George Carlin is famous for his edgy comedy. Particularly in the late '60s and early '70s, his humor pushed the boundaries of what was considered acceptable comedy. Still quoted today, his most notorious set is referred to as "Seven Dirty Words." In it, he jokes about language considered extremely profane in the United States in an era when cursing could lead to a comedian's detainment, as was the case with Lenny Bruce.
But Carlin had one set that even he thought went too far - on September 9th and 10th of 2001, Carlin joked about Osama bin Laden and airplane disasters. When Carlin recorded his special later that year, as the US was still reeling from 9/11, he removed many of the bits and changed its dark title.
Although the jokes focused more on flatulence than terror, the original set was oddly prophetic. It's common knowledge that people like Nostradamus have occasionally predicted the future with eerie accuracy, but this phenomenon is especially bizarre when the augury comes from a popular comedian. In 2016, Carlin's daughter and manager believed enough time had passed that the tapes could be released to the public.
He Did A Bit On Osama Bin Laden
Carlin specifically mentioned the leader of al-Qaeda responsible for 9/11 during his set. He said a plane could blow up due to flatulence building up towards the back and we'd attribute it to Osama bin Laden.
"You know who gets blamed? Osama bin Laden. [Fanatics] get blamed for these explosions that are nothing more than cabbage-fart detonations," said Carlin.
He Joked Twice About Airplane Tragedies
In his standup routine, Carlin told the audience he enjoyed disasters with a high number of losses. Carlin then began listing his "favorite" disasters. He included everything from earthquakes to “a runaway merry-go-round;" most notably, he mentioned plane crashes.
Additionally, one of Carlin's bits that night was specifically about an airplane exploding. Although it's clearly a joke, his humor is eerie given the next day's tragic events:
These planes get flying so fast that all the most... volatile, flammable, unstable farts get pushed toward the back of the airplane, where they begin to build up pressure... And they build, and they build, and they build... and they continue to build throughout the flight until finally some kid turns on a Game Boy and boom! The whole back end of the plane blows off.
He Addressed Airport Security Two Years Before 9/11
In a February 1999 set, Carlin criticized airport security for its ineffectiveness. He said Americans are "always willing to trade away a little of their freedom... [for] the illusion of security." Carlin joked:
Airport security is a stupid idea, it’s a waste of money, and it’s only there for one reason, to make white people feel safe. That’s all. The illusion, the feeling, and illusion of safety cause the authorities know they can’t make an airplane completely safe; too many people have access... Oh and by the way, an airplane flight shouldn’t be completely safe. You need a little danger in your life. Take a f*cking chance once in a while, will you?
He Called Fundamentalist Terror 'Exciting' In 1999
During the same set in which he mocked airport security, Carlin called terrorism "exciting." Claiming he saw it more as a form of entertainment, he cited all fundamentalist groups as those responsible for volatile chaos:
You have to be a realist... Certain groups of people... certain groups - Muslim fundamentalists, Christian fundamentalists, Jewish fundamentalists, and just plain guys from Montana - are gonna continue to make life in this country very interesting for a long, long time.
That’s the reality; angry men in combat fatigues talking to God on a two-way radio and muttering incoherent slogans about freedom are eventually going to provide us with a great deal of entertainment, especially after your stupid f*cking economy collapses all around you and the [extremists] come out of the woodwork and you’ll have anthrax in your water supply, and saran gas in your air conditioner... and I say, “enjoy it, relax, enjoy the show, take a f*cking chance, put a little fun in your life.”