An Unlikely Friendship   Leave a comment

At first glance, one would be right to assume that Hustler magnate Larry Flynt and the late evangelist Jerry Falwell were not the best friends…and for a long time, they weren’t, but one would also be wrong to then assume that they never eventually became friends, as evidenced in an article over at Real Clear Politics.

The background: back in November 1983Hustler magazine published an ad for Campari liquor featuring a parody of Jerry Falwell; the ad detailed Falwell talking about his “first time”…now, most of these parody ads talked about celebrities “first time” drinking Campari liquor (which also included subtle & not-so-subtle sexual double entendres. In Falwell’s case, his first time involved an incestuous sexual encounter between him…and his mother.

Now, Falwell sued Hustler and the case eventually made its’ way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where in an 8-0 ruling, the High Court ruled that (among other things):

“At the heart of the First Amendment is the recognition of the fundamental importance of the free flow of ideas and opinions on matters of public interest and concern. The freedom to speak one’s mind is not only an aspect of individual liberty – and thus a good unto itself – but also is essential to the common quest for truth and the vitality of society as a whole. We have therefore been particularly vigilant to ensure that individual expressions of ideas remain free from governmentally imposed sanctions.” (Hustler Magazine v. Falwell)

Now, fast forward 15 years: when the movie The People v. Larry Flynt, the two – the porn magnate and the televangelist found themselves sitting side-by-side opposite talk show host Larry King…and it was there that this unlikely friendship began; as Flynt put it following Falwell’s passing in 2007:

“I disagreed with Falwell on absolutely everything he preached, and he looked at me as symbolic of all the social ills that a society can possibly have,” Flynt would write 10 years later, on the occasion of Falwell’s death. “But I’d do anything to sell the book and the film, and Falwell would do anything to preach, so King’s audience of 8 million viewers was all the incentive either of us needed to bring us together.(Real Clear Politics)

While the two never really cared for one another, even after that, they remained friends through the rest of Falwell’s life, especially after Falwell made an impromptu visit to Flynt’s Hustler headquarters in Beverly Hills proposing that the two of them travel the country debating First Amendment issues, a proposition Flynt agreed to.

As I read the article, I couldn’t help but think that if these two people, as opposite as they were on everything imaginable, could become friends at some point, doesn’t that give us hope in other areas also?

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Posted February 24, 2014 by Matthew in Uncategorized

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