Magazine article The Nation

Falwell's Mother

Magazine article The Nation

Falwell's Mother

Article excerpt

Falwell's Mother

It is gratifying to see levity in high places. According to the December 3 New York Times, the Supreme Court Justices enjoyed a few laughs while investigating the case of the Rev. Jerry Falwell versus Hustler. Surely after this season's wrenching news of child abuse, parricide, racial brutality and surrogate motherhood, we, too, the dutiful consumers of current events, are entitled to reap what amusement we can from the spectacle of Falwell challenging a girlie magazine's depiction of his late mother.

For any recent arrivals from outer space, Hustler's parody of the Campari "first time' ads showed Falwell in "a drunken, incestuous encounter with his mother in an outhouse.' Free speech issues make strange bedfellows. Possibly many of the parties publicly supporting Hustler, as well as others, like myself, rooting from the sidelines, are as repelled by their ally as Falwell was by the parody. It would be nice to say, A plague on both your outhouses, but we can't afford the indulgence. Viva Hustler! it must be, then.

If we can stop giggling for a moment, though, we might consider the role of the only crucial character in this horse opera who cannot speak for herself or through a lawyer: Falwell's mother. Women--as symbols, possessions, passive things--still serve as a highly effective and most acceptable means through which men can attack and belittle one another. Given this state of affairs, as well as the nature of Hustler, it follows as the night the day that the magazine should mock Falwell by showing his mother as lewd. And just as naturally, Falwell--who claims to have been "amused' by every other satire aimed at him--would be stung to the quick by this one. …

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