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Happy Birthday, Bill Hicks: Why We Can Still Learn From, And Laugh At, The Great Critic and Comedian

Hicks was one of America's best stand-up comics, but also established himself as an insightful critic of American politics and mainstream culture.

 Bill Hicks died on February 26, 1994. He was only thirty-two, but his emotional, politically-charged acts established his legacy as not only one of the best American stand-up comics ever, but also as one of the most insightful critics of American politics and mainstream culture.  Hicks detested George Bush and Rush Limbaugh, was hilariously irked by fundamentalist Christians, and had a profound passion to seek the truth.  He constantly questioned the John F. Kennedy assassination, the Waco massacre,  the war in Iraq, and war in general, because as he put it, "It's only a war when two armies are fighting."  He criticized the government for arming the enemy (something the  Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) experienced just recently by arming Mexican cartels) and attacking Americans' freedom to choose their own lifestyles, and determine their own futures.   

Hicks fought for, and laughed about the absurdity of, many issues over which we are still fighting today: separation of church and state, abortion, gays in the military, and the drug war. One thing Bill always said, and has taken on an eerie truth in his death,  is that, as humans, we are still evolving: 

Folks, it's time to evolve. That's why we're troubled. You know why our institutions are failing us -- the church, the state, everything's failing? It's because, um, they're no longer relevant. We're supposed to keep evolving. Evolution did not end with us growing opposable thumbs. You do know that, right? There's another 90 percent of our brains that we have to illuminate.

What makes this statement so salient and so important is that, as a society, we have not continued to evolve --  the very institutions Hicks criticized are still failing; his words are still relevant. Hicks died, but his legacy lives, and we can still laugh at, and learn from, his analyses of mainstream America.  But be warned. Hicks had the gift to enlighten, but also to enrage.  He was consistently outraged - not only by the state of our world, but by the people’s lack of anger. In honor of his fiftieth birthday, which would have been Friday, I present to you some of his best quotes.

On religion. Hicks grew up in a Southern Baptist home in Houston, Texas. He was extremely critical of religion, and often poked fun at fundamentalist Christians.

The whole image is that eternal suffering awaits anyone who questions God's infinite love. That's the message we're brought up with, isn't it? Believe or die! Thank you, forgiving Lord, for all those options. 

A lot of Christians wear crosses around their necks. Do you think if Jesus comes back he ever wants to see a fucking cross? It's kind of like going up to Jackie Onassis wearing a sniper rifle pendant. "Hey Jackie, just thinking of John. We loved him."

You ever notice that everyone who believes in creationism looks really unevolved? Eyes real close together, big furry hands and feet. "I believe God created me in one day." Yeah, looks like he rushed it. 

I was over in Australia during Easter, which was really interesting. You know, they celebrate Easter the exact same way we do, commemorating the death and resurrection of Jesus by telling our children that a giant bunny rabbit … left chocolate eggs in the night. Now … I wonder why we're fucked up as a race. I've read the Bible. I can't find the word "bunny" or "chocolate" anywhere in the fucking book.

And to Christians who may been offended by what Hicks has to say about religion, he had a quick rebuttal: “Then forgive me.”