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
Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballLatest score and Twitter updates
Arts and Entertainment
David Hasselhof in Peter Pan
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
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
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
tech
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
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

Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'