Battle over George Carlin street renaming

October 10, 2011 3:27:10 PM PDT
A Catholic school and parish is battling with a facebook group led by a comedian to get a street renamed after the late comedian George Carlin.

A quiet Morningside Heights block and one corner especially, are at the center of a brewing debate: should it be named after famously foul-mouthed comedian George Carlin?

"I was trying to get a list, nobody gives you a list of dirty words," Carlin said during one of his famous routines.

Carlin, in fact, grew up in the neighborhood and attended nearby Corpus Christi Catholic School, where the parish priest is absolutely opposed to the re-naming.

"He's known for his vulgarity, he is very anti-religious, and since I think we are the only institution on this block, it would be an insult," said Father Raymond Rafferty, of Corpus Christi Catholic Church.

Father Rafferty says he's especially concerned about the message such a renaming would send to the children here.

"It might send to the children that, 'gee everybody thinks what he says is great,'" Father Rafferty said.

But, Carlin fans have mounted a petition drive, insisting this is the perfect place to pay tribute.

Comedian Kevin Bartini who's leading the effort told Eyewitness News, "I understand Father Rafferty's position. At the heart of this is just a way of remembering one of the greatest most quintessential New Yorker's ever."

Some neighborhood residents agreed.

"I think that George Carlin is probably the most famous person who lived on this block, and I support it being named after him," said Gabriella Spitzer, a neighbor.

While Father Rafferty suggests renaming a street near one of the city's comedy clubs would make more sense, the two sides in this issue are expected to meet soon to try and come to some agreement.