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The Truth, Mainly - 11/02/1998

Larry's looking for the lovelorn in all the high places; Ken, too

I don't want, God knows, to further Larry Flynt's evil designs, but I do want to talk about his full-page ad in the Washington Post last month. It's pretty wicked.

Larry is looking for anyone who can give documented evidence of having "an adulterous sexual encounter with a current member of the United States Congress or a high-ranking government official."

The payoff: "Larry Flynt and Hustler Magazine will pay you up to $1 million if we choose to publish your verified story and use your material."

Some people are indignant about Larry's pursuit of hanky panky in high places. They say it's scandalous and pornographic and a threat to our security.

They're probably right, but what's their point? We all know where he got the idea. He read the Starr Report and, according to Frank Rich, praised it "for outdoing Hustler Magazine in prurience."

And Larry, as King of American Porn, doesn't like it when Kenny, as King of American Window-Peekers, moves in on his territory.

Some people are outraged that Larry would notice any likeness in the two enterprises. But Andrew Sullivan noticed in his NY Times Magazine piece last month when he called attention to the "weird porno-puritanism" of the Starr Report. And I noticed when I tried to read it on my Macintosh and my PornChek blew a fuse.

Other people-not me, of course-admire Larry's straightforward approach. None of this business about purifying the festering pesthole of sin in the Oval Office. Larry wants to tell us-just for the pure hell of it-about our political leaders' adulterous sexual encounters. Larry's game is undefiled sexual titillation.

Kenny, on the other hand, is working nobly in the public interest, purifying the festering pesthole of sin in the Oval Office, overturning a presidential election, and getting revenge for Nixon-while he's sexually titillating hell out of us.

And he gets to call himself the Independent Prosecutor.

Some people-not me, of course-say Kenny is an independent in about the same sorry sense that Larry is a gynecologist. The difference is that Larry doesn't get to call himself a gynecologist.

Certainly, those people say, Kenny has prosecutorial zeal-maybe more than anyone since the folks who brought us the Salem Witch Trials-but there's hardly anything, they say, that's independent about him. He is, they say, an appendage of the New Theocracy.

This is about to get complicated, so you may want to take notes.

The Old Conservatives the New Theocrats used to be would have said that the real problem with Kenny is that he's part of the gummint.

And what really complicates things is that Larry is what Old Conservatives used to like: Free Enterprise Personified, moved only by Greed and the Invisible Hand of the Marketplace. Larry just looked at Kenny's gummint job and privatized it.

The Truth, Mainly


That's why Larry is so much more efficient than Kenny.

Consider cost. Larry proposes doing for $1 million (self-funded) what Kenny has done for $40 million (tax-funded). That means for the same money, Larry could disgrace 40 high-ranking gummint officials.

Think how joyfully titillated we could be by that. More bang for the buck, and it's not even our buck. More distractions from our HMO problems, our Social Security problems, our Saddam and Slobodan problems.

But yet other people-killjoy Anti-Titillaters mostly-say it's a bad idea to give either Larry or Kenny license to pry into the private lives of any of us, high-ranking gummint officials or salt of the earth like you and me. They say it's a serious erosion of the individual freedom Old Conservatives used to promote.

But the New Theocrats aren't much interested in individual freedom or privacy. They see gummint as a way to promote the New Theocracy. What we do in the privacy of our bedrooms is their business.

The Anti-Titillaters like to quote Milan Kundera, the Czech writer who's lived much of his life under Communist repression. You remember that when they were the Old Conservatives, the New Theocrats couldn't stand anything Communist, especially Gummint Intrusion.

Kundera equates loss of privacy with loss of freedom. In his 1984 novel,"The Unbearable Lightness of Being," Czechs live under the surveillance of Russian bureaucrats who tap phones and bug rooms.

"When a private talk over a bottle of wine is broadcast on the radio," he wrote, "what can it mean but that the world is turning into a concentration camp?"

What with Larry and Kenny, their constituents and opponents shifting like desert sand, it's a complicated country we live in. So let me end with a simple peroration: If there are any small d democrats (of any political party) still left out there, they should be sure to vote tomorrow.

The New Theocrats, full of passionate intensity, certainly will.


Lincoln English Professor Satterfield writes to salvage clarity from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays.


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