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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.

by Gloria Steinem
New York Times Op-Ed
January 7th, 1997

Larry Flynt the Movie is even more cynical than Larry Flynt the Man. “The People vs. Larry Flynt” claims that the creator of Hustler magazine is a champion of the First Amendment, deserving our respect. That isn’t true.

Let’s be clear: a pornographer is not a hero, no more than a publisher of Ku Klux Klan books or a Nazi on the Internet, no matter what constitutional protection he secures. And Mr. Flynt didn’t secure much.

The Reverend Jerry Falwell sued him over a Hustler parody that depicted Mr. Falwell in a drunken, incestuous encounter with his mother. Mr. Flynt’s victory only confirmed the right to parody public figures (if the result can’t be taken as fact) and prevented plaintiffs from doing an end run around the First Amendment by claiming they suffered “emotional distress.”

In fact, the Nazis who marched in Skokie, Ill., and the Klansman who advocated violence in Ohio achieved more substantive First Amendment victories than did Mr. Flynt. Yet no Hollywood movie would glamorize a Klansman or a Nazi as a champion of free speech, much less describe him in studio press releases as “the era’s last crusader,” which is how Columbia Pictures describes Mr. Flynt.

In this film, produced by Oliver Stone and directed by Milos Forman, Hustler is depicted as tacky at worst, and maybe even honest for showing full nudity. What’s left out are the magazine’s images of women being beaten, tortured and raped, women subject to degradations from bestiality to sexual slavery.

Filmgoers don’t see such Hustler features as “Dirty Pool,” which in January 1983 depicted a woman being gang-raped on a pool table. A few months after those pictures were published, a woman was gang-raped on a pool table in New Bedford, Mass. Mr. Flynt’s response to the crime was to publish a postcard of another nude woman on a pool table, this time with the inscription, “Greetings from New Bedford, Mass. The Portuguese Gang-Rape Capital of America.”

Nor do you see such typical Hustler photo stories as a naked woman in handcuffs who is shaved, raped, and apparently killed by guards in a concentration-camp-like setting (“The Naked and the Dead”). You won’t even meet “Chester the Molester,” the famous Hustler cartoon character who sexually stalks girls.

You certainly don’t see such Hustler illustrations as a charred expanse of what looks like human skin, with photos of dead and dismembered women pinned to it.

On the contrary, the Hollywood version of Larry Flynt, played by the charming Woody Harrelson is opposed to violence. At an anti-censorship rally, he stands against a backdrop of beautiful images of nude women that are intercut with scenes of Hiroshima, marching Nazis, and the My Lai Massacre. “Which is more obscene,” the Flynt character asks, “sex or war?” Viewers who know Hustler’s real content might ask, “Why can’t Larry Flynt tell the difference?”

Mr. Flynt’s daughter Tonya, 31, is so alarmed by this film’s dishonesty that she joined women who picketed its opening in San Francisco. She also publicly accused Mr. Flynt of having sexually abused her when she was a child, a charge he vehemently denies, and attributes to her “mental problems.”

“I’m upset about this film because it supports my dad’s argument that pornography does no harm,” she said. “If you want to see a victim of pornography, just look at me.”

Unlike his film character, the real Mr. Flynt is hardly an unwavering advocate of free speech. Indeed other feminists and I have been attacked in Hustler for using our First Amendment rights to protest pornography. In my case, that meant calling me dangerous and putting my picture on a “Most Wanted” poster. I was also depicted as the main character in a photo story that ended in my sexual mutilation. Given the number of crimes that seem to imitate pornography, this kind of attack does tend to get your attention.

So, no, I am not grateful to Mr. Flynt for protecting my freedom, as the film and its enthusiasts suggest I should be. No more than I would be to a racist or fascist publisher whose speech is protected by the Constitution.

My question is: Would men be portrayed as inviting, deserving, and even enjoying their own pain and degradation–as women are in Mr. Flynt’s life work?

Suppose Mr. Flynt specialized in such images as a young African American man trussed up like a deer, and tied to the luggage rack of a white hunter’s car. Or a nude white man fed into a meat grinder? (Those are some of the milder ways in which Hustler portrays women.)

Would Oliver Stone–who rarely lets powerful men emerge unscathed–bowdlerize and flatter that kind of man, too? Would Woody Harrelson–who supports animal rights and protests the cutting of trees–pose happily next to that Larry Flynt? Would Milos Forman defend that film by citing his memories of censorship under the Nazis?

