Larry Flynt, Activist:
October 17, 2013 3:59 PM   Subscribe

Don't Execute the Man Who Paralyzed Me "I would love an hour in a room with him and a pair of wire-cutters and pliers, so I could inflict the same damage on him that he inflicted on me. But, I do not want to kill him, nor do I want to see him die."
posted by maggieb (42 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
I have had many years in this wheelchair to think about this very topic. As I see it, the sole motivating factor behind the death penalty is vengeance, not justice, and I firmly believe that a government that forbids killing among its citizens should not be in the business of killing people itself.

Sometimes it takes someone roundly condemned by their "peers" as classless to demonstrate the most class of anyone in the room.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:07 PM on October 17, 2013 [35 favorites]


It's also -- sobering? alarming? hilarious? ironic? all of the above? -- when most of the comments to the article are far more obscene than anything the professional pornographer is saying.
posted by scody at 4:14 PM on October 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Hey, only the State has the authority to kill its citizens, over whom the State has dominion. Infringe on this right, and the State will seek revenge.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:27 PM on October 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Limited Government," anyone?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:28 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


"As I see it, the sole motivating factor behind the death penalty is vengeance, not justice..."

"In all the years since the shooting, I have never come face-to-face with Franklin. I would love an hour in a room with him and a pair of wire-cutters and pliers, so I could inflict the same damage on him that he inflicted on me."

How is that not vengeance?
posted by xedrik at 4:32 PM on October 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah, sweet flamin' christ on a pogo stick, do not venture into the comments. It's as if there's some sort of requirement to be unbalanced and pissed off to make comments on magazine websites. Anytime you want to lose your regard for your fellow man, just jump to the bottom of pretty much any webpage. (Present one excluded, of course...)
posted by nevercalm at 4:32 PM on October 17, 2013


"Limited Government," anyone?

You can drown people in that bathtub too, I guess.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:32 PM on October 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've long considered the death penalty to be essentially equivalent to mob rule with its forms filled out in triplicate.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:32 PM on October 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


Oh good gawd, the comments...yeesh, what a bloodthirsty mob of semi-coherent fecal brains.

Flynt makes good points, even if they have been made many times before, but there were a few sentences in the article that gave me pause:

I would love an hour in a room with him and a pair of wire-cutters and pliers, so I could inflict the same damage on him that he inflicted on me.

As far as the severity of punishment is concerned, to me, a life spent in a 3-by-6-foot cell is far harsher than the quick release of a lethal injection.

Larry Flynt seems to be condoning the retributive aspects of capital punishment, and yet he concludes the article with this very reasonable assertion:

As I see it, the sole motivating factor behind the death penalty is vengeance, not justice, and I firmly believe that a government that forbids killing among its citizens should not be in the business of killing people itself.

I dunno, maybe what he's trying to express is an admission that on a visceral level, he craves vengeance just like everyone, but the state should not occupy the role of homicidal avenger.

On preview, pretty much what xedrik said.
posted by Alonzo T. Calm at 4:36 PM on October 17, 2013 [20 favorites]


zombieflanders: "Sometimes it takes someone roundly condemned by their "peers" as classless to demonstrate the most class of anyone in the room."

Larry Flynt, for all his many flaws, is probably a better person than many who loudly criticized him once upon a time. And the fact that part of them might have known that and been driven batty with that knowledge is so very, very satisfying to me.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:37 PM on October 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


I dunno, maybe what he's trying to express is an admission that on a visceral level, he craves vengeance just like everyone, but the state should not occupy the role of homicidal avenger.

That's how I read it.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:38 PM on October 17, 2013 [22 favorites]


Anytime you want to lose your regard for your fellow man, just jump to the bottom of pretty much any webpage. (Present one excluded, of course...)

