Hustler Magazine publisher Larry Flynt joked Wednesday that he would have to modify his vocabulary since he was speaking in Battell Chapel. He then proceeded to show the audience what a toned-down, restrained Larry Flynt sounds like.
“The church has had its hand on our crotch for 2,000 years,” Flynt said. “And the government is moving in that direction.”
Flynt spoke about government interference with free speech and privacy to an audience of about 100 people. He described his own legal struggles in publishing Hustler Magazine and his opposition to the Patriot Act and other Bush administration policies.
Rachel Mason ART ’04, who organized the speech, said Flynt’s views on pornography were not why he was invited.
“I really wanted him to come to Yale because I do feel it’s a critical moment in history,” Mason said. “Larry Flynt is one of the fiercest defenders of First Amendment freedoms in the country.”
Flynt said he had earned the right to speak on free speech because of the sacrifices he has made for the cause. Flynt has been arrested for distributing Hustler and is paralyzed below the waist from an attempted assassination.
Flynt also described his legal battle with the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who sued Flynt over a parody advertisement in which Falwell was shown losing his virginity to his mother in an outhouse. The case eventually advanced to the Supreme Court, where Flynt won a unanimous decision in 1988. Flynt said he had not expected to win the case.
“On one side of the aisle was me, on the other side of the aisle was Jerry Falwell and his family,” Flynt said. “I said, ‘Oh my god, it’s the pornographer versus the preacher. I am dead.'”
Flynt said comedians like Jay Leno and David Letterman, as well as the writers of Saturday Night Live, have been more daring because of his victory in the Supreme Court.
Flynt spent much of his speech criticizing the Bush administration, saying the American people would have followed Ronald McDonald after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
“The United States has [acted] like a schoolyard bully by peddling democracy to people who are not interested,” Flynt said. “To say [Bush] is conservative is an understatement. This guy is to the right of Attila the Hun.”
Flynt’s criticism of Bush drew applause from the audience. He predicted Bush would lose the 2004 election and said Sen. John Kerry ’66, Sen. John Edwards, or Vermont Gov. Howard Dean ’71 would be most likely to win.
Flynt directed his criticism to both ends of the political spectrum, discussing the opposition his magazine has faced from feminists.
“[The feminists’] only claim to fame has been to urge a lot of ugly women to march,” Flynt said. “I think the radical feminists who are on the fringe do not speak for the majority of women.”
Flynt described the audience at the speech as “excellent” and said they seemed interested in his speech. Audience members were generally pleased with the speech, with several publicly praising both Hustler Magazine and Flynt’s free speech struggles.
Jordan Franklin ’06 said he was impressed that Flynt focused on politics, rather than pornography.
“I thought he pretty much hit all the high points in his career,” Nick Herman ART ’03 said.
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