Appearing on the Johnny Carson show in the 1980s, comedian and writer Dick Shawn joked that life doesn't begin with inception or when the baby takes its first breath. Life begins, he said, when the kids leave home and the dog dies. Carson laughed so hard he almost fell out of his chair. The joke, as they say, brought down the house. If a comedian cracked a joke like that today, he'd be attacked by the church, thousands of enraged bloggers, and the animal rights people. There was a time when writers could be funny.