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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Louis C.K. interview gets NPR's Fresh Air banned in Mississippi

As you may have heard, Mississippi Public Broadcasting dropped Terry Gross’ Fresh Air program recently over “recurring inappropriate content.” You know, like the inappropriate way Gross always says, “That’s funny” after her guests say something funny, instead of just laughing like a normal person. Ha, just kidding: It was because “too often Fresh Air's interviews include gratuitous discussions on issues of an explicit sexual nature,” according to MPB executive director Dr. Judith Lewis, who adds, “We believe that most of these discussions do not contribute to or meaningfully enhance serious-minded public discourse on sexual issues.”

While this probably comes as no surprise to Fresh Air’s vast, onanist fanbase who regularly use the prim, hesitant delivery of Terry Gross as an aural aphrodisiac, it’s actually a bit of a surprise that what this all really came down to was a July 7 interview with comedian Louis C.K., who enhanced serious-minded public discourse on sexual issues by talking about why he always does it with his shirt on. Courtesy of Rachel Maddow’s blog (via Gawker), here’s a partial transcript of the offending exchange that set this whole thing in motion:

Louis CK: But if I'm with a woman and she wants to be with me, she must like me. I definitely have sex with my T-shirt on, always. I haven't had sex without a shirt on, God, since I was about 23."

Terry Gross: Is that true?

Louis CK: Yeah, I just don't think that's fair. I mean, you know, let her think she's with somebody decent, you know? … I do have sex sometimes on the show, and there's a rule that I have to be on my back.

Terry Gross: Why, because your stomach flattens?

Louis C.K.: Well, no, God, no. I'm not laying back in that bed thinking, "I look awesome right now." It's because I think I should always be the victim of the sex. I don't think anyone wants to see me looming over her. I think that's an upsetting image. And then also, the mother-dog stomach that I get when I'm … you get the point.

Apparently MPB is located on the same campus as offices for the state’s universities, and many of those use public radio broadcasts as their hold music. When an innocent caller was placed on hold and found themselves subjected to mental images of Louis C.K. getting it on, they called to complain, thus triggering the station’s zero-tolerance policy for inappropriate content—and thus, no more Fresh Air for Mississippi. To be clear, producers of the show claim they were never told what specific "inappropriate content" led to the removal, but Maddow seems fairly convinced. As is Louis C.K., apparently: Late last night, he issued a video response to the matter, although it’s since been taken down. Anybody catch it? Did he use it to meaningfully enhance serious-minded public discourse on sexual issues, or was it just more filthy filth?

UPDATE: Thanks to one of our commenters, here's a portion of his response:

"I guess what I’d ask you to do, Mississippi, is go ahead and let there be something on the air that you don’t like, because your neighbor may like it; somebody in your family may like it; and you may benefit from hearing it. I think it’s a shame when people want to stop something from being on the air because they don’t agree with it. There’s a lot of things on television that I hate, but I’m glad they’re there, and I watch them. I don’t like Glenn Beck; I don’t like Bill O’Reilly. But I watch them, and the reason I do is because I want to understand people I disagree with; I think you grow from that. I’m glad that this country has such a wide spectrum of ideas, and that everyone can express them.”

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