The people vs. Larry Flynt
By Atty. Antonio P. Pekas
The seriousness of these covid times calls for an article on the lighter side of things. For this, a breaking news that Larry Flynt just died at 78 caught my eye. He had been wheel chair bound for many decades so his death must have been a welcome relief.
Larry Flynt was the porno publisher who rose from abject poverty to become a multi-millionaire by being a “smut peddler with a heart.” What made millions for him was his Hustler Magazine, the competitor of Playboy Magazine, but a lot more vulgar and sexual.
He became famous, however, for having won the libel case filed against him by Jerry Falwell, a very popular tele-evangelist whom Larry Flynt mocked in his Hustler Magazine. His lawyer’s argument was that the sexual mockery of the pastor was protected by the free speech clause of the constitution. Larry Flynt lost in the lower court where a judgment of $200,000.00 in damages was awarded.
The matter was appealed to the Supreme Court on whether or not the published sexual mockery of a religious personality was libelous.
While the case was pending, Larry Flynt was shot by a white supremacist who was angered by published photos of inter-racial sexual interactions. He was paralyzed from the waste down.
He was once made to appear in court for some reason that was interpreted to be contemptuous of the court or the judicial process. He was already paralyzed then and had to be pushed in a wheel chair. The court noticed that he was in shorts and it was made of the American flag. His appearance was to post bail and he brought along a big amount as ordered but it was in small coins. His assistants had to carry to the courtroom sacks and sacks of the coins that had to be counted by the court’s staff.
His famous pronouncement when the case was pending in the Supreme Court was, “if the Supreme Court will protect the right to free speech of a scumbag like me, then it will protect everybody else’s.”
In the end, Larry Flynt won the case. The Supreme Court reverse the ruling of the lower court to the effect that the US constitution protects the right of writers and artists who make a mockery of public figures.
So many times, he made a mockery of the judicial process if not the courts such that his lawyer even tried to quit.
He answered by saying, “you cannot quit on me because I am the ideal client. Firstly, I have money to pay, and I am always in trouble.”
In much the same way that a doctor’s ideal patient is one who has money to pay, and who is hard-headed that he does not follow a healthy lifestyle so he is always sick. Every time he would be knocking on the doctor’s door.
If you are reading this, however, chances are you do not have the money to be repeatedly paying doctors or hospitals, or buying medicines, thus, further enriching the already rich drugstore owners.
So you are not an ideal patient.**