The people versus Larry Flynt again

MILOS FORMAN may have no plans for a sequel for his hit 1997 film, The People vs Larry Flynt. The ever-restless Mr Flynt, however, apparently does.

Twenty-one years after Mr Flynt was convicted on obscenity charges in Cincinnati, Ohio - a landmark First Amendment battle that was the subject of the Forman film and which cast Mr Flynt as a crusader for the freedom of the press and expression - he is now back in the Cincinnati courts all over again.

Mr Flynt, the founder and publisher of Hustler magazine, was charged in the city on Tuesday along with his brother, Jimmy Flynt, on multiple obscenity charges including selling pornographic videotapes to a 14-year- old.

By all accounts, it is fresh trouble that Mr Flynt has been asking for. By facing off with prosecutors all over again, he is apparently hoping to demonstrate finally that Hustler violates no laws. He also hopes to see the current obscenity exception removed from the First Amendment.

A year ago, Mr Flynt, 55, openly challenged the Cincinnati authorities by handing out free copies of Hustler to passers-by in the city's central Fountain Square. From there, he proceeded to establish an X-rated sex shop, with magazines, videos and sex toys, in the heart of the city.

In 1977, Mr Flynt served only six days of a lengthy prison sentence and his conviction was eventually overturned after the case went all the way to the US Supreme Court. It was seen as a triumph for him personally and for the First Amendment that protects the right of Americans to free speech.

There is every chance that this new confrontation may take the same route from Cincinnati to Washington. If the two brothers - Jimmy was running the shop - are convicted, they could face up 24 years in prison.

The prosecutors in this case insist, however, that it has nothing to do with Hustler. "I'm not going to say whether Hustler is obscene," said prosecutor Joseph Dieter.

"This about videos. He can sell whatever he wants. But once he broke the law, we had go to a grand jury and that's what we did."

The authorities made their move several weeks ago after a 14-year-old boy went to the shop, bought a blue video and then bragged about his purchase to friends. The boy then went to the police, who sent him back to the shop to buy more of the videos.

Tuesday's charges were issued on the grounds of a finding of a grand jury empanelled a week ago.

Yesterday, Mr Flynt said he decided to confront Cincinnati again after visiting the city for a premiere for The People vs Larry Flynt and noting that Hustler was not available there. "I felt that if I was really committed to the First Amendment, then I should be fighting the battle on that front."

He acknowledged, however, that he was also anxious to see the obscenity exception struck from the First Amendment, whereby, under a Supreme Court ruling, different community's can set their standards of what is or is not obscene for themselves.

"People have a right to read or do whatever they want to," he added. "We can't have publishers and producers having to second-guess what reading habits are in New York, Los Angeles or Biloxi, Mississippi."

Some in Cincinnati may not welcome the new confrontation. The conservative reputation that the city earned after the 1977 battle was reinforced in 1990 when it famously prosecuted a local art gallery for showing the homo- erotic work of Robert Mapplethorpe.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
The cartoon depicts the UK (far left) walking around a Syrian child refugee
newsIn an exclusive artwork for The Independent, Ali Ferzat attacks Britain's lack of 'humanity'
Life and Style
tech
Sport
footballManager attacks Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp after criticism of Diego Costa's apparent stamping
News
video
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - North West London, £35-40k

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant (ACCA / CIMA, ...

Recruitment Genius: Female Care Team

£11 - £12 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A 10 year old girl who has profound an...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Manchester - Urgent Requirement!

£30000 - £35000 per annum + 20 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Marketi...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Development Manager ...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore