Larry Flynt is speaking out to save the life of the man who shot and paralyzed him in 1978. "I just don't think that government should be in the business of killing people," he says.
Larry Flynt is not one to shy away from speaking his mind. As the publisher of the adult magazine Hustler, he's long been a polarizing figure. He's been in and out of court for decades, fighting for the right to publish freely.
During one of those legal battles 35 years ago, Flynt was shot and paralyzed by a gunman on the steps of a Georgia courthouse.
That gunman, Joseph Paul Franklin — a white supremacist who shot Flynt because he objected to a Hustler photo spread depicting an African-American man and a white woman — is scheduled to be executed in Missouri on Wednesday.
Flynt is trying to save Franklin's life.
"My opinion on the death penalty hasn't changed for decades," he tells NPR's Rachel Martin. "I just don't think that government should be in the business of killing people. And I think punishment by putting someone in a 3-by-6 cell is a lot greater than if you snuff out their life in a few seconds with a lethal injection."
Franklin is on Missouri's death row for a 1977 murder outside a synagogue near St. Louis. Flynt authored a guest column in The Hollywood Reporter last month titled, "Don't Execute The Man Who Paralyzed Me." In it, he writes:
"In all the years since the shooting, I have never come face-to-face with Franklin. 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 tells NPR:
"Even though I'm opposed to the death penalty, I don't believe we're supposed to turn the other cheek. ... I would enjoy seeing him having to endure some of the same pain that I endured for decades. ... I don't think in terms of forgiveness. I think he's an animal. I don't think he should be roaming around in society, but I don't want to be part of executing him."