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No, Larry Flynt Was Not A Free Speech Crusader

Hustler pornographer Larry Flynt has died of heart failure at the age of 78. While he may or may not have been at least mildly surprised when he woke up in Hell, Flynt is now being held up in the press as a “free speech crusader” and a staunch civil libertarian. Larry Flynt was neither of these things. He was, instead, a creep who took multiple positions on the issues over the years, but who invariably returned to his true outlook as a Democrat time and time again.

A strip club mogul, in Ohio in the early seventies, Flynt began publishing, first a newsletter, then Hustler magazine. He had trouble finding wholesalers and distributors because his magazines photos were much more graphic than those of, say, Playboy. When he published nude photos of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in 1975, his profile was raised and his course was charted.

Flynt began producing adult movies in the 1990s. In 2000, he opened a casino in Gardena (a suburb of Los Angeles). Among his other charming publications is Barely Legal, which features young women who have only recently turned 18. One wonders just how many lives Mr. Flynt and his publications have touched — and where on the doll those victims might point.

Flynt’s characterization as an exemplar of the First Amendment stems from his involvement in various court cases concerning obscenity. He was first prosecuted in 1976 and spent six days in jail. His sentence of 7 to 25 years was overturned on appeal. Various legal machinations eventually put elements of this case before the Supreme Court, which figures in the plot of the Woody Harrelson film The People vs. Larry Flynt. Mr. Flynt was also sued by the Reverend Jerry Falwell in the early 1980s for offensive political cartoons that Falwell considered defamatory. The result was a Supreme Court decision establishing that public figures cannot recover damages for emotional distress resulting from parody.

Flynt also figured in John DeLorean’s legal troubles, interestingly. When the man behind the DeLorean automobile was arrested for trafficking cocaine, Flynt leaked an FBI surveillance tape in which agents threatened DeLorean’s daughter. (This apparently contributed to DeLorean getting off for those charges on grounds of entrapment.)

Flynt would find himself charged with obscenity crimes again in the nineties, resulting in him ceasing sales of adult videos in Cincinnati. Those charges would come back to haunt him again in the early two-thousands, and he rounded out the first decade of the new century by suing his own nephews. Evidently he thought the pornography his nephews were producing was of inferior quality and he sued them for the use of the family name.

Larry Flynt was married five times and had multiple children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren at his death. He claimed to have been a Christian for a year in the seventies (doubtful), later claimed to suffer from bipolar disorder, and spent a good deal of his life tooling around in a gold-plated wheelchair. This is because, in 1978, a “white supremacist and serial killer” named Joseph Paul-Franklin put a bullet in his spine.

Flynt’s would-be assassin claimed he was upset by something he saw in Hustler. Franklin was finally executed in 2013, but not before Larry Flynt spoke out in opposition to the sentence. (One wonders what the family members of Franklin’s many other victims thought, given that he was guilty of at least eight murders.)

Flynt subsequently suffered both addiction to painkillers and then a stroke brought on by an overdose of the drugs. (This was why he always sounded like he was gargling with aquarium rocks when he spoke.) But none of these facts about Larry Flynt’s life paints the real picture of the man — the picture that is ignored in mainstream media puff pieces about his life as a First Amendment stalwart.

Larry Flynt was, in fact, a lifelong Democrat who repeatedly tried to extort Republicans by offering million-dollar bounties for dirt on members of the GOP. This was done in defense of Bill Clinton during Clinton’s impeachment trial, and as recently as 2017, when Flynt offered to pay $10 million for any dirt that led to the impeachment of Donald Trump. Flynt also endorsed Hillary Clinton, one of the worst candidates ever to run for elected office (at least until we ended up with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris).

Also notable is the fact that when Larry Flynt’s oldest daughter became a Christian and began crusading against pornography, he disowned her. She claims he molested her; he claims he “passed a polygraph” and that he has tape of her admitting the molestation charges are false. (Interestingly, no hint of that evidence has found its way into public.)

Larry Flynt, in other words, was neither a good person nor a defender of the First Amendment. He was a Democrat first and foremost — someone who believes laws and restrictions should not apply to him, but should be wielded as weapons to silence opinions he does not like. His death is a loss to no one, his empire is that of second-rate smut, and the United States Constitution has never had a friend in Larry Flynt or his many business enterprises.

2 thoughts on “No, Larry Flynt Was Not A Free Speech Crusader”

  1. I was about 13 when I saw a copy of Hustler for the first time – I was sort of surprised the centerfold didn’t have needle marks all up her arm, but perhaps they were airbrushed out.

  2. It seems odd that you are so concerned about his political stance. He actually wanted to dish ‘dirt’ on ALL politicians, not republicans alone. When he ran for president in 1984, he actually ran as a Republican, believe it or not.

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