This past week saw the death of one of my great comedy heroes, Don Rickles, along with one of my great libertarian heroes, William N. Grigg. As a libertarian humorist, that’s kind of a tough week!
Will Grigg was the great libertarian thinker and writer who is responsible more than anyone else (with the possible exception of Radley Balko) for shedding light on the atrocities committed by the modern American police state. Over the past ten years, Grigg wrote hundreds of articles at his own blog, Pro Libertate, most of them dealing with the American criminal justice system and the wreckage it leaves in its wake. Will Grigg also wrote countless articles and blog posts for lewrockwell.com, and was one of the founding members of the Libertarian Institute. I cannot (and do not) claim to be one of the many people Will Grigg’s work helped to get free from the clutches of the "punitive priesthood," as he called it; I am merely someone who learned from Will Grigg, but that, to my mind, is high praise as it stands.
Don Rickles, of course, scarcely needs an introduction. He was the legendary insult comic dubbed "Mr. Warmth," and was possessed of an inimitable ability to command a stage with his rapid-fire, ceaseless wit. No subject was off limits for Don Rickles, very much including the sacred shibboleths of modern America: race, sex, and handicaps. Rickles had a joke for any occasion, and usually a flood of them; he was callous, he was politicially incorrect, and he was a member of the old school of Jewish comedians who would spontaneously shift into Yiddish just to annoy the audience. He was, in short, the best.