Cartoonists Criticize Falwell in Drawings and Comments

By: E&P Staff Editorial cartoonists are commenting on Jerry Falwell, who died yesterday at the age of 73. And most aren't fond of the way the Moral Majority founder demonized gays, feminists, liberals, and others as he tried to increase the political clout of the religious right.

Not surprisingly, several of the cartoons focused on what would happen when Falwell reached the gates of heaven.

For instance, conservative Scott Stantis of The Birmingham (Ala.) News and Copley News Service showed Tinky Winky -- the children's-show character Falwell contended was gay -- welcoming a disgruntled Falwell to heaven.

Liberal Steve Sack of the Star Tribune of Minneapolis and Creators Syndicate pictured an angel allowing Falwell into heaven while saying: "You're in luck, Rev. Falwell -- our policy is more forgiving than you ever were!"

Taking a different approach, Matt Davies of The Journal News in White Plains, N.Y., and Tribune Media Services showed Uncle Sam clicking on his remote trying to find a station that wasn't over-covering Falwell. "Now what's God punishing us for??," asked the exasperated TV-watcher.

The cartoons described above, and many other ones commenting on Falwell, can be seen at

Meanwhile, Universal Press Syndicate editorial cartoonist Ted Rall offered two Falwell-related anecdotes on his blog.

Rall recalled that he received the first really strong reaction to his work in 1980, when an Ohio newspaper published his cartoon criticizing the Moral Majority.

"When the paper's publisher, who belonged to the Moral Majority himself, saw the cartoon, he hit the roof and demanded that the editor publish an apology," wrote Rall. "Rather than capitulate, she quit. I was shocked, but she shrugged. 'No editor would give into censorship,' she explained. How editors have changed!"

Rall also remembered appearing on a TV show last year with Falwell (via split screen). "I was unfailingly polite ... sticking only to the issues at hand," he said. "Falwell, on the other hand, launched straight into a personal, ad hominem attack. ... I have to admit it: This oh-so-jaded pundit was surprised. The dude's a preacher, for God's sake. Doesn't he at least have to pretend to act like a civilized human being? Evidently not."

Editorial cartoonists as a group have an indirect history with Falwell. In the 1980s, Falwell sued Hustler publisher Larry Flynt after the magazine ran an ad parody about the Moral Majority leader supposedly having an incestous encounter with his mother. The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, while not a fan of Flynt and what he did, backed him on First Amendment grounds. Flynt won that court case in 1988.


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