thin line and exercise careful judgment in how far he might go – which required him to be far from a "fool" in the modern sense. "…So, if all the controversial issues must be raised up by the "court jesters", does it mean that actually there isn't freedom of speech? Is the "ultimate freedom of speech" in US actually a myth? At least Carlin seems to think so.


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