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Falwell & the Supremes:

Over at BLT, Tony Mauro has an interesting post on the late-Rev. Jerry Falwell's unintended contribution to First Amendment jurisprudence.

Orielbean (mail):
When I first read the RSS headline, I thought it was music-related... I'm thinking to myself "did he sing for them or something?!"
5.16.2007 11:22am
Kovarsky (mail):
Orielbean,

You didn't hear the seminal song "rhythm and blues is the black devil's music" from his eponymously titled "fear and hatred personified" album? It was before Falwell started having reconstructive surgery to look like Diana Ross.
5.16.2007 11:46am
ed o:
what a victory for the first amendment-you get to print cartoons accusing someone of incest with their mother while you are unable to criticize politicians within 60 days of an election. I can't imagine how we survived as a nation without this ruling.
5.16.2007 12:19pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
while you are unable to criticize politicians within 60 days of an election

???
5.16.2007 12:36pm
Andrew Okun:
When I first read the RSS headline, I thought it was music-related

Falwell and the Supremes ... didn't they open for Ashcroft on his solo tour?
5.16.2007 12:40pm
another anonVCfan:
while you are unable to criticize politicians within 60 days of an election

???

ed o is referring to the McCain-Feingold "electioneering communications" ban, upheld by the Supreme Court in McConnell v. FEC.
5.16.2007 1:00pm
trotsky (mail):
Falwell vs. Flynt is a lot like the Iran-Iraq War. Why couldn't they both lose?
5.16.2007 2:04pm
Grant Gould (mail):
Thank goodness for unappealing and vile parties to a dispute -- the court need feel no regret in its decision, and will not be tempted to create some sort of ridiculous balancing test out of sympathy for one side or the other.

If it had been Mother Theresa v. Flynt, or Falwell v. Thomas Jefferson Himself, we'd have been told that the First Amendment only exists if fifteen subjective conditions are met and seven factors in favor outweigh nine factors against (plus any Congressional findings-of-"fact" that the court decides to defer to).

But instead it was Falwell and Flynt, and the court disposed of the matter directly and unambiguously in order to wash its hands of the villains.
5.16.2007 2:30pm
ed o:
what was villainous about Falwell-lived up to what he preached (married, no mistresses or love children); founded a university. I suppose one doesn't have to like him but he wasn't quite as low a human being as a pornographer. It was a decision that contributed nothing to the betterment of the world and nothing to the protection of the First Amendment.
5.16.2007 2:56pm
Kovarsky (mail):
ed-o

i guess the fairly obvious point that the cartoon was not an "accusation" has already been lost on you.
5.16.2007 3:13pm
Thales (mail) (www):
I can answer that: He preached odious hate and outright stupidity on too many occasions to count in the name of a religion that purports to be about loving thy neighbor and supporting the least among us. And his university is about the antithesis of learning. We shouldn't much care that he lived up to what he preached.
5.16.2007 4:24pm
Karl (mail):
Hustler v. Falwell is one of the most over-estimated opinions.

Effectively it did nothing for substantive jurisprudence. It got rid of a procedural loophole to establised libel/free speech law -- the gimmick tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress.
5.16.2007 5:17pm
ed o:
in other words, no substantive answer-must be the same commenter bloc which quivers in fear of christianity while jihadists are flying planes into buildings.
5.16.2007 6:03pm
Thales (mail) (www):
Ed o: to make it clear, I was responding to your question regarding what was villainous about Jerry Falwell. The villainy of either Falwell or Flynt of course has no bearing whatsoever on the independent question of whether Falwell v. Flynt is a sound decision. It is sound, however, and it stands for a principle that making fun of public figures is protected expressive activity, which principle protects your right to criticize and lampoon politicians; I call that a contribution. If you can draw a principled legal distinction, one that doesn't assign immense and arbitrary power to government, between what Flynt did in this case and the cartoons of Thomas Nast, it would be nice to see.
5.16.2007 7:52pm