Hustler Magazine vs. Jerry Farewell

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Hustler Magazine vs. Jerry Farewell

In 1983, Hustler Magazine published a parody of Campari Liqueur that contained the name and picture of Reverend Jerry Falwell. The parody was entitled "Jerry Falwell talks about his first time." Campari Liqueur in reality did have an advertisement, which featured various celebrities talking about their "first time", but by the end of the advertisement, it was obvious they were talking about the "first time" they sampled Campari. In Hustler's parody, Jerry Falwell is "interviewed" and he states that his "first time" was with his drunken mother in an outhouse. On the bottom of the parody, Hustler Magazine added in small print "ADD PARADOY NOT TO BE TAKE SERIOUSLY." The magazine's table of contents also lists the ad as "Fiction; Ad and Personality Parody." Jerry Falwell sued soon after the issue was published. Personally, I think if you are a public figure, like Jerry Falwell was, you are automatically putting yourself up for public humiliation. It's just a price to pay for being famous. I do however think that Hustler Magazine went a step too far in saying that Jerry Falwell lost his virginity to his mother. Jerry Falwell sued Hustler Magazine for libel, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional stress. In 1984, the U.S. District Court for Virginia's Western District dismissed the invasion of privacy claim because Falwell is a public figure. Hustler was found guilty of inflicting emotional distress and Falwell was awarded $200,000. The court ruled against Falwell on the libel claim. The lower court found that the ad parody was not reasonably believable. Chief Justice William Rehnquist said the ad was a satire, and to allow a jury to punish satire would be to allow jurors to decide a verdict based on personal taste. In 1988, the case was taken to the Supreme Court where they reversed the emotional distress verdict previously granted to Jerry Falwell. The Supreme Court reversed the verdict because the First...
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