by Virginia McCullough, Curator


The following editorial was written by Editor and Publisher, Larry Flynt, on December 6, 1983 as he sat in prison at Terminal Island, California.  It was published in the January 23, 1984 edition of his short lived and outspoken magazine, The Rebel.  The list of contributing editors, listed alphabetically, reads like a who's who of liberal, open minded, dedicated researchers of the not too distant past.  First amendment protector and advocate Larry Flynt created a magazine to give them a voice that could be heard by the masses.  To The Rebel's  contributing editors: Mae Brussell, Jeff Cohen, Don Freed, Peter Lake, Timothy Leary, Jonathan Marshall, Josh Martin, Russell Means, Madalyn Murray O'Hair, Don Ray, John Richard, James Ridgeway, Howard Rosenberg, Peter Dale Scott, Joe Trento, Tom Turner, Murry Waas, and Louis Wolf, we all owe a debt of gratitude for their work in allowing the truth to be uncovered and printed.

Once in a while a reader comes across a writing that, while written at one time is our history, is applicable to the past and the future.  Such is this editorial by Larry Flynt.

Henry David Thoreau once said that in an unjust society the only place for a just man to be is in prison.  And here I am writing to you from the Federal Penitentiary at Terminal Island, California.  I was locked up here in early December for a very simple reason: It's because I refuse to reveal my confidential sources as an editor and publisher.  For that reason courts from California to Chicago to Washington, D.C. persecute me and jail me.

Now they say I am being held in contempt of court.  Well, in a philosophical way they are right.  I have always held that this country's courts were deserving of contempt.  We cannot take these courts seriously until they take our First Amendment rights seriously.

What else but contempt can we have for those judges, who, cloaked in black robes, cloak the crimes of the white-collar gangsters?  What else but contempt can we have for those judges who conspire with multi-million collar criminals---and then jail the hungry and unemployed who have stolen a loaf of bread for their families?  What else but contempt can we have for those courts that permit our environment to be destroyed by giant corporate polluters?  What else can we have but contempt for those judges who permit the FBI and CIA to tap the phones of honest Americans and spy on their every move?  What else but contempt can we have for courts that for almost 200 years allowed citizens of a different color to be forced to sit, work and study apart from others of lighter skin?

As I sit here locked up in Mr. Reagan's prison, I conclude that I can no longer run for the presidency of this country.

I could not see myself presiding over this organized filth and corruption that calls itself the U.S. Government.  This does not mean, however that either or The Rebel, will let up in our campaign to expose and do away with the hypocrisy, lying and madness that has been commonplace in the halls of finance and political power.

I have been accused of desecrating the flag because I wore one as a diaper during one of my requested appearances in court.  But just think of the hundreds of thousands of innocent Americans who have been sent off to kill and die for that flag.  How that flag was dishonored when it marked airplanes that carpet-bombed Vietnam and Cambodia back into the stone age!  How that flag was desecrated when U.S. Marines were sent to invade and plunder an island country the size of a golf course just because the Senile Actor in the White House no longer approved of that nation's government!  And how that flag is disgraced when it is forced to stand next to Mr. Reagan when he appears on television and lies and deceives our whole nation.  There is just too much suffering and pain and duplicity attached to that flag.  We need one that represents a whole new way of thinking.

We need a flag that stands for peace, not for a suicidal nuclear arms race.  We need a flag that stands for honesty and integrity rather than for information gaps and presidential lies.  We need a new flag that means equal rights for all instead of discrimination against half the country.  And we need a new flag that stands for defense of our individual rights instead of the open trafficking of those rights to the courts, the Congress and the White House.

I am in jail today because I still speak out in defense of these rights, as does The Rebel.  Jailings, arrests and persecution have never in history been able to stifle ideas when their time has come.  So when you ask me now just what it is I am doing in jail at a time like this, I answer as Thoreau did and say:  "What are you doing out of jail?"

The morally painful subjects addressed by Larry Flynt are more relevant today than when he spoke of them in the Reagan era.  Judges are still cloaking corporate crooks and their golden parachutes in the black robes of immunity.   The line between justice for the rich and justice for everyone else steadily grows wider.   Corporate polluters remain well protected not only by the judicial system but also by the current administration.  The Patriot Act has removed the last faint visages of individual liberty and the first amendment is more respected by other governments of the world then by the government of the United States.  Police profiling and Homeland Security only serve to widen the gap between people of color and those of lighter skin.

Our flag has now flown over lands we take by force that present no threat to our country or our citizens.  In sinful, isolated pride our armed forces celebrate the killing, humiliation, and torture of our defeated foes.  We can add the destruction of Afghanistan and Iraqi to the Vietnam, Cambodia and Grenada.  Now we are told by our arrogant and ignorant president that he has brought to our doorstep a war that will never end as the neo cons in his  administration continue to produce agent provocateurs to generate the terror necessary to control our hearts, minds and pocketbooks.

Larry Flynt said: "we need a flag that stands for peace;" "we need a flag that stands for honesty and integrity; "we  need a new flag that means equal  rights for all;"  and "we need a new flag that stands for defense of our individual rights." Who in their right mind would disagree?

by Virginia McCullough
©  8/26/04