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[dvd-discuss] Interesting quotes.
- To: dvd-discuss(at)eon.law.harvard.edu
- Subject: [dvd-discuss] Interesting quotes.
- From: Scott A Crosby <scrosby(at)cs.rice.edu>
- Date: 11 May 2003 03:44:29 -0500
- Organization: Rice University
- Reply-to: dvd-discuss(at)eon.law.harvard.edu
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Interesting article on free Larry Flynt, with references to a couple
of his more interesting free speech cases.
In August 1981, fourteen-year-old Troy Dunaway was found dead in
his bedroom closet. He was hanging by his neck with a belt looped
around the doorknob. The current issue of HUSTLER magazine was
laying next to him. The magazine was open to a page containing the
article "Orgasm of Death" by Richard Milner, under the "Sexplay"
column. After a dire warning from the editor, the article goes on
to explain how one would go about performing autoerotic
asphyxiation. It also contained a second warning at the end of the
[A]uto-asphyxiation is one form of sex play you try only if
you're anxious to wind up in cold storage, with a coroner's tag
on your big toe.
When it went to trial, HUSTLER was found guilty of incitement by a
Texas jury. But the conviction was reversed on appeal. The
appellate court summed it up thusly:
The constitutional protection accorded to the freedom of speech
and of the press is not based on the naive belief that speech
can do no harm but on the confidence that the benefits society
reaps from the free flow and exchange of ideas outweigh the
costs society endures by receiving reprehensible or dangerous
[[ Talking about a fake advertisement highly offensive to Jerry Falwell ]]
It's easy to see why a jury in Virginia would find HUSTLER guilty
of emotional distress. Eventually the case was appealed all the way
to the Supreme Court. Ultimately, Flynt won in a unanimous
decision. Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote the opinion.
The State's interest in protecting public figures from
emotional distress is not sufficient to deny First Amendment
protection to speech that is patently offensive and is intended
to inflict emotional injury when that speech could not
reasonably have been interpreted as stating actual facts about
the public figure involved.
Too bad congress doesn't hold free speech to this ideal with copyright
law, and the courts have to try to enforce the censorship.