Hey, give us time...
posted by anonymisc at 4:39 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Although I may not agree with him, if Larry Flynt craves vengeance, it's very understandable.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:46 PM on October 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Huh. Wonder who wrote that for him. I've heard that Bruce David got the axe, so maybe it's whomever's on the Hustler ED chair now — I wonder if that's Mark writing it now. It sure looks like his writing.
posted by klangklangston at 4:53 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Larry Flynt may be reprehensible to some but he seems to weigh his values against his emotions and decide in favor of his values. I think there is worth in that.
posted by vapidave at 5:11 PM on October 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think he's earned the right to have contradictory feelings on this. It's easy to have clear, consistent, well-reasoned opinions on capital punishment when you're contemplating it at a distance. It's another thing when senseless violence takes away your ability to walk. I'm going to cut him some slack.
posted by tommasz at 5:21 PM on October 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


The comments are the very epitome of the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory. You have to be some kind of enormous fuckwad to be posting that kind of bloodthirsty shit in opposition to a guy who got shot in the spine and lived to advocate against the death penalty from his wheelchair thirty-five years later.
posted by Cookiebastard at 5:22 PM on October 17, 2013


yeah....cut him some slack....nothing funny here...
posted by eggtooth at 5:31 PM on October 17, 2013


> I dunno, maybe what he's trying to express is an admission that on a visceral level, he craves vengeance just like everyone, but the state should not occupy the role of homicidal avenger.

That's exactly the way I read it, as well, and therefore didn't see it as contradictory in the least.

Besides, most of us at least momentarily desire to do enraged ugly things...which we would not actually carry out even if given the chance. There is something deeply extra-fucked up about people like Franklin and others who can push past the mere thought of "Aaaggh! I just wanna shoot those people of whom I angrily disapprove despite no personal connection whatsoever" in order to go ahead and....actually shoot them.
posted by desuetude at 5:52 PM on October 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


For those who remember Flynt's old nemesis, Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis, apparently little has changed since the 1980s:

Cincinnati.com: Audit blasts "frozen in time" Sheriff's office
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:15 PM on October 17, 2013


Every time we have a thread about SOME TERRIBLE THING, we have lots of comments that are nothing more than "I hope terrible things happen to this person" or "they deserve to be in Hell". A person, cripled by violence, is apparently out of line for entertaining the notion of vengeance. I don't know what to say...
posted by Dark Messiah at 6:20 PM on October 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


A civilised person isn't someone who never viscerally feels a desire for brutal vengeance, but someone who can brush that desire aside and make it sit on the naughty step and let reason take over.
posted by acb at 6:33 PM on October 17, 2013 [21 favorites]


Exactly. I can certainly imagine the visceral desire to kill someone with my bare hands if they harmed one of my nephews, for example. And yet, I don't think for an instant that such visceral desires should be the basis of law in a civilized society.
posted by scody at 6:49 PM on October 17, 2013


There's a reason why judges have to recuse themselves if they have a personal relationship to the case.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:03 PM on October 17, 2013


I firmly believe that a government that forbids killing among its citizens should not be in the business of killing people itself.

I'm not particularly fond of capital punishment, but I have never understood the logic of this argument. We also forbid people to lock one another up in small rooms, yet we maintain prisons. Death as a consequence of wrongdoing may be a good idea or a bad one, it may be right or wrong, but I simply cannot see the "hypocrisy" of saying that, yes, there are lots of things that we are fine with doing, collectively, properly, officially, at the end of the workings of a hopefully-fair justice system, that we are not okay with private citizens doing randomly on their own. You may as well say that a government that prohibits theft shouldn't 'steal' in the form of taxes, or that emergency vehicles shouldn't be permitted to drive fast if the rest of us have to stay within the speed limit.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:39 PM on October 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I simply cannot see the "hypocrisy" of saying...
In the article: Ctrl-F "hypoc" no finds until the comments.
In this discussion: Ctrl-F "hypoc" no finds until your comment.
I don't think anyone's making this argument.

We also forbid people to lock one another up in small rooms, yet we maintain prisons.

From which people can, and have been freed.

You may as well say that a government that prohibits theft shouldn't 'steal' in the form of taxes

Here is the problem with your argument, which seems to have difficulty understanding how society functions.

We cede certain powers to a government for the betterment of all. It doesn't always work out, but the balance is probably positive. In the case of most of the powers we cede, we ask for objectivity and dispassion in those whom we invest with said powers. With most of these powers (war is generally the other one off the top of my head), if there is abuse, the abuse could be reversed or compensated for. And the abusers will often answer for their crimes.

