Well, no word from my blog-promoting friend Mr. Krahn on our discussion. I’ll continue my reply in the comments of last week’s post. Now onward and outward…
You’ve probably heard by now that Rev. Jerry Falwell has recently passed away.
In the flurry of remarks about him and his uber-political career, one stood out and made me pause.
You know, I find a tendency in myself to be rather judgemental. I tend to learn a few things, a quick once-over, and shut the door on what I think of someone. I thought my opinion of Falwell was fairly well justified by the numerous stupid, angry, insensitive, mean, lying, and divisive statements he made in the public sphere. These were somewhat balanced by a few people’s personal experiences of him, but for the most part, my opinion was pretty well set in the negative.
Well, I guess it really hasn’t changed much; but, something I read yesterday made me re-think my take on the Rev. It was Larry Flynt’s remarks on Falwell’s death.
“The Reverend Jerry Falwell and I were arch enemies for fifteen years. We became involved in a lawsuit concerning First Amendment rights and Hustler magazine. Without question, this was my most important battle – the l988 Hustler Magazine, Inc., v. Jerry Falwell case,where after millions of dollars and much deliberation, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in my favor.
My mother always told me that no matter how much you dislike a person, when you meet them face to face you will find characteristics about them that you like. Jerry Falwell was a perfect example of that. I hated everything he stood for, but after meeting him in person, years after the trial, Jerry Falwell and I became good friends. He would visit me in California and we would debate together on college campuses. I always appreciated his sincerity even though I knew what he was selling and he knew what I was selling.
The most important result of our relationship was the landmark decision from the Supreme Court that made parody protected speech, and the fact that much of what we see on television and hear on the radio today is a direct result of my having won that now famous case which Falwell played such an important role in.”
– Larry Flynt
ok, I’m not sure what conclusions I’ll eventually come up with after reading more on Falwell, but this statement was pretty interesting.
For whatever I don’t or didn’t like about him, he reached out to someone easily counted as his enemy and made an impression on him. That’s something. I don’t exactly know what, but something.
Terry Gross interviewed Falwell in ’86. It’s short, but interesting.