Bruce Pardoned For Obscenity 37 Years After Death


Comedian Lenny Bruce was posthumously pardoned yesterday by Gov. George E. Pataki, 39 years after being convicted of obscenity for using bad words in a nightclub act, the New York Times reports. Pataki called the pardon “a declaration of New York’s commitment to upholding the First Amendment.”

Fighting a four-month sentence over a 1964 performance, the conviction made it almost impossible for him to get work; he was declared bankrupt and died of a morphine overdose on Aug. 3, 1966 at the age of 40. The Times says that Bruce’s disputed utterances cannot be printed in a family newspaper.

“You see, there is a God,” said Ronald K. L. Collins, a scholar at the First Amendment Center in Arlington, Va., and a biographer of Bruce. Said Robert Corn-Revere, a Washington lawyer who wrote the main legal brief arguing for the pardon, “There is only one reason for Governor Pataki to do this: for the principle of the thing.”


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