The difference and the difficulty in the case of the death penalty is obvious.
posted by aureliobuendia at 7:58 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Larry Flynt is entitled to his revenge fantasies. The state should not be tasked with carrying them out.
posted by rtha at 8:20 PM on October 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


Supporters of capital punishment argue that it is a deterrent which prevents potential murderers from committing future crimes, but research has failed to provide a shred of valid scientific proof to that effect whatsoever.

Wrong. (NYT link)
posted by John Cohen at 9:39 PM on October 17, 2013


Larry Flynt is entitled to his revenge fantasies. The state should not be tasked with carrying them out.

That is his view also, as he says in the article.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:56 PM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Wonder who wrote that for him."

If he paid someone to write that for him, that's pretty good too.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:17 AM on October 18, 2013


Deterrence is utterly irrelevant. As much as any other human activity, execution carries the possibility of error. As it is irrevocable, it is inexcusable.
posted by scottymac at 1:38 AM on October 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


Supporters of capital punishment argue that it is a deterrent which prevents potential murderers from committing future crimes, but research has failed to provide a shred of valid scientific proof to that effect whatsoever.

Wrong. (NYT link)


I suppose if you're trying to say that there is actually just a shred, that was a useful link. If you're trying to say that there's many consistent studies with definitive outcomes as proof, that link doesn't say anything of the sort. In fact, it states multiple times there are issues with the study cited, that conclusions are imperfect at best, and that there are studies that say just the opposite.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:45 AM on October 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


It is perfectly plausible to have an emotional response to something which contradicts our considered rational conclusions and the degree to which we are actually prepared to act.
posted by walrus at 4:40 AM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Good on Flynt for not wanting the guy executed, but I think that capital punishment should be allowed, mostly on humanitarian grounds than on punishment grounds. Larry says that:

As far as the severity of punishment is concerned, to me, a life spent in a 3-by-6-foot cell is far harsher than the quick release of a lethal injection.

and I agree. If the goal for the prisoner has shifted from rehabilitation to removal from society I think it should be allowed, at prisoner request, to chose a painless death. I am not talking about a hanging or an electric chair and probably not even lethal injection. I think that the execution method should be the inhalation of pure nitrogen for 15 minutes. Simple, painless as without any noticeable stress to the executee, (other than fear of death). Their brain just gets slowly starved of oxygen and they get a bit confused and die unlike a lethal injection where the heart stops and then the brain is starved of oxygen, those few seconds would be horrifying. To me it is nearly the same as euthanasia, you're kept in a prison for the rest of your life (locked in syndrome or real prison) and therefore have a low quality of life. Instead of 40 years of torture just end it all with a simple painless act and jobs done.

I'm sure that there would be abuses of this and prisoners would be pushed into choosing it, and all I can say to that is it is what I would want available to me if I were faced with the choice of a life in prison.
posted by koolkat at 5:01 AM on October 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


If the goal for the prisoner has shifted from rehabilitation to removal from society I think it should be allowed, at prisoner request, to chose a painless death.

I don't disagree but you'd have to allow euthenasia first. You can't be offering the voluntary hot shot to killers while forcing people with terrible illnesses to continue living against their will. That'd give a perverse incentive to old, sick people to go on killing sprees.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:22 AM on October 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


Kind of a useless article. He feels execution is too harsh and cell time is worse. What does he propose instead? That every wronged man gets to take it out physically on the dude what done him wrong?

Well, he always has been in the perverse fantasy business, so this should could come as no surprise - but as a practical matter, I doubt even he would green-light home-grown justice as a legal construct.

As to his true facts: it is of course impossible to know how many would-be 18th century pickpockets were deterred by public hangings; that aside, the cite is simplistic. Given the poor state of law enforcement back in the day - Robert Peel did not introduce police to London until 1829 - the chances of petty criminals getting caught were small (hence the severity of the sentence) and if you were caught, tried and found guilty, you had a good chance of a sentence commuted to transportation abroad- had to fill up Australia somehow. (I'm willing to guess, though I cannot know, that there was a certain amount of jury nullification simply because the possible sentences were so great (cf rape trials when the penalty for that was death) - certainly there was moral indignation over the system (cf Jeremy Bentham pdf).)

