Larry Flynt

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FROM VICE.COM: WE SPOKE TO LARRY FLYNT ABOUT THE EXECUTION OF THE MAN WHO SHOT HIM

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

800px-Larry_Flynt_at_AVN_Adult_Entertainment_Expo_2008Larry Flynt

Larry Flynt has been in the press lately for something a bit more grim than freedom of speech or porn. The 71-year-old media tycoon has been speaking out about the death penalty in America and his opposition to it; the impetus was the scheduled execution of Joseph Paul Franklin, the man who shot Flynt back in 1978, paralyzing him from the waist down. He had attempted to kill Flynt that day, but Flynt lived—although he has now spent as much of his life in a wheelchair as he did walking. The pain from the injuries was constant and lead to a painkiller addiction, which then resulted in an overdose and a stroke that affected his speech. But you could say he’s lucky, because all but one of Franklin’s other targets died from their injuries.

Franklin is now dead too. He was finally executed on November 20 by the state of Missouri—where he spent 15 years on death row—by injection of the controversial drug pentobarbital, which had prior been used to euthanize animals. It was the first time Missouri had used the drug since switching from the standard three-drug execution cocktail to a single-drug injection of propofol (the same drug that killed Michael Jackson) the year before. When supplies of propofol ran low, the state decided to go with pentobarbital, and their test subject was Franklin, who by all accounts seemed to suffer when the drug was administered. Although he had confessed to heinous crimes—including killing two teenagers, and at least six other people—a prominent psychiatrist had diagnosed him as a paranoid schizophrenic, and therefore unfit to stand trial.

Flynt campaigned to halt the execution, suing the state and demanding to unseal documents that would reveal their secretive execution process. He didn’t succeed in saving Franklin’s life; just as Franklin, ironically, did not succeed in taking Flynt’s.

I think about what it must have been like for him that afternoon 35 years ago, feeling two bullets rip through his abdomen. Hunted, like prey, by an unseen sniper in broad daylight; how that must have affected his perception of the world and his surroundings. And yet, Flynt tells me he never felt anger for his attacker, or any anger at all. “I’m an optimist,” he says. And he’s optimistic about something else: That, one day, the practice of punishing murder with murder will become obsolete.

DeathPenalty3Joseph Paul Franklin

VICE: How did you feel when you heard that Joseph Paul Franklin was executed?
Larry Flynt: I had no feelings either way. I’ve been against the death penalty all my life, but it has nothing to do with him. I don’t think the government should be in the business of killing people.

Why have you not spoken about the death penalty before?
It’s always been an opinion of mine, but I’ve never been very vocal about it, because I see the politics as too difficult to change. When I wrote that page for the Hollywood Reporter, I had no idea it was gonna go viral. And all of a sudden, people all over the world wanted to talk to me about the death penalty.

Do you think you will continue to be vocal about it?
I’m not making it a crusade, but I’ll always give my opinion when I asked about it. I have opinions about a lot of things.

What do you think it is about the US that makes us one of the few nations in the world that still actively practice capital punishment?
That’s what bothers me. The biggest proponents in the world of the death penalty are Iran, China and the United States. I just don’t think we should be lumped in the same category as those barbarians. I could support the death penalty if it was a deterrent, but it’s not, and there’s no scientific or historic evidence that indicates that it is a deterrent. You can’t look at it as a punishment to the crime, because if you expel somebody in a few seconds with a lethal injection, the punishment is over with, but if you put somebody in a 4×6 cell for the rest of their lives, they’re going to have a lot of suffering that they’re gonna have to do. So if you really want to make someone suffer, you’re going to have to do better than execute them.

(For full interview, go to vice.com)


FROM CNN.COM: SERIAL KILLER JOSEPH PAUL FRANKLIN PREPARES TO DIE

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Bonne Terre, Missouri (CNN) — Joseph Paul Franklin is unblinking and empty as he talks about his victims.

Do you know how many people you murdered? “I’d rather not mention it,” he says flatly.

By my count, it’s 22 people. “That’s approximately it.”

And those two young boys, just 13, 14 years old. “Yeah, I regret the fact that I shot them now,” he replies.

Photos: Infamous serial killers
Photos: Infamous serial killers

Franklin has been away from the civilized world for more than 30 years, serving several life sentences behind bars.

We’re meeting at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, Missouri, where he is on death row.

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A glass partition separates us, and we’re speaking via a closed line telephone. The prison guard has put a wireless microphone on Franklin, who is shackled at the ankles, his wrists cuffed to the chain around his waist. Franklin’s hair is wild and alive, unlike his expressionless answers when he speaks about his murder victims.

This is one of the last interviews this serial killer will give.

“I felt like I was at war. The survival of the white race was at stake,” he says. Franklin compares himself to a U.S. soldier in Vietnam, trained to be a sniper in the war. The enemy, he explains, were Jews, blacks and especially interracial couples. “I consider it my mission, my three-year mission. Same length of time Jesus was on his mission, from the time he was 30 to 33.”

