West 121st Street in New York City is where the late stand-up comedian George Carlin grew up. Known for his sarcasm and satire, he might find a recent petition to name his childhood street after him particularly humorous, especially since the pastor of Corpus Christi Catholic Church, affiliated with the primary school he once attended, has raised objections to the “George Carlin Way.”
The Rev. Raymond Rafferty, pastor of Corpus Christi, doesn’t see Carlin as someone who has contributed to their community in a beneficial way and has spoken out against the petition. The Columbia Spectator reports Rafferty saying, “Mr. Carlin made his early reputation by mocking religion and the clergy of this parish, and his vulgarity does not make him a role model for anyone, especially the children attending our school.”
Carlin criticized organized religion of all kinds. Though raised a Roman Catholic, he became an atheist and repeatedly mocked religion, especially in his “Religion” and “There is No God” routines.
He once said in a stand- up routine that religion was “the all-time champion of false promises and exaggerated claims. It’s actually convinced people there’s an invisible man living in the sky, and he has a special list of 10 things he doesn’t want you to do. And if you do any of these things, he will send you to a special place, of burning and fire and smoke and torture and anguish for you to live forever, and suffer and burn and scream until the end of time. But he loves you. He loves you and he needs money.”
Patricia Garcia, secretary for Corpus Christi, whose children attend the school told The Christian Post today she’s hoping the street doesn’t get renamed. She said she doesn’t see Carlin as a role model for children at the school, “What is there for my kids to look up to?” she asks.
The petition was started in September by Kevin Bartini, a comedian on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He came up with the idea because he lives in the same neighborhood where Carlin grew up and thought it would be a good tribute.
Bartini began by standing on the street asking for signatures, and then later moved the petition online.
Since then, they have gathered 6,000 signatures through the online advocacy platform, A Change.org. Carlin’s daughter, Kelly, is also in support of the petition as a way to protect her father’s legacy.
The online petition letter reads, “Name the 500 Block of West 121 Street in honor of George Carlin. George Carlin, brilliant and prolific comedian lived and went to school on this street. He loved this street and crafted many of his most famous routines around it. We the legions of fans, admirers and fans of George Carlin believe that a street should be named in honor of the greatest comedian of all time in his hometown, the greatest comedy city of all time!”
For now, the petition will go to Community Board 9, representing West Harlem and Morningside Heights, for review, and then will be presented for a vote. Most likely the naming will pass, but because of Corpus Christi’s opposition, an alternate street might be co-named for Carlin instead of the one the church is located on.