Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Rev. Jerry Falwell Dies … and Teletubbies Everywhere, Rejoice

The Rev. Jerry Falwell, founder of the religious right, has past away at the age of 73. Falwell had a history of heart trouble and was found unconscious in his office at Liberty University.

Jerry Falwell, a southern Baptist minister, will probably be most remembered for preaching intolerance toward gays, feminists, abortionists, revolutionaries, lesbians, blacks, the ACLU, People for American Way, pagans, Jews, Arabs that work at Quick-E Marts, men who wear their hair long, woman that color their hair pink, people that listen to disco, rap or any other music with a sexual undertone, people in inter-racial relationships, people that drink on Sunday and while I am sure I am forgetting a myriad of other people, let’s not forget his distain for that pesky, purple Tele-tubby.

Through the years, he used religion to criticized Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and supported Ferdinand Marcos, the deposed president of the Philippines. He opposed SALT II, a treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union to limit nuclear weapons.

But his primary focus was on domestic issues - opposing the Equal Rights Amendment, supporting the teaching of creationism in public schools, resisting gay rights, pornography and a women’s right to choose.

Falwell’s church services were broadcast on hundreds of TV and radio stations. Once, he claimed to have an audience in the tens of millions. "Abortion, family values, and the moral underpinnings on which the nation was built we call the Judeo-Christian ethic, is important to us," Falwell said. His group raised millions to support politicians armed with the same moral agenda. In fact, his support of George Bush’s campaign in 2000 led John McCain to cry, “Not fair!”

Jerry Falwell was no idiot, despite the moronic rhetoric that came out of his mouth. He built a successful career and a massive following, by making statements that shocked and awed just about everyone.

The most memorable moment of Jerry’s career for me was his attempt to out one of the Teletubbies. He theorized that the puppet must be promoting a gay lifestyle since he wore purple, carried a purse, and sported a triangle on his head. Jerry didn’t mention Bert and Ernie, Peppermint Patty, or Big Bird and Snuffie, which I consider to be more obvious targets for such speculation.

After Sept. 11, Falwell declared God's anger with gays, lesbians, abortionists, and feminists had contributed to the terrorist attacks. He later apologized blaming just the terrorists. In 2002 he said, "I think Muhammad was a terrorist. I've read enough of the history of his life, written by both Muslims and non-Muslims, that he was a violent man, a man of war." These comments led to deadly riots in the Muslim world.

Falwell’s life was full of irony; as was his longstanding feud with Hustler Magazine’s creator, Larry Flint. The basis for their battles in court? Freedom of speech. Yep- Jerry wanted to sensor Flint and everyone else when his own career was fueled by the fire of saying whatever he damn well pleased regardless of how it made other people feel.

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