What was your mission? “To get a race war started.”

Franklin spent 1977 to 1980 trying to accomplish that goal, committing more than a dozen bank robberies in addition to the murders. He stalked his victims, usually finding a sniper’s nest yards away, looking down the scope of a high-powered rifle to kill his targets at will.

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He explains his hate was bred from his origins and upbringing.

Franklin shown following a murder conviction in Salt Lake City in 1981.
Franklin shown following a murder conviction in Salt Lake City in 1981.

Franklin’s birth name was James Clayton Vaughn and he was born in Mobile, Alabama. He grew up in poverty and lived a childhood of abuse, he says.

“My momma didn’t care about us,” he explains, saying it affected him emotionally and stunted his mental development. He says he was locked up and not allowed to play with other children. He claims he was fed such a poor diet that it affected his development. “I’ve always been least 10 years or more behind other people in their maturity,” he says.

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He found a family and comfort in the white supremacy groups of the American South in the 1960s. Hitler’s autobiographical manifesto, “Mein Kampf,” moved him from hate to action. “I had this real strange feeling in my mind,” he says. “I’ve never felt that way about any other book that I read. It was something weird about that book.”

At 26, he changed his name to Joseph Paul Franklin. Joseph Paul in honor of Paul Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi minister of propaganda, and Franklin after Benjamin Franklin.

He tattooed the grim reaper into his right forearm as a “symbol of my mission,” he explains. He shows it to me, the ink now faded green blue, the image blurry and difficult to see. “It used to be blood there, red dots falling from it,” he points out. Franklin explains he asked the tattoo artist to draw the words “Helter Skelter” on his other arm in red, with blood dripping down. Helter Skelter references ’60s serial killer Charles Manson and his desire to start a race war from California. The tattoo artist refused, Franklin said, worried about law enforcement reprisal.

Franklin says he was obsessed with killing by example. “I figured once I started doing it and showed them how, other white supremacists would do the same thing.”

Do you think you’re a hero to those hate groups?

“Well that’s what they tell me,” he says, finally laughing. “I’d rather people like me than not like me, like most people. I’d rather be loved than hated.”

Even if they are hate groups? “Yeah, and they’re not the only ones who love me, though. There a lot of Jews who love me, too.”

It’s a preposterous notion, but I can’t resist delving further.

Why do the Jews love you? “When you commit a crime against a certain group of people, a bonding takes place. It seems like you belong to them,” he says.

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The crime that put him on death row

Franklin is talking about the crime that put him on Missouri’s death row, the murder of Gerald Gordon. On October 8, 1977, Franklin was outside the Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel synagogue in St. Louis. Some 200 guests were leaving a bar mitzvah. Franklin had hammered 10-inch nails into a telephone pole to use as a makeshift gun rest for his hunting rifle. As the guests were leaving the synagogue, Franklin fired, killing Gordon in front of his wife and three children.

There would be other victims across the country.

Franklin was convicted of killing Alphonse Manning and Toni Schwean in Madison, Wisconsin, merely because they were an interracial couple.

Franklin confessed to police that college student Rebecca Bergstrom enraged him because she said on spring break, she once dated a Jamaican man. He shot her dead.

In Cincinnati, Franklin had been lying in wait for an interracial couple but 13-year-old Dante Evans and his cousin 14-year-old Darrell Lane came walking down the road. Franklin shot them both from his sniper’s nest, striking them twice to make sure the boys were dead.

Joseph Deters, who prosecuted the Cincinnati case said of Franklin, “He’s just a creep. There’s no other way to describe him. And what he did to those two kids because of the color of their skin is incomprehensible.”

Franklin also wanted to strike high-profile targets, stalking civil rights leader Vernon Jordan Jr. In Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1980, Franklin sat outside Jordan’s hotel and waited. As Jordan returned from an event, Franklin shot him. Jordan was seriously injured but was not killed.

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Sickened by Hustler and out for Larry Flynt

Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt was paralyzed from the waist down by the 1978 assassination attempt.
Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt was paralyzed from the waist down by the 1978 assassination attempt.

But Franklin hoped one of his biggest trophy killings would be Larry Flynt, publisher and founder of Hustler magazine. Flynt’s crime according to Franklin?

“I saw that interracial couple he had, photographed there, having sex,” he says. Franklin is referring to the December 1975 issue of Hustler that featured several photos of a black man with a white woman. “It just made me sick. I think whites marry with whites, blacks with blacks, Indians with Indians. Orientals with orientals. I threw the magazine down and thought, I’m gonna kill that guy.”

On March 6, 1978, Franklin was almost successful. Flynt was in Lawrenceville, Georgia, facing charges of obscenity. As he returned to the courthouse, two shots struck Flynt. Flynt would barely survive, and he was paralyzed from the waist down.

(To read full article, go to CNN.com)


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