If execution were swift and certain and very public, as opposed to delayed by years, open to years of uncertain appeals, and done behind closed doors, I suspect it would be a deterrent.

I do not speak as a proponent of the death penalty, by the way. Modern times are coarse enough as it is without trundling out bad'uns for entertainment.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:34 AM on October 18, 2013


Kind of a useless article. He feels execution is too harsh and cell time is worse. What does he propose instead? That every wronged man gets to take it out physically on

Lemme stop you right there. I didn't read anywhere in there that he "proposed" that as a solution. I read in multiple places that that's what he felt like he wanted to do... but never once did I read that he offered this as this as something he'd like to go into practice or law.

It's a tricky subject... the whole concept of punishment. But we should all at least be on the same page with regards to what the article linked in the FPP said.
posted by Blue_Villain at 7:57 AM on October 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


If execution were swift and certain and very public, as opposed to delayed by years, open to years of uncertain appeals, and done behind closed doors, I suspect it would be a deterrent.

Back in the Wild West days when justice was often what you made it where you were because the nearest court or judge was several days' ride away, rustlers were generally hanged or shot for all the town to see, and still, cattle rustling, horse thieving, and lawman killing continued to happen.
posted by rtha at 8:53 AM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


"As I see it, the sole motivating factor behind the death penalty is vengeance, not justice..."

"In all the years since the shooting, I have never come face-to-face with Franklin. I would love an hour in a room with him and a pair of wire-cutters and pliers, so I could inflict the same damage on him that he inflicted on me."

How is that not vengeance?


I think he's saying that his desire for vengance is proof positive the state ought not to kill.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:59 AM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


zombieflanders: Supporters of capital punishment argue that it is a deterrent which prevents potential murderers from committing future crimes, but research has failed to provide a shred of valid scientific proof to that effect whatsoever.

Wrong. (NYT link)


I suppose if you're trying to say that there is actually just a shred, that was a useful link. If you're trying to say that there's many consistent studies with definitive outcomes as proof, that link doesn't say anything of the sort. In fact, it states multiple times there are issues with the study cited, that conclusions are imperfect at best, and that there are studies that say just the opposite.

He is saying (if I may put words in his mouth) that, contrary to the black-and-white assertion that there is NO evidence that executions deter crime, there is some evidence that it does. Not necessarily conclusive, but evidence exists.

You've restated his claim, while apparently thinking that you're refuting his claim.

--

All of this is irrelevant to me, as is the argument about whether or not the state has the right to take a (guilty) life, because:
scottymac: Deterrence is utterly irrelevant. As much as any other human activity, execution carries the possibility of error. As it is irrevocable, it is inexcusable.
DNA evidence has proven in recent years that we are not hypothesizing about some rare byproduct of human failings, but a regular and frequent occurrence.

There have been at least ten instances since 1976 when the state put an innocent to death.

Estimates are that 4 to 8 percent of people on death row are innocent.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:57 AM on October 19, 2013


He is saying (if I may put words in his mouth) that, contrary to the black-and-white assertion that there is NO evidence that executions deter crime, there is some evidence that it does. Not necessarily conclusive, but evidence exists.

You've restated his claim, while apparently thinking that you're refuting his claim.


Um, what? I didn't say I was refuting his claim, I was saying his link wasn't definitive as a single-word declaration made it seem. Perhaps you should cut back on the whole putting words in people's mouths thing, regardless of whether it's meant to be supportive or not.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:45 AM on October 19, 2013


I don't think anyone's making this argument.

The very line Tomorrowful quoted is making that argument. It doesn't have to explicitly include the word "hypocrisy" to do so. Why else is the statement that the government forbids killing among its citizens even included, if not in an attempt to show the supposed inconsistency of that stance?
posted by Amanojaku at 6:19 AM on October 21, 2013


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