Peltz-Steele presents paper at Lenny Bruce conference

Professor Peltz-Steele presents paper on the language of comedy at Lenny Bruce conference, Comedy and the Constitution, at Brandeis University


Professor Peltz-Steele presented a paper on October 28 at a conference called "Comedy and the Constitution," hosted by Brandeis University.  The conference celebrated the life and work of comedian Lenny Bruce and marked the donation of Bruce's papers to the Brandeis University Library.  The conference featured Kitty Bruce, Lenny Bruce's daughter; Christie Hefner, former chairwoman and chief executive officer of Playboy Enterprises; and comedian Lewis Black.  Professor Peltz-Steele's contribution to the academic part of the program was titled, "The Frakking Futility of Punishing Profanity."  The paper, with implications for the freedom of expression and the regulation of speech, hypothesized that comedic repetition of indecent language can cause a word to dissociate from a taboo idea, but has more limited impact in dampening the taboo nature of the underlying idea.  Professor Peltz-Steele suggested furthermore that dissociation of word from taboo idea invites other words to represent the taboo instead, and both the taboo and the will to regulate its expression persist.

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