Mar 17, 2022 • 39M

Terry Abrahamson’s Dirty Joke

Do we have a constitutional right to be mean?

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Appears in this episode

Matthew S. Schwartz
Michael Vuolo
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On today’s show, the dirty joke that made it to the Supreme Court.

When asked to pen some biting humor for the pages of Hustler back in 1983, writer Terry Abrahamson took aim at evangelical Christian preacher Jerry Falwell. The result was a vulgar parody of a real Campari ad — though instead of celebrities coyly talking about their “first time” tasting the Italian liqueur, Abrahamson wrote a fictional account of Falwell’s first time having sex (SPOILER: it was in an outhouse, with his own mother). Falwell sued Hustler for intentional infliction of emotional distress, and the Supreme Court had to decide: Does the First Amendment give us the right to parody a public figure?