11. “Don’t just teach your children to read … teach them to question what they read. Teach them to question everything.”
Close, but not Carlin’s exact words:
“Don’t just teach your children to read … teach them to question what they read. Teach them to question everything.”
Although Carlin said something very close to this, these weren’t his exact words. And that’s what’s so tragically ironic about this popular quotation: millions of people figured that since they liked it so much, they’d go ahead and share it with all of their friends on the internet, without ever bothering to see if the words were authentic! Go figure.
The actual line that people are attempting to quote here is from Carlin’s final HBO special and album, It’s Bad for Ya (2008), from the track “No One Questions Things” (track #23 on the CD, and chapter #23 on the DVD). Here’s what he actually said:
[It’s] not important to get children to read. Children who wanna read are gonna read. Kids who want to learn to read going to learn to read [It’s] much more important to teach children to QUESTION what they read.
Children should be taught to question everything. To question everything they read, everything they hear. Children should be taught to question authority. Parents never teach their children to question authority because parents are authority figures themselves, and they don’t want to undermine their own bullshit inside the household. So they stroke the kid and the kid strokes them, and they all stroke each other, all grow up all fucked up, and they come to shows like this.
Granted, I could be wrong, and maybe he did really say the exact words on some other occasion. But I haven’t seen any evidence of where they could be from. SO it’s much more likely that somebody just paraphrased the HBO show from memory, and people copied the incorrect quotation. And again, without anybody stopping to questioning it.