The world was set ablaze today over a specific decision by the United States Supreme Court. For many, this was something that was a long time coming. For others its a scathing defeat. Either way it reminded us of another Supreme Court Decision: Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell.
But unlike today’s decision which was a 5-4 split, the Hustler v. Falwell case had a unanimous decision. If you’re unfamiliar with the case it went like this:
Hustler Magazine, known for its raunchy photos and crude humor printed a parody ad about Jerry Falwell. If you didn’t know Jerry Falwell was a well respected Southern Baptist pastor and televangelist who wasn’t too thrilled with Hustler’s owner Larry Flynt printing the parody ad. In it, references are made about Falwell losing his virginity to his mother, flies, and worst. If you want to read the parody ad and the more intimate details of what we’re going to summarize here Wikipedia has a reasonably balanced take on the matter.
Anyways Falwell sued Larry Flynt. The Jury awarded Falwell $150,000. Flynt appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. After the court chose not to hear the case en banc (fancy word meaning all the justices participating) the United States Supreme Court granted Flynt’s request to hear the case. The court ruled in Flynt’s favor. The court also reversed the $150,000 owed to Falwell.
Why? Because at the end of the day, the 1st Amendment prevailed. Nobody in their right mind could have believed the parody ad to be true. Jerry Falwell was an intelligent, well respected man of business and an ordained minister as well, but his knee jerk reaction made him look foolish in the end, and brought more attention to Hustler Magazine. Circulation likely increased. Later in life Flynt and Falwell allegedly made peace. Falwell died a few years back, and Flynt continues to laugh his way to the bank.
The Gaming Free Press encourages each and every one of you to enjoy parody. Suspend belief for the sake of enjoyment. And regardless of your opinion on today’s Supreme Court’s decision the most important thing for you to do is to respect the fact a decision was made and to respect those who think differently from you.