Thursday, August 12, 2004

Falwell to Arms

CNN reported on Tuesday that Jerry "Moral Majority" Falwell, the U.S. televangilist, won a trademark dispute over Fallwell.com. This site, critical of Falwell's fundamentalist Christian rants against homosexuals, was said to be nearly identical to the trademark "Jerry Falwell" and likely to confuse people. What's more, it was ruled that the site's gay activist operator tried to divert people from Falwell's official website "with the direct intent to tarnish or disparage" him. Falwell agrees, of course:
"Mr. Lamparello was not only attempting to infringe on my name for personal gain, but, for whatever reason, he is extremely hostile to the message of the Gospel I preach and was therefore trying to do damage to the message I deliver."
Well, the Tinky Winky is gay remarks aside, him blaming gays for helping the 9/11 attacks to happen, might have something to do with it:

"The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way – all of them who have tried to secularize America – I point the finger in their face and say ‘you helped this happen."
That Falwell has a justified argument for trademark infringement may be the case. His motivation to get the site taken down might have some other motivation. Curtailing the First Amendment through copyright, trademark or other fields of law is more than common practice.

If the word of critique is crippled, there are at least two reactions:
1) Tocqueville's take on Madison's Federalist 51:
"If the free institutions of America are destroyed, that event may be attributed to the omnipotence of the majority, which may at some future time urge the minorities to desperation and oblige them to have recourse to physical force."
2) Bring to mind what the good preacher once said in the Campari ad for Hustler magazine and just smile in silence:
"I always get sloshed before I get out to the pulpit. You don't think I could lay down all that bullshit sober, do you?"
The first is to be feared, the second to be cherished, and the middle way to be preferred: speak, speak, speak.

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