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In Like Flynt

18 Jul, 2002 By: Jessica Wolf

Larry Flynt, legendary First Amendment advocate and founder of Hustler magazine, shared his notoriously opinionated views on freedom of expression with video retailers, speaking at the show alongside his longtime friend and attorney Paul Cambria.

“I don't have any PhDs after my name, but since I've been dragged through the courts, shot and thrown in jail over the First Amendment, I think I'm qualified to talk about it,” Flynt said.

Though Flynt is confined to a wheelchair and his voice is still very obviously affected by medical problems, Flynt spoke passionately and eloquently about the need for American government and individuals alike to do more than pay lip service to the First Amendment.

Flynt and Cambria had some advice to offer video store owners who deal in adult product, especially if they only deal in adult product. “Don't ever open a store, go into a city or a particular area where you know you're inviting trouble,” Flynt said, noting that's the same advice he gives adult entertainment producers when they are creating adult-film content.

Cambria, a First Amendment specialist who represents video stores, other types of adult retailers and adult filmmakers, talked about his past trials and urged retailers to practice “preventative maintenance” by understanding the laws in their communities and watching how far afield of the mainstream they go.

Cambria introduced his longtime friend with affection.

“The one thing I've learned over the years with Larry,” he said, “of all the people I've represented over the years, he was the only one who always analyzed the First Amendment consequences first and the personal consequences second.”

Flynt also talked about his fear of Americans' giving up civil liberties for increased security in the wake of the war on terrorism. “We simply cannot compromise our freedoms,” he said. “America is a beacon for the rest of the world and if we lose that, what do we have left?”

Flynt sounded off on his less-than-flattering opinion of President George Bush and Flynt's tactics to dig up dirt on then- congressman Robert Livingston (R-LA), who helped lead Bill Clinton's impeachment trial.

Flynt uncovered Livingston's multiple marriage infidelities with a Washington co-worker and a lobbyist, which caused the congressman to resign in 1999. “My motive was simple; I wanted to expose hypocrisy,” Flynt said.

Flynt said he wants people to know he has no problem with people whose values differ from his own, as long as those values don't infringe on his or anyone else's right to freedom of expression.

“If I have any legacy to leave I would hope it would be that I have fought to expand the parameters of free speech,” Flynt concluded.

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