Je suis HUSTLER. Despite being a longtime contributor to this magazine, I have been shocked by its raunchy and occasionally downright disgusting cartoons, some placed dangerously close to my own pristine words. But I had a change of heart in the aftermath of the massacre of those uncontrollably irreverent cartoonists who personified the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
Well aware of the risks in standing up to religious fanaticism, they persevered, and their deaths attest to the depth of their courage. Yes, their cartooning was at times socially unhinged from the conventional norms. But as my favorite smut peddler Larry Flynt always says, paraphrasing the late great Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, freedom of thought has to be for the thought you hate, or it isn’t freedom.
Flynt—a lifelong supporter of the ACLU, which even defended the right of neo-Nazis to march in Skokie, Illinois—knows what he’s talking about. As HUSTLER’s publisher has often pointed out, Hitler started his intellectual reign of terror in Germany by going after the pornographers and sexual “deviants” before moving on to more respectable targets. Flynt also came as close to death as is imaginable for his exercise of freedom of the press. An assassination attempt by a riled-up American racist has confined him to a wheelchair since 1978.