History Laid Bare

For nearly a century in the United States, it was illegal to mail anything considered “obscene, lewd, and/or lascivious.” That included certain novels now considered classics (hello, Ulysses), educational material about birth control and female reproduction, and, yes, pornography and erotica. Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner was on the front lines of getting these so-called Comstock Laws overturned, risking his own liberty to challenge them all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Beginning in the ‘70s, Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt started another round of challenges to obscenity laws that applied not only to his much-maligned pornography empire but also to wide swaths of artists and writers. Love him or hate him (many people still choose the latter), Flynt was among the only people with the guts, stamina, and money to stand up to those who’d criminalize anything that runs astray of strict Christian morality. Friday at at Books & Books, the publisher will talk about his new book, One Nation Under Sex, alongside co-author and history professor David Eisenbach. The book documents illicit activity at the highest levels of U.S. government going back as far as Benjamin Franklin and the American Revolution. Flynt has long decried political hypocrisy from any quarter. By shattering the marble statues that some of these historical figures have become, he and Eisenbach aim to show the truth behind much of U.S. public policy, and that the principal of love-him-or-hate-him (or her) can apply to a lot of people besides porn publishers.
Thu., June 2, 8 p.m., 2011
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Keith Bowers

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