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I am grateful to Jerry Falwell

In my earlier post, I mentioned that I am trying to be a better person.

Here’s another try…

I want to express my gratitude to Jerry Falwell.

First off, his hypocrisy was so apparent to me, even as a child, that he (and his ilk) caused me to question what they told me in Sunday School. I got kicked out of class a lot for questioning what they taught me. “Christians, like slaves and soldiers, ask no questions” – Jerry Falwell. . That gave me my life-long need to question all authority, and my ability to think critically. Thank you Jerry. Without your hypocrisy, I might not be the person I am today.

Just as importantly….

If it were not for Jerry Falwell, I might not be a First Amendment lawyer. Jerry Falwell truly inspired me to be what I wanted to be when I “grew up.”

Hustler v. Falwell tells us that when you put yourself out in the public eye, and you purposely interject yourself into public life, you don’t get to decide what other people say about you, just because you are wealthy and politically powerful.

I remember watching “The People v. Larry Flynt” in a theater in Miami in 1997. As soon as the scene shown below concluded, (which actually doesn’t have anything to do with Mr. Falwell) I looked at my girlfriend and said “That’s what I am going to do with my life.”

And now I do.

Thank you, Mr. Falwell.


Addendum: I just read Flynt’s statement on Falwell’s death… damn, what a class act that Flynt is. He actually made me feel a bit ashamed of how badly I slammed Falwell in an earlier post, and I self-censored and edited it. Larry Flynt, positive role model.

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

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