From New York Rep. Eric Massa’s resignation in March 2010 after admitting to tickle fights with his male staffers to the recent media uproar over New York Rep. Anthony Weiner and his explicit photos, American politicians have found their names and pictures on front of tabloid covers as result of sex scandals.
Along with historian and Columbia professor David Eisenbach, Flynt boldly writes about how our leaders’ sex lives have shaped our nation for better and worse.
Flynt, who is infamously known first for his keen stand on pornography (he’s the publisher of pornographic magazine Hustler) and then second for his tenacity in upholding the First Amendment (which was depicted in the 1996 film “The People vs. Larry Flynt”), is promoting “One Nation Under Sex” at BookPeople on Tuesday.
The book, which parallels Eisenbach’s two-hour History Channel special “The Beltway Unbuckled,” on how presidential sex has shaped American history, concludes with how Americans must come to terms with the simple fact that “since the dawn of the republic, politicians have been screwing around, and they always will be.”
“We might not be able to prevent our leaders from being sexually reckless, but we can prevent the sex scandals from diverting our attention from the real problems at hand,” the epilogue reads. “We, the people, need to grow up and understand that our politicians are adults with intense sex drives.”
Unfortunately for politicians, they carry the baggage of living a public life. Flynt said in an interview with The Daily Texan that he wanted to show how American political sex scandals exist and affect society as much today as they did in the past.
For instance, the book mentions how the same month President Bill Clinton was impeached he received a classified report dated Dec. 4, 1998, titled “Bin Laden preparing to Hijack US Aircraft and Other Attacks.” As the Lewinsky affair consumed America the winter of 1998, Osama Bin Laden was approving the attacks that would kill 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2011, Flynt and Eisenbach suggest.
The book mentions historians have asked whether the Monica Lewinsky scandal made 9/11 possible. Because the scandal was certainly a major distraction to the president, top military and national security advisers competed with Clinton’s lawyers for meeting time with the president.
In researching for the book, Flynt visited presidential libraries and read a number of historical documents.
“There were a lot of nuggets out there to be found,” he said.
Among some of those most surprising to him were that President Thomas Jefferson did in fact father a child with his slave and that President James Buchanan was gay.
“I’m not in the middle of trying to rat them out about history,” Flynt said. “This is history as it was, as it is, and people are just going to have to live with it whether they like it or not.”
Having dealt with politicians for more than 30 years and having written dozens of political op-eds and articles, Flynt said nobody has ever alleged that what he’s written wasn’t true and cannot be well documented. But if someone were to point out that he did make a mistake in “One Nation Under Sex”, he said he would be happy to make a correction.
Whether or not sex has become less taboo since Hustler hit shelves 35 years ago, Flynt said people are becoming more educated about their sexuality.
“I think that Americans are becoming more at ease with their sexuality, but unfortunately because of the church and the Puritanical way in which we’re raised, it’s always going to be a taboo,” he said. “Sex is not just a buzzword. It’s a very, very big word and it carries a lot of weight.”
Even pornography has a commonplace in today’s society, he said.
“Many people pursue it, both males and females, and I think it’s a person’s rights if they want to,” he said. “There’s never been any scientific study that says exposure to the material is harmful.”
The fight against censorship is a battle Flynt has fought since publishing Hustler and a fight he said he plans to carry on.
“The government figures if they can control our pleasures, they can control us,” he said. “We’re still putting out censorship. The fire is all over the country.”
The most powerful weapon Flynt has is the First Amendment, which he said is needed to protect magazines such as Hustler because of their content.
“If you’re not going to offend anyone, you don’t need protection from the First Amendment,” he said.
Printed on 7/25/2011 as: 'One Nation Under Sex'