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Barry Crimmins, Anti-War Comic and Crusader Against Child Abuse, Dies at 64

The stand-up comedian spoke out against war and sexual abuse, and was beloved by fellow comedians for his honest and caustic political commentary

Barry Crimmins, political satirist and advocate for survivors of child abuse, died on Wednesday at the age of 64. (Photo: Tore Saetre/Flickr/cc)

Progressive groups and entertainers alike shared appreciation on Thursday for Barry Crimmins, the activist and comedian who died on Wednesday at the age of 64, weeks after revealing he had been diagnosed with cancer.

Crimmins' wife shared the news via his Twitter account.

Jeff Cohen, founder of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), remembered Crimmins as a "funny and biting stand-up whose comedy was political and always punched upward."

"Beloved by fellow comedians, he pioneered in the kind of informed, compassionate, topical comedy that later became mainstream with Jon Stewart and Colbert," Cohen told Common Dreams in an email.

In addition to his work as a comedian, Crimmins worked as a writer and correspondent for the left-leaning talk radio station Air America.

The frequent political satirist spoke out at anti-war rallies ahead of U.S. involvement in the Gulf War in 1990, but Crimmins' advocacy on behalf of survivors of child sexual abuse became one of his best-known endeavors.

A survivor himself, Crimmins testified before Congress in 1995, imploring lawmakers and internet companies to stop the use of online chat rooms by pedophiles. He had stumbled upon them while using AOL to find online support groups for victims, and his testimony led to a zero-tolerance policy for pedophilia and child pornography at the company.

Crimmins and his wife Helen set up a GoFundMe fundraiser last year to help with medical bills, as both were diagnosed with cancer within months of one another and didn't have adequate health coverage until Crimmins' insurance through the Writer's Guild of America went into effect in January.

"The only reason Barry didn't see a doctor right away is because he didn't have adequate health insurance and he didn't want to rack up huge medical bills while we were already dealing with my huge medical bills," wrote Helen. "I lobbied for him to go despite what it would cost, but he had made up his mind to wait until he was covered. The American healthcare system really screwed both of us."

A documentary film by longtime friend and fellow comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, Call Me Lucky, was released in 2015, and detailed Crimmins' activism.

"We have to have enough guts, to open up our ears, and to open up our hearts; to listen, look, watch, believe and testify—about what really happens to innocence in this world," said Crimmins in the film. "We have to take care of innocence in this world. And we have to be brave enough to stand up and tell the truth about what happens to innocence in this world. So, tell the truth, tell everyone the truth, tell anyone the truth. Because your lives depend on it. My life depends on it. And people who really can't be heard—really depend on it."

On social media, fans and comedians who were influenced by Crimmins wrote about him on Thursday.

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