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Larry Flynt's Hustler Taboo and what he was really doing the night of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival opening of his film

What Larry Flynt was really doing the night
of the opening of Larry Flynt: The Right to Be Left Alone.

On Friday the 13th in April 2007 The Right To Be Left Alone, the latest documentary on Larry Flynt had its world premiere as the “center frame” film at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, sponsored by Duke University, The New York Times and HBO. Flynt was even invited as an honored guest, however his brother showed up instead, because Flynt said he was ill. At the opening, his brother said the reason Flynt was not present was not because he was sick. Maybe he was too busy satisfying his fetish for bondage pornography and not leaving women alone by violating their privacy in every way imaginable on his blog.

There were over 2,000 films entered in the Full Frame Festival, and apparently the Flynt documentary was among only one of two films that escaped the critical review process in an otherwise scholarly environment. Full Frame appears to have given Larry Flynt special protection where it could be assured that his critics were kept silent in order to protect Flynt from criticism. Free Speech, anyone?

Full Frame’s motto is “How much reality can you handle?”, but the filmmakers have produced a manipulative and superficial examination of Flynt, one that uses propaganda tactics and takes their audience for a ride. It is indeed a very unreal portrayal of Flynt which includes even “very little nudity” and hypocritically did not mention any of the massive amounts of racist, homophobic and misogynist materials he produced.

For decades Hustler, his hate magazine, has been on sale in almost every convenience store in the country. During that time, with each new issue every month he has declared war on women, feminists, people of color, animals, Jews, the disabled, children, and animal rights activists, as well as other groups or individual who disagreed with him. Flynt has aimed hate speech and harassment against every mistreated or oppressed groups you can think of. A full generation of males have now been raised on contempt like his and he loves it.

Dwayne Tinsley, close personal friend to Flynt, and the creator of the Hustler cartoon “Chester the Molester,” which depicted pre-teen girls of all races being molested, was convicted in 1990 of sexually abusing his daughter. When he was released from prison, after serving his time, Flynt hired him back on at Huster. In February 1996, Hustler publisher Joe Theron was arrested in Britain with 400 videos imported from South Africa, many of them depicting child pornography.

For all this Flynt is being promoted as a free speech hero instead of the greedy, exploitive, racist misogynist he really is. The right to be left alone? The right to be left alone? In his whole life Larry Flynt has never left anyone alone. Flynt has aimed hate speech and harassment against every oppressed groups you can think of. Big man. Big hero. Thanks Duke University, HBO, New York Times and Full Frame Documentary Festival!

Most people who have seen the Larry Flynt movie think they know who Larry Flynt is. A leading figure in the struggle for free speech, who published, according to our modern eyes, quite innocent nudie-photos and some jokes against the right wing conservatives and Jerry Falwell. Sounds cool but it’s a lie.


Larry Flynt's Hustler Taboo and what he was really doing the night of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival opening of his film

The real Flynt has little in common with the martyr that he finances people to describe him as. According to his own autobiography Flynt’s first sexual experience was raping a chicken. He killed the chicken to “avoid suspicion”. He has also gone to tremendous degrees in his attempts to silence his daughter from talking about how she was raped by him. He has used his power in the media to attempt to instill intimidation in any who spoke out against pornography. He used his magazine to vilify activist Aura Bogado with hateful, violent and threatening cartoons and articles. In his column called “Asshole of the Month” he has included Barack Obama, Diana Russell, Andrea Dworkin, Dorchen Liedholdt, Gloria Allred, Catharine MacKinnon and hundreds of others. In the 1970s he put out “Wanted Posters” for Gloria Steinem and Susan Brownmiller because they were antipornography. He has offered a bounty on feminists who have been critical against him and done whatever he could to silence whoever would be critical against the racist and misogynic material in his magazines.

The only free speech Larry Flynt really wants is his own and what he wants said, which makes him as much of a defender of free speech as say for example Stalin or Hitler.


Larry Flynt's Hustler Taboo and what he was really doing the night of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival opening of his film

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By Jackson Katz, Copyright 2003

The Friar’s Club of California is set to honor Larry Flynt with its Lifetime Achievement award in an “X-rated roast” in Los Angeles on July 13.

The Friars are famous for hosting raucous testimonial dinners, frolics and roasts in New York and Los Angeles. They used to be all-male events; the Friars first admitted women in 1988. Some of the biggest names in show biz have taken part in Friar festivities, starting with Irving Berlin and George M. Cohan in the early twentieth century, all the way up to Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, and Chevy Chase in the modern era.

It is well known that Friar’s events often push the boundaries of good taste and propriety. Many Friars revel in the “politically incorrect” nature of their entertainment. Over the past century the Friars have had other controversial moments, including the incident in 1993 when Ted Danson came out in blackface to introduce his then-girlfriend Whoopi Goldberg.

But honoring Hustler publisher Larry Flynt is a low point in the venerable institution’s colorful history. Why? The Friars take pride in their irreverent humor, and honor it in others. But like Holocaust “humor” and lynching “jokes,” what Larry Flynt has wrought is not funny. His achievements and personal triumphs have come at a huge cost to women and girls – and to the men who care about them.

