Friday, 23 September 2011

The Loathsome Old Pornographer And The Moral High Ground

Larry Flynt, Prince of Perverts, is at it again:

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Pornographic magazine publisher Larry Flynt offered $1 million on Thursday to anyone with proof of "an illicit sexual liaison" involving leading Republican presidential candidate and Texas Governor Rick Perry.
The offer by the politically left-leaning Flynt targeting Perry was similar to past efforts by the Hustler magazine founder to embarrass public figures he dislikes...
"I've been doing this for 35 years," Flynt said in a telephone interview with Reuters. "We've found running these ads were very successful in finding sources to come forward."

This is the same strategy Flynt used (as the article notes) in the past, especially regarding prominent Republicans who targeted President Clinton over his illicit sexual affairs. The strategy is pretty basic and essentially repulsive: dump ten chum buckets into the water, cast as wide a net as possible, and hope you dredge up a specimen freaky enough to play well in prime time.

Frankly, while I'd be lying if I said that Flynt's tactics don't amuse me (who doesn't get a giggle out of such predictable and outrageous hypocrisy on the part of our self-appointed Morality Police?) this type of thing - inasmuch as it has a "type" - is ultimately pretty awful.

For one thing, much like Flynt's full time job as flesh-merchant extraordinaire, his "Buy A Scandal" trick plays into the exploitation of women in multiple ways (the fact that his most recent ads have requested information about "gay or straight" affairs just indicates that you can add the earliest spring buds of homophobia to Flynt's bouquet of misogyny). Poor women in service sector industries are probably the most likely victims of sexual exploitation, being in an economically and politically vulnerable position. Flynt's bounty is obviously going to attract its share of complete liars who are just desperate for cash (hell, if I'd lived in Texas during Perry's reign, and had even a shred of credibility, I'd take a crack at the "he played Mr. Big Hands" money myself). 

The truly tragic thing, however, is that even if Perry engaged in improper liasons with such a person, and even if they come forward, Flynt et. al.'s past record with this type of thing indicates that the greatest harm, bounty or no bounty, is probably done to the victim when these types of allegations crop up.

For one thing, the GOP/Perry camp will pull out every stop imaginable to damage the reputation and credibility of any accuser who comes forward. Both the Republican Party and Perry's campaign have ample funds available to run any obstacle to his candidacy through the shredder. For another, as we saw with Dominique Strauss-Kahn's adventures in New York City ( and elsewhere ), it's likely that your average person - you or me or a hotel maid who may have been groped by some moneyed honcho - has a skeleton or two in the closet. Presented with a narrative where the accuser of a powerful man turns out to have done drugs or had sex or something of that nature, the media and establishment's reaction is pretty predictable.

In the end, what really bothers me about Flynt and his "reward" is that both are representative of the so-called culture war - both are relics of the clashes of the 1950s and 60s through the 1990s. It's 2011: if Perry did fiddle around with someone (or something) outside of his marriage bed it's only an issue due to his tedious public moralizing - and even then, the story is the worthlessness of the moralizing, not that his personal behavior wasn't pure enough.

Flynt is free to throw his money around however he wants. I think that Governer Perry's well-documented and not in the least bit secret habit of jumping into bed with whatever well-endowed industry buys him a drink is much more scandalous than any tawdry groping he might have engaged in.

A final note; this is not to excuse sexually aggressive behavior by men or women in positions of economic or political power. That's not what any of this is about - does anyone actually think that Larry Flynt cares about exploited or abused women? The money is to damage Perry, pure and simple.

If Flynt was really concerned about the victims of Perry's supposed, hypothetical hypocrisy, he would probably A.) build a time machine B.) head back to 1940 and C.) shoot his parents. In the brief amount of time left before his existence either winked out or destroyed the universe via temporal paradox, he would spend his $1m on a battered women's shelter in Texas.

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