Modal close

Dear Democracy Now! visitor,

You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines. Maybe you come for in-depth stories that expose corporate and government abuses of power. Democracy Now! brings you crucial reporting like our coverage from the front lines of the standoff at Standing Rock or news about the movements fighting for peace, racial and economic justice, immigrant rights and LGBTQ equality. We produce our daily news hour at a fraction of the budget of a commercial news operation—all without ads, government funding or corporate sponsorship. How is this possible? Only with your support. If every visitor to this site in December gave just $10 we could cover our basic operating costs for 2017. Pretty exciting, right? So, if you've been waiting to make your contribution to Democracy Now!, today is your day. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you and everybody else in 2017.

Non-commercial news needs your support.

We rely on contributions from you, our viewers and listeners to do our work. If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, now is a great time to make your monthly contribution.

Please do your part today.

Topics

First Amendment Pardon: Comedian Lenny Bruce Pardoned 40 Years After Obscenity Conviction

StoryDecember 24, 2003
Watch iconWatch Full Show

Comedian Lenny Bruce, who died in 1966 of a drug overdose, was convicted on an obscenity charge after a performance in New York two years earlier. We speak with First Amendment expert David Skover, author of The Trials of Lenny Bruce: The Rise and Fall of an American Icon.

Comedian Lenny Bruce has been granted a posthumous pardon by the state of New York 40 years after he was convicted in an obscenity case. Bruce was charged after a performance in 1964 during which he was said to have used more than 100 obscene words. Undercover police attending the show at Cafe Au Go Go in New York City, counted the swear words he used and later testified against him.

The groundbreaking 1960s comedian was convicted after a six-month trial but died of a drug overdose in 1966 before serving any time. He was 37 years old.

His conviction remained on the books until yesterday when Governor George Pataki issued the state’s first posthumous pardon. Pataki called his decision "a declaration of New York’s commitment to upholding the First Amendment."


The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

Non-commercial news needs your support

We rely on contributions from our viewers and listeners to do our work.
Please do your part today.

Make a donation