The most powerful man in porn is coming to the UNC campus.
Larry Flynt, pornography publisher and free speech activist, will visit UNC on Feb. 18 to deliver a speech at the School of Law’s symposium titled “Sexually Explicit Speech and the First Amendment.”
The free event — which could draw protests and opposition from women’s rights groups on campus — will be hosted in the Great Hall. Tickets will be available Monday.
Flynt, who was ranked by Britain’s Arena Magazine in 2003 as the top man in porn, is the head of Larry Flynt Publications, which produces several sexually explicit magazines, including Hustler Magazine and Barely Legal.
Flynt’s experience with First Amendment law includes the milestone U.S. Supreme Court case, Hustler Magazine v. Falwell. In the case, Baptist minister Jerry Falwell sued Flynt for libel after Hustler printed a satirical advertisement with fake quotes attributed to Falwell about sexual relations with his mother.
The court ruled in Flynt’s favor, leading to more explicit parodies throughout the entertainment industry.
“If you go back and look at David Letterman and Saturday Night Live in the ’70s, those shows were extremely tame then compared to today,” Flynt said. “That would not have been possible had I not won that case.”
Flynt was paralyzed from the waist down following a 1978 assassination attempt and has since been known for his gold-plated wheelchair.
Flynt’s controversial profession might spark protestors, said Dan Kelly, editor of the First Amendment Law Review at UNC, which invited Flynt to speak on campus. Flynt will not be paid to speak, he said.
“While I think protests are entirely appropriate, I hope that we won’t have a repeat of the Tancredo incident from last year,” he said, referencing the uproar during a speech by former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., about illegal immigration.
Junior Leah Josephson, co-chairwoman of student government’s women’s affairs committee, said her committee will consider protesting the event.
“I think Hustler is a magazine that has been pushing the limit of the objectification of women for years, and it absolutely was the beginning of the hardcore porn market,” she said. “I don’t think that pornography is a free speech issue because I think it inspires rape culture.”
Flynt said he was not familiar with the protests sparked by Tancredo last year but wasn’t concerned.
Randy Young, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, said UNC is preparing for Flynt’s arrival, but he would not provide specific information on the DPS plans.
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