Larry Flynt, an infamous photographer and free-speech activist, has brought
about controversy in the film, "The People v. Larry Flynt". The movie functions as a
general biography, but it focuses on legal issues to a large degree.
Flynt, the editor of Hustler magazine, publicized pornographic obscenities in
many ways. By doing so, he has challenged the First Amendment and the Charter's
guarantee of the right to free expression.
Larry at first glance seems like an odd figure for a hero. He is outspoken,
opinionated, and perverted. If there is one word to sum him up it would be, unapologetic.
In "The People v. Larry Flynt", Flynt stood up for his rights, never quit, and never
apologized for what he did.
Flynt started out as a strip joint owner with his younger brother Jimmy. He was
not making any money, so he decided to advertise his dancers in a pictorial magazine.
Eventually Larry gets an offer to publish nude shots taken of someone famous, Jacqueline
He decides that this is his big break and decides to do so. This eventually brings
his magazine into the public eye. Flynt gets arrested for this, because it is an alleged
violation of community standards.
In 1976, Flynt was arrested on charges of obscenity and organized crime. The
disputed notion in the trial became the method by which to judge whether something
is seen as obscene or not. Flynt's initial loss in which he was given a jail sentence,
suggested that individual communities had the right to define what is obscene and thus be
able to control what is sold in stores.
Larry hires a lawyer when he learns he is being taken to court. He ends up with
Alan Isaacman, a young lawyer who defends him from the beginning to his most famous
case. The primary case involving Reverend Jerry Falwell, who is suing Flynt for
defaming him in one of Hustlers' ads.
After Flynt was released on bail, he stated "we're the strongest country in the
world today because we are the freest." He declared that his way of being free, lays in his
Flynt tries to show a point about the communities' view of obscenity. "What is
more obscene, sex or war?" In the movie, Flynt explains that murder is illegal, but if
you take pictures of it, you'll be put in a magazine. However sex is legal and if you take
pictures of it you can go to jail. Flynt wins after this appeal, but his battles have just
Though Flynt's many appearances in court seemed much like a circus, he was
truly testing the outer limits of the liberties we enjoy. He challenged the First
Amendment, Section 2 of the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, and the issue of
The First Amendment states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an
establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the
freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to
petition the government for a redress of grievances." (First Amendment) This is quite
similar to Section 2b of the Charter which guarantees that "everyone has the right to
freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and
other media of communication."(The Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms)
These two rights led to Flynt's success in the case involving Reverend Jerry
Larry published a mock advertisement, according to which Falwell's "first time",
was in an outhouse with his mother. Falwell sued Hustler and Flynt for libel, invasion of
privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The court dismissed the invasion
of privacy claim because Falwell is a public figure. Hustler was found guilty of inflicting
emotional distress and Falwell was awarded a sum of money. The court ruled against
Falwell on the claim of libel.
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