IMHO, Perl is great as a first language. I have started a few people off in programming by introducing them to Perl. They were all intimidated with the very notion of programming because they thought that there was some arcane / mystical aura around which programmers performed their incantations and magically conjured up even the simplest of tasks.
Once they actually wrote a cheezy 'Hello world' and started to learn how to 'program', they dove right into it. No matter what language we use, there are still rules. If we don't follow these rules, our programs will not do what we expect them to. This has to be enforced when teaching someone how to program.
I learned 'C' as my first programming language. Yes, it made me really appreciate Perl for it's ease. One bonus for someone learning Perl first could be that C's syntax is close enough that the learning curve for C later will be pretty well cut off at the knees.