Living jokes and Arab conspiracies

Readers respond to Salon's Larry Flynt interview, and articles on urban legends and Meg Whitman.

Published December 3, 2001 8:00PM (EST)

Read "Victory and the 'Benevolent Arab'" by Chris Colin.

Chris Colin's article is very interesting. My true experience takes another turn. After they evacuated our office building in New York at 10 a.m. on Sept. 11, all the Arab cab drivers had American flags on their antennas or side windows. Where did they get the flags so quickly?

By late afternoon, the Arabs were selling American flags, lapel flags and red, white and blue ribbons. This kind of stuff has to be ordered well in advance. So the Arab who gave the lady a tip to stay out of Washington had many brothers making a ton of money selling patriotic tchotchkes. The next day they had NYPD and FDNY caps all ready.

-- Harry Maer

Read "Larry Flynt: A Smut Peddler and a Patriot" by Stephen Lemons.

How would Mr. Flynt characterize the journalists who have died in ambushes with Northern Alliance troops they were reporting on? Your interview gives him a great chance to sound off his feelings on Ashcroft and porn, but I don't feel he provides much of an explanation for what we're missing out on in Afghanistan. Surely journalists can't accompany Special Forces on combat raids or missile targeting missions, and I have a feeling that the soldiers in Uzbekistan would be as isolated as the American journalists that Flynt criticizes. So which American forces does Flynt want access to?

-- Michael Roston

It's one thing to have a cover story on the ol' hustler himself. We all find him oh so amusing, with his gravelly voice and adorable pot belly and tragicomic life. So it was fine to provide him the free publicity he craved and won with his latest cute lawsuit. And it was fine for Salon to benefit, too, with the lurid cover, the not really offensive caricature. It was OK too to ask him questions on the lawsuit, and on his previous cute lawsuits. But then to start asking him questions on history, the Constitution, the tribunals, to elevate him to the status of journalist/statesman -- come on, that was nauseating.

The guy is a living joke, a money machine. His opinions on anything are all colored by one thing: his own ability to make money in the only way he knows how, via sleaze. I would find it more interesting to nab a few sweaty old bald guys who are skulking about with Larry's magazine in a plain brown wrapper. At least those guys are probably not self-serving millionaires.

Ever since that sophomoric movie about Larry, people seem to actually think he gives a rat's behind about the First Amendment. Right. I can just see his "reporter" writing on the Middle East situation: maybe one paragraph on the suffering of children, then 10 pages on how Afghan women are wild for the chance to appear in Hustler and feel it's so unfair that they can't.

-- Penelope L. Mace

I rarely feel that I'm on the same team as Larry Flynt. However, his comments about Afghanistan and the war really struck a chord with me. Thank you for showing yet another viewpoint about our recent events -- and even though I'll probably regret saying this -- bravo, Larry Flynt, and continued luck in your 30-year fight for free expression!

-- Jen Fife-Adams

If I get this right, Flynt wants the "right" for American reporters to see action at the front.

Well, just after reading that story I came across another one about a Canadian journalist reporting in Afghanistan for a small weekly newspaper from my hometown, Montreal. He has been captured by the Taliban because he was reporting at the edge of the fighting in Kandahar. It seems much too soon to know all the details. But it appears that while thousands of U.S. reporters and their head office hacks have been waiting for some kind of permission to report, a Canadian waltzed up to the front and reported.

Perhaps Flynt could drop his lawsuit and hire some Canadians to report on this war. We may be overly polite but that seems to be working in the "race to the front lines."

Just a jingoistic thought that I couldn't resist. (Please don't put me in a secret tribunal for this.)

-- Anthony Johnson

Read "Brilliant Careers: Meg Whitman" by Loren Fox.

Meg, you have become my new hero! Your management style, bold moves into new territory and the continued success of eBay seem to be your "golden touch." Understanding the value of loyalty, not only from customers but from employees as well, places you in the rarefied position of enlightened leaders. Kudos! Brava!

Many years of success in all your endeavors.

-- Eileen Collins

By Salon Staff

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