How Representative Can They Be If They All Turn Down Free Porn?

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The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Hustler Publisher Larry Flynt has been sending his magazine to every member of Congress for somewhere between two decades (according to a 1983 A.P. story) and three decades (according to Flynt). None so far has admitted to liking it, but they have to take it–something about the First Amendment and seeking redress of grievances. Legislators train their staffers to identify the plain manila envelope in which the magazine arrives so it can be immediately discarded without sullying the sanctity of congressional chambers.

The Tribune story apparently was prompted by Utah Rep. Chris Cannon's recent unsuccessful effort to cancel his complimentary subscription. A Focus on the Family analyst advises Cannon and other Flynt-phobic members of Congress to ask the Justice Department whether Hustler is legally obscene and can therefore be blocked. Of course, making that determination might require opening the envelope.

[Thanks to Mike Alissi for the link.]

NEXT: Attn, DC Reasonoids: Sullum vs. Meese, March 9

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  1. A Focus on the Family analyst advises Cannon and other Flynt-phobic members of Congress to ask the Justice Department whether Hustler is legally obscene and can therefore be blocked

    I’m pretty sure Flynt already took this very issue to the Supreme Court, and won. Since the Supreme Court has already ruled it non-obscene, I doubt anyone’s going to be revisiting that ruling. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s sending out the freebies just to flaunt his court victory those two decades ago.

  2. This is interesting! So, forget for a moment that these guys are politicians and therefore anyone can and should write to them with whatever’s on their minds.

    But what about the average citizen? Do we have a right to cancel a complimentary subscription? Is it free speech to send someone unwanted porn, or is it the receiver’s right to not receive it? Does the method of sending materials matter (U.S. mail vs. FedEx vs. hand delivery)? Does it make a difference if the receiving mailbox is on private property or rented, as a P.O. Box?

  3. Right… I’m sure no copies ever find their way into the Capitol gym’s men’s lockerroom.

  4. I think if you could refuse to have things delivered to your house, I would start with all credit card companies and not porn.

  5. Do we have a right to cancel a complimentary subscription?

    I’d see it to be like spam or junk mail – sure it’s an annoyance, but if someone wants to pay to send it to me, it’s not that hard to throw it out.

  6. I’d see it to be like spam or junk mail

    Like the 6 emails a day about penis enhancement that I get.

  7. I would now like to anonouce my announce candidacy for a seat in congress.

  8. And he [Flynt] doesn’t feel bad that the ones who are actually opening the envelopes aren’t the members of congress but young interns.

    That’s the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time. Only in Utah would this even be a story. I’m sure there’s many things in D.C. that will be shocking to a Mormon intern.

  9. But what about the average citizen? Do we have a right to cancel a complimentary subscription? Is it free speech to send someone unwanted porn, or is it the receiver’s right to not receive it?

    Other than some kind of content restriction, I don’t see how this is any different than Political Fundraiser solicitations,credit card offers, or 52,000 Free Hours of AOL. I suppose people can send you whatever they like. For some reason I get “Fast Company” and “Wired” Magazine sent to my house for free every month.

    Although I admit it would be nice to not have so much junk mail to throw out. I probably throw out about one paper bag (grocery store size) full of junk mail every month.

    I always wondered how effective these types of marketing/solicitations are, but since it’s been going on for so long I assume it must produce some kind of profitable results

  10. You think Chris Cannon and I can make a deal where his free subscription gets forwarded to me?

  11. Yogi,
    “Like the 6 emails a day about penis enhancement that I get. ”

    You must be hung like Chuck Norris!! I get 60 of these each day. Makes me wonder what my wife has been saying about me….

  12. A Focus on the Family analyst advises Cannon and other Flynt-phobic members of Congress to ask the Justice Department whether Hustler is legally obscene and can therefore be blocked.

    Please, god, no. Not another reason to see Larry Flynt on the news. Or [shudder] another Woody Harrelson movie.

  13. I remember the first day I worked in a congressman’s office, and while examining the contents of my back-room desk I found a drawer full of Hustlers. Apparently they put them in the drawer until it fills up, then the intern has to surrepticiously dispose of them.

  14. Maybe they’re not reading it because, in the internet era, such gynecological “entertainment” has become outdated, primitive and irrelevant?

  15. Yogi is not hung like Chuck Norris, Chuck Norris is hung like Yogi.

  16. Is it me or does “Chris Cannon” sound like a porn actor’s name?
    Perhaps I should call his office and ask.

  17. also, I don’t think “surrepticiously” is a word, but it sounds like a good word to describe activities surrounding Hustler.

  18. “So every time we happen to get one, it ends up in the trash pretty instantly,…It’s immediately deposited in an outside trash bin, so no one else has to be offended by it”

    Methinks they doth protest too much.

  19. Maybe I’m wrong, but didn’t the guys who used to run Greenleaf go to jail in Michigan for sending out their materials unsolicited?

    Back in the ’70s…

    And it was likely the incest stuff, not the Greenleaf Classics

  20. “Larry Flynt has been sending his magazine to every member of Congress for somewhere between two decades”

    Ten bucks says Ted Kennedy opens his every month.

  21. MNG-

    I think Kennedy is more of a Playboy guy.

  22. I remember the first day I worked in a congressman’s office, and while examining the contents of my back-room desk I found a drawer full of Hustlers. Apparently they put them in the drawer until it fills up, then the intern has to surrepticiously dispose of them.

    How many of the pages were stuck together?

