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Truthdigger of the Week: Larry Flynt

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Posted on Oct 20, 2013
AP/Gary He

Hustler magazine founder Larry Flynt in 2007.

By Alexander Reed Kelly

(Page 2)

Flynt’s latest attempt at assassination-by-association came in April of this year, when he declared his approval of the South Carolina Republican representative, former governor and confirmed adulterer Mark Sanford. “No one has done more to expose the sexual hypocrisy of traditional values in America today,” Flynt said in a video statement. “His open embrace of his mistress in the name of love, breaking his sacred marriage vows, was an act of bravery that has drawn my support.”

It is a mistake to think of Flynt primarily as a pornographer. More accurately, he is an actor of the sexual revolution who got rich honestly; he seems never to have misled the public about what he was doing, unlike so many of his opponents and detractors. In a world ruined by the misuse of money, he gives us a glimpse at some of the good a fortune can do. His injury means he has spent a great deal of his life in a personal prison of excruciating pain. But his acts reveal him as a man unbound. He is a hobgoblin of hypocrites, a champion of civil liberties, including same-sex marriage and gay rights, who, when he is physically able, employs for the benefit of the public the megaphone he acquired hawking pictures of naked girls. It is one of America’s many great misfortunes that his speaking voice is almost as damaged as the lower half of his body. The culture needs more like it. Nevertheless, he booms over his opponents when he writes against the unnecessary, state-sanctioned slaughter of the man who shot him. This and his other political acts do honor to the essential treasure that Christopher Hitchens, as he was dying of cancer, called “the most beautiful apposition of two of the simplest words in our language: the freedom of speech.”

As Truthdig Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer wrote, Larry Flynt is “opposing the death penalty even when it applies to saving the life of the man who almost killed him and caused decades of very painful and debilitating suffering.” He does so because he knows it’s in his and everyone else’s best interest. For that sensible display of humanity, we honor Flynt as our Truthdigger of the Week.

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