At first blush, Larry Flynt seems the least likely person to be welcomed to UC Berkeley by student political activists. After all, no one on campus would be caught dead reading Hustler, and “Smut King” isn’t a job title that resonates with the university’s sober, career-minded students, let alone the politically correct faculty. Flynt is the sort of character you’d expect to be booed off any Berkeley stage on general principle.
Yet the wheelchair-bound skin-mag publisher, adult video producer, nightclub owner, and recall-election candidate for California governor was invited by the renowned Free Speech Movement and the American Civil Liberties Union to speak Monday evening (7 p.m.), October 6, at Pauley Ballroom West in the MLK Student Union on the Cal campus, as a living symbol of the right to sound off on a topic, no matter what. Abraham Kneisley, Free Speech Movement director of the student chapter of the ACLU, explains: “People who need free speech are often the most controversial. Larry Flynt’s struggles to keep himself out of jail relate very closely to students doing the same thing.” Are there going to be any antiporn protesters, shocked by the sight of the man who gave the world Barely Legal? “We’ve already talked to women’s groups,” Kneisley declares, “and we got no objections.” Besides, Flynt already hustled Harvard first — he spoke there September 26, also at the behest of the ACLU. Admire him or not, Flynt is the ideal free-speech eager beaver. “If we posted a flier saying we’re having a panel of four First Amendment scholars, we could draw maybe sixty people,” Kneisley says. “But with Flynt, we can turn out 700-1,000 people.” The scholars will be there, by the way — right behind the Hustler Honeys.
The event, which incidentally celebrates the 39th anniversary of the FSM, is free and open to the public, but donations are very much appreciated. Says Kneisley, “We’re underfunded, so if we get a little money out of it, that would be great.” For more info: BerkeleyACLU.com