- The Washington Times - Monday, November 17, 2003

The Flynt effect

“Along with the release of [Jessica Lynchs] biography came rumors of nude shots of a prewar Pvt. Lynch cavorting on a Gulf Coast beach with fellow GIs. Porn magnate Larry Flynt had reportedly purchased the shots and was ready to publish them. Now Flynt … says that he will not run the pictures. …

“Flynt is an outspoken critic of the war. … Flynt is also a businessman, one who makes his money in porn. So why isn’t he publishing the shots, whose authenticity has not been questioned by Lynch’s lawyer?

“No one but Flynt can say for certain, but part of the answer is surely the fact that such photos no longer shock, much less titillate, the public in the way they once did. Ironically, this is partly due to previous efforts of people such as Flynt … who have helped to almost thoroughly demystify sex and the body and to remove virtually all taboos related to same. Celebrity skin, it seems, just doesn’t pack the wallop it once did. …

“‘So what’ is a proper and understandable response to celebrity skin in a post-‘Girls Gone Wild’ world.”

Nick Gillespie, writing on “Girls Gone Mild,” Thursday in Reason Online at www.reason.com

Thou shalt not

“Atheists marched, and Christians knelt. … Sixteen network broadcast trucks ringed the [Alabama Judicial Building], aiming massive satellite dishes skyward while reporters swarmed the complex.

“More intriguing, however, were the two embattled conservative Alabamans — Roy Moore and Bill Pryor — facing off inside the courthouse. Both are nationally known: Mr. Moore as the ‘Ten Commandments judge,’ Mr. Pryor as a presidential nominee for the federal courts. …

“Inside the cavernous Supreme Court chambers, nine appointees of the Alabama Court of the Judiciary heard charges from Mr. Pryor that Mr. Moore violated six points of the state’s Canon of Judicial Ethics by disobeying a federal order to remove a massive Ten Commandments monument from the judicial house rotunda. The panel reconvened a day later, having voted unanimously to remove Mr. Moore, the 56-year-old West Point graduate and Vietnam vet, from office. …

“Despite the ruling, Mr. Moore left the courtroom a popular figure with ‘no regrets’; with members of his family, he exited to a standing ovation from admirers.”

Joe Maxwell, writing on “No Regrets,” in this Saturday’s issue of World

Keeping it real

“I don’t have an affinity for gangsta rap, and I don’t buy the notion that it’s an agent for social change. That’s partly because I don’t think art has a responsibility to instruct us in the first place: I’m predisposed to dislike any type of music that’s held up as instructional, whether it’s made by Tupac Shakur or Cat Stevens.

“But even beyond that, it rankles me that so many gangsta-rap artists justify aggression and sexism in their music by claiming that they’re just ‘keeping it real’ so that ‘things will change.’ Does anyone ever consider that keeping it real is more likely to prevent change from happening than to foment it? Gangsta-rap artists and their fans often take great pains to lend the work a moral weight that it just doesn’t have, when its morality (or even its lack thereof, if that’s your view) isn’t the issue at all. If the work at hand needs to be explained and justified by extra words, it’s not doing its job in the first place.

“That said, I admit that I wish gangsta rap could jolt me into deeper understanding, instead of simply turning me off.”

Stephanie Zacharek, writing on “Tupac: Resurrection,” Friday in Salon at www.salon.com

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