That Was the Wit That Was

Decades after he left the stage to teach math in Santa Cruz, the voice of legendary satirist Tom Lehrer still echoes

But it's not the Democrats vs. the Republicans anymore. Because American society has grown compartmentalized and filled with special interest groups, it's more difficult to get people to agree on a point of view. Which is why, Lehrer believes, so many comedians go for sexual jokes, or four-letter words. The audience may disagree amongst each other about issues, but everybody can agree on sex or the word "fuck." And such jokes, to him, are cheap and lazy.

"The whole idea of freedom of speech means you can say 'fuck' on television is an anathema to me," Lehrer says. "That's not what freedom of speech is about. It's about saying stuff. Now you can say anything, why don't you? But they don't."

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