Lenny Bruce Gets Obscenity Pardon

Cory Kincaid
NEW YORK, NY – After a long and controversial career that was marred by censorship and criminal charges of indecency and obscenity, the late Lenny Bruce was granted a reprieve from Governor George E. Pataki.

The Governor announced that he had granted a posthumous pardon to the stand-up comedian whose notorious loud mouth and controversial comedy acts landed him in jail 39 years ago after giving what was deemed an "obscene performance."

Bruce's misdemeanor charges and conviction were based on a series of stand-up routines he gave in 1964 at the Café Au Go-Go in New York City where he was accused of "word crimes."

Bruce was sentenced in a Manhattan court to four months in jail for verbal obscenity, and according to reports, he never appealed his conviction or made any attempt to defend his First Amendment rights.

The owner of the Café Au Go-Go was also charged, but his conviction was later reversed.

"The holiday season is a time when we are reminded of the true meaning of compassion, particularly for those who take it upon themselves to improve their lives," Governor Pataki said in a statement.

"The posthumous pardon of Lenny Bruce is a declaration of New York's commitment to upholding the First Amendment. Freedom of speech is one of the greatest American liberties and I hope this pardon serves as a reminder of the precious freedoms we are fighting to preserve as we continue to wage the war on terror," the Governor concluded.

The push to grant Bruce a pardon was helmed by a group of comedians like Robin Williams and Penn and Teller who petitioned the New York State Governor earlier this year.

Also among the group was First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams.

Bruce's pardon is reportedly the first posthumous pardon ever granted by Governor Pataki, and the first-ever posthumous pardon granted in New York State.

Bruce died of a drug overdose in 1966 and is survived by a daughter, now 48-years-old, named Kitty Bruce.