Porn mogul Larry Flynt urged US authorities Thursday to spare the life of a man sentenced to death for shooting him 35 years ago, leaving him paralyzed and wheelchair-bound.
Joseph Paul Franklin is due to be executed next month after being convicted over the March 1978 attack on Flynt outside a Georgia courthouse, where he was fighting obscenity charges.
In an opinion column for industry journal The Hollywood Reporter, the 70-year-old said he would like to physically hurt Franklin the way he had been damaged by being shot, but did not want him dead.
“In all the years since the shooting, I have never come face-to-face with Franklin,” Flynt wrote.
“I would love an hour in a room with him and a pair of wire-cutters and pliers, so I could inflict the same damage on him that he inflicted on me. But, I do not want to kill him, nor do I want to see him die.”
Flynt said Franklin had “targeted me because of a photo spread I ran in Hustler magazine featuring a black man and a white woman. He had bombed several synagogues… He hated blacks, he hated Jews.”
The Missouri Supreme Court has ordered Franklin to be put to death by lethal injection on November 20.
“I have every reason to be overjoyed with this decision, but I am not,” Flynt said.
“I have had many years in this wheelchair to think about this very topic.
“As I see it, the sole motivating factor behind the death penalty is vengeance, not justice, and I firmly believe that a government that forbids killing among its citizens should not be in the business of killing people itself.”
Flynt has fought several prominent legal battles involving the First Amendment — the right to free speech guaranteed in the US Constitution — and has unsuccessfully run for public office.
He won a seminal free speech case in 1988 before the US Supreme Court, and was the subject of a 1996 biopic by director Milos Forman, “The People vs Larry Flynt,” starring Woody Harrelson and Courtney Love.