  23. Serious idea: Let’s take up a collection to send Reason to every member of Congress.

    Even better, how about we send every member of Congress The Complete Works of Jacob Sullum, in the special edition printed on hemp paper?

  24. There is a (sometimes hard-to-find) form that you can file with the post office indicating that you no longer wish to receive mail from a particular harassing sender. This works with about a 90% hit rate to get rid of unwanted catalog and magazine subscriptions.

    But I would guess that Congresspeople aren’t supposed to do that.

  25. Being slightly past the middle of the coveted 18-49 demographic, I’d be curious to see if anybody in the GEN-Y or younger strate even reads the blue mags much these days, compared to what is accessible on the Net. I thought I read that Guccione was going broke.

    I know printed material is highly coveted by troops in Iraq and Afghanistan due to military filters on web access for mobilized troops (while our politicos wag fingers at the big IT companies for “aiding and abetting” Chinese censorship), at least it was when I was over there. I’m sure it’s still popular overseas in other countries where there is either intense Net censorship, or lack of access to the Web.

    I guess I’ve become so jaded by Internet “freedom”, the last time I saw Mr. Flynt’s publication (2004), I glanced at it with as much interest as a 19th Century stereopticon of a family picnic.

  26. I had no problem getting web porn in Iraq, but it’s not as, uh, portable.

  27. I’ve actually seen a trend that houses of college guys subscribe to Playboy and then leave them scattered around the house where people can readily see them. I think they think women see it as being classier than watching hardcore porn on the web, but still being able to broadcast to the world that they aren’t gay.

  28. I’m sure there’s many things in D.C. that will be shocking to a Mormon intern

    Yeah, for one thing there are people here who aren’t white.

  29. When I was sorting mail on the Hill they ended up in the trash in the office I worked. I would be willing to bet most members don’t even know their offices receive them.

  30. Chicago Tom: From what I understand a 2% response rate on direct mail is pretty damn good.

  31. Chuck Norris doesn’t ‘hang’. He rests, no matter what kind of platform he is on.

  32. No 6
    Is it me or does “Chris Cannon” sound like a porn actor’s name?

    http://www.christycanyon.com

    I’m the lovliest legend in adult entertainment. Some of the staffers even think of me as a lady.

  33. In the distant future, when archaeologists dig up the ruins of our civilization, they’ll read these comments and think we worshipped Chuck Norris.

    Wait a minute! We do!

  34. N6

    Is it me or does “Chris Cannon” sound like a porn actor’s name?

    I couldn’t agree more. I would love to see him and “Dick Lugar” team up.

  35. HOUSE GOP HANDS JOB TO BOEHNER
    The session began with the flag presentation by an honor guard led by Captain Standish. After some stiff competition among members, Rep. John Boehner thrust himself ahead of the pack to win the post of House Majority Leader. Boehner defeated Rep. Richard Wood, Rep. Roy Blunt, Rep. Norman Dicks, Rep. Nancy Johnson, Rep. Chris Cannon (the favorite), Rep. Randy Kuhl, Rep. Madeleine Bordello, Rep. John Schwartz, and surprise contender Rep. Mary Bono. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver came in last, and Rep Chris Cox had given up his seat to head the SEC. (Rep. J.J. Pickle has retired.)

    House business turned immediately to the question of missile defense and pork.

  36. I think that Flynt is a hypocrite but sending every member of Con-Gress a complimentary subscription to Hustler is pure genius. And it’s damn funny too.

  37. in what way is Flynt a hypocrite?

  38. I would love to see him and “Dick Lugar” team up.

    And if the Senator makes it really big in porn, he’ll be a ranking member (ba-dump-dump)

  39. Ten bucks says Ted Kennedy opens his every month.

    Twenty bucks says it’s the only thing he, err, “reads.”

  40. Trying to quickly think up Dick Armey joke…

    What the heck, “Dick Armey” pretty much stands on its own, doesn’t it?

  41. YOGI: Like the 6 emails a day about penis enhancement that I get.

    SH: If I were to print out all the penis enhancement emails I receive each week the stack would be at least nine inches high.

    Though my wife might tell me I was multiplying reality by 1.5x again.

  42. Larry Flynt has a First Amendment right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. He seems to have a lot of grievances, which he articulates in his magazine. I’m inclined to agree that he can send these grievances to members of Congress. Refusing even to receive the magazines would be (legally speaking, that is) similar to throwing out abolitionist petitions, as Congress did for a few years in the 19th century. The debate on that occasion indicates that this was a mistake, which Congress eventually corrected. If the right to petition is to be meaningful, the person you petition has to at least receive your message. They don’t have to act on it, but they should receive it.

  43. I guess I’ve become so jaded by Internet “freedom”, the last time I saw Mr. Flynt’s publication (2004), I glanced at it with as much interest as a 19th Century stereopticon of a family picnic.

    Except a 19th-century stereopticon would be pretty cool.

  44. “As a member of the Senate of the United States of America, the greatist deliberative body on Earth, I would never deny Mr. Flynt his First Amendment right to petition Congress for redress of greviances by refusing to receive his mail.

    “Of course I don’t actually open the copies of Hustler and look at the pictures. That’s what I have interns for.

    “Uh. Wait a minute. Strike that last.”

  45. Congressional Intern,
    Young man, do not throw out the complimentary copy of Hustler. I expect you to beat off to every page of that magazine. There are millions of horny men in china that would give their left nut for a copy of Hustler.

    A Concerned Constituent

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