It is willfully naïve to dismiss Flynt’s pornography as harmless “adult” entertainment. How can it be considered harmless to consistently portray and talk about women and girls in a sexually demeaning and degrading manner? From the infamous Hustler cover portraying a woman’s body going through a meat grinder to countless racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic jokes and cartoons, Flynt has made his name (and fortune) by passing off old-fashioned misogyny and bigotry as somehow sexually liberating. Is this the “achievement” the Friars want to celebrate?

Larry Flynt’s defenders often argue that his porn is for “consenting adults,” and that therefore no one is hurt by it. But the effects of porn are more complicated than the phrase “consenting adults” implies. How?

Whenever we discuss the effects of pornography – and regardless of how we feel about people’s right to produce or consume it – we have a responsibility to acknowledge the social context in which it exists. Flynt hasn’t built his porn publishing empire in a vacuum. Our society has some of the highest rates of gender violence in the world. The numbers are staggering: one in four women will be raped or sexually assaulted. One in five teenage girls have been in a physically or sexually abusive relationship. Most women won’t even walk alone after dark.

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of these crimes is how often children are the victims. 67% of all sexual assault victimizations reported to law enforcement are people under the age of 18. Child sexual abuse used to be shrouded in secrecy.

These days it’s in the news all the time. Consider last summer’s horrific series of abductions and rape-murders of young girls. Or the Catholic Church’s ongoing sexual abuse scandal. Are we supposed to believe that all of these incidents are “isolated,” that the broader culture within which they occur plays no role whatsoever?

When men are arrested for sexually abusing young girls (or boys), feverish media coverage of the crimes often includes reports that police have found an extensive collection of child porn videos, magazines, and downloaded pictures in the suspect’s apartment.

Most people are rightly outraged about such crimes and repulsed by the men who commit them. But here’s where it gets tricky. Realistically, at least some of the men who are genuinely outraged by sex crimes and would never purchase child pornography have likely purchased Hustler Magazine, or rented Hustler-produced porn videos. In other words, they have financially contributed to the Flynt empire.

This is an empire — let’s be clear — that actively participates in the crude sexualization of little girls. Among his many magazines, Flynt also publishes Barely Legal, an online porn magazine whose raison d’être is the commodification of young girls’ bodies. The male consumers of Barely Legal would likely insist that naked 18-year-old models with bows in their hair, spreading their legs wide for the camera, are technically “consenting adults.” But everyone knows that the intent is to create the illusion that they are much younger.

For years a popular feature in Flynt’s signature publication, Hustler, was a cartoon that followed the exploits of a fictional serial sexual abuser of young girls, Chester the Molester. The cartoon was discontinued only when the cartoonist, Dwayne Tinsley, was convicted of sexually abusing his real-life daughter – who claimed the art was a chronicle of her actual victimization.

Granted, it’s not possible to draw a linear causal chain from the purchase by hundreds of thousands of men of a magazine like Barely Legal to sexual molestation of eight-year-old girls by middle-aged men. Nonetheless, is it credible to maintain that there is no relationship whatsoever between our society’s pandemic of child sexual abuse and the widespread availability of products like Barely Legal, where adult men can purchase pictures of young girls’ bodies for their masturbatory pleasure?

You don’t need to argue that legal porn causes illegal activity in order to assert that it contributes significantly to a culture where younger and younger girls are made into sexual playthings, and hence set up to be the objects of adult men’s sexual desires and pathologies.

We can take comfort in the idea of child sex offenders as horrible aberrations. They’re monsters. We’re nothing like them. And in fairness, purchasing and masturbating to images of “consenting adults” posing as young girls is not criminal behavior. But one need not be a criminal accomplice to share some moral responsibility, or feel – if we’re honest with ourselves — a certain degree of moral complicity.

For years, Flynt’s apologists – in Hollywood and elsewhere — have sought to portray him as a First Amendment hero, courageously battling the likes of right-wing Christians like Jerry Falwell and other forces of puritanical hypocrisy. It’s a brilliant – if highly misleading – PR strategy. Framing Flynt not as someone to be shunned but as someone to be respected has effectively silenced many of his would-be feminist, progressive and liberal critics, who don’t want to be seen as being on the wrong side of a “free speech” issue.

It has also silenced a lot of men who detest Flynt but are uncomfortable criticizing him. But it’s time for us to break the silence. It’s time for more men to stand up and say “not in my name.” Tolerating Flynt’s misogyny in the name of free speech is one thing. But when our cherished institutions go so far as to honor such a man, we not only send an unmistakably sexist message to our sons and daughters. We also dishonor ourselves.

Jackson Katz directs the United States Marine Corps gender violence prevention program. He serves on the advisory board of the Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women.

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Please visit Larry Flynt: The Right to Be Left Alone Our Official Website

Search words: The People Vs Larry Flynt; Larry Flynt: The Right to Be Left Alone?, Asshole of the Month, Asshole of the Mouth, Child Molester, Racist, Anti-woman, Pimp, for violating women’s rights to be left alone, therighttobeleftalone.org, Hustler; Woody Harrelson, Courtney Love, Edward Norton, and Larry Flynt’s buddy Jerry Falwell. Milos Forman and others coming soon!

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