I never hated Jerry Falwell even though he blamed me for a bunch of things that weren’t really my fault. He never mentioned me by name, but when he would blame liberals for things like 9/11, he was blaming me, too.

That is the thing about making blanket statements against whole groups of people. At some point, you have to recognize that all the people in that faceless group actually do have faces. They are individuals.

Falwell was an individual, too.

As it happens, he was also the voice for a large group of people. Maybe not as large a group of people as he imagined – after all, he felt he spoke for the “Majority” – but a very large group none the less.

In so much as this group he spoke for favored a certain kind of hatred of homosexuals, women, and non-Christians, he sort of became a symbol for all of those things, also. He was, to whit, the face of this faceless mass of people.

I think a lot of the grave dancing going on right now because of his death is because many of the folks who despise homophobia, religious persecution and sexism are mistakenly thinking that Falwell was somehow the cause of these problems.

He was not.

Yes, one could make an argument that he played on these things to secure his success, but all of those things existed before Falwell and all of those things will continue to exist long after Falwell is a memory. In fact, I am sure that there is a new person on the rise who will fill the void that Falwell has left.

I vehemently disagreed with nearly all of Falwell’s views. However, this is America and if we don’t support the right for people we disagree with to speak publicly and powerfully for the things they believe in, we’re undermining one of the basic principals of our country. The same first amendment rights that allowed Larry Flint to mock Falwell are the same rights that allow Falwell to blame natural disasters on people having anal sex.

Thus, I can’t really hate Falwell either and certainly don’t want to join in the chorus of people decrying the man. As I said, I disagreed with him and thought many of his views were appalling, but he was fighting for the things that he and his followers believe in. Appalling things, though they may be.

So, rest in peace, Jerry Falwell. I hope your years of faith are rewarded.

(of course, being an atheist, I suspect it is more likely that you are unaware of anything, even the fact that you are dead, at this moment)

  1. *stands*


  2. Agreed. Falwell knew how to spread his message, that’s for sure.