What if the film praised an anti-Semitic publisher? Would it be nominated for five Golden Globes? Would there be cameos by Donna Hanover Giuliani, the wife of New York City’s Mayor; Burt Neuborne, a New York University law professor; Judge D’Army Bailey of the Memphis Circuit Court or James Carville, President Clinton’s former political consultant? I don’t think so.

The truth is, if Larry Flynt had published the same cruel images even of animals, this movie would never have been made. Fortunately, each of us has the First Amendment right to protest.

Gloria Steinem, a founder of Ms. Magazine, is a writer and activist against pornography and censorship. 

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!

Hustlerd by Tonya Flynt
by Tonya Flynt

My name is Tonya Flynt. I am here to tell you that the portrayal of my father, Larry Flynt, in Oliver Stone and Milos Forman’s movie is a pack of lies. My father, the founder and publisher of Hustler Magazine, is not a hero who has sacrificed everything to fight censorship and protect freedom of speech. He doesn’t give a damn about freedom of speech. All he cares about is making millions of dollars out of the sexual exploitation of women and children.

My father is a pornographer, a pimp, and a molester of children. I say this with pain and sorrow because in spite of everything he has done, I still love my father. I also say this with fear, because my father has threatened me and my daughter. But I feel I have a responsibility to expose the truth about my father. Making Larry Flynt a hero justifies and makes invisible the harm he has done to women and children. It silences their voices and muffles their cries of pain. This is exactly what Oliver Stone’s movie has done.

This is the real story behind Hustler. Before my father owned his first bar, he was a small-time pimp with a string of women. That’s how he got the money to open his first bar and strip club. During the time he owned strip clubs, my father continued to pimp the women who worked in the clubs. He would make the women have sex with customers and give him a cut of the proceeds. That’s how he made so much money so quickly.

Why does the movie ignore the connections between my father’s financial empire and the prostituting of women and girls? Why doesn’t it say that Althea was a child prostitute? Why doesn’t it say that my father made his early money pimping? I guess it’s easier to glorify a pornographer than pimp?

To my father, women have always been objects to dominate and control. He showed his power through sexual use and abuse. One of my father’s favorite sayings was, “The man who controls pussy controls the world.”

My father used his power against me when I was a little girl. I worshiped my father. Part of that worship grew out of the fact that he lived in unimaginable luxury while my mother, my sister, and I lived in dire poverty. He didn’t feel any obligation to support us. We were always one step from destitution. We would go visit him at his mansions and have a taste of wealth and privilege. Then we would be back at home, worrying about how to pay the rent. The movie doesn’t talk about that.

My father used his power against me in another way too. He sexually abused me. On one occasion, my Dad was angry because I wouldn’t stop crying. He came in, out of control with rage, and beat me over and over again with a belt. That night he came into my room and sexually molested me. He penetrated me with his fingers. He made me touch his penis. He had oral sex with me and made me have oral sex with him. I hadn’t celebrated my thirteenth birthday when he did this to me.

On many occasions, he would touch my breasts or grab me between the legs. One time he came into my bedroom, took my panties off, and fondled me.

When my sister and I visited my father, he made no effort to shield us from any of the brutal and humiliating pictures. He was proud of them. Twice he sent me pornographic Christmas cards stuffed with money. At 8 or 9, my father made me and my sister go into a go-go bar, dress up in revealing outfits, and dance for him on the stage like strippers. I can’t tell you the damage these experiences did to my feelings about my body and to my sexuality. These are issues I will struggle with for the rest of my life.

My father wasn’t content just to molest me. I have been told by a close relative that he makes trips to Bangkok and buys little girls there. I was also told he brought back videotapes of child pornography from Bangkok. It causes me so much pain to realize that what he was doing to me he does to little girls pushed into prostitution by poverty.

Pornography and prostitution turned my father’s heart stone cold. It made him see even his own daughter as an object to use for his sexual gratification. I am the mother of a nine-year-old daughter. And when I look at her I thank God that I have been able to protect her from the abuse I was subjected to.

Hustler says it’s funny and sexy to molest little girls like my daughter. And Oliver Stone says Hustler is about freedom and liberation. That’s a dangerous message.

I ask you to look at these pictures and ask yourself: who benefits from them and who is harmed? Is this freedom?

Copyright Off Our Backs, Inc. Apr 1997
All rights Reserved

[Larry Flynt has publicly denied allegations that he molested his daughter however there is a tape that refutes his claim that was made by his wife that documents her confrontation of him about it.]

Please visit our websites: http://www.hustlingtheleft.com & http://www.therighttobeleftalone.org . Our myspace website was taken down by the management at myspace (owned by Fox and Rupert Murdock) and turned over to Larry Flynt. If you have links to this page on your sites be sure to take it off. Thanx