May 16, 2007

Flynt on Finding Common Ground with Falwell

Upon hearing of Jerry Falwell's passing, Larry Flynt released the most remarkable statement demonstrating how disputants can find common ground for a civil discussion:
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.

(Access Hollywood; see also Wikipedia on Hustler Magazine v. Falwell.)

Honestly, I can't imagine two individuals with less in common and less incentive to continue dialog. Something to keep in mind when confronted by seeming adversaries.

No comments:

Post a Comment