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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Just Desserts: The End of Jerry Falwell

by CLINTON FEIN

Jerry Falwell Anti Memorial

Dancing on the graves of the dead isnít really a particularly pleasant thing to do. Iím not a hateful person, but when I switched on the television yesterday morning, and saw that Jerry Falwell had been rushed to a hospital unconscious, my first callous thought was that unless he died, I didnít really care about his consciousness.

Then, according to the Associated Press, he died. I didnít feel anything. I wasnít happy, per se, but my second callous thought was, ďgood riddance

He may have been a nice father to someone, or a sweet grandfather, or a kindly mentor, but Jerry Falwell represented the absolute worst that mankind has to offer.

His message was one of hate, intolerance and ugliness, sugar-coated along with a twisted and poisonous infusion of dogmatic religious fervor.

In my own legal battle before the Supreme Court, my attorneys asserted that in a well known case, and subsequent movie, Reverend Jerry Falwell accused publisher Larry Flynt of damaging his reputation by publishing a parody in which Falwell was depicted having sex with his mother in an outhouse. The claim for damages was rejected on the basis that no one would believe that Jerry Falwell would have sex with his mother in an outhouse (his sister maybe, but not his mother).

In Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, the Supreme Court held that the magazine's "patently offensive" parody was constitutionally protected. Even though the parody was "gross and repugnant in the eyes of most", and was found by a jury to be an "outrageous" and intentional infliction of emotional harm, it retained First Amendment protection.

Falwell, you see, believed that the free expression of filth and divisiveness was only reserved for those who masked it under the guise of religious authority. He would frequently invoke the First Amendment whenever he was called on to defend the hate he spewed. Just not that big a supporter when the shoe was on the other foot.

He may well have galvanized millions to fight the protected notion of separation of Church and State, but his legacy is as ugly and embarrassing as it was ever impressive.

Even in a corporate controlled, free-market, capitalist, pseudo-democracy, the Office of the President holds a certain amount of standing Ė enough to effect policy and to get corporations to do certain things to curry favor, if nothing else.

Ronald Reganís despicable equation of AIDS and morality resulted in not only the stigmatization and demonization of groups of people but, coupled with the hate-spewing Reverends of the Day (Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Lou Sheldon et al.) who communicated that AIDS was Godís punishment for ďimmoral behavior,Ē resulted in the deaths of millions.

In an episode that revealed the depths of his depravity, raised serious questions about his sanity, or served as a harbinger to the irrational, drug-fueled paranoia of Pastor Ted Haggard, he outed Tinky-Winky, a purple doll from the BBCís Teletubbies as gay, suggesting his color purple and magic red bag were a tool for the homosexuals to infiltrate the minds of youth with their dreaded homosexual agenda.

On September 11, 2001, in the worst terrorist attack ever to take place on American soil, suicidal fanatics attacked the United States by smashing hijacked commercial planes into the World Trade Center towers and Pentagon. Americans, and indeed most of the world, were numbed to the core by the horror and magnitude of such destruction. Most humans were reeling, stunned into a shocked and disbelieving silence, as the impenetrable roaches of humanity's refuse at their worst and ugliest came crawling out fast and furiously. Vomiting their hate and their anger like festering pus in gaping wounds.

Reverends Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson shattered their own decaying credibility by fanatically blaming the attack on gays, lesbians, abortionists, liberals, online pornographers and civil liberties groups, declaring that Americans got what they deserved. This, of course, while their fellow Americans - and a host of other nationalities -- lay dead, suffering and smoldering under heaps of shattered concrete and melting mangled metal.

His doomsday predictions, like those of other pseudo-religious freaks, do little more than demonstrate that their God is just an ineffective, bitter, whining, geocentric crybaby who doesn't have the balls to take out the sinners - gays, civil libertarians and their ilk - but instead throws temper tantrums in the form of Muslims flying into skyscrapers in Manhattan (rather than, say, the Castro district in San Francisco or Amsterdam in The Netherlands).

To paraphrase what President George W. Bush said of terrorists: Only the terrorists themselves, or Jerry Falwell, or Pat Robertson, would want to live in their brutal and joyless world.

This ugly, deplorable despicable pig had the audacity to think that he was made in Godís image. Although he weaseled out of his outrageous remarks after September 11th, offering a meek apology in an attempt to pick up the shattered remnants of his reputation, as late as last week, he told CNNís Christiane Amanpour that he really meant what he said.

And a week later, God showed him, once and for all.

See my comment on CBS News with my name incorrectly spelled.

 
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